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Net Companies Consider the "Nuclear Option" To Combat SOPA
Posted by News Fetcher on January 02 '12 at 07:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's in-today's-sopa-news department:
Atypical Geek writes "Alec Liu of Fox News reports that Amazon, Facebook and Google are considering a coordinated a coordinated blackout of the internet to protest SOPA, the Stop Online Privacy Act being debated in Congress. From the article: 'Such a move is drastic. And though the details of exactly how it would work are unclear, it's already under consideration, according to Markham Erickson, the executive director of NetCoalition, a trade association that includes the likes of Google, PayPal, Yahoo, and Twitter.

With the Senate debating the SOPA legislation at the end of January, it looks as if the tech industry's top dogs are finally adding bite to their bark, something CNET called "the nuclear option." "When the home pages of Google.com, Amazon.com, Facebook.com, and their Internet allies simultaneously turn black with anti-censorship warnings that ask users to contact politicians about a vote in the U.S. Congress the next day on SOPA," Declan McCullagh wrote, "you'll know they're finally serious."'"


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Earthquakes That May Be Related To Fracking Close Ohio Oil Well
Posted by News Fetcher on January 02 '12 at 07:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's shake-it-up-and-shut-it-down department:
Frosty P writes "State leaders have ordered that four fluid-injection wells ('fracking') in eastern Ohio will be indefinitely prohibited from opening in the aftermath of heightened seismic activity in the area, an official said. A 4.0-magnitude quake struck Saturday afternoon near several wells that use 'fracking' to release oil deposits. It was the 11th in a series of minor earthquakes in the area."

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Could Ancient Pottery Improve Spacecraft Tiles?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 02 '12 at 06:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's blast-from-the-past department:
astroengine writes "Earlier this year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded nearly $500,000 to scientists from the Getty Conservation Institute, Stanford's National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC) and the Aerospace Corporation to study the chemical and physical properties of ancient Attic pottery. Why? Well, the project will improve our understanding of iron-spinel chemistry, which is critical to the advanced ceramics used for thermal protection in aerospace applications, such as in the heat shield tiles used by spacecraft during atmospheric reentry."

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Insiders Call HP's WebOS Software Fatally Flawed
Posted by News Fetcher on January 02 '12 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's some-terms-here-seem-non-parallel department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Some of the people involved in creating WebOS, the HP TouchPad's core software now say the product never had a fighting chance because it relied on WebKit, an open-source software engine used by browsers to display Web pages, that just didn't have the horsepower to run fast enough to be on par with the iPhone. 'Palm was ahead of its time in trying to build a phone software platform using Web technology, and we just weren't able to execute such an ambitious and breakthrough design,' says Paul Mercer, who oversaw the interface design of WebOS and recruited crucial members of the team. 'Perhaps it never could have been executed because the technology wasn't there yet.' Another problem was the difficulty in finding programmers who had a keen understanding of WebKit as Apple and Google snatched up most of the top talent including Matias Duarte, vice president of human interface and user experience for WebOS, who left for Google a month after HP's acquisition of Palm. 'When he left, the vacuum was just palpable. What you're seeing is frankly a bunch of fourth- and fifth-stringers jumping onto WebOS in the wake of Duarte's leaving.' CEO Meg Whitman has announced that HP will release the WebOS code for anyone to use, similar to Google's open-source strategy with Android but some say WebKit will still leave WebOS underpowered relative to Apple's software."

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NYT: IBM PC Division Sold To Advance China's Goals
Posted by News Fetcher on January 02 '12 at 02:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's long-term-strategy department:
theodp writes "Back in 2005, Wharton's Michael Useem speculated that IBM's sale of its PC Division to Lenovo was more about ingratiating Big Blue with the Chinese government than getting top dollar for the assets. 'Government relationships are key in China,' Useem explained. Now, a NY Times article on outgoing IBM CEO Samuel J. Palmisano seems to confirm that Useem's analysis was spot-on. From the NYT article: 'In 2004, I.B.M. sold its PC business to Lenovo of China. Mr. Palmisano says he deflected overtures from Dell and private equity firms, preferring the sale to a company in China for strategic reasons: the Chinese government wants its corporations to expand globally, and by aiding that national goal, I.B.M. enhanced its stature in the lucrative Chinese market, where the government still steers business.'"

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China's Green Data Center Plans
Posted by News Fetcher on January 01 '12 at 10:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's ho-ho-ho-green-giant department:
itwbennett writes "It's no surprise that China's internet-using population is growing fast. And so it's also no surprise that the country is planning to build new data centers by the dozen. What is surprising, at least to those of us who expect to read stories about widespread pollution in China, is that China is working with both The Green Grid and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to develop standards for energy performance."

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In New Zealand, a System To Watch for Disabled Parking Violators
Posted by News Fetcher on January 01 '12 at 07:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's allocation-problems department:
cylonlover writes "What does it mean when a parking spot is marked with a wheelchair symbol? If you answered, 'It means I can park there as long as I'm going to be quick,' you're wrong — yet you're also far from alone. Every day in parking lots all over the world, non-disabled drivers regularly use spaces clearly reserved for the handicapped. They often get away with it, too, unless an attendant happens to check while their vehicle is parked there. Thanks to technology recently developed by New Zealand's Car Parking Technologies (CPT), however, those attendants could soon be notified the instant that a handicapped spot is improperly occupied."

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Floyd Landis Sentenced For Hacking Test Lab
Posted by News Fetcher on January 01 '12 at 04:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's thrill-of-victory department:
McGruber writes with some news that slipped by in December: "Floyd Landis won the 2006 Tour de France, but was later stripped of his title after testing 'positive for an unusually high ratio of the hormone testosterone to the hormone epitestosterone (T/E ratio).' In February 2010, Slashdot covered the news that Landis had been accused of hacking into the laboratory that detected the unusually high T/E ratio. Since then, Landis was 'convicted in absentia by a French court for his role in hacking into the computers of a French doping lab,' according to National Public Radio. Landis and his former coach Arnie Baker both received 12-month suspended sentences, according to USA Today."

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Ask Slashdot: Re-Entering the Job Market As a Software Engineer?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 01 '12 at 02:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's hope-springs-eternal department:
First time accepted submitter martypantsROK writes "It's been over 15 years since my main job was a software engineer. Since then I have held positions as a Sales Engineer, then spent a few years actually doing sales as a sales rep (and found I hated it) and then got into teaching. I am still a teacher but I want to really get back into writing code for a living. In the past couple of years I've done a great deal of Javascript, PHP, Ajax, and Java, including some Android apps. So here's the question: How likely would I be to actually get a job writing code? Is continual experience in the field a must, or can a job candidate demonstrate enough current relevance and experience (minus an actual job) with a multi-year hiatus from software development jobs? I'll add, if you haven't already done the math, that I'm over 50 years old."

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Fake Antivirus Scams Spread To Android
Posted by News Fetcher on January 01 '12 at 01:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's spreading-the-joy department:
SharkLaser writes "Fake antivirus scams have plagued Windows and Mac OSX during the last couple of years. Now it seems like such scams have spread to Android. Fake antivirus scams on Android work the same as they do on PC's — a user with an Android phone downloads an application or visits a website that says that the user's device is infected with malware. It will then show a fake scan of the system and return hard-coded 'positives' and gives the option the option to buy antivirus software that will 'remove' the malware on the affected system. Android, which is based on Linux, has been plagued with malware earlier too. According to McAfee, almost all new mobile malware now targets Android. Android app stores, including the official one from Google, has also been hosting hundreds of trojan applications that send premium rate SMSes on behalf of unsuspecting users."

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Google Health's Lifeline Runs Out
Posted by News Fetcher on January 01 '12 at 12:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's when-that-lining-isnt-silver department:
turing0 writes "As a former bioinformatics researcher and CTO I have some sad news to start 2012 with. Though I am sure not a surprise to the Slashdot crowd, it appears we — or our demographic — made up more than 75% of the Google Health userbase. Today marks the end of Google Health. (Also see this post for the official Google announcement and lame excuse for the reasoning behind this myopic decision.) The decision of Google to end this excellent service is a fantastic example of what can represent the downside of cloud services for individuals and enterprises. The cloud is great when and while your desired application is present — assuming it's secure and robust — but you are at the mercy of the provider for longevity." (Read more, below.)

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The Un-Internet and War On General Purpose Computers
Posted by News Fetcher on January 01 '12 at 11:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's insert-coin-to-continue department:
theodp writes " Apple,' writes Dave Winer in The Un-Internet, 'is providing a bad example for younger, smaller companies like Twitter and Tumblr, who apparently want to control the 'user experience' of their platforms in much the same way as Apple does. They feel they have a better sense of quality than the randomness of a free market. So they've installed similar controls.' Still, Winer's seen this movie before and notes, 'Eventually we overcome their barriers, and another layer comes on. And the upstarts become the installed-base, and they make the same mistakes all over again. It's the Internet vs the Un-Internet. And the Internet, it seems, always prevails.' Thinking along the same lines, Cory Doctorow warns the stakes are only going to get higher, and issues a call-to-arms for The Coming War on General Purpose Computation."

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New Online Dictionaries Automate Away the Linguistic Middleman
Posted by News Fetcher on January 01 '12 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's boncha-porftis-hworkin department:
An article in The New York Times highlights two growing collections of words online that effectively bypass the traditional dictionary publishing system of slow aggregation and curation. Wordnik is a private venture that has already raised more than $12 million in capital, while the Corpus of Contemporary American English is a project started by Brigham Young professor Mark Davies. These sources differ from both conventional dictionary publishers and crowd-sourced efforts like the excellent Wiktionary for their emphasis on avoiding human intervention rather than fostering it. Says founder Erin McKean in the linked article, 'Language changes every day, and the lexicographer should get out of the way. ... You can type in anything, and we'll show you what data we have.'

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The 'Cable Guy' Now a Network Specialist
Posted by News Fetcher on January 01 '12 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's 55k-isn't-too-slouchy department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Amy Chozick reports that cable guys, long depicted as slovenly cranks who dodged growling dogs and tracked mud on the living room carpet, often have backgrounds in engineering and computer science and certifications in network engineering. 'Back in my day, you called the phone company, we hooked it up, gave you a phone book and left,' says Paul Holloway, a 30-year employee of Verizon, which offers phone, Internet, television and home monitoring services through its FiOS fiber optic network. 'These days people are connecting iPhones, Xboxes and 17 other devices in the home.' The surge in high-tech offerings comes at a critical time for cable companies in an increasingly saturated Internet-based market where growth must come from all the extras like high-speed Internet service, home security, digital recording devices and other high-tech upgrades. 'They should really change the name to Time Warner Internet,' says Quirino Madia, a supervisor for Time Warner Cable. 'Nine out of 10 times, that's all people care about.' Despite their enhanced stature and additional responsibilities, technicians haven't benefited much financially. The median hourly income in 2010 for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers was $55,600 annually, up only 0.4 percent from 2008."

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Optical Furnace Bakes Better Solar Cells
Posted by News Fetcher on January 01 '12 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's might-as-well-be-walking-on-the-sun department:
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory just announced that they have found a way to create more efficient photovoltaic cells using 50% less energy. The technique hinges upon a new optical furnace that uses intense light instead of a conventional furnace to heat silicon to make solar cells. The new furnace utilizes 'highly reflective and heat-resistant ceramics to ensure that the light is absorbed only by a silicon wafer, not by the walls inside the furnace.'"

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What Could Have Been In the Public Domain Today, But Isn't
Posted by News Fetcher on January 01 '12 at 07:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's happy-new-year department:
SgtChaireBourne writes "Many works published in 1955 would have entered the public domain this year. Duke University's Center for the Study of the Public Domain has an overview of the movies, books, songs and historical works that are kept out of the public domain by changes to copyright law since 1978. Instead of seeing these enter the public domain in 2012, we will have to wait until 2051 before being able to use these works without restriction."

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Crysis 2 Most Pirated Game of 2011
Posted by News Fetcher on January 01 '12 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's everyone-already-had-chess department:
MojoKid writes "When an advance copy of Crysis 2 leaked to the Internet a full month before the game's scheduled release, Crytek and Electronic Arts (EA) were understandably miffed and, as it turns out, justified in their fears of mass piracy. Crysis 2 was illegally download on the PC platform 3,920,000 time, 'beating out' Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 with 3,650,000 illegal downloads. Numbers like these don't bode well for PC gamers and will only serve to encourage even more draconian DRM measures than we've seen in the past."

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Lax Security At Russian Rocket Plant
Posted by News Fetcher on January 01 '12 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's who-cares-where-they-come-down department:
theshowmecanuck writes "Reuters reports that there is little or no security at one of the main factories in Russia responsible for military and Soyuz rocket manufacture. Blogger Lana Sator was able to walk right into the empty (off hours) facility through huge gaps in the fences that no-one bothered to repair, and there was no security to stop them aside from some dogs that didn't bother them either. In fact Lana even has one picture of herself posing next to an apparently non-functional security camera, another of her sitting on what looks like to be possibly a partially assembled rocket motor (someone who knows better can fill us in), and has about 100 photos of the escapade all told on her blog about this (it's in Russian... which I don't speak... any translators out there?). Russian officials are said to be deeply concerned. I wonder if this has any bearing on why Russian rockets haven't been making it into space successfully, or whether it and the launch failures are all part of some general industrial malaise that is taking place."

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MAME Running In Chrome
Posted by News Fetcher on January 01 '12 at 03:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's ok-now-iterate-and-1-and-2-and-switch department:
An anonymous reader writes to point out this interesting outgrowth of Google's Native Client: a Google engineer has ported MAME 0.143 to the browser-based platform, and written about the process in detail, outlining the overall strategy employed as well as specific problems that MAME presented. An impressive postscript from the conclusion: "The port of MAME was relatively challenging; combined with figuring out how to port SDL-based games and load resources in Native Client, the overall effort took us about 4 days to complete."

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SCADA Vulnerabilities In Prisons Could Open Cell Doors
Posted by News Fetcher on January 01 '12 at 12:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's prison-break-meets-wargames department:
Orome1 writes "Many prisons and jails use SCADA systems with PLCs to open and close doors. Using original and publicly available exploits along with evaluating vulnerabilities in electronic and physical security designs, researchers discovered significant vulnerabilities in PLCs used in correctional facilities by being able to remotely flip the switches to 'open' or 'locked closed' on cell doors and gates."

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