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Samsung HD Unit Bought By Seagate
Posted by News Fetcher on April 19 '11 at 05:45 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's slow-news-day department:
nanoflower followed up on a recent story about the unpredictable future of data storage. That story talked about Western Digital buying Hitachi, leaving just 4 players. Now:
"Yet another hard drive company is going by the wayside, as Seagate is buying the Samsung HDD unit. Seagate is buying the unit for $1.375 billion (half in stock, half in cash.)"

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Google Tweaks Algorithm; EHow Traffic Plummets
Posted by News Fetcher on April 19 '11 at 05:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's small-mercies department:
jfruhlinger writes "For some time there's been rumbling that Google's search results have been gummed up by low-quality pages from 'content farms,' written at low or no cost specifically to score high on common Google queries. Now it looks like the latest update to Google's search algorithm is having an effect, cutting into traffic to eHow (and cutting down the stock price of eHow's owner, Demand Media, in the process)."

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Bug Forces Android Devices Off Princeton Campus Network
Posted by News Fetcher on April 19 '11 at 04:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's your-computer-is-broadcasting-an-ip-address department:
pmdubs writes "A major bug in the Android DHCP implementation has forced network administrators to (effectively) ban the use of such devices on the Princeton campus. In the last few months, Princeton has had to kick more than 400 Android devices off the campus network for using IP addresses well beyond the allotted DHCP lease (to the detriment of other users), sending invalid DHCPREQUEST messages after lease expiration, and a variety of other wacky behaviors. The link provides a clearly documented explanation of the buggy behavior, as does this largely neglected bug report. Without doubt, this buggy behavior is affecting other, less vigilant networks, and disrupting Wi-Fi traffic for Android and non-Android devices alike."

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Final Report: Pan-European Cyber Security Exercise
Posted by News Fetcher on April 19 '11 at 01:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's none-of-us-are-as-dumb-as-all-of-us department:
Orome1 writes "The EU's cyber security agency, ENISA, has issued its final report (PDF) on the first Pan-European cyber security exercise for public bodies, Cyber Europe 2010. The exercise was conducted on the 4th of November, 2010. Its objective was to trigger communication and collaboration between countries in the event of large-scale cyber-attacks. Over 70 experts from the participating public bodies worked together to counter over 300 simulated hacking attacks aimed at paralyzing the Internet and critical online services across Europe. During the exercise, a simulated loss of Internet connectivity between the countries took place, requiring cross-border cooperation to avoid a (simulated) total network crash."

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ESRB To Automate Game Rating
Posted by News Fetcher on April 19 '11 at 12:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's rated-l-for-lazy department:
The Entertainment Software Rating Board, which has struggled to keep up with the flood of games produced for app stores and other online markets, is now taking steps to automate the rating process.
"Starting on Monday the ratings board plans to begin introducing computers to the job of deciding whether a game is appropriate for Everyone, for Teens or for Mature gamers (meaning older than 16). To do this the organization has written a program designed to replicate the ingrained cultural norms and predilections of the everyday American consumer, at least when it comes to what is appropriate for children and what isn’t. ... the main evaluation of hundreds of games each year will be based not on direct human judgment but instead on a detailed digital questionnaire meant to gauge every subtle nuance of violence, sexuality, profanity, drug use, gambling and bodily function that could possibly offend anyone. The questionnaire, to be filled out by a game’s makers (with penalties for nondisclosure), is like a psychological inquest into the depths of all the things our culture considers potentially unwholesome."

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NASA Awards New Commercial Crew Contracts
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 10:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's broadening-the-base department:
FleaPlus writes "Continuing last year's successful CCDev (Commercial Crew Development) program, NASA has selected four companies to receive 'CCDev2' seed funding for commercial crew systems. The companies will only receive money if they meet development and testing milestones in the next year, with $75M going to SpaceX for developing their sidemount escape system and testing their Dragon capsule, $92M to Boeing for developing their CST-100 capsule, $80M to Sierra Nevada Corp.'s DreamChaser top-mounted spaceplane, and $22M for Blue Origin's capsule and pusher escape system."

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Used Game Penalty Escalates With SOCOM 4
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 08:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's blood-from-a-stone department:
Technologizer reports on this unwelcome development for used game buyers:
"SOCOM 4: US Navy Seals charts a new course in punishing used game buyers, and it’s at once better and worse than the status quo of $10 online passes. As described on the official Playstation Blog, SOCOM 4 will let all players access the game’s multiplayer portion — as it should, because online play has always been SOCOM’s main attraction — but used game buyers will miss out on special guns, game types, and other perks to be added later. To get these features with a used copy of the game, you’ll have to buy a $15 activation code. Sony’s spinning this bundle of features, dubbed 'SOCOM Pro,' as an enhancement for new game buyers, rather than a drawback for used copies. It’s semantics, sure, but it’s also the direction in which these used game restrictions should be going."

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Justices Question Microsoft's Vision of Patent Law
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 08:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's pipe-down-clarence department:
angry tapir writes "US Supreme Court justices on Monday questioned whether they should side with Microsoft and weaken the legal standard needed to invalidate a patent, with some justices suggesting there are alternatives to changing established law. The issue arose as part of the case involving Redmond and i4i."

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Sophos Slams Facebook Security In Open Letter
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 06:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's proactive-vs-slowactive department:
An anonymous reader writes "Security experts are calling on Facebook to implement a three-point plan to improve safety online. Sophos says it receives reports every day of crime and fraud on Facebook, and that victims are desperate for advice on how to clean up their profiles and undo the consequences. In an open letter to Facebook, the firm calls upon the social networking giant to adopt three principles: privacy by default (opt-in sharing), vetted app developers, and use of https whenever possible. 'Our question to Facebook is this — why wait until regulators force your hand on privacy? Act now for the greater good of all.'"

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Is Sugar Toxic?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 04:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's toxic-is-delicious department:
a_hanso tips an article by Gary Taubes in the NYTimes Magazine that evaluates claims from Dr. Robert Lustig's virally popular lecture on the negative effects of sugar on peoples' health. (YouTube video of the lecture.) Taubes discusses the science behind the claims and the odd willingness of people to accept Lustig's arguments without further inspection. Quoting:
"When I set out to interview public health authorities and researchers for this article, they would often initiate the interview with some variation of the comment 'surely you’ve spoken to Robert Lustig,' not because Lustig has done any of the key research on sugar himself, which he hasn’t, but because he’s willing to insist publicly and unambiguously, when most researchers are not, that sugar is a toxic substance that people abuse. In Lustig’s view, sugar should be thought of, like cigarettes and alcohol, as something that’s killing us. This brings us to the salient question: Can sugar possibly be as bad as Lustig says it is?"

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Open Source Programming Tools On the Rise
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 03:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's movin'-on-up department:
snydeq writes "Peter Wayner takes a look at several open source development projects making waves in the enterprise. From Git to Hadoop to build management tools, 'even in the deepest corners of proprietary stacks, open source tools can be found, often dominating. The reason is clear: Open source licenses are designed to allow users to revise, fix, and extend their code. The barber or cop may not be familiar enough with code to contribute, but programmers sure know how to fiddle with their tools. The result is a fertile ecology of ideas and source code, fed by the enthusiasm of application developers who know how to "scratch an itch."'"

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Using Neutrons To Precisely Test Newton's Law of Gravity
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '11 at 03:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's attempting-the-full-isaac department:
NotSanguine writes with this excerpt from the BBC:
"The neutrons are shot between two parallel plates, one above another and separated by about 25 micrometres — half a hair's width. The upper plate absorbs neutrons, and the lower plate reflects them. As they pass through, they trace out an arc, just like a thrown ball falling due to gravity. ... The new work by the ILL team has added what is known as a piezoelectric resonator to the bottom plate; its purpose is to jiggle the bottom plate at a very particular frequency. The researchers found that as they changed the bottom plate's vibration frequency, there were distinct dips in the number of neutrons detected outside the plates — particular, well-spaced 'resonant' frequencies that the neutrons were inclined to absorb. These frequencies, then, are the gravitational quantum states of neutrons, essentially having energy bounced into them by the bottom plate, and the researchers were able for the first time to force the neutrons from one quantum state to another. The differences in the frequencies — which are proportional to energy — of each of these transitions will be an incredibly sensitive test of gravity at the microscopic scale."

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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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