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Water Not a Good Enough Guide To Find Alien Life
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '10 at 06:30 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's thats-why-i-look-in-pudding deptartment:
An anonymous reader noted an article in Cosmos questions the conventional wisdom of the "follow the water" strategy of seeking extraterrestrial life, saying "There's an awful lot of places where water could exist — either on the surface of the Earth, or deep within it — yet life is largely concentrated in a small sliver of this."

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Microsoft Warns of Windows 7 Graphics Flaw
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '10 at 05:45 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's leaky-pipes-make-for-wet-basements deptartment:
Barence writes "A flaw with the graphics driver in Windows 7 could compromise the stability and security of PCs, Microsoft has warned. The vulnerability lies in the Windows Canonical Display Driver (cdd.dll) for the 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Microsoft claims that the flaw could lead to machines rebooting or even allow a hacker to remotely execute code, although it claims either eventuality is improbable. Concerned users are being advised to disable Windows Aero until Microsoft can issue a fix."

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iPhone 4 Beta Shows AT&T Tethering
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '10 at 05:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's dear-god-yes deptartment:
An anonymous reader found news that will strike fear into the hearts of every 3G user in NYC. "Apple released iPhone OS 4.0 Beta 4 on Tuesday evening and it wasn't long before developers found the strongest evidence yet that tethering for US-based iPhone customers may happen sooner than later."

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Critics Say US Antimissle Defense Flawed, Dangerous
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '10 at 04:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's bullet-with-a-bullet deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "The New York Times reports that President Obama's plans for reducing America's nuclear arsenal and defeating Iran's missiles rely heavily on a new generation of antimissile defenses which last year he called 'proven and effective.' Now a new analysis being published by two antimissile critics at MIT and Cornell casts doubt on the reliability of the SM-3 rocket-powered interceptor. The Pentagon asserts that the SM-3, or Standard Missile 3, had intercepted 84 percent of incoming targets in tests. But a re-examination of results from 10 of those apparently successful tests by Theodore A. Postol and George N. Lewis finds only one or two successful intercepts, for a success rate of 10 to 20 percent. Most of the approaching warheads, they say, would have been knocked off course but not destroyed, and while that might work against a conventionally armed missile, it suggests that a nuclear warhead might still detonate. 'The system is highly fragile and brittle and will intercept warheads only by accident, if ever,' says Dr. Postol, a former Pentagon science adviser who forcefully criticized the performance of the Patriot antimissile system in the 1991 Persian Gulf war. Dr. Postol says the SM-3 interceptor must shatter the warhead directly, and public statements of the Pentagon agency seem to suggest that it agrees. In combat, the scientists added, 'the warhead would have not been destroyed, but would have continued toward the target.'"

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Facebook, Zynga Sign Long-Term Virtual Currency Deal
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '10 at 02:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's money-builds-great-friendships deptartment:
Despite recent rumors that Facebook and FarmVille developer Zynga were gearing up for a legal battle, the two announced yesterday that they have signed a five-year agreement over how virtual currency will be used. Quoting: "The source of the conflict ... comes down to Facebook's decision to introduce Facebook Credits, an over-arching currency system to be used in all games on its platform. This allows users to purchase just one type of currency for use in Facebook games, rather than buying directly from individual developers — a lack of direct control over its monetization that became a major point of contention for Zynga. Also likely an issue is Facebook's decision to take 30 percent of revenues gathered from credits, with 70 percent allocated to the developers."

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Duke To Shut Down Usenet Server
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '10 at 01:15 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's nail-after-nail-in-the-coffin deptartment:
DukeTech writes "This week marks the end of an era for one of the earliest pieces of Internet history, which got its start at Duke University more than 30 years ago. On May 20, Duke will shut down its Usenet server, which provides access to a worldwide electronic discussion network of newsgroups started in 1979 by two Duke graduate students, Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis." Rantastic and other readers wrote about the shutdown of the British Usenet indexer Newzbin today; the site sank under the weight of a lawsuit and outstanding debt. Combine these stories with the recent news of Microsoft shuttering its newsgroups, along with other recent stories, and the picture does not look bright for Usenet.

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Sony To Detail "Premium PSN" Plans At E3
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '10 at 11:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's if-only-we-could-still-access-psn deptartment:
ranulf writes "VG247 is reporting that Sony will reveal their plans for 'premium PSN' services next month at E3, even though they've long stated that one of the PS3's advantages over the 360 is that they offer PSN for free. In addition to the premium services, they intend to offer a free PSN game to subscribers each month (from a choice of 'two to four games'), which should make the premium PSN effectively free if you already bought a game every month. VG247's source claims 'nothing planned will impact the service’s current free aspects,' and that 'there’s nothing in the premium package which will gimp regular PSN users.'"

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NASA Finds Cause of Voyager 2 Glitch
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '10 at 10:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's blame-cosmic-rays deptartment:
astroengine writes "Earlier this month, engineers suspended Voyager 2's science measurements because of an unexpected problem in its communications stream. A glitch in the flight data system, which formats information for radioing to Earth, was believed to be the problem. Now NASA has found the cause of the issue: it was a single memory bit that had erroneously flipped from a 0 to a 1. The cause of the error is yet to be understood, but NASA plans to reset Voyager's memory tomorrow, clearing the error."

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Foldit Player May Have Created a Useful Protein
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '10 at 09:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's know-when-to-hold-'em deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "The organizers of the game Foldit, where you fold proteins for scientific research, announced that a user has found a protein that may be able to bind influenza viruses. Researchers plan to test the protein in a lab over the next few weeks to see if it might be medically useful."

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Microsoft Sues Salesforce.com Over Patents
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '10 at 07:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's few-selected-gems-from-the-collection deptartment:
WrongSizeGlass writes "CNET is reporting that Microsoft is suing Salesforce.com in Seattle federal court, claiming it infringes on nine patents. Two of the patents in question are a 'system and method for providing and displaying a Web page having an embedded menu' and a 'method and system for stacking toolbars in a computer display.'" Microsoft says it first notified Salesforce more than a year ago about the alleged infringement.

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How PC Game Modders Are Evolving
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '10 at 06:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's longer-beaks-for-breaking-shells deptartment:
Lanxon writes "Wired has a lengthy investigation into the state of PC game mods, and the amateurs keeping the scene exciting in the wake of draconian DRM placed on many PC titles by major studios. It highlights a number of creative modders, such as Scott Reismanis, founder and editor of Mod DB, and his community-driven alternative to Valve's Steam — Desura — which is 'a distribution system, and, like Steam, will sell games and champion indie titles. But the way it handles mods makes it even more exciting.'"

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Firefox Is Lagging Behind, Its Co-Founder Says
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '10 at 05:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's hanging-on-to-double-digits deptartment:
sopssa writes "Firefox's Co-Founder Blake Ross is skeptical about the future of Firefox. He says that 'the Mozilla Organization has gradually reverted back to its old ways of being too timid, passive and consensus-driven to release breakthrough products quickly.' Within the past year Chrome has been steadily increasing its marketshare, along with the other WebKit-based browsers like Safari. Meanwhile Mozilla's (outgoing) CEO says that while Firefox is more competitive than ever, they're looking forward to their mobile version of Firefox. 'Clearly, both are annoyed at what has happened to their former renegade web browser. But, by many accounts, Firefox is no longer considered to be the light, open alternative it once was.'"

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Black Duck Eggs and Other Secrets of Chinese Hacks
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '10 at 03:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's you-no-like deptartment:
Roberto123 writes "Network World offers some insights into the way China infiltrates US organizations, physically and via computer, to steal information. Security expert Ira Winkler says there are far more serious threats out there than the 'laughable' uproar over China's hack of Google."

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Researchers Restore Youthful Memory In Aging Mice
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '10 at 02:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's je-me-souviens deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "German neuroscientists made a breakthrough in 'age-related cognitive decline', a common condition that often begins in one's late 40s (especially declarative memory — the ability to recall facts and experiences). Their new study identifies a genetic 'switch' for the cluster of learning and memory genes that cause memory impairment in aging mice. By injecting an enzyme, the team 'flipped' the switch to its on position for older mice, giving them the memory and learning performance they'd enjoyed when they were young. Now the team ultimately hopes to recover seemingly lost long-term memory in human patients." The video, which explains the gene flipping mechanism, is worth a watch (2:18).

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FTC Targets Copy Machine Privacy Concerns
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '10 at 01:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's hotting-up deptartment:
itwbennett writes "In a letter to US Representative Ed Markey, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said that the FTC has begun contacting copy machine makers, resellers, and office-supply stores to inform them about privacy concerns over the images that can be stored on the machines' hard drives and trying to 'determine whether they are warning their customers about these risks... and whether manufacturers and resellers are providing options for secure copying.'"

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MS To Share Early Flaw Data With Governments
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '10 at 01:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's for-your-eyes-only deptartment:
Trailrunner7 writes "Microsoft today announced plans to share pre-patch details on software vulnerabilities with governments around the world under a new program aimed at securing critical infrastructure and government assets from hacker attacks. The program, codenamed Omega, features a 'Defensive Information Sharing Program' that will offer government entities at the national level technical information on vulnerabilities that are being updated in their products." There's a stream the bad guys would dearly love to tap into.

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"Fair Trolls" To Fight Patents With Patents
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '10 at 12:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's living-above-the-bridge deptartment:
FlorianMueller writes "Can a patent troll ever be fair? Yes. The primary concern over the upcoming Defensive Patent License — a GPL-like non-aggression pact for patents — is that it might be too defensive to have the desired impact. But actually the DPL could grow very big if one or more 'Fair Trolls' are brought to life and enforce patents against companies that don't support the DPL. The 'Fair Trolls' would commit to the DPL's terms, so they would have to leave other DPL backers alone. In exchange for this, the community would gladly feed them with patentable ideas (financial rewards for contributors included). Over time, staying outside the DPL alliance would become a costly choice for companies whose products might infringe patents. The bigger the DPL pool gets, the more valuable it becomes to its members. The more aggressive the Fair Trolls are, the better for the cause."

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Justice Not As Blind As Previously Thought
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '10 at 11:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's too-pretty-for-jail deptartment:
NotSoHeavyD3 writes "I doubt this is much of a surprise but apparently Cornell University did a study that seems to show you're more likely to get convicted if you're ugly. From the article: 'According to a Cornell University study, unattractive defendants are 22 percent more likely to be convicted than good-looking ones. And the unattractive also get slapped with harsher sentences — an average of 22 months longer in prison.'"

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Europeans Bury "Digital DNA" Inside a Mountain
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '10 at 11:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's you-must-remember-this deptartment:
adeelarshad82 writes "In a secret bunker deep in the Swiss Alps, European researchers deposited a 'digital genome' that will provide the blueprint for future generations to read data stored using defunct technology. The sealed box containing the key to unpick defunct digital formats will be locked away for the next quarter of a century behind a 3-1/2 ton door strong enough to resist nuclear attack at the data storage facility, known as the Swiss Fort Knox. The capsule is the culmination of the four-year 'Planets' project, which draws on the expertise of 16 European libraries, archives, and research institutions, to preserve the world's digital assets as hardware and software is superseded at a blistering pace. The project hopes to preserve 'data DNA,' the information and tools required to access and read historical digital material and prevent digital memory loss into the next century."

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Germany Demands Google Forfeit Citizens' Wi-Fi Data
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '10 at 10:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's forfeited-trust deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "Germany has ordered Google to give up hard disk drives used to store German data collected during their Street View operations in that country. This follows Google's admission last week (after prodding from the Germans) that it had collected the data from unsecured wireless area networks from around the entire world as its roving cars collected the photo archive for Street View. Google says they've offered to just destroy the data, in cooperation with national regulators, but the German government wants to know what they've collected. They do not think that destroying the drives suffices for compliance with the laws. Officials went so far as to say of the situation, 'It is not acceptable that a company operating in the EU does not respect EU rules.' Germany has certainly been keeping their eye on the search giant." The Ars coverage notes that the US FTC may be looking more closely at Google's collection as well.

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