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Why UK Banks Don't Tweet
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '11 at 11:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Banks in Great Britain are running scared of using social media services like Facebook and Twitter — owing to case law that dates from 1924." That case law "means financial services companies can't publicly identify an individual who has an account with them," so responding to customer inquiries in other than the traditional ways (like post and in-person) could get banks in trouble.

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Chinese Phone Maker ZTE Turns Down WP7
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '11 at 08:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Chinese smartphone maker ZTE, fifth largest in the world, has publicly criticized Microsoft for the lackluster market reaction to its Windows Phone 7 operating system and said that ZTE has no plans to develop a WP7-powered phone. That's bad news for Microsoft for its well-regarded but not well-received mobile OS."

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New Film 'Zenith' Now Available For Free BitTorrent Download
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '11 at 05:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
airfoobar writes "This seems like a good week for libre culture. The first part of an surprisingly well-made cyberpunk thriller called Zenith has just been released as a torrent download through Vodo, and the third episode of Pioneer One is being released on the 28th."

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Japan Reluctant To Disclose Drone Footage of Fukushima Plant
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '11 at 04:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
garymortimer writes with word that "footage taken from an RQ-4 Global Hawk drone was passed on to the Japanese government with permission for public release from the US Air Force. US military sources said that the decision to release the footage — or not — was up to the Japanese government." The Japanese government, though, has thus far chosen not to release the high-resolution footage of the tsunami-damaged Fukushima nuclear plant.

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Apple's App Store Accepts 'Gay Cure' App
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '11 at 03:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
parallel_prankster writes "Apple is under fire for approving a controversial app created by a religious organization — Exodus International. The app seeks to help gay individuals become heterosexual. It received a '4' rating from Apple, which indicates the company considered the app to contain 'no objectionable material.' The new smartphone app was released last week and is now available through iTunes. Exodus International claims to be 'the world's largest ministry to individuals and families impacted by homosexuality.' A petition has been launched by Truth Wins Out, which describes itself as a non-profit organisation that fights anti-gay religious extremism on the change.org website, asking Steve Jobs to intervene to remove the app."

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UN Intervention Begins In Libya
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '11 at 02:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
maliamnon writes "US, French, and British forces began enforcing a UN resolution (1973/2011) to defend civilians in Libya today. French aircraft are attacking tanks, while the US and possibly UK are supporting the operation with cruise missiles from sea."

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Open-Source Bach; Copyright-Free Goldbergs
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '11 at 01:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
rDouglass writes "An open source music notation software (MuseScore) and an award winning pianist (Kimiko Ishizaka) are raising money to create a new score and a new recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations. They will release both works to the public domain (copyright-free) using the Creative Commons Zero tool. This bypasses usual copyright protections that are given to each published edition of the score and each individual recording of the piece, and addresses a gap in the availability of free (gratis/libre) versions of the work. MuseScore scores are XML based and are thus like the source code for music. They can also be embedded into websites and linked with YouTube videos, creating rich multimedia experiences. The Kickstarter project has begun recently and $4,000 has been raised."

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Postal Sensor Fleet Idea Gets Tentative Nod From the USPS
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '11 at 12:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
Late last year, we mentioned the idea floated by to Michael J. Ravnitzky, a chief counsel at the Postal Regulatory Commission, that the US Postal Service use its wide-ranging fleet to gather and upload useful data of all kinds — everything from weather conditions to RF coverage. Now, an anonymous reader writes "A workshop on this topic is scheduled for April 12th in Washington, DC. This month, the Postmaster General sent a letter to Senator Thomas Carper, Chairman of the US Senate Subcommittee that oversees the Postal Service, expressing interest in exploring this concept."

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Former Goldman Programmer Sentenced To 97 Months
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '11 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
stevegee58 writes "Former Goldman Sachs programmer Sergey Aleynikov was sentenced to 97 months in prison for stealing source code used in Goldman's high-frequency trading algorithms. Aleynikov was convicted late last year in Manhattan federal court."

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Ask Slashdot: How Prepared Are You For a Major Emergency?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '11 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
The northern US has been buried under snow several times this winter, and flooding has struck quite a few places in the southwest. Those pale, though, beside the recent disasters in Haiti, New Zealand, and Japan, and the seemingly inevitable arrival of a serious earthquake on the West Coast of the US. All of which has me thinking about my (meager) preparedness for a major disaster. Despite plans to stock up in case of a major storm or other emergency, right now I'd be down mostly to canned beans, sardines and Nutella. How prepared are you to do deal with a disaster affecting your region? Is your data safe? What about your family? Do have have escape, regrouping, or survival plans in the event of an earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, industrial accident, or whatever hazards are most relevant where you live? It would be helpful if in comments you disclose your region and environment (urban? rural? exurbs?) and the emergencies you consider worth preparing for, as well as talking about any steps you've taken or plan to take.

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'Pruned' Microchips Twice As Fast and Efficient
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '11 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
Zothecula writes "If you had to use a commuting bicycle in a race, you would probably set about removing the kickstand, fenders, racks and lights to make the thing as fast and efficient as possible. When engineers at Houston's Rice University are developing small, fast, energy-efficient chips for use in devices like hearing aids, it turns out they do pretty much the same thing. The removal of portions of circuits that aren't essential to the task at hand is known as 'probabilistic pruning,' and it results in chips that are twice as fast, use half the power, and are half the size of conventional chips."

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Cognitive Scientist David Rumelhart Dies At 68
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '11 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
dzou writes "David Rumelhart, a pioneer in building computer models of cognition and behavior, has died at the age of 68. Rumelhart conducted early research on artificial neural networks and helped develop the idea that cognition can be modeled through the interaction of many neuron-like units. In the 1980s, he was instrumental in developing neural networks that could learn to process information. At the time, although researchers understood how to train networks to solve linearly separable problems (like an AND gate), those networks could not solve linearly inseparable problems (like XOR), which would be crucial for modeling human cognitive processes. Rumelhart and his colleagues demonstrated that networks that solve these types of problems can be trained using the backpropagation learning algorithm. In turn, this has led to breakthroughs in areas like speech recognition and image processing, as well as models of human speech perception, language processing, vision, and higher-level cognition. Rumelhart suffered from Pick's disease in the last years of his life. An annual award in cognitive science, the David E. Rumelhart Prize, is given in his honor by the Glushko-Samuelson Foundation."

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See The Supermoon Tonight
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '11 at 07:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
watermark writes "About every 28 years a 'supermoon' occurs. This is when the moon's orbit is closest to earth at the same time as a full moon. Saturday night will be the biggest, brightest full moon you will see in the next 28 years."The buzzkills at Space.com explain though that (For North Americans at least) you'll actually only be seeing a "waning gibbous moon," but it should still be spectacular.

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Getting Past Censorship With Unorthodox Links To the Internet
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '11 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
An anonymous reader points out a short article at The Economist, which says "Savvy techies are finding ways to circumvent politically motivated shutdowns of the internet. Various groups around the world are using creative means like multi-directional mobile phone antennae and even microwave ovens to transmit internet traffic accross international borders."

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Geologists Say California May Be Next
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '11 at 04:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "Newsweek reports that first there was a violent magnitude-8.8 event in Chile in 2010, then a horrifically destructive Pacific earthquake in New Zealand on February 22, and now the recent earthquake in Japan. Though there is still no hard scientific evidence to explain why, there is little doubt now that earthquakes do tend to occur in clusters: a significant event on one side of a major tectonic plate is often — not invariably, but often enough to be noticeable — followed some weeks or months later by another on the plate's far side. 'It is as though the earth becomes like a great brass bell, which when struck by an enormous hammer blow on one side sets to vibrating and ringing from all over. Now there have been catastrophic events at three corners of the Pacific Plate — one in the northwest, on Friday; one in the southwest, last month; one in the southeast, last year.' That leaves just one corner unaffected — the northeast. And the fault line in the northeast of the Pacific Plate is the San Andreas Fault. Although geologists believe a 9.0 quake is virtually impossible along the San Andreas, USGS studies put the probability of California being hit by a quake measuring 7.5 or more in the next 30 years at 46 percent, and the likelihood of a 6.7 quake, comparable in size to the temblors that rocked San Francisco in 1989 and Los Angeles in 1994, at 99 percent statewide."

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DirectX 'Getting In the Way' of PC Game Graphics, Says AMD
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '11 at 03:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's deptartment:
Bit-tech recently spoke with Richard Huddy, worldwide developer relations manager of AMD's GPU division, about the lack of a great disparity between PC game graphics and console game graphics, despite the hardware gap. Quoting:"'We often have at least ten times as much horsepower as an Xbox 360 or a PS3 in a high-end graphics card, yet it's very clear that the games don't look ten times as good. To a significant extent, that's because, one way or another, for good reasons and bad - mostly good, DirectX is getting in the way.' Huddy says that one of the most common requests he gets from game developers is: 'Make the API go away.' 'I certainly hear this in my conversations with games developers,' he says, 'and I guess it was actually the primary appeal of Larrabee to developers – not the hardware, which was hot and slow and unimpressive, but the software – being able to have total control over the machine, which is what the very best games developers want. By giving you access to the hardware at the very low level, you give games developers a chance to innovate, and that's going to put pressure on Microsoft – no doubt at all.'"

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UK PC Users Hit By Huge Fake Antivirus Attack
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '11 at 02:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "UK Internet users were on the receiving end of a large drive-by web attack at the end of February, which attempted to push fake antivirus at least 750,000 times on a single day alone, security company AVG has said. According to a company analysis, on Sunday 27 February, detection levels for the previously obscure Russian 'Blackhole' exploit kit suddenly spiked to 900,000 globally from a few tens of thousands that would be typical for such kits, before dropping back again. Unusually, almost 750,000 of these detections were for UK PCs, which offers a baseline for what must have been a sustained attack several times that size against mainstream web servers frequented by users in the country."

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Over Half a Decade, China Closed 130,000 Internet Cafes
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '11 at 11:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
angry tapir writes "China shut down more than 130,000 illegal Internet cafes in the country over a six year period, as part of crackdown to control the market, according to a new Chinese government report. Internet cafes in China are highly regulated by the government, which can issue and revoke their licenses. Authorities have made it illegal for Internet cafes to serve minors under the age of 18, stating that the Web's content could endanger their well-being."

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Dutch Court Rules WiFi Hacking Not a Criminal Offense
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '11 at 08:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
loekessers writes "Breaking in to an encrypted router andusing the WiFi connection is not an criminal offense, a Dutch court ruled. (Original article in Dutch; English translation.)WiFi hackers can not be prosecuted for breaching router security. The judge reasoned that the student didn't gain access to the computer connected to the router, but only used the routers internet connection. Under Dutch law breaking in to a computer is forbidden. A computer in The Netherlands is defined as a machine that is used for three things: the storage, processing and transmission of data. A router can therefore not be described as a computer because it is only used to transfer or process data and not for storing bits and bytes. Hacking a device that is no computer by law is not illegal, and can not be prosecuted, the court concluded. "

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Oracle Could Reap $1 Million For Sun.com Domain
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '11 at 05:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
joabj writes "Last week, Oracle announced that it is decommissioning the Sun.com site, which it acquired as part of the $7 billion purchase of Sun Microsystems. So what will Oracle do with the domain name, which is the 12th oldest .com site on the Internet? Domain brokers speculate Oracle could sell it for $1 million or more, if it chose to do so."

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