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Google Asks US For WTO Block On China Censorship
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '10 at 06:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's calling-in-the-bantam-artillery deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Google is asking the US government to petition the World Trade Organization to recognize China's censorship as an unfair barrier to trade. The US Trade Representative is reviewing their petition to see if they can prove that China's rules discriminate against foreign competition. At least it's something worthwhile for the US Trade Reps to do, rather than secretly negotiating ACTA."

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Mariposa Botnet Beheaded
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '10 at 05:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's sting-like-a-butterfly deptartment:
northernboy and many other readers sent news of the beheading of the Mariposa botnet with three arrests in Spain. "Defense Intelligence of Ottawa working with ISPs and Spanish authorities have taken down yet another > 12M PC botnet, called Mariposa. The three top-level operators are in custody, but remain anonymous under Spanish law (how quaint: apparently in Spain, the accused have some right to privacy). AP is claiming that the botnet included systems in roughly half of the Fortune 1000 companies, scattered over 190 countries. Interesting details: none of the three principals has a prior criminal record. Although apparently hardworking, they are not uber-hackers, but rather had connections to the Spanish mafia, which apparently helped to equip them. At the time of arrest, they were not showing signs of their significant new income level. From the article: 'Chris Davis, CEO of Ottawa-based Defence Intelligence, said he noticed the infections when they appeared on networks of some of his firm's clients, including pharmaceutical companies and banks. It wasn't until several months later that he realized the infections were part of something much bigger. After seeing that some of the servers used to control computers in the botnet were located in Spain, Davis and researchers from the Georgia Tech Information Security Center joined with software firm Panda Security, which is headquartered in Bilbao, Spain. The investigators caught a few lucky breaks. For one, the suspects used Internet services that wound up cooperating with investigators. That isn't always the case.'"

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BBC To Make Deep Cuts In Internet Services
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '10 at 03:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's inconvenient-for-the-commercial-sector deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that the BBC has yielded to critics of its aggressive expansion, and is planning to make sweeping cuts in spending on its Web site and other digital operations. Members of the Conservative Party, which is expected to make electoral gains at the expense of the governing Labor Party, have called for the BBC to be reined in and last year James Murdoch criticized the BBC for providing 'free news' on the internet, making it 'incredibly hard for private news organizations to ask people to pay for their news.' Mark Thompson, director-general of the BBC, said 'After years of expansion of our services in the UK, we are proposing some reductions.' The BBC is proposing a 25 percent reduction in its spending on the Web, as well as the closure of several digital radio stations and a reduction in outlays on US television shows. The Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union, which represents thousands of workers at the BBC, says that instead of appeasing critics, the proposed cuts could backfire. 'The BBC will not secure the politicians' favor with these proposals and nor will the corporation appease the commercial sector, which will see what the BBC is prepared to sacrifice and will pile on the pressure for more cuts,' says Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of the union."

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Write Bits Directly Onto a Hard Drive Platter?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '10 at 02:31 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's old-old-skool deptartment:
kidcharles writes "I'm working on a project that requires writing bits to a magnetic hard drive platter in a completely controlled fashion. I need to be able to control exactly where 1s and 0s will appear physically on the platter. Normally when data is written to a drive the actual bits that get written are determined by the file system being used, as modified by whatever kind of error handling the drive itself is using (e.g. Reed-Solomon). All of the modern innovations in file systems and error handling are great for reliable and efficient data storage, but they are making my particular task quite daunting. My question for Slashdot: is there a way to get down to the 'bare metal' and write these bits? Any good utilities out there to do this? Obviously a free and open source solution would be preferable, but I'm open to anything at this point."

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Printing Replacement Body Parts
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '10 at 01:15 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's portrait-mode deptartment:
Deep Penguin sends in a piece that appeared in The Economist a couple of weeks back about a developing technology to "print" body parts for transplant. "A US and an Australian company have developed the $200,000 machine, which works by depositing stem cells and a 'a sugar-based hydrogel' scaffolding material. (The stem cells are harvested from a transplant patient's own fat and bone marrow, to avoid rejection down the line.) The companies are Organovo, from San Diego, specializing in regenerative medicine, and Invetech, an engineering and automation firm in Melbourne, Australia. The initial targets are skin, muscle, and 'short stretches of blood vessels,' which they hope to have available for human implantation within five years. Down the line, they expect the technology could even print directly into the body, bypassing the in-vitro portion of the current process."

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$1M Prize For Finding Cause of Unintended Acceleration
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 11:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's not-just-toyota deptartment:
phantomfive writes "Edmunds Auto has announced that it will be offering a $1 million prize to anyone who can find the cause of unintended acceleration. As Wikipedia notes, this is a problem that has plagued not only Toyota, but also Audi and other manufacturers. Consumer Reports has some suggestions all automakers can implement to solve this problem, including requiring brakes to be strong enough to stop the car even when the accelerator is floored."

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Officials Sue Couple Who Removed Their Lawn
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 09:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's revenge-of-the-lawn deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "The LA Times reports that Orange County officials are locked in a legal battle with a couple accused of violating city ordinances for replacing the grass on their lawn with wood chips and drought-tolerant plants, reducing their water usage from 299,221 gallons in 2007 to 58,348 gallons in 2009. The dispute began two years ago, when Quan and Angelina Ha tore out the grass in their front yard. In drought-plagued Southern California, the couple said, the lush grass had been soaking up tens of thousands of gallons of water — and hundreds of dollars — each year. 'We've got a newborn, so we want to start worrying about her future,' said Quan Ha, an information technology manager for Kelley Blue Book. But city officials told the Has they were violating several city laws that require that 40% of residential yards to be landscaped predominantly with live plants. Last summer, the couple tried to appease the city by building a fence around the yard and planting drought-tolerant greenery — lavender, rosemary, horsetail, and pittosporum, among others. But according to the city, their landscaping still did not comply with city standards. At the end of January, the Has received a letter saying they had been charged with a misdemeanor violation and must appear in court. The couple could face a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for their grass-free, eco-friendly landscaping scheme. 'It's just funny that we pay our taxes to the city and the city is now prosecuting us with our own money,' says Quan Ha."

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Terry Childs's Slow Road To Justice
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 08:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's exceeding-fine deptartment:
snydeq writes "Deep End's Paul Venezia provides an update on the City of San Francisco's trial against IT admin Terry Childs, which — at eight weeks and counting — hasn't even seen the defense begin to present its case. The main spotlight thus far has been on the testimony of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. 'Many articles about this case have pounced on the fact that after Childs gave the passwords to the mayor, they couldn't immediately be used. Most of these pieces chalk this up to some kind of secondary infraction on Childs's part,' Venezia writes. 'Just because you give someone a password doesn't mean that person knows how to use it. Childs's security measures would have included access lists that blocked attempted logins from non-specified IP addresses or subnets. In short, it was nothing out of the ordinary if you know anything about network security.' But while the lack of technical expertise in the case is troubling, encouraging is the fact that the San Francisco Chronicle's 'breathless piece reporting on the mayor's testimony' drew comments 10-to-1 in Childs's favor, which may indicate that 'public opinion of this case has tilted in favor of the defense,' Venezia writes. Of course, 'if [the trial] drags into summer, Childs will have the dubious honor of being held in jail for two full years.' This for a man who 'ultimately protected the [City's] network until the bitter end.'"

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Tethering Is Exhilarating (With the Nexus One)
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 06:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's free-to-roam deptartment:
timothy found this link (hat-tip to Tim O'Reilly) to a paean to the joys of tethering. "In a short post, Steve Souders explores the current state of tethering 3G connections via iPhone (on which he basically gives up, for the perfectly decent reason of not wanting to jailbreak his iPhone) and the Nexus One, with which he has great success. His writeup serves as a micro-tutorial ("use PdaNet's Android app") as well as an endorsement."

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Microsoft Says, Don't Press the F1 Key In XP
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 04:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's any-key-but-that-one deptartment:
Ian Lamont writes "Microsoft has issued a security advisory warning users not to press the F1 key in Windows XP, owing to an unpatched bug in VBScript discovered by Polish researcher Maurycy Prodeus. The security advisory says that the vulnerability relates to the way VBScript interacts with Windows Help files when using Internet Explorer, and could be triggered by a user pressing the F1 key after visiting a malicious Web site using a specially crafted dialog box."

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Netflix Gauging Interest In an iPhone App
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 04:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's coming-to-a-small-screen-near-you deptartment:
gollum123 writes "A new survey sent out to Netflix subscribers indicates that the iPhone might be the next device that its streaming service rolls out on in the coming months. (The NY Times credits Hacking Netflix for the tip.) According to a tip sent to Hacking Netflix, the subscription video company is now asking users how likely they would be to use an iPhone app to view movies via its online streaming service. According to the survey, an iPhone app would give users all the same functionality that they have when streaming on a PC or other device, including all the same movies and TV shows without advertisements or trailers. If the app is rolled out, the ability to watch on the Apple mobile device would be offered at no additional charge to existing Netflix subscribers. There is good news for AT&T implied in the survey questions: it appears that the app would require users to be connected to a Wi-Fi network."

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A Second Lessig Fair-Use Video Is Suppressed By WMG
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 03:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's irony-abounds deptartment:
Bios_Hakr points out an ironic use of the DMCA: for the second time, a video tutorial on fair use that Larry Lessig uploaded to YouTube has been muzzled. This time the sound has been pulled from the video; last time the video was taken off of YouTube. (Video and sound for the new "webside chat" can be experienced together on BlipTV.) Both times, Warner Music Group was the party holding copytright on a song that Lessig used in an unarguably fair-use manner. TechDirt is careful not to assume that an actual DMCA takedown notice was issued, on the likelihood that Google's automatic copyright-violation detectors did the deed. "The unintended consequences of asking tool providers [e.g., Google] to judge what is and what is not copyright infringement lead to tremendous problems with companies shooting first and asking questions later. They are silencing speech, on the threat that it might infringe on copyright. This is backwards. We live in a country that is supposed to cherish free speech, not stifle it in case it harms the business model of a company. We live in a country that is supposed to encourage the free expression of ideas — not lock it up and take it down because one company doesn't know how to adapt its business model. We should never be silencing videos because they might infringe on copyright."

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Microsoft VP Suggests 'Net Tax To Clean Computers
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 02:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's sure-to-go-over-well deptartment:
Ian Lamont writes "Microsoft's Vice President for Trustworthy Computing Scott Charney, speaking at the RSA conference in San Francisco, has floated an interesting proposal to deal with infected computers: Approach the problem of dealing with malware infections like the healthcare industry, and consider using 'general taxation' to pay for inspection and quarantine. Using taxes to deal with online criminal activity is not a new idea, as demonstrated by last year's Louisiana House vote to levy a monthly surcharge on Internet access to deal with online baddies."

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New "Spear Phishing" Attacks Target IT Admins
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 01:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's parasitic-wasps deptartment:
snydeq writes "A new breed of 'spear phishing' aimed at IT admins is making the rounds. The emails, containing no obvious malicious links, are fooling even the savviest of users into opening up holes in their company's network defenses. The authentic-looking emails, which often include the admin's complete name or refer to a real project they are working on, are the product of tactical research or database hacks and appear as if having been sent by the company's hosting provider. 'In each case, the victim remembered getting a similar sort of email message when they first signed on with a service and, thus, thought the bogus message was legitimate — especially because their cloud/hosting providers keep bragging about all the new data centers they're continuing to bring online.' The phishing messages often include instructions for opening up mail servers to enable spam relaying, to disable their host-based firewalls, and to open up unprotected network shares. Certainly fodder for some bone-headed mistakes on the part of admins, the new attack 'makes the old days of hoax messages that caused users to delete legitimate operating system files seem relatively harmless.'"

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SCO Zombie McBride's New Plan For World Litigation
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 01:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's problem-is-the-missing-braaaiiins deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "Years after you thought it was all over, Groklaw is reporting that Darl McBride (ex-CEO of SCO) has formed a new company that is buying SCO's mobile business for peanuts — but he's also going to get 'certain Intellectual Property' with the deal. You may recall that McBride was the brains behind the Linux lawsuits that SCO launched and it appears he may be orchestrating an exit route where he escapes with some IP intact, in order to wreak havoc once again. Hopefully this is the part at the end of the movie where the zombie comes back to life one last time only to have the hero deliver the final final blow. When this news broke upon the investment world, SCO's stock skyrocketed a blistering 11%, bringing it up seven cents to a full seventy cents — a level which it has not achieved since 2007."

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Matt Asay Answers Your Questions About Ubuntu and Canonical
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 12:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's towards-world-domination deptartment:
A couple of weeks ago you posed some questions for Matt Asay, who recently moved into the COO role at Canonical. Click below to read his answers.

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Detecting Anonymously Registered Domains
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 11:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's may-i-tell-them-who-is-calling deptartment:
Spamresource.com has up a piece describing a new service that could be useful in evaluating the reputation of sites you deal with — anonwhois.org returns information on domains registered anonymously. It provides a DNSBL-style service that "is not a blacklist and wasn't meant to be used for outright rejection of mail." Only 619,000 domains are listed so far, but more are added as they are queried, so the database will grow more complete. Anonwhois.org seems to be a sister site to Spam Eating Monkey.

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Scientists Discover Booze That Won't Give You a Hangover
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 11:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's go-ahead-and-have-another deptartment:
Kwang-il Kwon and Hye Gwang Jeong of Chungnam National University have discovered that drinking alcohol with oxygen bubbles added leads to fewer hangovers and a shorter sobering up time. People drinking the bubbly booze sobered up 20-30 minutes faster and had less severe and fewer hangovers than people who drank the non-fizzy stuff. Kwon said: "The oxygen-enriched alcohol beverage reduces plasma alcohol concentrations faster than a normal dissolved-oxygen alcohol beverage does. This could provide both clinical and real-life significance. The oxygen-enriched alcohol beverage would allow individuals to become sober faster, and reduce the side effects of acetaldehyde without a significant difference in alcohol's effects. Furthermore, the reduced time to a lower BAC may reduce alcohol-related accidents."

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Passage of Time Solves PS3 Glitch
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's if-only-they-were-all-so-easy deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "A quick update on the widespread PlayStation 3 glitch we discussed recently: as of last night (Monday, March 1st) the problem has resolved itself. I powered up my PS3 to find the clock was set to April 29th, 2020, but once I went into the system menu and set the date and time via the internet I got an accurate date. That seems to be the test of whether your PS3 is 'fixed' or not; Sony says you should be all set."

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The Role of Human Culture In Natural Selection
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's let's-see-some-selection-pressure-against-guidos deptartment:
gollum123 writes with this excerpt from the NY Times: "... for the last 20,000 years or so, people have inadvertently been shaping their own evolution. The force is human culture, broadly defined as any learned behavior, including technology. The evidence of its activity is the more surprising because culture has long seemed to play just the opposite role. Biologists have seen it as a shield that protects people from the full force of other selective pressures, since clothes and shelter dull the bite of cold and farming helps build surpluses to ride out famine. Because of this buffering action, culture was thought to have blunted the rate of human evolution, or even brought it to a halt, in the distant past. Many biologists are now seeing the role of culture in a quite different light. Although it does shield people from other forces, culture itself seems to be a powerful force of natural selection. People adapt genetically to sustained cultural changes, like new diets. And this interaction works more quickly than other selective forces, 'leading some practitioners to argue that gene-culture co-evolution could be the dominant mode of human evolution.'"

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