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EU Piracy Estimates — Just How Inaccurate?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 19 '10 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's pirates-across-the-pond deptartment:
Last week we discussed news that a US government report questioned the reliability of piracy statistics from the media industry. Reader superapecommando sends in a follow-up written by Glyn Moody that examines a similar problem in Europe. Quoting: "As far as I know, no similar analysis has been carried out for European reports. So I thought it might be interesting to look at one particular European report on the subject — not least because I've heard that its findings influenced some of the MPs voting on the Digital Economy Act. ... the net result of this 68-page report, with all of its tables and detailed methodology, is that four out of the top five markets used for calculating the overall piracy loss in Europe draw on figures supplied by the recording industry itself. Those apparently terrifying new figures detailing the supposed loss of money and jobs due to piracy in Europe turn out to be little more than a re-statement of the industry's previous claims in a slightly different form. As a result, as little credence can be placed in the report as in those criticised by the US GAO."

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Why Computer Science Students Cheat
Posted by News Fetcher on April 19 '10 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's your-comments-will-be-analyzed-for-plagiarism deptartment:
alphadogg writes "Enrollment in undergraduate computer science courses is at an all-time high at colleges nationwide. But this trend that's been hailed by the US tech industry has a dark side: a disproportionate number of students taking these courses are caught cheating. More students are caught cheating in introductory computer science courses than in any other course on campus, thanks to automated tools that professors use to detect unauthorized code reuse, excessive collaboration and other forbidden ways of completing homework assignments. Computer science professors say their students are not more dishonest than students in other fields; they're just more likely to get caught because software is available to check for plagiarism. 'The truth is that on every campus, a large proportion of the reported cases of academic dishonesty come from introductory computer science courses, and the reason is totally obvious: we use automated tools to detect plagiarism,' explains Professor Ed Lazowska, chair of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington. 'We compare against other student submissions, and we compare against previous student submissions and against code that may be on the Web. These tools flag suspicious cases, which are then manually examined.'"

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US House Passes Ban On Caller ID Spoofing
Posted by News Fetcher on April 19 '10 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's posted-by-sir-isaac-newton deptartment:
smarek writes "The 'Truth in Caller ID Act' passed the US House of Representatives on Wednesday. The legislation is trying to outlaw caller ID spoofing. In some cases, this spoofing has led to individuals giving out information that has led to identity theft. Last year the NYPD discovered over 6,000 victims of caller ID spoofing, who together lost a total of $15 million. A companion bill has already been passed by the Senate, and the two are on their way to 'informal conference to reconcile any differences.' The bill that results will most likely pass." PCWorld's coverage notes that callers will still be able to block their information entirely, and that the bill may have negative consequences for legitimate phone-related services, like Google Voice.

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Palm WebOS Hacked Via SMS Messages
Posted by News Fetcher on April 19 '10 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's and-a-sausage deptartment:
gondaba writes "Security researchers at the Intrepidus Group have hacked into Palm's new WebOS platform, using nothing more than text messages to exploit a slew of dangerous web app vulnerabilities. The white hat hackers found that the WebOS SMS client did not properly perform input/output validation on any SMS messages sent to the handset, leading to a rudimentary HTML injection bug. Coupled with the fact that HTML injection leads directly to injecting code into a WebOS application, the attacks made possible were quite dangerous (especially considering they could all be delivered over an SMS message)."

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George Washington Racks Up 220 Years of Late Fees At Library
Posted by News Fetcher on April 19 '10 at 09:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's at-least-he-read deptartment:
Everyone knows that George Washington couldn't tell a lie. What you probably didn't know is that he couldn't return a library book on time. From the article: "New York City's oldest library says one of its ledgers shows that the president has racked up 220 years' worth of late fees on two books he borrowed, but never returned. One of the books was the 'Law of Nations,' which deals with international relations. The other was a volume of debates from Britain's House of Commons. Both books were due on Nov. 2, 1789."

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Why Aren't SSD Prices Going Down?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 19 '10 at 09:00 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's more-is-more deptartment:
Lucas123 writes "NAND flash memory makers took an economic beating from 2007 through the first quarter of 2009 due to supply outstripping demand. During that time, solid state drives dropped in price 60% year over year. But after the economic meltdown, fabricators pulled back on production and investment in new facilities and the price of SSDs have remained flat or increased over the past year, and that is not expected to change until 2011. Until that time, SSDs remain 10x more expensive than hard disk drives. SSD vendors, however, are using a few tricks to get sales up, including selling lower-capacity boot drives that hit a sweet spot in the techie/gamer market."

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Cows On Treadmills Produce Clean Power For Farms
Posted by News Fetcher on April 19 '10 at 08:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's mooves-you-to-tears deptartment:
separsons writes "William Taylor, a farmer in Northern Ireland, recently developed the Livestock Power Mill, a treadmill for cows. Taylor uses the device to generate clean, renewable power for his farm. Cows are locked into a pen on top of a non-powered, inclined belt. The cows' walking turns the belt, which spins a gearbox to drive a generator. One cow can produce about two kilowatts of electricity, enough energy to power four milking machines. It may seem like a kooky idea, but Taylor could be onto something: According to his calculations, if the world's 1.3 billion cattle used treadmills for eight hours a day, they could provide six percent of the world's power!"

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This Is Apple's Next iPhone
Posted by News Fetcher on April 19 '10 at 07:30 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's or-so-they-say deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "There has been some speculation about it. Not anymore: 'This is Apple's next iPhone. It was found lost in a bar in Redwood City, camouflaged to look like an iPhone 3GS. We got it. We disassembled it. It's the real thing, and here are all the details.' Judging by Gizmodo's reaction, it looks like a winner."

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In Defense of Jailbreaking
Posted by News Fetcher on April 19 '10 at 06:45 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's fighting-the-good-fight deptartment:
Keith found a nice manifesto saying "There's a trend that's been disturbing me lately. When the topic of modding or jailbreaking comes up — say, in the wake of the iPad announcement, or Sony's restrictive PS3 update — there is an outcry. Who am I to tell Apple what's best for their devices?"

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Life Recorder
Posted by News Fetcher on April 19 '10 at 06:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's just-around-the-bend deptartment:
Bruce Schneier writes "In 2006, writing about future threats on privacy, I described a life recorder: A "life recorder" you can wear on your lapel that constantly records is still a few generations off: 200 gigabytes/year for audio and 700 gigabytes/year for video. It'll be sold as a security device, so that no one can attack you without being recorded."

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Wisconsin Designates State Microbe
Posted by News Fetcher on April 19 '10 at 05:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's the-fighting-parameciums deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that state legislators in Wisconsin raced against the clock to pass a bill designating Lactococcus lactis as Wisconsin's official state microbe. 'The first time I heard the idea, I thought, I've got more important things to do than spending my time honoring a microbe,' says Gary Hebl, a Democratic state representative who proposed the bill which, he says, would make Wisconsin the first state in the nation to grant such a designation, 'but this microbe is really a very hard worker,' added Hebl, referring to the bacterium supported by the Department of Bacteriology at UW — Madison used to make cheddar, Colby, and Monterey Jack cheese. The proposal faced only one detractor in committee ('the opponent was clearly lactose-intolerant,' says Hebl), and there was no sign of a last-minute campaign from other bacteria, so by evening, the Assembly had approved the measure, 56 to 41. In case there were any doubts about Wisconsin's priorities, a separate bill also awaits consideration in Madison, declaring cheese Wisconsin's state snack."

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Volcanic Ash Heading Towards North America
Posted by News Fetcher on April 19 '10 at 05:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's no-can-spell-check-that deptartment:
chocomilko writes "St. John's International Airport, the easternmost airport in Canada, has begun canceling flights due to worries of ash from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano, leaving travelers stranded after the weekend's Juno awards festival. Early reports stated that there was a 30% chance ash would reach the island by early Monday; Air Canada has issued an all-day travel advisory. A thick blanket of fog currently covering the city isn't helping matters, either."

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Towards an Open Geolocation Database
Posted by News Fetcher on April 19 '10 at 04:15 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's lat-lng-is-the-new-address deptartment:
theodp writes "With the location land rush in full swing, TechCrunch's Erick Schonfeld declares it's time for an open database of places and calls on the Big Dogs of location — Twitter, Google, Foursquare, Gowalla, SimpleGeo, Loopt, Citysearch, et al. — to make it so. An open database that maps latitude and longitude coordinates to businesses, points of interest, and even people's homes should just be part of the basic fabric of the mobile Web. Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley was enthusiastic about the idea (in a standing-up-at-a-cocktail-party sort of way), says Schonfeld, while Twitter founder Jack Dorsey was a little bit more lukewarm and cautious. Time for Larry and Sergey to invite the Families to a sit-down at 37.423021,-122.083739?"

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Cross With the Platform
Posted by News Fetcher on April 19 '10 at 01:00 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's ifdef-hell deptartment:
Tim Bray tweeted, No platform has hit the big time till it's been flamed by JWZ. He was referring to this rant in which Zawinski systematically dismantles any claim the iPhone has to cross-platform compatibility. "I finally got the iPhone/iPad port [of Dali Clock] working. It was ridiculously difficult, because I refused to fork the MacOS X code base: the desktop and the phone are both supposedly within spitting distance of being the same operating system, so it should be a small matter of ifdefs to have the same app compile as a desktop application and an iPhone application, right? Oh ho ho ho. I think it's safe to say that MacOS is more source-code-compatible with NextStep than the iPhone is with MacOS. ... they got some intern who was completely unfamiliar with the old library to just write a new one from scratch without looking at what already existed. It's 2010, and we're still innovating on how you pass color components around. Seriously?"

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China's Research Ambitions Hurt By Faked Results
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '10 at 10:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's science-fiction deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "AP reports that plagiarizing or faking results is so rampant in Chinese academia that some experts worry it could hinder China's efforts to become a leader in science. China's state-run media recently rejoiced over reports that China publishes more papers in international journals than any other country except the US; but not all the research stands up to scrutiny. In December, a British journal retracted 70 papers from a Chinese university, all by the same two lead scientists, saying the work had been fabricated, and expressing amazement that a fake crystal structure would be submitted for publication. 'Academic fraud, misconduct and ethical violations are very common in China,' said professor Rao Yi, dean of the life sciences school at Peking University. 'It is a big problem.' Last month the Education Ministry released guidelines for forming a 35-member watchdog committee and has asked universities to get tough but Rao remains skeptical. Government ministries are happy to fund research but not to police it, Rao says. 'The authorities don't want to be the bad guy.'"

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Virtualizing Workstations For Common Hardware?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '10 at 06:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's rock-to-stand-on deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "We have approximately 20 workstations which all have different hardware specs. Every workstation has two monitors and generally runs either Ubuntu or Windows. I had started using Clonezilla to copy the installs so we could deploy new workstations quickly and easily, when we have hardware failures or the like, but am struggling with Windows requiring new drivers to be installed for all new hardware. Obviously we could be booting into Ubuntu and then load a Windows virtual machine after that, but I'd prefer not to have the added load of a full GUI underneath Windows — we want maximum performance possible. And I don't think the multi-monitor support would work. Is it possible to have a very basic virtual machine beneath to provide hardware consistency whilst still allowing multi-monitor support? Does anyone have any experience with a technique like this?"

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The Sopranos Meet H-1B In New Jersey
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '10 at 04:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's know-guys-who-know-guys deptartment:
theodp writes "We smack this IT geek around a little, take him for a nice car ride, threaten to 'take care of him' if he doesn't recant his story, give him 5 G's for his trouble, and badda boom, badda bing, case dismissed. Federal prosecutors allege that an H-1B visa-holding IT employee who was owed some $53,000 in back wages was threatened in meetings at restaurants and in his home if he didn't change his story. However, the victim captured some of what happened on tape, and two employees of an Illinois-based IT staffing company — not named in the indictment but identified by the NJ Star-Ledger as ComData Consulting Inc. of Rolling Meadows, IL — are now facing extortion-related charges and a possible 20 years in prison."

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Shuttle Reentry Over the Continental US
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '10 at 03:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's boom-boom deptartment:
TheOtherChimeraTwin notes that the shuttle Discovery will land at Kennedy Space Center on Monday morning at 8:48 EDT. The craft will make a rare "descending node" overflight of the continental US en route to landing in Florida. Here are maps of the shuttle's path if is lands on orbit 222 as planned, or on the next orbit. Spaceweather.com says: "...it takes the shuttle about 35 minutes to traverse the path shown... Observers in the northwestern USA will see the shuttle shortly after 5 am PDT blazing like a meteoric fireball through the dawn sky. As Discovery makes its way east, it will enter daylight and fade into the bright blue background. If you can't see the shuttle, however, you might be able to hear it. The shuttle produces a sonic double-boom that reaches the ground about a minute and a half after passing overhead."

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Thoughts On the State of Web Development
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '10 at 02:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's sofea-meet-soui deptartment:
rmoskal recommends his blog post up at Most Media on finding the right level of abstraction, Grails, and SOFEA. "[Three years ago] I was very excited about Apache Wicket as the way to develop line of business applications with a domain model, CRUD [create-read-update-delete] screens for maintaining the model, and in the most interesting cases, doing something else useful besides. I still like Wicket. It has, as its website says a small conceptual surface area.' It reminds me of python in that 'You try something it usually just works.' In many respects, though, Wicket seems to be at the wrong level of abstraction for the for the sorts of line of business applications described above. If your team is spending any time at all writing code to produce listing, filtering, and sorting behavior, not to mention creating CRUD screens and the back end logic for these operations, they are probably working at the wrong level of abstraction. ... Recently I did a small project using Grails and was quite pleased. Grails uses groovy a dynamic language compatible with Java and is based on the proven technologies that I know and love well: Spring, Hibernate, SiteMesh, Maven, etc. ... I get all the power of the Java ecosystem without the fustiness and lack of expressivity of the core language (no more getters and setters, ever!)."

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Microbe Mat the Size of Greece Discovered In the Sea
Posted by News Fetcher on April 18 '10 at 01:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's davy-jones's-blanket deptartment:
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "A mat of microbes the size of Greece has been discovered on the sea floor off the Pacific coast of South America. 'These tiny creatures can join together to create some of the largest masses of life on the planet... A single liter of seawater, once thought to contain about 100,000 microbes, can actually hold more than one billion microorganisms...'"

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