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Potato-Powered Batteries Debut
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '10 at 08:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's energizer-tuber deptartment:
MojoKid writes "Yissum Research Development Company Ltd., the technology transfer arm of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has just introduced what they're calling 'solid organic electric battery based upon treated potatoes.' In short, it's a potato-powered battery, and it's as real as you're hoping it is. The simple, sustainable, robust device can potentially provide an immediate inexpensive solution to electricity needs in parts of the world lacking electrical infrastructure. Researchers at the Hebrew University discovered that the enhanced salt bridge capability of treated potato tubers can generate electricity through means readily available in developing nations."

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Turning Attackers' Tools Against Them
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '10 at 04:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's back-bearings deptartment:
Tasha26 writes "The BBC has an interesting web security snippet from the SyScan 2010 security conference in Singapore. In a presentation, security researcher Laurent Oudot released details of bugs found in commonly used attack kits such as Neon, Eleonore, and Sniper. These loopholes could be exploited to get more information about the attackers, perhaps identifying them, stealing their tools and methods, or even following the trail back to their own computer."

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Google Builds a Native PDF Reader Into Chrome
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '10 at 02:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's hugging-adobe-harder deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Google's latest Chrome 6 Developer Update comes with a few subtle GUI changes, but there is also a major update under the hood. As its ties with Adobe quite apparently grow stronger, there is not just an integrated Flash player, but also a native PDF reader in the latest version of Chrome 6. Google says the native reader will allow users to interact with PDF files just like they do with regular HTML pages. The reader is included in Chrome versions (Chromium) 6.0.437.1 and higher, and you can use the feature after you have enabled it manually in the plug-ins menu. That is, of course, if you can keep Chrome 6 alive — Windows users have reported frequent crashes, and Google has temporarily suspended the update progress to find out what is going on." The Register has some more details on the PDF plugin and a link to Google's blog post about it.

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Apple Quietly Goes After Mac Trojan With Update
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '10 at 01:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's nothing-to-see-here deptartment:
Th'Inquisitor was one of several readers to point out coverage of Apple's stealth security fix, included along with the recent Snow Leopard 10.6.4 update. Graham Cluley of Sophos first noticed the update to protect Mac computers from a Trojan, and the fact that Apple didn't mention it in the release notes. The malware opens a back door to a Mac that can allow attackers to gain control of the machine and snoop about on it or turn it into a zombie. "You have to wonder," writes Cluley, "whether their keeping quiet about an anti-malware security update like this was for marketing reasons." While he certainly has a point that Apple benefits by its users' belief that the platform is secure, you also have to wonder whether any such publicity from a security company has a marketing subtext, as well.

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Getty's Flickr Sales, Money Spinner Or Ripoff?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '10 at 12:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's devil-you-know deptartment:
Barence writes "Photo-sharing site Flickr is offering photographers a new way to cash in on their work. The 'Request to License' scheme allows renowned photo agency Getty to sell photos on behalf of Flickr members. Once part of the scheme, all of the user's photos will carry a Request to License link (users can't select certain photos to license in this way). People wishing to buy the photos are directed to Getty's staff, who 'will help handle details like permissions, releases, and pricing,' according to Flickr. However, the last time Getty sold images on behalf of Flickr members, it led to complaints that photographers were being exploited, with commission on photos as low as $1. So who's doing best out of the deal, photographers or Getty?"

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Why Google's Wi-Fi Payload Collection Was Inadvertent
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '10 at 11:15 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's obvious-to-wardrivers deptartment:
Reader Lauren Weinstein found a blog post that gives a good, fairly technical explanation of why Google's collection of Wi-Fi payload data was incidental, and why it's easy to collect Wi-Fi payload data accidentally in the course of mapping Wi-Fi access points. "Although some people are suspicious of their explanation, Google is almost certainly telling the truth when it claims it was an accident. The technology for Wi-Fi scanning means it's easy to inadvertently capture too much information, and be unaware of it. ... It's really easy to protect your data: simply turn on WPA. This completely stops Google (or anybody else) from spying on your private data. ... Laws against this won't stop the bad guys (hackers). They will only unfairly punish good guys (like Google) whenever they make a mistake. ... [A]nybody who has experience in Wi-Fi mapping would believe Google. Data packets help Google find more access-points and triangulate them, yet the payload of the packets do nothing useful for Google because they are only fragments."

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Relatively Cheap Compared To NASA's New Pad
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '10 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'll-order-a-dozen deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Motherboard.tv: "As debate over the future of spaceflight rages on — and as the axe all but falls on NASA's mission back to the moon and beyond — the successful launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 two weeks ago proved at least one of the virtues of the private option: it's a heckuva lot cheaper than government-funded rides to space. In fact, the whole system was built for less than the cost of the service tower that was to be used for NASA's proposed future spaceflight vehicle (yup, the service tower is finished, but the rocket isn't, and the whole program may well be canceled anyway)." CEO Elon Musk spoke recently about some of the ways SpaceX finds to cut costs in the construction of their rockets.

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Struggling To Bridge the Casual-Hardcore Game Gap
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '10 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's need-more-retro-mega-man-titles deptartment:
With the advent of the Wii and the upcoming motion control systems from Sony and Microsoft, console makers are expanding the gaming population to include vast numbers of casual players. Their problem now, according to this editorial at Eurogamer, is that there doesn't exist a broad selection of games between the simple, introductory titles and the complex, hardcore ones, which tends to limit how deep new players will venture into the gaming ecosystem. Quoting: "... it needs software that spans the gap between the two camps of offerings which are emerging on Xbox 360 — games that encourage players of Dance Central or Your Shape to move upstream and explore. It's unlikely, perhaps, that they'll ever end up curb-stomping crinkle-faced nasties in Cliff Bleszinski's latest, but we're a long way past the point of the Xbox being all about shooting and driving, even if the public perception hasn't quite moved with the software line-up. The long-term challenge for the games market must, ultimately, be to emulate the success which other mediums have had in creating markets where consumers routinely and happily move between genres, and where franchises which would be pigeonholed as 'hardcore' in the games world nestle comfortably in people's DVD collections alongside those which would be dismissed as 'casual.'"

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Spitzer Telescope Witnesses Star Being Born
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '10 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's get-off-my-cosmic-lawn deptartment:
Arvisp tips news of a discovery by astronomers using the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Submillimeter Array in Hawaii of the youngest known star in a nearby star-forming region. From the Yale press release: "Astronomers think L1448-IRS2E is in between the prestellar phase, when a particularly dense region of a molecular cloud first begins to clump together, and the protostar phase, when gravity has pulled enough material together to form a dense, hot core out of the surrounding envelope. ... Most protostars are between one to 10 times as luminous as the Sun, with large dust envelopes that glow at infrared wavelengths. Because L1448-IRS2E is less than one tenth as luminous as the Sun, the team believes the object is too dim to be considered a true protostar. Yet they also discovered that the object is ejecting streams of high-velocity gas from its center, confirming that some sort of preliminary mass has already formed and the object has developed beyond the prestellar phase. This kind of outflow is seen in protostars (as a result of the magnetic field surrounding the forming star), but has not been seen at such an early stage until now."

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Verizon Hints At Scrapping Unlimited Data Plans
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '10 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's where-are-the-antitrust-watchdogs deptartment:
BusinessWeek reports that Verizon may be preparing to follow AT&T's example by eliminating unlimited data plans later this year. Quoting: "'We will probably need to change the design of our pricing where it will not be totally unlimited, flat rate,' John Killian, chief financial officer of Verizon Communications Inc., the wireless unit’s parent, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York today. The company anticipates 'explosions in data traffic' over wireless networks as new phones on 4G networks incorporate data- heavy applications, such as video downloads, he said. Verizon is working to keep its network running smoothly as more of its customers switch to smartphones that connect to the Internet. ... 'The more bandwidth that you make available, the faster it will be consumed,' said Craig Moffett, analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in New York. 'From Verizon’s perspective, the last thing you want is for another generation of consumers to be conditioned to the idea that data is always going to be uncapped.'"

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German Publishers Want Monopoly On Sentences
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '10 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's oh-the-possibilities deptartment:
Glyn Moody writes "You think copyright can't get any more draconian? Think again. In Germany, newspaper publishers are lobbying for 'a new exclusive right conferring the power to monopolize speech e.g. by assigning a right to re-use a particular wording in the headline of a news article anywhere else without the permission of the rights holder. According to the drafts circulating on the internet, permission shall be obtainable exclusively by closing an agreement with a new collecting society which will be founded after the drafts have matured into law. Depending on the particulars, new levies might come up for each and every user of a PC, at least if the computer is used in a company for commercial purposes.' Think that will never work because someone will always break the news cartel? Don't worry, they've got that covered too. They want to 'amend cartel law in order to enable a global "pooling" of all exclusive rights of all newspaper publishers in Germany in order to block any attempt to defect from the paywall cartel by a single competitor.' And rest assured, if anything like this passes in Germany, publishers everywhere will be using the copyright ratchet to obtain 'parity.'"

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Home Computers Equal Lower Test Scores
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '10 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-better-typing-speed deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Politicians and education activists have long sought to eliminate the 'digital divide' by guaranteeing universal access to home computers, and in some cases to high-speed Internet service. But a Duke University study finds these efforts would actually widen the achievement gap in math and reading scores. Students in grades five through eight, particularly those from disadvantaged families, tend to post lower scores once these technologies arrive in their home."

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Flight of the Desktops
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '10 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's look-out-below deptartment:
theodp writes "Slate's Farhad Manjoo has seen the future of computing, and it's looking mighty bleak for desktop computers. In the last decade, portable computers have erased many of the advantages that desktops once claimed while desktops have been unable to shake their one glaring deficiency — they're chained to your desk. Last year, sales of laptops eclipsed sales of desktops for the first time, and it's been projected that by 2015 desktops will constitute just 18% of the consumer PC market."

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Italian MEP Wants To Eliminate Anonymity On the Internet
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '10 at 09:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's why-that's-charming deptartment:
m94mni writes "The European Parliament wants to monitor your Internet searches for child porn offenders, as previously reported. The declaration was adopted yesterday, and in an interview with the Swedish news outlet Europaportalen.se, the Italian MEP behind the declaration, Tiziano Motti, shares his views on the Internet and anonymity. In essence, Motti wants to completely eliminate anonymity on the Internet. 'Each upload of text, images, or video clips must be traceable by the authorities', says Motti. This is in line with the secretive UN initiative Q6/17, revealed two years ago." The doublespeak here seems to go beyond the imprecision of automated translation.

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First Photos From the European Solar Decathlon
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '10 at 08:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's cool-little-houses deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "The 2010 Solar Decathlon Europe kicked off today in Madrid, Spain, with a stunning array of solar-powered prefab homes. Seventeen teams from around the globe are battling it out in the center of the city to see who has the most efficient solar-powered and eco-friendly house. Just as in the competition in Washington DC, the teams will be graded on minimal energy use, innovative architecture and engineering, sustainability, and more. Check out these exclusive photos from the event for a first look at the most exciting houses in this year's competition."

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Stem Cell Tourist Dies From Treatment In Thailand
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '10 at 06:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's pays-your-money-takes-your-chances deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Last week, news that Costa Rica was shutting down a large stem cell clinic sparked a debate here on Slashdot about whether patients should be allowed to take the risks that come with untested treatments. Now comes news of what can happen when patients go looking for a shortcut. A patient suffering from an autoimmune disease that was destroying her kidneys went to a Bangkok clinic, where doctors injected her own adult stem cells into her kidneys. Now she's dead, and a postmortem revealed that the sites of injection had weird growths — 'tangled mixtures of blood vessels and bone marrow cells.' Researchers say the treatment almost certainly killed her."

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Best Browser For Using Complex Web Applications?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '10 at 04:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's fatal-error-encountered deptartment:
yanyan writes "I'm fairly new to the field of web application development. Currently i'm working on a big online ticketing system for passage and freight for a local shipping company. It's a one-man show and the system is written in Ruby and uses Rails. Aside from the requisite functionality of creating bookings the system must also print reports and tickets, and this is where i've discovered (the hard way) that most, if not all, browsers fall short. I've had to switch from Firefox 3.6.3 to Opera 10.53 because of a major printing bug in Firefox, but the latest stable Opera is also giving me its own share of problems. To complicate things, an earlier version of Opera (10.10) doesn't appear to have 10.53's printing problems, but i'm wary. What browsers and specific versions do you end up deploying for use with big, complex web apps that include printing? Also consider CSS accuracy and consistency."

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Google Introduces Command-Line Tool For Linux
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '10 at 03:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's google-reaches-the-beginning deptartment:
Lomegor writes "'Ever wanted to upload a folder full of photos to Picasa from a command prompt?' Google introduced today a new project, Google CL, that lets you do that and much more. It's a new command line tool for Linux that acts as an interface with Google services; you can upload videos to YouTube or maybe post a new blog post in Blogger in just one line."

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Wikileaks Source Outed To Stroke Hacker's Own Ego
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '10 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's collateral-jerk deptartment:
Binary Boy writes "Bradley Manning, the US Army Private arrested recently by the Pentagon for providing classified documents — including the widely seen Apache helicopter videomay have been duped by wannabe hacker Adrian Lamo, according to Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com. Lamo told Manning he could provide protection under both journalist shield laws, and the clergy-lay confidentiality tradition, and instead immediately turned him in to authorities in an act of apparent shameless self-promotion." The article also goes into Wired's role in the whole situation, the strange, sometimes sensationalist media coverage, and the odd similarity between this case and proposed scenarios in a US Intelligence report from earlier this year aimed at undermining Wikileaks.

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TACO Extension for Firefox Forked After Proprietary Update
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '10 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's way-to-commandeer-taco deptartment:
rtfa-troll writes "Beef TACO is a Firefox extension which allows a mass opt-out from tracking and targeted advertising by many ad networks. The Register reports that the original system, TACO, has become proprietary, and has added new 'features' best described as bloatware. I guess this should serve as a warning for users to always prefer software under a copyleft license where possible. If Google had chosen a license with better protection, such as the GPL, when they released their own opt-out tool, this problem would have been much less likely. This also shows why forks are so important when software development begins to get messy."

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