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Ann Arbor Schools Want $45M For Tech, Partly For Computers To Run Google Docs
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '12 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's air-force-bake-sale-any-day department:
An anonymous reader writes "The Ann Arbor Public Schools defended their request for a $45 million bond for new computers by claiming that Apple eMacs aren't good enough for their Advanced Journalism class. A teacher told reporters that new PCs are needed to run WordPress, Google Docs, and Adobe InDesign CS6. WordPress and Google Docs are server-based applications that can be accessed with nearly any web browser. InDesign CS6 has not been released yet and its system requirements are unknown. As a web developer, I am impressed by the online newspaper published by the journalism class, but I question the need for new hardware. The district previously claimed that the old computers couldn't run its standardized testing software, although they far surpass the vendor's specifications. Does modern education really require cutting-edge computers, or are schools screaming 'think of the children' to win over tech-illiterate voters?" Whatever the answer to that question, exaggerated system requirements aren't the only driving force; the $45 million bond sought would not be dedicated only to replacing journalism program computers, note; it would also be used to fund other infrastructure upgrades, including some lower-tech updates, like new sound amplifiers in the district's classrooms. Ann Arbor schools' web site says that the district has (as of 2010, at least) 16,440 students. What are tech outlays like in the public schools where you live?

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Stealthy Pen Test Unit Plugs Directly Into 110 VAC Socket (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '12 at 06:45 AM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's monitor-your-people-without-them-ever-finding-out department:
Pwnie Express is a cute name for this tiny (and easily hidden) group of Pen Test devices. Their website says, 'Our initial hardware offering, the Pwn Plug, is the first-to-market commercial penetration testing drop box platform. This low-cost plug-and-play device is designed for remote security testing of corporate facilities, including branch offices and retail locations. A security professional or service provider can ship this device to a corporate facility and conduct a security test over the Internet without travel expenses.' Hardware buffs will recognize this unit as a SheevaPlug, but the value-add is that it's preloaded with Ubuntu Linux and and a rich suite of intrusion/testing tools. The company's 'Founder and CEO and everything else' is Dave Porcello. The video is an interview with Dave, in which he shows off and demonstrates some Pwnie Express products.

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The Specter of Gasoline At $5 a Gallon
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '12 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's petroleum-human-engineering department:
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that gas prices are already at record highs for the winter months — averaging $4.32 in California and $3.73 a gallon nationally and as summer approaches, demand for gasoline rises, typically pushing prices up around 20 cents a gallon, but gas prices could rise another 50 cents a gallon or more, analysts say, if the diplomatic and economic standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions escalates into military conflict or there is some other major supply disruption. 'If we get some kind of explosion — like an Israeli attack or some local Iranian revolutionary guard decides to take matters in his own hands and attacks a tanker — than we'd see oil prices push up 20 to 25 percent higher and another 50 cents a gallon at the pump,' says Michael C. Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research. A sharp rise in the prices of oil and gas would crimp the nation's budding economic recovery would cause big political problems at home for President Obama, who is already being attacked by Republican presidential candidates over gas prices and his overall energy policies. On the other hand, environmentalists see high gas prices as a helpful step toward the development of alternative energy. Secretary Treasury Steven Chu notably said in 2008 'we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe' to make Americans trade in their 'love affair with the automobile' for a marriage to mass transit. In the meantime President Obama is in a bind because any success in tightening sanctions on Iran could squeeze global oil supplies, pushing up prices and causing serious economic repercussions at home and abroad."

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US Shuts Down Canadian Gambling Site With Verisign's Help
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '12 at 05:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's long-arm-of-the-law department:
First time accepted submitter ausrob writes "Domain seizures are nothing new, but this particular case is interesting. The Department of Homeland Security has seized a domain name registered outside of the U.S., by individuals who are not American citizens, and who registered with a Canadian registrar. From the article: 'The ramifications of this are no less than chilling and every single organization branded or operating under .com, .net, .org, .biz etc needs to ask themselves about their vulnerability to the whims of US federal and state lawmakers (not exactly known their cluefulness nor even-handedness, especially with regard to matters of the internet).'"

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Google Privacy Policy Could Violate EU Law
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '12 at 02:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's do-not-want department:
judgecorp writes "Google's new unified privacy policy could violate EU law, according to objections. The French data regulator warns that the policy will infringe users' privacy by building a single online profile. Commission Nationale de L’informatique et Des Libertes (CNIL) has expressed “deep concerns” about the policy and its adherence to the European Data Protection Directive."

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"Irish SOPA" Signed Into Law Despite Resistance
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '12 at 12:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's good-luck-with-that department:
First time accepted submitter cupantae writes "Despite the protests of over 80,000 Irish people, Junior Minister Seán Sherlock has confirmed that the controversial statutory instrument that reinforces online copyright laws in Ireland has been signed into law. The statutory instrument will make it possible for copyright holders to seek court injunctions against companies such as internet service providers or social networks whose systems are hosting copyright-infringing material. This comes in the wake of the music industry bullying the Irish government."

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Flesh-eating Bacteria Inspires Highly Selective Instant Adhesive
Posted by News Fetcher on February 29 '12 at 10:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's to-stick-or-not-to-stick department:
cylonlover writes "A strong and highly selective instant adhesive inspired by the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes has been developed by Oxford University researchers. S. pyogenes is a common resident of human throats that is normally kept in check by the body's defenses, but when it gets out of control it can cause diseases ranging from strep throat to toxic shock syndrome or flesh-eating disease. By engineering a protein that is central to S. pyogenes' infectious arsenal, the researchers have developed a new superglue that can't be matched for sticking molecules together and not letting go."

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Japan Creates Earthquake-Proof Levitating House System
Posted by News Fetcher on February 29 '12 at 09:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's rising-above department:
An anonymous reader writes "Japanese company Air Danshin Systems Inc. has developed an innovative system that levitates houses in the in the event of an earthquake to protect them from structural damage. When an earthquake hits, a sensor responds within one second by activating a compressor, which forces an incredible amount of air under the home, pushing the structure up and apart from its foundation. The air pressure can keep the home levitating up to 3cm from the shaking foundation below. In the wake of last year's Fukushima disaster the company is set to install the levitation system in 88 houses across Japan."

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Stem Cell Firm May Have Administered Unproven Treatments
Posted by News Fetcher on February 29 '12 at 07:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's snake-oil department:
ananyo writes "With Texas pouring millions of dollars into developing adult stem-cell treatments, doctors there are already injecting paying customers with unproven preparations, supplied by an ambitious new company. Celltex Therapeutics 'multiplies and banks' stem cells derived from people's abdominal fat and its facility in Sugar Land opened in December 2011 and houses the largest stem-cell bank in the United States. But Nature has uncovered evidence that the company is involved in the clinical use of the cells on US soil, which the FDA has viewed as illegal in other cases."

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Commercial Suborbital Balloon Flight Facility Takes Shape
Posted by News Fetcher on February 29 '12 at 05:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's up-up-and-away department:
coondoggie writes "The Near Space Corporation this week said it would begin developing a $6.9 million phase of what it says is the first commercial high altitude balloon flight facility in the country. Commercial balloon flights to near space will be launched – though the company didn't say when — from the new facility in Tillamook, Oregon, including several of those reserved through the NASA's Flight Opportunities Program."

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China May Restrict Genetically Engineered Rice
Posted by News Fetcher on February 29 '12 at 04:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's no-rice-for-you department:
An anonymous reader writes "China's State Council has released a proposal for a grain law that establishes legislation restricting research, field trials, production, sale, import and export of genetically engineered grain seeds, the first initiative in the world that deals with GE food legislation at state law level. Monsanto had tried and failed to commercialize GE wheat in Canada. Now they were hoping China would become the first guinea pig, opening the gate to genetic experiments with staple crops."

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Seti Live Website To Crowdsource the Search For Alien Life
Posted by News Fetcher on February 29 '12 at 03:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's we-want-to-believe department:
bs0d3 writes "Scientists need your help in the search for life beyond Earth. The SETI Institute is asking the public to join in its hunt for signals from intelligent civilizations out there in the universe. Anyone can register on the new website, SETI Live, to help analyze data from SETI's radio telescope devoted to scanning the heavens for signals from E.T.."

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Wikileaks and Anonymous Join Forces Against US Intelligence Community
Posted by News Fetcher on February 29 '12 at 03:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's when-our-powers-combine department:
pigrabbitbear writes "The most recent bombshell of confidential documents dropped by infamous watchdog organization Wikileaks is already looking to have an enormous impact on our understanding of government security practices. Specifically, intimate details on the long-suspected fact that the U.S. has been paying a whole lot of money to have private corporations spy on citizens, activists and other groups and individuals on their ever-expanding, McCarthy-style naughty list. But perhaps more importantly, the docs demonstrate something very interesting about the nature of U.S. government intelligence: They haven't really got much of it."

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The Inside Story of Virgin Oceanic's Mission To the Mariana Trench
Posted by News Fetcher on February 29 '12 at 02:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's inside-scoop department:
the_newsbeagle writes "Millionaire adventurer Chris Welsh, the driving force behind Virgin Oceanic, wants to name his sub "Scarlett" after Scarlett Johansson—that's how sexy this vehicle is. Welsh plans to pilot the experimental, cutting-edge sub to the bottom of the Mariana Trench sometime this year, in what would be only the second human descent to the deepest spot in the world's oceans (the first trip down was in 1960). This inside account of the Virgin Oceanic mission describes a team fueled by ego, science, and derring-do, and explains how their high-tech sub could usher in a new kind of marine exploration. The article also tells the story of an adventure on the high seas last summer, when Welsh & co visited the trench to test some robotic deep-sea landers... and ran smack into a typhoon."

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Huge Jurassic Fleas May Have Fed On Dinosaurs
Posted by News Fetcher on February 29 '12 at 02:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's we're-gonna-need-a-bigger-collar department:
ananyo writes "Primitive fleas were built to sup on dinosaur blood in the Jurassic period, more than 150 million years ago. The potential host–parasite relationship has been uncovered thanks to a set of beautifully preserved fossils found in China. Today, the varied group of parasitic insects known as fleas frequently infests mammals and birds. But little is known about their origins. Researchers have now extended the history of the parasites by at least 60 million years. Whereas modern fleas range from 1 to 10 millimeters in length, the Jurassic and Cretaceous species were between 8 and 21 millimeters. The Jurassic and Cretaceous fleas also lacked the spring-legged, jumping specializations of modern species, and their siphoning mouthparts were armored structures studded with saw-like projections, unlike the smooth jaws of modern fleas."

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EFF's HTTPS Everywhere Detects and Warns About Cryptographic Vulnerabilities
Posted by News Fetcher on February 29 '12 at 01:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's protect-ya-neck department:
Peter Eckersley writes "EFF has released version 2 of the HTTPS Everywhere browser extension for Firefox, and a beta version for Chrome. The Firefox release has a major new feature called the Decentralized SSL Observatory. This optional setting submits anonymous copies of the HTTPS certificates that your browser sees to their Observatory database allowing them to detect attacks against the web's cryptographic infrastructure. It also allows us to send real-time warnings to users who are affected by cryptographic vulnerabilities or man-in-the-middle attacks. At the moment, the Observatory will send warnings if you connect to a device has a weak private key due to recently discovered random number generator bugs."

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Vendors Take Blame For Most Data Center Incidents
Posted by News Fetcher on February 29 '12 at 01:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's who's-to-blame department:
dcblogs writes "External forces who work on the customer's data center or supply equipment to it, including manufacturers, vendors, factory representatives, installers, integrators, and other third parties were responsible for 50% to 60% of abnormal incidents reported in a data center, according to Uptime Institute, which has been collecting data since 1994. Over the last three years, Uptime found that 34% of the abnormal incidents in 2009 were attributed to operations staff, followed by 41% in 2010, and 40% last year. Some 5% to 8% of the incidents each year were tied to things like sabotage, outside fires, other tenants in a shared facility. But when an abnormal incident leads to a major outage that causes a data center failure, internal staff gets the majority of blame. 'It's the design, manufacturing, installation processes that leave banana peels behind and the operators who slip and fall on them,' said Hank Seader, managing principal research and education at Uptime."

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The Math of Leap Days
Posted by News Fetcher on February 29 '12 at 12:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's extra-days-extra-credit department:
The Bad Astronomer writes "We have leap days every four years because the Earth's day and year don't divide evenly. But there's more to it than that... a lot more. A year isn't exactly 365.25 days long, and that leads to needing more complicated math and rules for when we do and don't have a leap year. If you've ever wanted to see that math laid out, now's your chance, and it only comes along every for years. Except every hundred years. Except every four hundred years."

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Evidence For Antimatter Anomaly Mounts
Posted by News Fetcher on February 29 '12 at 12:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's nature-of-things department:
sciencehabit writes "The big bang created a lot of matter—along with the same amount of antimatter, which wiped out everything and brought the universe to an untimely end. That's what accepted theoretical physics tell us—though things clearly didn't work out that way. Now, results from a U.S. particle smasher are providing new evidence for a subtle difference in the properties of matter and antimatter that may explain how the early universe survived."

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Eric Schmidt: UN Treaty a 'Disaster' For the Internet
Posted by News Fetcher on February 29 '12 at 11:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's it's-the-end-of-the-net-as-we-know-it department:
An anonymous reader writes "Internet freedom and innovation are at risk of being stifled by a new United Nations treaty that aims to bring in more regulation, Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt has warned. In a question-and-answer session at Mobile World Congress 2012 on Tuesday, Schmidt said handing over control of things such as naming and DNS to the UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU) would divide the internet, allowing it to be further broken into pieces regulated in different ways. 'That would be a disaster... To some, the openness and interoperability is one of the greatest achievements of mankind in our lifetime. Do not give that up easily. You will regret it. You will hate it, because all of a sudden all that freedom, all that flexibility, you'll find it shipped away for one good reason after another,' Schmidt said. 'I cannot be more emphatic. Be very, very careful about moves which seem logical, but have the effect of balkanising the internet,' he added, urging everyone to strongly resist the moves."

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