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Toxic Montana Lake's Extremophiles Might Be a Medical Treasure Trove
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '11 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's toxic-waste-pit-is-half-full department:
EagleHasLanded writes "The Berkeley Pit, an abandoned open pit copper mine in Butte, Montana — part of the largest Superfund site in the U.S. — is filled with 40 billion gallons of acidic, metal-contaminated water. For years the water was believed to be too toxic to support life, until Andrea and Donald Stierle, a pair of organic chemists at the University of Montana, discovered that the Pit is a rich source of unusual extremophiles, 'many of which have shown great promise as producers of potential anti-cancer agents and anti-inflammatories.' In the course of their ongoing investigation, the two self-described 'bioprospectors' have also discovered an uncommon yeast, which might play a significant role in cleaning up the site. In the meantime, the Pit has become a tourist attraction in Butte, which charges $2 for the opportunity to take in the view from the Viewing Stand."

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Syria Bans iPhone, Protest App
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '11 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's state-vs-man department:
Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that with 4,000 people killed in Syria since March, the government has banned the iPhone and threatened confiscation and prosecution for anyone found with an iPhone as the government tries to control information getting out of the country. Most international media have been banned from Syria since the uprising began, so footage of the violent crackdown has primarily come from activists filming material themselves and posting it on the internet. A mobile app for the iPhone called Souria Wa Bas (which roughly translates as 'Syria and That's All') covers the actions of opposition groups, including the Local Coordination Committees which claim to have members across the country and includes links for news, videos, and a map of opposition hot spots. The app's creators say they produced Souria Wa Bas to counter regime accounts of the opposition's activities. 'Under the fast-moving events in Syria and the deliberate attempts to distort the facts by some. We have compiled the most important Syrian news sources available,' say creators of the app at the Apple store."

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What Silicon-Based Life Might Be Like
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '11 at 04:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's would-want-totally-different-cable-channels department:
Nancy_A writes "While the world as we know it runs on carbon, science fiction's long flirtation with silicon-based life has spawned a familiar catchphrase: 'It's life, but not as we know it.' Although non-carbon based life is a very long shot, this Q&A with one of the U.S.'s top astrochemists — Max Bernstein, the Research Lead of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington,D.C. — discusses what silicon life might be like."

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First Quad-Core Android Tablet Reviewed
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '11 at 01:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's must-eliminate-desire department:
adeelarshad82 writes "The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime happens to the first Quad-Core Android Tablet, which also makes it the fastest and most powerful tablet. The secret ingredient is Nvidia's five-core Tegra 3 chipset, including four cores which work together at up to 1.4GHz each and a 'companion core' which runs alone. When tested on the Antutu system benchmark, the Prime scored a breathtaking 10,619, which is roughly double the score of even fast devices like the HTC Jetstream. Benchmark results for Sunspider and Browsermark browsing scored at 17ms and 98324, respectively, which also happened to be amongst the best. The tablet weighs 1.3 pounds and measures 10.4 by 7.1 inches, but it's very slim at 0.3 inches."

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Apple May Build Oregon Data Center Next To Facebook's
Posted by News Fetcher on December 03 '11 at 10:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's consult-the-oregoonians department:
1sockchuck writes "Apple may build a huge new data center next door to the Facebook server farm in rural Prineville, Oregon. Slashdot has previously noted the potential that Prineville could become a data center mecca due to its climate, which is ideal for using fresh air to cool servers. The scenario could mirror the trend in rural North Carolina, where both Apple and Facebook have built data centers. it's always been likely that Apple will need at least one other large data center complex to provide backup capabilities for the facility in North Carolina."

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An Easy Way To Curb Smart-Phone Thieves, In Australia
Posted by News Fetcher on December 03 '11 at 07:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's thanks-a-lot-jerks-at-att department:
First time accepted submitter xx_chris writes "Cell carriers can and do brick jail broken cell phones but they won't brick stolen cell phones. Except in Australia. The Australians apparently have been doing this for 10 years and it reduces violent crime since the thieves know they won't be able to sell the stolen phone. The article points out that cell carriers have a financial disincentive to do this since a stolen phone means another sale."

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Apple Can't Block US Sales of Samsung Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on December 03 '11 at 04:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's magic-not-strong-enough-roll-again department:
An anonymous reader snips this good news (for Samsung fans) from Edible Apple "In April of 2011, Apple kicked off what would soon become a global and complex series of litigation disputes when it sued Samsung in the US claiming that its line of Galaxy smartphones and tablets infringed upon Apple's intellectual property and were nothing more than 'slavish' copies. As part of its suit, Apple requested a preliminary injunction that would bar Samsung from selling said products in the U.S. This past Friday, Judge Lucy Koh denied Apple's motion for a preliminary injunction."

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Mexican Gov't Shuts Down Zetas' Secret Cell Network
Posted by News Fetcher on December 03 '11 at 03:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's misallocation-writ-very-very-large department:
Miniaturized stealth submarines purpose-built for smuggling are an impressive example of how much technological ingenuity is poured into evading the edicts of contemporary drug prohibition. Even more impressive to me, though, is news of the communications network that was just shut down by Mexican authorities, which covered much of northern Mexico. The system is attributed to the Zetas drug cartel, and consisted of equipment in four Mexican border states. "The military confiscated more than 1,400 radios, 2,600 cell phones and computer equipment during the operation, as well as power supplies including solar panels, according the Defense Department," says the article. Too bad — a solar-powered, visually unobtrusive, encrypted cell network sounds like something I'd like to sign up for. NPR also has a story.

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On December 10, the Last Lunar Eclipse Until 2014
Posted by News Fetcher on December 03 '11 at 02:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's lucky-west-coasters department:
New submitter althanas has this entry, snipped from NASA's Science News, for next weekend's social calendar (if you're lucky enough to live in the viewing range): "The action begins around 4:45 am Pacific Standard Time [on December 10th] when the red shadow of Earth first falls across the lunar disk. By 6:05 am Pacific Time, the Moon will be fully engulfed in red light. This even t— the last total lunar eclipse until 2014 — is visible from the Pacific side of North America, across the entire Pacific Ocean to Asia and Eastern Europe. For people in the western United States the eclipse is deepest just before local dawn. Not only will the Moon be beautifully red, it will also be inflated by the Moon illusion."

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Carrier IQ Drama Continues
Posted by News Fetcher on December 03 '11 at 01:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's hey-it-was-free-why-are-you-griping department:
alphadogg writes "A Cornell University professor is calling the controversial Carrier IQ smartphone software revelations a privacy disaster. 'This is my worst nightmare,' says Stephen Wicker, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Cornell. 'As a professor who studies electronic security, this is everything that I have been working against for the last 10 years. It is an utterly appalling invasion of privacy with immense potential for manipulation and privacy theft that requires immediate federal intervention.'" Read on for a grab-bag of other news about the ongoing story of Carrier IQ's spyware.

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Facebook Prepping For Massive Hiring Spree
Posted by News Fetcher on December 03 '11 at 01:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's full-employment-by-tuesday department:
An anonymous reader writes "Facebook plans to nearly double in size in the next year. The social network announced plans on Friday to dramatically expand its NYC operations, adding a wealth of new engineers to enhance features and write fresh code for the website that links more than 800 million users worldwide. 'We'll be adding thousands of employees in the next year,' Facebook COO Cheryl Sandberg announced from the company's New York City offices on Friday. Facebook currently has about 3,000 employees in California, Sandberg said, but just 100 in its Big Apple facility — mainly marketing staff. The company plans to expand that Madison Avenue office by opening its first East Coast engineering office."

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Repurposing Anti-Spam Tools For Detecting Mutations In HIV
Posted by News Fetcher on December 03 '11 at 11:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's metaphors-are-like-geese-in-a-cider-factor department:
chicksdaddy writes "Security researchers often use language and metaphors from the natural world to describe problems in the virtual world. (Consider 'virus,' and 'worm.') Now it turns out that the links may be more than just rhetoric. Microsoft Researchers say that tools they developed to detect spammers' efforts to avoid anti-spam filters were also great at spotting mutations in the HIV virus. A report from Microsoft Research in honor of World AIDS Day yesterday described how Microsoft Researchers David Heckerman and Jonathan Carlson were called upon to help AIDS researchers analyze data about how the human immune system attacks the HIV virus. To do so, they turned to tools and algorithms developed at Microsoft to detect and block spam e-mail in the company's Hotmail, Outlook and Exchange e-mail products."

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Fed Gave Banks Eye-Popping Emergency Loans, Without Telling Congress
Posted by News Fetcher on December 03 '11 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's please-don't-blame-this-on-a-free-market department:
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt: "The Fed didn't tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn't mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed's below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue."

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Ask Slashdot: Parallel Cluster In a Box?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 03 '11 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's must-fit-in-a-briefcase-too department:
QuantumMist writes "I'm helping someone with accelerating an embarrassingly parallel application. What's the best way to spend $10K to $15K to receive the maximum number of simultaneous threads of execution? The focus is on threads of execution as memory requirements are decently low e.g. ~512MB in memory at any given time (maybe up to 2 to 3X that at the very high end). I've looked at the latest Tesla card, as well as the four Teslas in a box solutions, and am having trouble justifying the markup for what's essentially 'double precision FP being enabled, some heat improvements, and ECC which actually decreases available memory (I recognize ECC's advantages though).' Spending close to $11K for the four Teslas in a 1U setup seems to be the only solution at this time. I was thinking that GTX cards can be replaced for a fraction of the cost, so should I just stuff four or more of them in a box? Note, they don't have to pay the power/cooling bill. Amazon is too expensive for this level of performance, so can't go cloud via EC2. Any parallel architectures out there at this price point, even for $5K more? Any good manycore offerings that I've missed? e.g. somebody who can stuff a ton of ARM or other CPUs/GPUs in a server (cluster in a box)? It would be great if this could be easily addressed via a PCI or other standard interface. Should I just stuff four GTX cards in a server and replace them as they die from heat? Any creative solutions out there? Thanks for any thoughts!"

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Half Life of a Tech Worker: 15 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on December 03 '11 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's logan's-runtime department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Matt Heusser writes that when he went to work for Google all the people he met had a sort of early-twenties look to them. 'Like the characters in Microserfs, these were "firstees," young adults in the middle of the first things like life: First job out of college, first house, first child, first mini-van,' writes Heusser. 'This is what struck me: Where were the old dudes?' and then he realized something very important — you get fifteen years. 'That is to say, your half-life as a worker in corporate America is about age thirty-five. Around that time, interviews get tougher. Your obligations make you less open to relocation, the technologies on your resume seem less-current, and your ability find that next gig begins to decrease.' By thirty-five, half the folks who started in technology have gone on to something else — perhaps management, consulting, on to roles in 'the business' or in operations. 'Yet a few stick it out. Half of the half-life is fifty, and, sure, perhaps 25% of the folks who started as line technologists will still be doing that when they turn fifty,' adds Heusser. 'But by the time you turn thirty-five, you'd better have a plan.'"

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Interpreting the Constitution In the Digital Era
Posted by News Fetcher on December 03 '11 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's you'll-notice-it-never-says-floppy-disks department:
oik writes "NPR's Fresh Air this week had an interesting interview with Jeffrey Rosen, one of the authors of Constitution 3.0 , which addresses a number of issues to do with interpreting the US Constitution in the face of new technologies (both present and future). Many of the topics which he touches on come up on Slashdot a lot (including the GPS tracking cases). It's well worth listening to the program (link in the main page), of which the linked article is just a summary."

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3D Video of Asteroid Vesta
Posted by News Fetcher on December 03 '11 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's why-there-is-the-internet department:
TheNextCorner writes "Glide over the giant asteroid Vesta with NASA's Dawn spacecraft in a new 3-D video. Dawn has been orbiting Vesta since July 15, obtaining high-resolution images of its bumpy, cratered surface and making other scientific measurements." You'll need some red/green or red/blue glasses for the 3D effect.

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Apple, Android Devices Swamp NYC Schools' ActiveSync Server
Posted by News Fetcher on December 03 '11 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's wait-this-seems-like-a-word-problem department:
longacre writes "Just a few months after the New York City Dept. of Education shelled out over $1 million on iPads for teachers, the agency has stopped accepting new users on its Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync server as it is 'operating near its resource limits' due to an influx of iOS and Android devices. A memo from the deputy CTO warned, 'Our Exchange system is currently operating near its resource limits and in order to prevent Exchange from exceeding these limits, we need to take action to prevent any more of these devices from being configured to receive email. As of Thursday, November 10th no additional users will be allowed to receive email via NYCDOE's Exchange ActiveSync.' Existing setups will continue to operate, and students will not be affected."

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After 6 Years, Aptera Motors Is No More
Posted by News Fetcher on December 03 '11 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's market's-a-harsh-mistress department:
After years of beautiful concept cars, envy-inspiring demos, and missed production targets starting in 2008, high-efficiency car startup Aptera is liquidating its assets. A pointed excerpt from Wired's account: "The truth is, Aptera always faced long odds and has been in trouble for at least two years. The audience for a sperm-shaped, three-wheeled, electric two-seater was never anything but small. It didn’t help that production of the 2e — at one point promised for October 2009 — was continually delayed as Wilbur ordered redesigns to make it more appealing to the mainstream. Aptera had a small window in which to be a first mover in the affordable EV space, and that window closed the moment the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt hit the market. At that point, Aptera teetered on the brink of irrelevance." As an compulsive driver, I had been hoping to one day drive one of these to save gas money.

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Yeti Crab Cultivates Bacteria On Claw, Then Eats Them
Posted by News Fetcher on December 03 '11 at 04:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's like-wringing-out-a-beard department:
Pierre Bezukhov writes with some interesting news from the deep as reported in Nature: "In the deep ocean off the coast of Costa Rica, scientists have found a species of crab that cultivates gardens of bacteria on its claws, then eats them. ... The bristles that cover the crab's claws and body are coated in gardens of symbiotic bacteria, which derive energy from the inorganic gases of the seeps. The crab eats the bacteria, using comb-like mouthparts to harvest them from its bristles. ... [Scientists believe] the crab waves its claws to actively farm its bacterial gardens: movements stir up the water around the bacteria, ensuring that fresh supplies of oxygen and sulphide wash over them and helping them to grow."

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