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Study Hints Ambient Radio Waves May Affect Plant Growth
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '10 at 03:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's can-you-hear-me-now deptartment:
dwguenther writes "A Lyons (Colorado) area woman with no academic pedigree has published a scientific paper in the International Journal of Forestry Research about the adverse effects of radio waves on aspen seedlings. Katie Haggerty, who lives north of Steamboat Mountain, found in a preliminary experiment done near her house that aspens shielded from electromagnetic radiation were healthier than those that were not. 'I found that the shielded seedlings produced more growth, longer shoots, bigger leaves, and more total leaf area. The shielded group produced 60 percent more leaf area and 74 percent more shoot length than a mock-shielded group,' she said." This was not a definitive study, as its author readily admits — it's hard to see how a double-blind study could even be designed in this area — but it was refereed.

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Microsoft Out of Favor With Young, Hip Developers
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '10 at 03:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's so-last-week deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft's failures with the KIN phone (only two months on the market, less than 10,000 phones sold) are well-known to this community. Now the NY Times goes farther, quoting Tim O'Reilly: 'Microsoft is totally off the radar of the cool, hip, cutting-edge software developers.' Microsoft has acknowledged that they have lost young developers to the lures of free software. 'We did not get access to kids as they were going through college,' acknowledged Bob Muglia, the president of Microsoft's business software group, in an interview last year. 'And then, when people, particularly younger people, wanted to build a start-up, and they were generally under-capitalized, the idea of buying Microsoft software was a really problematic idea for them.' Microsoft's program to seed start-ups with its software for free requires the fledgling companies to meet certain guidelines and jump through hoops to receive software — while its free competitors simply allow anyone to download products off a website with the click of a button."

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Parasite Correlated With World Cup Success
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '10 at 02:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's yeah-yeah-not-causation deptartment:
mahiskali writes "A parasite commonly found in cats, Toxoplasma gondii , has an unnerving relation to World Cup victories by country. (This parasite was discussed here twice in 2006.) Toxo can be found in almost every type of mammal, from rats to humans. The overall goal of the parasite is to end up in a feline stomach, which is the only place it can reproduce. In other mammals, humans for example, the parasite heads for the brain. It is estimated that nearly 1/3 of the human population has a latent Toxo infection, with individual countries having infection rates varying from 6% (Korea) to 92% (Ghana). Countries with greater incidence of this parasitic infection in their populations tend to win more World Cups than those without. The article, writtem by a Stanford University neuroscientist, goes on to try out various rationales for such a correlation, ranging from increased testosterone to increased dissent of authority — all symptoms of a Toxo infection. Now we just need to find a parasite that causes an inability to referee properly, and we'll have this whole World Cup business all sorted out."

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Quantum Physics For Everybody
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '10 at 01:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's this-time-without-the-math deptartment:
fiziko writes in with a self-described "blatant self-promotion" of a worthwhile service for those wishing to go beyond Khan Academy physics: namely Bureau 42's Summer School. "As those who subscribe to the 'Sci-Fi News' slashbox may know, Bureau 42 has launched its first Summer School. This year we're doing a nine-part series (every Monday in July and August) taking readers from high school physics to graduate level physics, with no particular mathematical background required. Follow the link for part 1."

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NASA Launches Moonbase Alpha
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '10 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's to-boldly-grind deptartment:
Several readers have sent word that today NASA launched Moonbase Alpha, an online game with single- and multi-player capability that "allows participants to step into the role of an exploration team member in a futuristic 3-D lunar settlement." The game is available now through Steam for free. Moonbase Alpha was built as a precursor to an upcoming NASA MMO called Astronaut: Moon, Mars & Beyond, and they hope it will be "a proof of concept to show how NASA content can be combined with a cutting-edge game engine to inspire, engage and educate students about agency technologies, job opportunities and the future of space exploration."

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More Trouble In Apple's App Store
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '10 at 12:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's phish-travel-in-squools deptartment:
quickOnTheUptake writes in to update the story of foul play in Apple's App Store, which we talked over yesterday. The Next Web, which broke the story, now provides evidence of rampant App Farms used for theft in the store. Here is a summary of the problems TNW has seen, which include large-scale breakins of the App Store accounts of users worldwide. Apple has responded to the initial reports, has disabled the account of the initially fingered rogue developer, and has called on those whose accounts were misused to change their password and credit card. Both TNW and Engadget, at least, believe the problems go far deeper than Apple is admitting.

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Blizzard To Require Real First and Last Names For Official Forums
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '10 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's guess-that's-one-way-to-get-rid-of-trolls deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Recently, Blizzard Entertainment implemented a Real ID feature for some of its current games and all of its future Battle.net-based games. Today, Blizzard announced that it intends to require usage of the real names of Battle.net posters for its StarCraft II forums before release, and for its World of Warcraft forums shortly before the release of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. From the announcement: 'The first and most significant change is that in the near future, anyone posting or replying to a post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID — that is, their real-life first and last name — with the option to also display the name of their primary in-game character alongside it. These changes will go into effect on all StarCraft II forums with the launch of the new community site prior to the July 27 release of the game, with the World of Warcraft site and forums following suit near the launch of Cataclysm. Certain classic forums, including the classic Battle.net forums, will remain unchanged.'"

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Microsoft Spurned Researchers Release 0-Day
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '10 at 10:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's that's-sure-to-help deptartment:
nk497 notes the news that a group of researchers calling themselves the Microsoft-Spurned Researcher Collective (the name is a play on Microsoft's Security Response Center) have come together to protest Microsoft's perceived heavy-handedness towards researchers who disclose security flaws. Pushed into action by the reception to the flaw disclosed by Tavis Ormandy, the group has released full details and exploit code for a previously unknown Windows local privilege escalation vulnerability. The advisory for the vulnerability, which affects Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, contains the following manifesto: "Due to hostility toward security researchers, the most recent example being of Tavis Ormandy, a number of us from the industry (and some not from the industry) have come together to form MSRC: the Microsoft-Spurned Researcher Collective. MSRC will fully disclose vulnerability information discovered in our free time, free from retaliation against us or any inferred employer."

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US Pirate Movie Site DNS Seizure Fail
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '10 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's routing-around-it deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Last week, the US government in a highly publicized copyright protection frenzy took the extraordinary step of seizing domain names from foreign movie sites like NinjaVideo.net and TVshack.net. While the seizure raises confusing Internet legal / jurisdiction questions (the US and perhaps the state of Kentucky can seize domain names for foreign companies?), this study shows the legal issues may be moot — the raids mostly failed. Within hours of domain name seizure, tvshack.cc was back up and running (but this time using a Chinese registrar and a Cocos Islands ccTLD)."

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How To Build an Open Source House?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '10 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's mind-the-gap deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "I'm starting a project that I hope that the engineers, makers and general DIYers in the Slashdot crowd can help out with. The full story's on the website, but the short version is as follows: my aim is to make a cheap, recycled, sustainable building, to document the process fully and to release anything that would help others to do the same. I intend to use an old train carriage as the shell, but the ideas should extend to shipping containers, aeroplane fuselages or anything similar. I know I'm not the first to do this, but I can't see anyone else who's provided a detailed step-by-step account of the build, complete with plans and the rest. Before I start, though, I'm trying to draw on as much collective experience as possible, and to head off mistakes before they happen. My question to Slashdot is simple: what do you think I need to know before I begin?"

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The Unstoppable "Tech Support" Scam
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '10 at 08:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's all-your-base-are-c-o-d deptartment:
Barence writes "A pernicious new type of scam is targeting British computer owners, reports PC Pro. The con is both fiendishly clever and ridiculously simple. The fraudster cold-calls the customer and tells them that Microsoft has detected a virus on their PC, then invites them to download a piece of remote-assistance software. No doubt reassured by the lines of indecipherable code flitting across their screen, the caller assures the customer they can make the virus vanish – but first, of course, they want payment. £185 to be precise. The spoof site behind the scam is approved by McAfee's Site Advisor and bears Microsoft logos, something which both companies have failed to act upon. Meanwhile, an assortment of British regulators have said there is nothing they can do to stop it."

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Working Toward a Universal Power Brick For Laptops
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '10 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's please-don't-base-it-on-micro-usb deptartment:
An anonymous reader links to PC Authority with some hopeful news about untangling a persistent annoyance for laptop users — namely, the myriad power supplies called for by laptop makers: "'On a PC, an ATX power supply for example will screw into certain mounting holes, have a maximum size and shape, and will take a standard 3-pin "kettle cord" for incoming power. If it complies with these standards, the PSU will be able to bolt into any manufacturer's ATX case.' Laptop design, on the other hand, involves cramming a PC into a tiny chassis, which usually has its own thermal design and power distribution requirements. This has led to the somewhat bizarre situation where every manufacturer has its own laptop power supply design. It now appears that some of the major players in laptops are getting together to work on a standardized laptop power supply design. Not only are big players involved, but the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) has created a team to work on the power supply standard."

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Hayabusa Returns Particles From Asteroid
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '10 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's homeopathic-samples deptartment:
The collection module of Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft, as recently noted, was on recovery believed to contain no samples from the asteroid Hayausa had been sent to investigate. That conclusion may have been premature; reader mbone writes that "The BBC now has a story, 'Hayabusa capsule particles may be from asteroid.' Apparently JAXA (the Japanese Space Agency) has opened the sample container returned to Earth by Hayabusa, and has released 'images of tiny dust particles inside the container.' Whether they are asteroid particles or pieces of dust brought all the way from Earth remains to be seen, but they were certainly returned from the asteroid — a remarkable technical feat. This announcement, I think, gives considerable hope that these particles are from the near-Earth asteroid, Itokawa, as the Japanese have been very careful in trying to avoid contamination. Even a tiny speck of dust would be very revealing about the asteroid's constitution and possibly its history as well. Kudos to JAXA for a job well done."

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Prince Says Internet Is Over
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '10 at 06:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's it-was-fun-while-it-lasted deptartment:
the_arrow writes "According to the artist currently known as Prince, 'The internet's completely over.' At least that what he says in an interview with the British newspaper Mirror. Quoting Prince: 'The internet's like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can't be good for you.'"

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Surveying the Challenges of Linux On Cortex A9-Based Laptops
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '10 at 06:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's multiple-fronts deptartment:
Charbax writes "In this video, Jerone Young, lead partner engineer at Canonical, explains some of the challenges facing Canonical and other companies who are part of the new Linaro project, in preparation for the now imminent release of a whole bunch of ARM Cortex A9 Powered laptops and desktops likely to be manufactured by giants of the industry such as HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Toshiba, as well as lesser names such as Quanta, Invetec, Pegatron, and Compal, all of whom have been showing tens of early prototype designs of these ARM-powered laptops at trade shows around the world during the past year and a half. They're working to standardize the boot process, write drivers to use graphics and video hardware acceleration, optimize the web browser (Chrome and Mozilla), and implement faster DDR3 RAM and faster I/O bus speeds, as well as to optimize the software to use the new faster dual core ARM Cortex A9 processors."

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Copyright As Weapon In US Senate Campaign
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '10 at 05:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's so-that-wasn't-on-the-record-ma'am? deptartment:
kfogel writes "Sharron Angle, the Republican candidate for US Senate in Arizona, is using a copyright 'cease-and-desist' letter to stop her opponent, incumbent Harry Reid (currently majority leader in the US Senate), from reposting old versions of her campaign website. The old pages are politically sensitive because Angle campaigned from the far right in the primary, but is now toning that down for the general election." As kfogel notes, the letter "also accuses the Reid campaign of intending to impersonate Angle's campaign, which seems doubtful, but who knows?"

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Paperless Tickets Flourish Despite 'Grandma Problem'
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '10 at 04:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's can-you-say-first-sale-doctrine deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "Is a concert ticket a piece of property that its holder has the right to buy and sell as he sees fit, or is it merely a seat-rental contract subject to restrictions determined by its issuer? The Washington Post reports that in an effort to thwart scalpers and dampen ticket reselling on the so-called secondary market, musicians as diverse as Bruce Springsteen, Miley Cyrus, and Metallica have adopted 'paperless ticketing' for some or all of the seats at their live shows. Ticket issuers Ticketmaster and Veritix tout paperless tickets as a way to eliminate worries about lost, stolen, or counterfeit tickets, and to banish long will-call lines. But paperless tickets aren't really tickets at all, but essentially personal seat reservations, secured electronically like airline tickets. Fans buy tickets with a credit card and must then go to the venue with the same credit card and a photo ID to gain admittance. The problem is that Ticketmaster's paperless tickets can't be transferred from a buyer to a second party. The inability to pass along a seat creates what has become known in the industry as the 'grandma problem': it's almost impossible for a grandma living at one end of the country to buy a paperless ticket to giver to a grandchild living at the other end. Without the ability to transfer virtual tickets, brokers and dealers fear being run out of business, and consumers have a harder time selling unwanted tickets. 'People should be free to give away or sell their tickets to whomever they want, whenever they want,' says Gary Adler, a Washington attorney who represents the National Association of Ticket Brokers. 'An open market is really best for consumers.'"

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Photo Kiosks Infecting Customers' USB Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '10 at 01:31 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's thumb-drive-condoms-in-aisle-four deptartment:
The Risky Biz blog brings news that Big W, a subsidiary of Woolworths, has Windows-based Fuji photo kiosks in at least some of its stores that don't run antivirus software, and are therefore spreading infections, such as Trojan-Poison-36, via customers' USB storage devices. Here is the account of the original reporter. "It's not just the lack of AV that's the problem... it appears there's been zero thought put into the problem of malware spreading via these kiosks. Why not just treat customers' USB devices as read-only? Why allow the kiosks to write to them at all? It would be interesting to find out which company — Fuji, Big W, or even some other third party — is responsible for the maintenance of the machines. It would also be interesting to find out if there are any liability issues here for Big W in light of its boneheaded lack of security planning."

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Finding a Research Mentor?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 05 '10 at 11:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's there's-your-thesis-right-there deptartment:
bsomerville writes "As an aspiring social scientist preparing to apply to Ph.D. programs, I'm keen to find a faculty mentor somewhere in North America who shares my research interests. This is more difficult than I thought it would be. While links to program websites are readily available, I'm surprised to find no comprehensive collection of faculty research interests in my field (clinical psychology). Instead this information is buried several levels down in each university website. Is this a common problem across all fields? Is there some inherent reason why no wiki-type Web resource exists to meet this need? It seems like a text-searchable database could be built fairly quickly and maintained by users, saving countless aspiring grad students thousands of clicks through university websites."

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Survey Says To UK — Repeal Laws of Thermodynamics
Posted by News Fetcher on July 05 '10 at 09:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's einstein-is-next-up-against-the-wall deptartment:
mostxlnt writes "As we noted, the new Tory UK government has launched a website asking its subjects which laws they'd most like repealed. There are proposals up for repeal of the Laws of Thermodynamics: Second, Third, and all (discussion thread on this one closed by a moderator). One comment on the Third [now apparently deleted] elucidated: 'Without the Third Law of Thermodynamics, it would be possible to build machines that would last forever and provide an endless source of cheap energy. thus solving both potential crises in energy supply as well as solving the greenhouse gas problem in one step... simples... eh?'"

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