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What Monty Python Teaches Us About Computing
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's on-second-thought-let's-not-go-there department:
Esther Schindler writes "Does the computer industry seem just a little too strange? Never fear: Monty Python encapsulated several nuggets of wisdom years ago that summarize exactly what is behind the sometimes-tawdry behavior of vendors, the open source community, and marketing departments."

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Apple Sues Samsung Over Galaxy Phones and Tablets
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's pursuing-patents-on-geometric-shapes department:
mystikkman writes "In the latest patent suit to hit the smartphone industry, Apple is suing Samsung, alleging the Galaxy line of phones and tablets infringe on a number of Apple's patents. 'Samsung's Galaxy Tab computer tablet also slavishly copies a combination of several elements of the Apple Product Configuration Trade Dress,' Apple says in its suit, noting that Samsung's tablet, like Apple's, uses a similar rectangular design with rounded corners, similar black border and array of icons. Apple previously sued HTC over Android. If Samsung is found to be infringing on the software, all the Android OEMs could be vulnerable."

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Iran Says Siemens Helped US, Israel Build Stuxnet
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's fair-and-balanced department:
CWmike writes "Iran's Brigadier General, Gholam Reza Jalali, accused Siemens on Saturday with helping US and Israeli teams craft the Stuxnet worm that attacked his country's nuclear facilities. 'Siemens should explain why and how it provided the enemies with the information about the codes of the SCADA software and prepared the ground for a cyber attack against us,' Jalali told the Islamic Republic News Service. Siemens did not reply to a request for comment on Jalali's accusations. Stuxnet, which first came to light in June 2010 but hit Iranian targets in several waves starting the year before, has been extensively analyzed by security researchers. Symantec and Langner Communications say Stuxnet was designed to infiltrate Iran's nuclear enrichment program, hide in the Iranian SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) control systems that operate its plants, then force gas centrifuge motors to spin at unsafe speeds. Jalali suggested that Iranian officials would pursue Siemens in the courts, and claimed that Iranian researchers traced the attack to Israel and the US. He said information from infected systems was sent to computers in Texas."

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FPS Gaming and the 'Just-World Hypothesis'
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's all-the-worlds-ills-can-be-solved-with-a-rocket-launcher department:
Hugh Pickens writes "When people witness someone subjected to some misfortune, they're susceptible to suggestions that the person deserved it and thus see the misfortune as evidence of karma or justice – hence the 'just' in 'just-world hypothesis.' Now consider the controversial new first-person shooter Homefront, which has you play as a freedom fighter in an America occupied by a North Korean superpower. The introduction to the game goes to great lengths to relieve you of any moral misgivings you might have about plugging away at the enemies it's getting ready to throw at you. 'You see enemy soldiers not only brutalizing American civilians, but outright murdering a mother in front of her children and callously tossing corpses around,' writes James Madigan, a gamer with a Ph.D. in psychology. 'The message is clear: Hey, these guys are evil. When we give you a gun, shoot them and feel good about it.' Madigan says the interesting thing about Homefront is that it's not leaving any blanks to be filled, which robs the game of some narrative depth."

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TEPCO Unveils Plan To Deal With Fukushima Crisis
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's convert-to-a-mutant-farm department:
RedEaredSlider writes "Tokyo Electric Power Co. unveiled its plan for dealing with the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. TEPCO said the radiation levels should drop over the next three months. It will take about six months for the reactors to achieve 'cold shutdown' in which the temperature of the water inside the reactor is less than 100 degrees Celsius (212 F). The current plan for cooling the reactors will mean injecting nitrogen into the reactor pressure vessel. All four damaged reactors experienced hydrogen explosions when water, heated by nuclear fuel, turned to steam and reacted with the zirconium alloy cladding of the fuel rods. Hydrogen, when exposed to oxygen, combusts. Nitrogen is an inert gas, so TEPCO hopes that it will prevent further explosions."

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Book Review: R Graphs Cookbook
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 11:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it department:
RickJWagner writes "Once upon a time, I thought communication was one of my strong suits. Alas, a few years into my programming career I realized I'm more of the head-down codeslinging type, not one of the schmoozing managerial types. So when I have a point to make, I really like to have my data ready to do the talking for me. In that capacity, this book is a very good weapon to have in my arsenal." Read on for the rest of Rick's review. R Graphs Cookbook
author Hrishi Mittal
pages 272
publisher Packt Publishing
rating 8/10
reviewer RickJWagner
ISBN 1849513066
summary An invaluable reference book for expert R users

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Chrome Feature Helps Shield Websites From DDoS Attacks
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's anti-slashdotting department:
An anonymous reader writes "Google has an interesting idea on how to take the edge off denial of service attacks. The latest developer builds of Chrome 12 have an option called 'http throttling,' which will simply deny a user access to a website once the browser has received error messages from the URL. Chrome will react with a 'back-off interval' that will increase the time between requests to the website. If there are enough Chrome requests flooding a website under attack, this could give webmasters some room to recover from a nasty DDoS attack."

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Can Open Source Hardware Feed the World?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-bet-it'd-feed-unicron department:
jfruhlinger writes "When it comes to food scarcity in the developing world, one of the major problems is production capacity: land that could be arable using modern techniques goes underutilized because locals don't have the ability to build or buy equipment. A group calling itself Open Source Ecology is trying to solve that problem. They've developed a set of open source hardware specs for 50 different industrial machines, which they're calling the Global Village Construction Set."

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Ask Slashdot: Do I Give IT a Login On Our Dept. Server?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 08:30 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's would-they-give-one-to-you department:
jddorian writes "I am head of a clinical division at an academic hospital (not Radiology, but similarly tech oriented). My fellow faculty (a dozen or so) want to switch from a paper calendar to electronic (night and weekend on-call schedule). Most have an iPhone or similar, so I envisaged a CalDAV server. The Hospital IT department doesn't offer any iPhone compatible calendar tool, so I bought (with my cash) a tiny server, installed BSD and OpenLDAP for accounts, and installed and configured DAViCal. After I tested it out, I emailed IT to ask to allow port 8443 through the hospital firewall to this server. The tech (after asking what port 8443 was for), said he would unblock the port after I provide him with a login account on the machine (though 'I don't need root access'). I was taken aback, and after considering it, I am still leaning toward opposing this request, possibly taking this up the chain. I'm happy to allow any scan, to ensure it has no security issues, but I'd rather not let anyone else have a login account. What do the readers of Slashdot think? Should I give IT a login account on a server that is not owned or managed by them?"

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Walking HECTOR Robot Inspired By Stick Insect
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 07:45 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's doomed-by-magnifying-glass department:
Zothecula writes "In an effort to understand how animals move elegantly and in turn provide robots with the same ability, researchers at the University of Bielefeld's Center of Excellence 'Cognitive Interaction Technology' (CITEC) have developed the hexapod walking robot called HECTOR (Hexapod Cognitive autonomously Operating Robot). Designed within CITEC's multi-disciplinary Mulero project, the robot possesses the scaled up morphology of a stick insect and will be used as a test bed in various departments and projects at the University."

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Titan May Have Ocean
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 06:45 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's to-cold-to-swim-here-too department:
olsmeister writes "Titan, has been a particular focus of attention because of its dense, complex atmosphere, its weather and its lakes and oceans. Now it looks as if Titan is even stranger still. The evidence comes from careful observations of Titan's orbit and rotation. This indicates that Titan has an orbit similar to our Moon's: it always presents the same face towards Saturn and its axis of rotation tilts by about 0.3 degrees. Together, these data allow astronomers to work out Titan's moment of inertia and this throws up something interesting. The numbers indicate that Titan's moment of inertia can only be explained if it is a solid body that is denser near the surface than it is at its centre."

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A "Throne" Fit For a Tech King
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 06:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's stay-a-while department:
WrongSizeGlass writes "PCWorld has an article on Kohler's new hi-tech toilet. The Numi comes complete with a detachable touch screen remote; motion-activated lid and seat; integrated air dryer; a heated seat; feet warmers; ambient lighting; built-in speakers with FM radio and an MP3 player input jack. If you have $6,300 to flush down the drain on a toilet this is for you."

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GPL Violations By D-Link and Boxee
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 06:00 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's hard-to-be-honest department:
An anonymous reader submitted a link to a bit of a rant on GPL issues connected to D-Link and Boxee. They spend quite a bit of time explaining 'Tivoization is a dangerous attempt to curtail users' freedom: the right to modify your software will become meaningless if none of your computers let you do it. GPLv3 stops tivoization by requiring the distributor to provide you with whatever information or data is necessary to install modified software on the device.'

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Wind Power Firm Sees No Evidence of Hack
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 05:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's why-can't-we-all-get-along department:
alphadogg writes "One day after a hacker posted screen shots and data to a hacking mailing list, saying he had broken into a New Mexico wind turbine facility, the company that runs the turbines says it has seen no evidence of a computer intrusion. The hacker, who calls himself Bigr R, made the claims Saturday, posting screenshots of the facility's management interface, screenshots of an FTP server and project management system, as well as Web server info and configuration data from a Cisco router."

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Is Your Antivirus Made By the Chinese Government?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's great-security-wall department:
guanxi writes "Huawei, a large Chinese telecom and IT company with close ties to the Chinese military has faced obstacles doing business in other countries, because governments are concerned about giving them access to critical infrastructure. Huawei Symantec is a joint venture with one of the world's largest IT security companies which sells security products in the US. Would the Chinese or other governments take the opportunity to create back doors into western IT networks? Wouldn't they be crazy not to?"

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Hacker Claims He Broke Into Wind Turbine Systems
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 02:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's I've-got-the-power department:
itwbennett writes "Claiming revenge for an 'illegitimate firing,' someone has posted screenshots and other data, apparently showing that he was able to break into a 200 megawatt wind turbine system owned by NextEra Energy Resources, a subsidiary of Florida Power & Light. In an e-mail interview, Bgr R said he's a former employee who discovered a vulnerability in the company's Cisco security management software that he then used to hack into the SCADA systems used to control the turbines. His motive was to embarrass the company, he said."

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Armenia Makes Chess Compulsory In Schools
Posted by News Fetcher on April 17 '11 at 11:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's castle-class department:
Hugh Pickens writes "AFP News reports that chess will become a required subject in primary schools in Armenia, where children from the age of six will learn chess as a separate subject on the curriculum for two hours a week. The lessons, which start later this year, will 'foster schoolchildren's intellectual development' and teach them to 'think flexibly and wisely', says Arman Aivazian, an official at the Ministry of Education. President Serzh Sarkisian, an enthusiastic supporter of the game, has committed around $1.5 million to the scheme in a move to turn the country of 3.2 million people into a global force in the games, says Aivazian. 'Teaching chess in schools will create a solid basis for the country to become a chess superpower.' Armenia's national team won gold at the biennial International Chess Olympiad in both 2006 and 2008, and the country's top player, Levon Aronian, is currently ranked number three in the world."

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Robots Enter Fukushima Reactor Building
Posted by News Fetcher on April 17 '11 at 09:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's our-radioactive-overlords department:
swandives writes "For the first time, a pair of remote controlled robots have entered a reactor building at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power hopes the iRobot Packbots will be able to provide data on the current condition inside the buildings, although the company hasn't yet released any information on what they found inside."

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Swedish File-Sharers File For Religious Status
Posted by News Fetcher on April 17 '11 at 06:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's guided-to-share department:
nloop writes "A group of file-sharers in Sweden have requested that their religion, Kopimism, be officially recognized in Sweden. Although this status has been denied once in the past the struggle for religious freedom from persecution continues. Aside from deeming CTRL+C CTRL+V as sacred symbols other beliefs include the flow of information being ethically right and closed source software being 'akin to slavery.'"

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Google Teaches Computers "Regret"
Posted by News Fetcher on April 17 '11 at 03:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's I-do-not-think-it-means-what-you-think-it-means. department:
mikejuk writes "Google is funding an AI project that will introduce the technical concept of regret into programs — but there's a big difference between regret and being sorry. In fact regret is just the difference between maximum possible reward and the actual reward received and the project is about optimization. There are two things to learn from this situation. The first is that just because some numerical measure is called 'regret' it doesn't mean it has anything to do with the common use of the term. Secondly if you are going to invent an AI technique then picking emotive words for your jargon is a good way to ensure publicity."

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