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MIT Says Natural Gas Best To Lower Carbon Emissions
Posted by News Fetcher on June 27 '10 at 07:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's pelican-friendly-solution deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "This week MIT released a comprehensive, hundred-page report entitled 'The Future of Natural Gas' that outlined the many scenarios the United States faces when aiming to reduce carbon emissions. From the NY Times recap: 'The scenario goes like this, according to MIT: Nuclear power, renewable energy and carbon capture and sequestration are relatively expensive next to gas. Conventional coal is no longer a major source of power generation in the United States. "Natural gas is the substantial winner in the electric sector: The substitution effect, mainly gas generation for coal generation, outweighs the demand reduction effect."' Will this urging help to produce a policy shift from renewable energy (like wind) to natural gas for the United States?"

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BBC To Create Internet Protocol TV Standard
Posted by News Fetcher on June 27 '10 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's five-years-too-late deptartment:
Robadob sends word that the BBC has been granted approval for Project Canvas, "a partnership between the BBC, ITV, BT, Five, Channel 4, and TalkTalk to develop a so-called Internet Protocol Television standard." The approval came with several interesting requirements: "Project Canvas must always remain free-to-air but users 'may be charged for additional pay services that third parties might choose to provide via the Canvas platform, for example video on demand services, as well as the broadband subscription fees.' Access to Project Canvas must not be 'bundled with other products or services' and 'listing on the electronic program guide will be awarded in a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory manner." In addition, a preliminary draft of the tech specs for the project must be published within 20 working days, in order to allow broadcasters and manufacturers of set-top boxes to adopt the new standards. Significantly, "Other broadcasters and content providers must have access to the platform."

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Intel, NVIDIA Take Shots At CPU vs. GPU Performance
Posted by News Fetcher on June 27 '10 at 04:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's army-boots deptartment:
MojoKid writes "In the past, NVIDIA has made many claims of how porting various types of applications to run on GPUs instead of CPUs can tremendously improve performance — by anywhere from 10x to 500x. Intel has remained relatively quiet on the issue until recently. The two companies fired shots this week in a pre-Independence Day fireworks show. The recent announcement that Intel's Larrabee core has been re-purposed as an HPC/scientific computing solution may be partially responsible for Intel ramping up an offensive against NVIDIA's claims regarding GPU computing."

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Microwave Pain Ray Keeps Frost From Killing Crops
Posted by News Fetcher on June 27 '10 at 01:15 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's active-frost-denial deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Philip K. Dick's novella Project Plowshare was set in a world where deadly new weapons are 'plowshared' into consumer products. A few years after that book was set, defense giant Raytheon is spinning its raygun-like Active Denial System from a weapon into an agricultural tool to prevent frost from damaging citrus and grape crops."

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Boeing Releases Details On New Crew Capsule
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '10 at 10:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's spam-in-a-can deptartment:
FleaPlus writes "Boeing has released a number of new details on its CST-100 manned space capsule, being developed in collaboration with commercial space station builder Bigelow Aerospace. Competing with SpaceX's Dragon capsule, the vehicle is designed to be compatible with existing Atlas V, Delta IV, and Falcon 9 rockets, and is planned to carry seven people in a capsule 'a little smaller than Orion, but a little bigger than Apollo.' Funding was jump-started this year with $18M of fixed-price Commercial Crew Development money from NASA, which requires completion of several fabrication and demonstration milestones this year (heat shield, escape system, landing tests, etc.) in order to get the full payment."

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US Fears Loss of ICQ Honeypot
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '10 at 07:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's call-your-mother-but-don't-say-qaeda deptartment:
AHuxley writes "US law enforcement bodies view the sale of instant messaging service ICQ to a Russian company as a threat to homeland security. In spring 2010, Russia's largest Internet investment company, Digital Sky Technologies, agreed to purchase the service for $187 million from AOL. The US is sure that most criminals use ICQ and, therefore, constant access to the ICQ servers is needed to track them down. As the system is based in Israel, American security service have had access. The article concludes, 'Lawyers [of unspecified nationality] say that to block the deal the US Committee on Foreign Investment needed to cancel it no later than within 30 days after the deal has been announced — so unless the rules are broken, nothing can be changed.'"

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USPTO Grants Bezos Patent On '60s-Era Chargebacks
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '10 at 02:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's let's-try-patenting-binary-numbers deptartment:
theodp writes "Chargebacks on computing resources are certainly nothing new, dating to the '60s. But five decades later, the USPTO has deemed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' invention — Dynamic Pricing of Web Services Utilization — worthy of a new patent. From the patent: 'Utilization of a storage resource may be measured in terms of a quantity of data stored (e.g., bytes, megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB), etc.) per unit of time (e.g., second, day, month, etc.). Similarly, communication bandwidth utilization may be measured in terms of a quantity of data transmitted per unit of time (e.g., megabits per second). Processing resource utilization may be measured as an aggregate number of units of processing effort (e.g., central processing unit (CPU) cycles, transactions, etc.) utilized, or as a rate of processing effort utilization per unit of time (e.g., CPU cycles or transactions per second).' Sound familiar, Greyglers? Another example of why it's not wise to grant software patents when people don't know much about computer history."

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'Telecommuting' In Formula 1
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '10 at 01:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's telemetry-at-a-distance deptartment:
flewp writes "This NY Times article on Formula 1 racing gives some insight into the workings of one of the most high-tech sports on the planet — consider that a few years ago, Sauber's supercomputer ranked towards the top of all the supercomputers in Europe. The teams bring to each race dozens of mechanics, support personnel, etc.; but back at their home bases, perhaps thousands of miles away, countless more engineers work (with the help of gobs of computing power) to give each team that extra edge."

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3D Displays May Be Hazardous To Young Children
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '10 at 01:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's don't-look-at-me-that-way deptartment:
SchlimpyChicken writes "Turns out 3D television can be inherently dangerous to developing children, and perhaps to adults as well. There's a malaise in children that can prevent full stereopsis (depth perception) from developing, called strabismus or lazy-eye. It is an abnormal alignment of the eyes in which the eyes do not focus on the same object — kind of like when you watch a 3D movie. As a result, depth perception is compromised. Acting on a hunch, the guys over at Audioholics contacted Mark Pesce, who worked with Sega on its VR Headset over 15 years ago — you know, the headset that never made it to market. As it turns out, back then Sega uncovered serious health risks involved with children consuming 3D and quickly buried the reports, and the project. Unfortunately, the same dangers exist in today's 3D, and the electronics, movie, and gaming industries seem to be ignoring the issue. If fully realized, 3D just might affect the vision of millions of children and, according to the latest research, many adults, across the country." The Audioholics article is a good candidate for perusing with Readability — the pseudo-link popups are blinding.

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Women Dropping Out of IT
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '10 at 12:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's both-blatent-and-subtle deptartment:
Women's eNews has an interesting look at women in tech, with numbers showing that women are bailing out of the IT field at a rapid pace. "Technology jobs are predicted to grow at a faster rate than all other jobs in the professional sector, up to 22 percent over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Compensation is also good. In 2008, women in tech made an average salary of $70,370... But women's stake in that rosy outlook is questionable. For starters, men's pay during the same time period was $80,357. A study by the National Center for Women and Information Technology... also finds that women are leaving computer careers in staggering numbers. 'Fifty-six percent of women in technology companies leave their organizations at the mid-level point, 10-20 years in their careers,' said Catherine Ashcraft, the senior research scientist who authored the report. In 2008, women held only 25 percent of all professional IT-related jobs, down from 36 percent in 1991, according to the group's report, 'Women in IT: The Facts.'"

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FBI Failed To Break Encryption of Hard Drives
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '10 at 10:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's deploy-the-quantum-computer deptartment:
benoliver writes to let us know that the FBI has failed to decrypt files of a Brazilian banker accused of financial crimes by Brazilian law enforcement, after a year of attempts. Five hard drives were seized by federal police at the apartment of banker Daniel Dantas, in Rio de Janeiro, during Operation Satyagraha in July 2008. (The link is to a Google translation of the original article in Portuguese.) The article in English mentions two encryption programs, one Truecrypt and the other unnamed. 256-bit AES was used, and apparently both the Brazilian police and the FBI tried dictionary attacks against it. No Brazilian law exists to force Dantas to produce the password(s).

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The Fastest ISPs In the US
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '10 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's make-sure-to-tell-us-how-bad-your-isp-is-in-comments deptartment:
adeelarshad82 writes "PCMag recently put internet browsing speeds to the test to see which ISP was the fastest. The results were based on a quarter million tests run between May 1, 2009 and April 30, 2010 by over 6,000 users. The tests were carried out using SurfSpeed, which takes into account the complete, real-world download time of a web page to a browser. According to the results, Verizon's FiOS took the top spot as the nation's fastest ISP, with a SurfSpeed score of 1.23 Mbps. Interestingly though, off all the regions where Verizon's FiOS is available, its dominance is only seen in the northeast and the west, whereas cable service from Cox and Comcast won out in the southern region. Moreover, cable through Cox and Optimum Online beat AT&T's fiber optic service in the nationwide results, with SurfSpeeds of 1.14Mbps, 1.12Mbps and 1.06Mbps respectively. The worst results mostly consisted of DSL providers, bottoming out at 544 Kbps from Frontier and going up to 882Kbps by Earthlink. Other interesting facts noted in the test were that broadband penetration was highest in Rhode Island and lowest in Mississippi, while the average Internet bill was highest in Delaware and lowest in Arkansas."

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Reporters Without Borders Fight Web Censorship
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '10 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's anonymous-non-cowards deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "Yesterday Reporters Without Borders (RSF) launched a new initiative called 'Anti-Censorship Shelter' that aims to provide shelter for bloggers and Internet journalists in foreign countries who risk persecution or censorship from their local governments. RSF stated, 'At a time when online filtering and surveillance is becoming more and more widespread, we are making an active commitment to an Internet that is unrestricted and accessible to all by providing the victims of censorship with the means of protecting their online information. Never before have there been so many netizens in prison in countries such as China, Vietnam, and Iran for expressing their views freely online. Anonymity is becoming more and more important for those who handle sensitive data.' Working with Xerobank, RSF has a high-speed, devoted VPN that users can connect to that sounds like an onion router. While RSF admitted this masked address service is not foolproof, it's impressive to see an organization proactively seeking out individuals and offering them a digital shelter to protect themselves from a fate similar to that of the estimated 120 imprisoned bloggers around the world."

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Open Source Geographic Tracking?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '10 at 07:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's carmen-sandiego-remains-at-large deptartment:
Walkingshark writes "I work for a company that needs to track people and equipment across the US as they move to, work on, and leave jobs. The boss has been looking at the typical mix of closed, proprietary software and has also considered building off our existing 10-year-old SQL database (with the kind of clunky interface you'd expect from a program built in the late '90s). I'd like to be able to bring him a good open source alternative, but so far I haven't been able to find anything that can do what we need. Ultimately, we need to be able to keep track of a few thousand separate people and pieces of equipment, and to move them in dynamically created groups to and from our locations and jobsites in a way that is sharable between workstations, with updates to location entered at one station being broadcast to all clients in real time. Ideally, this program needs to also give us access to road routing similar to the capability found on Google Maps. We'd doubtless need to be able to modify the source for customization, but I was hoping there was something we could find out there that had the core functionality we're looking for."

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Creative Commons Responds To ASCAP Letter
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '10 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-wouldn't-like-us-when-we're-angry deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Drew Wilson at ZeroPaid has a followup to the story about ASCAP telling its members that organizations like EFF and Creative Commons are undermining copyright. A spokesperson from Creative Commons said, 'It's very sad that ASCAP is falsely claiming that Creative Commons works to undermine copyright. Creative Commons licenses are copyright licenses — plain and simple, without copyright, these tools don't even work.' He also said, 'Many tens of thousands of musicians, including acts like Nine Inch Nails, the Beastie Boys, David Byrne, Radiohead, and Snoop Dogg, have used Creative Commons licenses to share with the public.' Many ASCAP members are already expressing their disappointment with the ASCAP letter over at Mind the Gap. Sounds like ASCAP will be in damage control for a while."

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White House Unveils Plans For "Trusted Identities In Cyberspace"
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '10 at 05:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's this-can-only-end-well deptartment:
Presto Vivace writes with news that the Obama administration's cyber-security coordinater, Howard Schmidt, yesterday unveiled a national plan for "trusted" online identities. Schmidt wrote, "The NSTIC, which is in response to one of the near term action items in the President’s Cyberspace Policy Review, calls for the creation of an online environment, or an Identity Ecosystem as we refer to it in the strategy, where individuals and organizations can complete online transactions with confidence, trusting the identities of each other and the identities of the infrastructure that the transaction runs on. For example, no longer should individuals have to remember an ever-expanding and potentially insecure list of usernames and passwords to login into various online services. Through the strategy we seek to enable a future where individuals can voluntarily choose to obtain a secure, interoperable, and privacy-enhancing credential (e.g., a smart identity card, a digital certificate on their cell phone, etc) from a variety of service providers — both public and private — to authenticate themselves online for different types of transactions (e.g., online banking, accessing electronic health records, sending email, etc.)." You can read the full draft of the plan (PDF), and the White House is seeking public comments on it as well.

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High Depreciation May Slow Electric Car Acceptance
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '10 at 04:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's may-is-putting-it-lightly deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "The New York Times reports that as cars like the Nissan LEAF and Coda Sedan become available, one question that may give electric car buyers cold feet is bubbling to the surface: How much will these next-gen vehicles be worth a few years down the road? According to a report from the UK's Glass Guide, unless manufacturers properly address customer concerns regarding battery life and performance, the new breed of electric vehicles (EV) soon to be launched will have residual values well below those of rival gasoline and diesel models, with a typical electric vehicle retaining only 10% of its value after five years of ownership, compared to gas and diesel-fueled counterparts retaining 25% of their value in that time period. According to Andy Carroll, managing director at Glass's, the alarming rate of depreciation is a function of customer recognition that the typical EV battery will have a useful life of up to eight years and will cost thousands of dollars to replace. Carroll added that manufacturers could address this problem by leasing the battery to users."

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Australia's Largest ISP Ditches Linux Mirror
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '10 at 01:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's this-is-our-business-model deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Australia's largest ISP, BigPond, has decided to ditch its local mirrors of Linux and other open source operating systems, as well as various other open source software and Creative Commons media. BigPond posted a terse update on the service's website, citing reasons of low popularity and the existence of better services like download.com and Tucows. BigPond customers are not impressed by the move, given that the ISP is infamous in Australia for its high prices and relatively low monthly quotas of bandwidth (many users are on 10gb or 25gb per month plans) and all downloads from this service did not count towards their monthly limits."

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US Shows Interest In Zombie Quarantine Code
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '10 at 10:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's aussies-please-weigh-in deptartment:
bennyboy64 writes "Barack Obama's cyber-security coordinator has shown interest in an e-security code of practice developed in Australia that aims to quarantine Internet users infected by malware, also known as zombie computers. He reportedly said it would be a useful role model for the US to adopt. One suggestion within the code is to put infected users into a 'walled garden', which limits Internet access to prevent further security problems until quarantined. Another is to throttle the speed of an infected users' Internet connection until their computer fixed. The code is also being considered by other Asia-Pacific countries, ZDNet reports."

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Google Has Android Remote App Install Power, Too
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '10 at 07:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's coming-and-going deptartment:
Trailrunner7 writes "The remote-wipe capability that Google recently invoked to remove a harmless application from some Android phones isn't the only remote control feature that the company built into its mobile OS. It turns out that Android also includes a feature that enables Google to remotely install apps on users' phones as well. Jon Oberheide, the security researcher who developed the application that Google remotely removed from Android phones, noticed during his research that the Android OS includes a feature called INSTALL_ASSET that allows Google to remotely install applications on users' phones. 'I don't know what design decision they based that on. Maybe they just figured since they had the removal mechanism, it's easy to have the install mechanism too,' Oberheide said in an interview. 'I don't know if they've used it yet.'"

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