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Workers Poisoned Making Touchscreen Hardware
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's welcome-to-the-jungle deptartment:
SocResp writes "A chemical called n-hexane has been poisoning the nervous systems of Chinese workers who assemble touchscreen devices for Apple and other companies, an investigative journalist from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports. It's scary to think that people are being damaged to pursue high production rates. For companies with soaring profits and share prices, elaborate product development and marketing it seems they should be all the more culpable if they fail to take care of the production workers."

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Users Sue Google, Facebook, Zynga Over Privacy
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's three-wrist-slaps-coming-up deptartment:
Trailrunner7 writes "A raft of class action lawsuits filed in Federal court charge the globe's biggest social networking firms with violating federal communications privacy laws, allowing advertisers to profit from personal information harvested from users. Weeks after the Wall Street Journal blew the whistle on lax data privacy standards on Facebook, a string of class action suits attempt to hold the social networking giant, as well as game company Zynga and Google liable for what the suits contend are lax practices that allow advertisers to harvest personal information on Web users. The suits are seeking monetary damages on behalf of potentially millions of users of the three companies. The suits allege that the users' personal information has been leaked to advertisers and other unauthorized individuals, in violation of the companies' privacy policies and a number of state and federal statues protecting the confidentiality of electronic communications."

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Ozzy Osbourne's Genome Reveals Some Neanderthal Lineage
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 12:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's born-to-rock deptartment:
ByOhTek writes "CNN reports that in July, rocker Ozzy Osbourne became one of few to submit his blood to have his full genome sequenced and analyzed. The results are in, and it turns out his genome reveals some Neanderthal lineage. What does Ozzie have to say about it? 'I was curious, given the swimming pools of booze I've guzzled over the years - not to mention all of the cocaine, morphine, sleeping pills, cough syrup, LSD, Rohypnol... there's really no plausible medical reason why I should still be alive. Maybe my DNA could say why,' he wrote."

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Fun With an Induction Cooktop?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's do-try-this-at-home deptartment:
fishfrys writes "Besides generating heat quickly and efficiently in ferromagnetic pans, what sorts of fun things can you do with an induction cooktop? This seems like a pretty serious piece of electromagnetic equipment — boiling water can't be the only thing it's good for. I went to YouTube, expecting to find all sorts of crazy videos of unsafe induction cooktop shenanigans, but found only cooking. What sort of exciting, if not stupid, physics experiments can be performed with one? Hard drive scrubber? DIY Tesla coil? There's got to be something."

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Scholars Say ACTA Needs Senate Approval
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's setting-us-up-for-disappointment-when-they-ratify-it deptartment:
suraj.sun passes along this excerpt from Wired: "More than 70 academics, mostly legal scholars, are urging President Barack Obama to open a proposed international intellectual-property agreement to public review before signing it. The likely route for that is bringing the [Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement] to the Senate for ratification. ... the intellectual property accord, which Obama could sign by year's end, has pretty much been hammered out in secret between the European Union, Japan, the United States and a few other international players, including Canada and Australia. Noticeably absent is China. That said, these academics suggested that Obama does not have the authority to unilaterally sign the accord, which has been in the works for three years and is nearly final. Instead, they said, it should be considered a treaty, necessitating two-thirds Senate approval."

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US Objects To the Kilogram
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's weighty-subjects deptartment:
Velcroman1 writes "For 130 years, the kilogram has weighed precisely one kilogram. Hasn't it? The US government isn't so sure. The precise weight of the kilogram is based on a platinum-iridium cylinder manufactured 130 years ago; it's kept in a vault in France at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures. Forty of the units were manufactured at the time, to standardize the measure of weight. But due to material degradation and the effects of quantum physics, the weight of those blocks has changed over time. That's right, the kilogram no longer weighs 1 kilogram, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. And it's time to move to a different standard anyway. A proposed revision would remove the final connection to that physical bit of matter, said Ambler Thompson, a NIST scientist involved in the international effort. 'We get rid of the last artifact.'"

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Geocities To Be Made Available As a 900GB Torrent
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's only-half-will-be-under-construction-gifs deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Felt a shortage of the blink tag in your life lately? Well, have no fear. One year after Geocities was shut down in a cost-cutting move by Yahoo, a group self-styled as 'The Archive Team' have announced they will be releasing a ~900GB torrent file archive. It doesn't have every single site, but they believe they got most of it. The team believes that it's important to not just delete our digital culture, and as crazy as Geocities may have been, it was an important cultural milestone in the history of showing that anyone could create content online."

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British Pizza Chain To Install Cones of Silence
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 11:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's sound-of-silence deptartment:
itwbennett writes "British pizza chain Pizza Express is installing iPod docks and soundproof domes in booths of their new iPizzeria stores. 'The idea is that you can plug in your iPod and play whatever music you like without disturbing other diners,' says blogger Peter Smith. 'But I'm sure it'd work for talking about government secrets and other spy stuff, too.'"

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Stopping Malaria By Immunizing Mosquitoes
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's will-they-get-a-public-option deptartment:
RedEaredSlider writes "Millions of people in the tropics suffer from malaria, a mosquito-borne disease that has been difficult to treat and which costs many developing countries millions of dollars per year in lost productivity. Up to now, efforts at controlling it have focused on attacking the parasites that cause it, keeping mosquitoes from biting, or killing the insects. But at Johns Hopkins University, Rhoel Dinglasan, an entomologist and biologist, decided to try another tack: immunizing mosquitoes. When a mosquito bites an infected human, it takes up some of the gametocytes. They aren't dangerous to people at that stage. Since plasmodium is vulnerable there, that is the point Dinglasan chose to attack. A mosquito's gut has certain receptor molecules in it that the plasmodium can bind to. Dinglasan asked what would happen if the parasite couldn't 'see' them, which would happen if another molecule, some antigen, were binding to those receptors."

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Annual US Intelligence Bill Tops $80 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's annual-US-stupidity-bill-much-higher deptartment:
Ponca City writes "The LA Times reports that the US government has disclosed its annual intel budget for the first time in more than a decade: $80.1 billion on intelligence gathering, representing about 12% of the nation's $664-billion defense budget. The government revealed the total intelligence budget twice before, in 1997 and 1998, in response to a lawsuit. It was $26.6 billion and $26.7 billion, respectively, meaning the budget has tripled in 12 years. 'It is clear that the overall spending on intelligence has blossomed to an unacceptable level in the past decade,' says Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. Dana Priest reported that more than 1,200 government agencies or offices and almost 2,000 outside contractors are involved in counter-terrorism activities, producing about 50,000 intelligence reports each year, far more than the government can effectively digest. The US is running so many secret programs that James R. Clapper Jr., director of national intelligence, said during his confirmation hearings that 'only one entity in the entire universe' knows what they're all doing, and 'that's God.'"

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The Galaxy May Have Billions of Habitable Planets
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's going-full-drake deptartment:
The Bad Astronomer writes "A recent astronomical report (abstract in Science) came out stating that as many as 1 in 4 sun-like stars have roughly earth-mass planets. But are they habitable? A simple bit of math based on some decent assumptions shows that there may be billions of potentially habitable worlds in the galaxy. '... astronomers studied 166 stars within 80 light years of Earth, and did a survey of the planets they found orbiting them. What they found is that about 1.5% of the stars have Jupiter-mass planets, 6% have Neptune-mass ones, and about 12% have planets from 3 – 10 times the Earth’s mass. This sample isn’t complete, and they cannot detect planets smaller than 3 times the Earth’s mass. But using some statistics, they can estimate from the trend that as many as 25% of sun-like stars have earth-mass planets orbiting them!' Getting to them, of course, is another problem altogether..."

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Hiding Backdoors In Hardware
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hamster-escape-route deptartment:
quartertime writes "Remember Reflections on Trusting Trust, the classic paper describing how to hide a nearly undetectable backdoor inside the C compiler? Here's an interesting piece about how to hide a nearly undetectable backdoor inside hardware. The post describes how to install a backdoor in the expansion ROM of a PCI card, which during the boot process patches the BIOS to patch grub to patch the kernel to give the controller remote root access. Because the backdoor is actually housed in the hardware, even if the victim reinstalls the operating system from a CD, they won't clear out the backdoor. I wonder whether China, with its dominant position in the computer hardware assembly business, has already used this technique for espionage. This perhaps explains why the NSA has its own chip fabrication plant."

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Mount Everest Gets 3G Service
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 08:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's yeti-bell deptartment:
bossanovalithium writes "It's what every mountaineer wants when they reach the summit of Mount Everest: a 3G high-speed communication. Those who have trekked to the top will soon able to call their mates, go on Facebook or Twitter, and boast that they got there thanks to TeliaSonera and its subsidiary in Nepal, Ncell, which have brought 3G to the Mount Everest area. Climbers who reached Everest's 8,848-meter-high peak previously depended on expensive and erratic satellite phone coverage and a voice-only network set up by China Mobile in 2007 on the Chinese side of the mountain."

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IE6 Addiction Inhibits Windows 7 Migrations
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 07:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's second-verse-same-as-the-first deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "As anyone in the industry will tell you, a lot of money went into developing web applications specific to IE6. And corporations can't leave Windows XP for Windows 7 until IE6 runs (in some way) on Windows 7. Microsoft wants to leave that non-standard browser mess behind them, but as the article notes, 'Organizations running IE6 have told Gartner that 40% of their custom-built browser-dependent applications won't run on IE8, the version packaged with Windows 7. Thus, many companies face a tough decision: Either spend time and money to upgrade those applications so that they work in newer browsers, or stick with Windows XP.' Support for XP is going to end in April 2014. In order to deal with this, companies are looking at virtualizing IE6 only (instead of a full operating system) so that it can run on Windows 7 — even though Microsoft says this violates licensing agreements. IE6 is estimated to have roughly 16% of browser market share, and due to mistakes in the past it may never truly die."

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Facebook Adds Friend Stalker Tool
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can't-win-for-losing deptartment:
nk497 writes "Facebook has added a new tool that brings together conversations and photos between friends onto a single page, but — as usual — has crossed the creepy line. Not only does clicking the See Friendship tool let users view photos, comments and events shared between themselves and their friend, it also offers a search tool to do the same between any two mutual friends, making it easy to see everything any two people have ever said to each other Facebook. As usual, the site should have tested the function out on their users first, with one saying: 'I've always wanted this! And yes, I'm a creepy stalker.' Also, as usual for Facebook, all users are automatically opted in, and there's currently no obvious way to turn it off."

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Scholars Say ACTA Needs Senate Approval
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's setting-us-up-for-disappointment-when-they-ratify-it deptartment:
suraj.sun passes along this excerpt from Wired: "More than 70 academics, mostly legal scholars, are urging President Barack Obama to open a proposed international intellectual-property agreement to public review before signing it. The likely route for that is bringing the [Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement] to the Senate for ratification. ... the intellectual property accord, which Obama could sign by year's end, has pretty much been hammered out in secret between the European Union, Japan, the United States and a few other international players, including Canada and Australia. Noticeably absent is China. That said, these academics suggested that Obama does not have the authority to unilaterally sign the accord, which has been in the works for three years and is nearly final. Instead, they said, it should be considered a treaty, necessitating two-thirds Senate approval."

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Vans Drive Themselves Across the World
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 05:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's next-up-beer-runs deptartment:
bossanovalithium writes "Four driverless electric vans successfully ended a 13,000-kilometer test drive from Italy to China which mirrored the journey carried out by Marco Polo in the Middle Ages. The four vans, packed with navigation gear and other computer software, drove themselves across eastern Europe, Russia, Kazakhstan and the Gobi Desert without getting lost. They had been equipped with four solar-powered laser scanners and seven video cameras that work together to detect and avoid obstacles."

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Separating Cyber-Warfare Fact From Fantasy
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 04:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's joshua-called-me deptartment:
smellsofbikes writes "This week's New Yorker magazine has an investigative essay by Seymour Hersh about the US and its part in cyber-warfare that makes for interesting reading. Hersh talks about the financial incentives behind many of the people currently pushing for increased US spending on supposed solutions to network vulnerabilities and the fine and largely ignored distinction between espionage and warfare. Two quotes in particular stood out: one interviewee said, 'Current Chinese officials have told me that [they're] not going to attack Wall street, because [they] basically own it,' and Whitfield Diffie, on encryption, 'I'm not convinced that lack of encryption is the primary problem [of vulnerability to network attack]. The problem with the Internet is that it's meant for communication among non-friends.' The article also has some interesting details on the Chinese disassembly and reverse-engineering of a Lockheed P-3 Orion filled with espionage and eavesdropping hardware that was forced to land in China after a midair collision."

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Inside Google's Anti-Malware Operation
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 01:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's please-use-more-stress-positions deptartment:
Trailrunner7 writes "A Google malware researcher gave a rare peek inside the company's massive anti-malware and anti-phishing efforts at the SecTor conference here, and the data the company has gathered shows that the attackers who make it their business to infect sites and exploit users are adapting their tactics very quickly and creatively to combat the efforts of Google and others. While Google is still a relative newcomer to the public security scene, the company has deployed a number of services and technologies recently that are designed to identify phishing sites, as well as sites serving malware, and prevent users from finding them. The tools include the Google SafeBrowsing API and a handful of services that are available to help site owners and network administrators find and eliminate malware and the attendant bugs from their sites. Fabrice Jaubert, of Google's anti-malware team, said the company has had good luck identifying and weeding out malicious sites of late. Still, as much as 1.5 percent of all search result pages on Google include links to at least one malware-distribution site, he said."

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Australia's Privacy Boss Slams Gov't Data-Retention Scheme
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '10 at 10:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's here-we've-got-czars-instead-of-bosses deptartment:
mask.of.sanity writes "The Australian Government's privacy commissioner has slammed its plans to implement a data retention scheme, in which it would asked telcos and internet to store the browsing and calling logs of Australian subscribers. He said the scheme would put user privacy in jeopardy because data will lie around at the behest of law enforcement. The Aussie scheme would be based on that which exists in Europe under the EU Directive. The directive aims to give law enforcement authorities the ability to ascertain the identity of a person using a public network to communicate by mobile, fixed line, email, or internet. The directive defines 'data' to be collected as 'traffic data and location data and the related data necessary to identify the subscriber or user.'"

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