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Gawker Source Code and Databases Compromised
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '10 at 03:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's let's-see-what-we-have deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Passwords and personal data for 1.3 million Gawker Media readers — this includes readers of sites like Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Kotaku, and io9 — have been released as a BitTorrent by a group of hackers called Gnosis, who also managed to gain access to both the Gawker CMS and Gizmodo's Twitter account. Gawker confirms and urges readers to change their passwords : 'Our user databases do indeed appear to have been compromised. The passwords were encrypted. But simple ones may be vulnerable to a brute-force attack. You should change the password on Gawker (GED/commenting system) and on any other sites on which you've used the same passwords. Out of an abundance of caution, you should also change your company email password and any passwords that may have appeared in your email messages. We're deeply embarrassed by this breach. We should not be in the position of relying on the goodwill of the hackers who identified the weakness in our systems.'"

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NASA Solar Sail Lost In Space
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '10 at 02:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's never-to-sail-again deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "According to Spaceflight Now: 'NASA has not heard from the experimental NanoSail-D miniature solar sail in nearly a week, prompting officials to wonder if the craft actually deployed from a larger mother satellite despite initial indications it ejected as designed.' NanoSail-D's spring-ejection was indicated at 1:31 a.m. EST Monday, leading to a predicted release of the spacecraft's sail membrane around 1:30 a.m. EST Thursday."

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Diabetic Men May Be Able To Grow Their Own Insulin-Producing Cells
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '10 at 12:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's presto-chango deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Men with type 1 diabetes may be able to grow their own insulin-producing cells from their testicular tissue, say Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) researchers who presented their findings today at the American Society of Cell Biology 50th annual meeting in Philadelphia. Their laboratory and animal study is a proof of principle that human spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) extracted from testicular tissue can morph into insulin-secreting beta islet cells normally found in the pancreas. And the researchers say they accomplished this feat without use of any of the extra genes now employed in most labs to turn adult stem cells into a tissue of choice."

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Next Generation of Algorithms Inspired by Ants
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '10 at 11:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's bugs-for-bugs deptartment:
letsurock writes "Ant's capability to find the shortest route through a maze in an hour and to find the second shortest route when the first path was obstructed has inspired researchers creating algorithms for the future. From the article: 'Finding the most efficient path through a busy network is a common challenge faced by delivery drivers, telephone routers and engineers. To solve these optimization problems using software, computer scientists have often sought inspiration from ant colonies in nature - creating algorithms that simulate the behavior of ants who find the most efficient routes from their nests to food sources by following each other's volatile pheromone trails. The most widely used of these ant-inspired algorithms is known as Ant Colony Optimization (ACO).'"

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The Woman Who's Making Your Privacy Her Business
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '10 at 10:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's never-disobey-mother deptartment:
davecb writes "The woman who faced down Facebook and was dissed by Silicon Valley business boys as 'an old-fashioned scold' is really one of the early advocates for using the internet for access to information, and to open up government. The Globe and Mail has an interview with Jennifer Stoddart, the privacy commissioner of Canada, who went up against Facebook for all of us, and made them back down."

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Microsoft Seeks 1-Click(er) Patent
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '10 at 08:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's all-your-clicks-are-belong-to-us deptartment:
theodp writes "Assuming things go patent reformer Microsoft's way, answering multiple choice, true/false, or yes/no questions in a classroom could soon constitute patent infringement. Microsoft's just-published patent application for its Adaptive Clicker Technique describes how 'multiple different types of clickers' can be used by students to answer questions posed by teachers. The interaction provided by its 'invention', explains Microsoft, 'increases attention and enhances learning.' Microsoft's Interactive Classroom Add-In for Office (video) provides polling features that allow students to 'answer and respond through their individual OneNote notebooks, hand-held clickers, or computers, and the results display in the [PowerPoint] presentation.' So, did Bill Gates mention to Oprah that the education revolution will be patented?"

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When Computers Go Wrong
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '10 at 07:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's best-of-intentions deptartment:
Barence writes "PC Pro's Stewart Mitchell has charted the world's ten most calamitous computer cock-ups. They include the Russians' stealing software that resulted in their gas pipeline exploding, the Mars Orbiter that went missing because the programmers got their imperial and metric measurements mixed up, the Soviet early-warning system that confused the sun for a missile and almost triggered World War III, plus the Windows anti-piracy measure that resulted in millions of legitimate customers being branded software thieves."

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WikiLeaks, Money, and Ron Paul
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '10 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's headlines-that-will-make-some-people-mad deptartment:
Another day, another dozen WikiLeaks stories, several of which revolve around money. PayPal has given in to pressure to release WikiLeaks funds, though they still won't do further transactions. Mobile payment firm Xipwire is attempting to take PayPal's place. "We do think people should be able to make their own decisions as to who they donate to." PCWorld wonders if the WikiLeaks' money woes could lead to great adoption of Bitcoin, the peer-to-peer currency system we've discussed in the past. Meanwhile, Representative Ron Paul spoke in defense of WikiLeaks on the House floor Thursday, asking a number of questions, including, "Could it be that the real reason for the near universal attacks on WikiLeaks is more about secretly maintaining a seriously flawed foreign policy of empire than it is about national security?" The current uproar over WikiLeaks has prompted Paul Vixie to call for an end to the DDoS attacks and Vladimir Putin to break out a metaphor involving cows and hockey pucks.

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Hosting Giants Teaming Against Small Businesses
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '10 at 02:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's capitalism-never-gets-old deptartment:
BlueToast writes "Hosting giants SoftLayer, ThePlanet, Hosting Services Inc., and UK2 Group are teaming up to wipe out small competitors like SimpleCDN. Though ThePlanet isn't directly involved in the slicing of SimpleCDN's throat, ThePlanet runs the sales chat scripts for SoftLayer (check your NoScript). As a loyal customer of SimpleCDN, I really do not appreciate the disruption of service to a company I have been with for over a year. SimpleCDN's president wrote, 'Absolutely no valid reason or warning was or has been given for this termination, and our best guess currently is that these organizations could not provide the services that we contracted and paid for, so instead they decided that terminating services would be the best solution for them.'"

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World's Smallest Battery Created
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '10 at 11:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's only-need-fifty-thousand-of-them-to-power-a-phone deptartment:
Zothecula writes "Because battery technology hasn't developed as quickly as the electronic devices they power, a greater and greater percentage of the volume of these devices is taken up by the batteries needed to keep them running. Now a team of researchers working at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies has created the world's smallest battery. 'It consists of a bulk lithium cobalt cathode three millimeters long, an ionic liquid electrolyte, and has as its anode a single tin oxide (Sn02) nanowire 10 nanometers long and 100 nanometers in diameter.' (Abstract in Science.) Although the tiny battery won't be powering next year's mobile phones, it has already provided insights into how batteries work and should enable the development of smaller and more efficient batteries in the future."

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ChromeOS Laptop-Smashing Ad Equation Solved
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '10 at 08:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's geeks-are-nothing-if-not-reliable deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Google's latest marketing video for Chrome OS is interesting to watch for the laptop-smashing amateurs or the slow motion fans, but the real fun may be at 2:24 in the video where a X=G/(CHROM-3) equation is displayed on a chalkboard. Only 20 hours later, it has already been cracked by Jamendo founder Sylvain Zimmer and his team. They posted details on how they did it and won a Cr-48 netbook, which may not even be delivered because they are not in the US"

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Online Tracking Firms To Launch Opt-Out Program
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '10 at 05:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-can-trust-us deptartment:
storagedude writes "Threatened by the prospect of tougher US online privacy legislation, a handful of data collection companies have banded together to create a voluntary system for consumers to see what information companies have and to opt out of cookies or edit the data collected. The Better Advertising Project's Open Data Partnership is a long way from a viable solution — scores of tracking and big-name online companies have yet to sign on to the effort — but it is nonetheless the first attempt to put all this online tracking data in one place. Coupled with Microsoft's announcement this week that it plans to add a do-not-track mechanism to IE9, it appears that the FTC's call for a do-not-track system may be gaining some traction. The Open Data Partnership will be particularly interesting, as consumers will be getting a good look at the data collected about them. Better Advertising already lets consumers opt out of some behavioral ad targeting, and about 5% of those who click through to learn more actually opt out (PDF, slide 5). It will be interesting to see if the opt-out rate changes after consumers see what data is actually collected." To be clear, they aren't saying they'll stop collecting the data. They'll just make it available to users and let people opt out of getting ads based on the information, or simply remove anything they don't want shared.

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All-Analog DIY Segway Project
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '10 at 04:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's take-out-some-cliff-insurance-buddy deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "One of the zany hacker-makers here at MIT just finished this DIY Segway project (video). Difference from the others: it's all analog. The controller is built without a microprocessor or even digital logic. It does use a gyroscope like the real Segway. The functionality looks fairly basic, but the fact that the controller works at all is amazing. The guy has a ton of other projects on his site too. Definitely worth a read for people who enjoy building things."

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Small Fujitsu Device Harvests Both Solar and Thermal Energy
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '10 at 03:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's things-to-wallpaper-your-EV-with deptartment:
destinyland writes "Fujitsu has built a device that can simultaneously harvest energy from either light or heat. They've reduced production costs by using the same cheap organic substrate for both conversion processes, while also doubling the potential amount of energy that can be collected. 'Previously, dual harvesting of energy could only be done by combining two different devices,' the article notes — and the device's solar converter can even draw energy from indoor lighting as well as direct sunlight. Fujitsu predicts the device will be especially useful for powering medical sensors, since the flexible substrate can be included in monitors which conform to the shape of the human body."

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Feds To Adopt 'Cloud First' IT Policy
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '10 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what-happens-when-the-cloud-wants-to-move-to-the-cloud deptartment:
theodp writes "The White House Thursday announced plans to restructure IT by consolidating federal government data centers and applications, and adopting a so-called 'cloud first' policy. Unveiled by federal CIO Vivek Kundra, the 25-Point Plan (PDF) calls for cutting 800+ data centers by 2015, as well as shifting work to cloud computing systems. The new 'Cloud First' policy cites the ability of Animoto.com to scale vs. the government's short-lived Cars.gov (Cash for Clunkers), although Google Trends suggests this may be somewhat of an apple-to-oranges comparison for justifying a national IT strategy. As long as we're talking clouds, a tag cloud of the 25-Point Plan underscores that the Feds are counting more on IT Program and Contract Management rather than Computer Science wizardry to deliver 'the productivity improvements that private industry has realized from IT.' Not to be a buzzkill, but those of you celebrating CS Education Week might be advised to consider an MBA if you want a Federal IT career."

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Interval's Patent Suit Against the World Dismissed
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '10 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's method-and-system-for-existing-and-failing-to-not-exist deptartment:
randall77 writes with an update to a story we discussed in August about a patent infringement suit filed by Interval Licensing, a firm run by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, against many major tech companies over vague and broadly defined business methods. That patent suit has now been dismissed. Quoting Groklaw: "The court agreed with Google et al that it 'lacks adequate factual detail to satisfy the dictates of Twombly and Iqbal and also 'fails to provide sufficient factual detail as suggested by Form 18.' The court doesn't agree with Allen's Interval Licensing that the two cases do not apply to patent complaints, but it doesn't even need to go there: 'The Court does not find it necessary to determine whether Form 18 is no longer adequate under Twombly and Iqbal because Plaintiff's complaint fails to satisfy either the Supreme Court's interpretation of Rule 8 or Form 18.' Go Google. That was their argument in their motion to dismiss, along with AOL's. Google said the complaint was too vague to meet the standard under Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937 (2009) and Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). Then, after Interval Licensing brought up the lower patent form standard it thought should apply instead, AOL jumped in saying the complaint was too vague under even that standard, and the court agreed.

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Backscatter X-Ray Machines Easily Fooled
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '10 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's my-pants-pockets-are-not-bombs-stop-grabbing-my-@&# deptartment:
Pinckney writes "A paper by Leon Kaufman and Joseph W. Carlson in the Journal of Transportation Security asserts that x-ray backscatter machines are not very effective (PDF) even in their intended role. While carelessly placed contraband will be detected, the machines have glaring blind-spots and have difficulty distinguishing explosives from human tissue. As they write, 'It is very likely that a large (15–20 cm in diameter), irregularly-shaped, cm-thick pancake [of PETN explosive] with beveled edges, taped to the abdomen, would be invisible to this technology. ... It is also easy to see that an object such as a wire or a boxcutter blade, taped to the side of the body, or even a small gun in the same location, will be invisible.'"

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Venezuelan Gov't Seeks Internet Content Bill
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '10 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's suddenly-the-fcc-doesn't-look-so-bad deptartment:
Ah, none is more coward! writes "Several local and international news outlets report that the overwhelmingly pro-Chávez Venezuelan National Assembly is considering a reform of their Social Responsibility law to include Internet content. Besides regulations on mature content and mandatory airing of government messages, the existing bill includes broad prohibitions against 'destabilizing' and 'disquieting' content. The Assembly also has a proposal for a single national Internet access point, 'with a view to handling outgoing and incoming traffic in Venezuela.'"

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Apple, Google Diss the DoD Over Mobile Security
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '10 at 09:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's who-wears-the-pants deptartment:
Julie188 writes "The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has long supported the use of BlackBerry smartphones for soldiers. It built a system called Go Mobile to provide secure communications, training, and collaboration applications to mobile soldiers. DISA recently decided to add Android and iPhone to the list of approved devices because of high demand from users. Unfortunately, this choice has become a giant pain in the flank. Why? Because both Apple and Google refuse to give DISA access to their security APIs."

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Protect Your Pre-1997 IP Address
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '10 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's careful-that's-an-antique deptartment:
CWmike writes "With IPv4 space running out any day now, is your legacy IP address space safe? Marc Lindsey writes that if your company obtained its IP address space before 1997, you have probably received several letters from the American Registry for Internet Numbers encouraging you to enter into a contractual agreement to protect the IP address. But should you sign it? Be careful — there are several issues you should consider before signing up for this, writes Lindsey, who offers a deeper look at the issue."

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