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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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Infinity Ward Lead Developers Axed Unexpectedly
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's let's-blame-the-dedicated-server-fiasco deptartment:
RogueyWon writes "Kotaku is reporting that Infinity Ward, the development studio behind Modern Warfare 2, has been at the center of strange events recently. Jason West and Vince Zampella, two lead developers, have been fired by parent company Activision for 'breaches of contract and insubordination.' Speculation is rife as to the reasons behind this; following Modern Warfare 2's spectacular sales figures, it seems unlikely that the studio's performance could be to blame."

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Federal Deadline Hobbling eHealth IT Rollout
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 09:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-can't-hold-servers-together-with-red-tape deptartment:
Lucas123 writes "A federal deadline that begins next year and requires hospitals to prove they're meaningfully using electronic health records will lead to technical problems and data errors affecting patient care, say politicians and top IT professionals responsible for the deployments. Physicians and hospitals have until the end of 2011 to receive the maximum federal incentive monies to deploy the technology. If not deployed by 2015, they face penalties through cuts in Medicare reimbursements. 'I think we have nontechnology people making decisions about technology,' said Gregg Veltri, CIO at Denver Health. 'I wonder if anybody understands the reality of IT systems and how complex they are, especially when they're integrated together. You're going to sacrifice quality if you increase the speed [of the rollout].'"

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Apple Sues HTC For 20 Patent Violations In Phones
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's sorry-about-your-luck deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "Taiwanese HTC is being sued by Apple for 20 patents regarding the many phones HTC manufactures. Steve Jobs was quoted as saying, 'We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We've decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.' Apple has similar patent litigation with Nokia and may be trying to scare the rest of the industry into licensing patents similar to the Microsoft-Novell and Microsoft-Amazon deals regarding patents covering Linux functionality."

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Over Half of Software Fails First Security Tests
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's over-half-of-users-are-oblivious deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Even with all of the emphasis on writing software with security in mind, most software applications remain riddled with security holes, according to a new report released today about the actual security quality of all types of software. Close to 60 percent of the applications tested by application security company Veracode in the past year-and-a-half failed to achieve a successful rating in their first round of testing. And this data is based on software developers who took the time and effort to have their code tested — who knows about the others."Reader sgtrock pointed out another interesting snippet from the article: "'The conventional wisdom is that open source is risky. But open source was no worse than commercial software upon first submission. That's encouraging,' Oberg says. And it was the quickest to remediate any flaws: 'It took about 30 days to remediate open-source software, and much longer for commercial and internal projects,' he says."

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NASA Estimates 600 Million Metric Tons of Water Ice At Moon's North Pole
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's no-sign-of-moon-santa deptartment:
After analyzing data from a radar device aboard last year's Indian Chandrayaan-1 mission to the Moon, NASA scientists have found what they estimate to be 600 million metric tons of water ice in craters around the Moon's north pole."Numerous craters near the poles of the Moon have interiors that are in permanent sun shadow. These areas are very cold and water ice is stable there essentially indefinitely. Fresh craters show high degrees of surface roughness (high circular polarization ratio) both inside and outside the crater rim, caused by sharp rocks and block fields that are distributed over the entire crater area. However, Mini-SAR has found craters near the north pole that have high CPR inside, but not outside their rims. This relation suggests that the high CPR is not caused by roughness, but by some material that is restricted within the interiors of these craters. We interpret this relation as consistent with water ice present in these craters. The ice must be relatively pure and at least a couple of meters thick to give this signature."

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New Chrome Beta Adds Privacy Controls, Translation Option
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 07:01 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's on-the-campaign-trail deptartment:
billandad writes "Anyone would think the timing was deliberate; just as Microsoft is forced into giving users the option to switch from IE via the browser ballot screen, so Google introduces a new Chrome beta with enhanced privacy features to chisel away at Microsoft's market share. '... you can control how browser cookies, images, JavaScript, plug-ins, and pop-ups are handled on a site-by-site basis. For example, you can set up cookie rules to allow cookies specifically only for sites that you trust, and block cookies from untrusted sites.' The new beta also adds language detection, and will prompt the user to translate a page if it's written in a foreign tongue."

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German Data Retention Law Ruled Unconstitutional
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 06:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's raise-a-stein deptartment:
mseeger writes "The German Federal Constitutional Court has ruled the country's current data retention law unconstitutional. All stored telephone and email communication data, previously kept for six months in case it was needed by law enforcement, now must be deleted as soon as possible. The court criticized the lack of data security and insufficient restrictions for access to the data. The president of the court said continuing to retain the data would 'cause a diffusely threatening feeling of being under observation that can diminish an unprejudiced perception of one's basic rights in many areas.' While it doesn't disallow data retention in general, the imposed restriction demands a complete reworking of the law."An anonymous reader contributes the Court's press release and more information on the ruling, both in German.

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Recovering Data From Noise
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 05:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's sparse-world-after-all deptartment:
An anonymous reader tips an account up at Wired of a hot new field of mathematics and applied algorithm research called "compressed sensing" that takes advantage of the mathematical concept of sparsity to recreate images or other datasets from noisy, incomplete inputs. "[The inventor of CS, Emmanuel] Candès can envision a long list of applications based on what he and his colleagues have accomplished. He sees, for example, a future in which the technique is used in more than MRI machines. Digital cameras, he explains, gather huge amounts of information and then compress the images. But compression, at least if CS is available, is a gigantic waste. If your camera is going to record a vast amount of data only to throw away 90 percent of it when you compress, why not just save battery power and memory and record 90 percent less data in the first place? ... The ability to gather meaningful data from tiny samples of information is also enticing to the military."

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Scalpers Earned $25M Gaming Online Ticket Sellers
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 02:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's flash-crowd-at-the-ticket-queue deptartment:
SeattleGameboy writes "An indictment has been issued for online ticket brokers known as 'Wiseguy Tickets and Seats of San Francisco.' From 2002 to 2009, they used bots, server farms, and CAPTCHA hacking to buy vast number of premium tickets (Springsteen, Miley Cyrus, NFL, MLB playoffs, etc.) and made $25 million in profits. 'They wrote a script that impersonated users trying to access Facebook, and downloaded hundreds of thousands of possible CAPTCHA challenges from reCAPTCHA. They identified the file ID of each CAPTCHA challenge and created a database of CAPTCHA "answers" to correspond to each ID. The bot would then identify the file ID of a challenge at Ticketmaster and feed back the corresponding answer. The bot also mimicked human behavior by occasionally making mistakes in typing the answer, the authorities said.' I guess you can break any system like CAPTCHA if you want it badly enough."

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UK Police Promise Not To Retain DNA Data, But Do Anyway
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '10 at 12:00 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's most-private-thing deptartment:
redalien writes "In 2008 I invited two policemen into my home and voluntarily gave them a DNA and fingerprint sample to help with a murder investigation, as they'd promised it would only be used for that investigation. I was never under any suspicion and could just as easily have said no. Almost a year after the investigation closed they have now confirmed that they've retained my samples and at my request have begun an investigation to see if there are sufficient 'exceptional circumstances' to remove them. I'm not the only one who was told samples would be removed, so if you've had such a promise from the police I recommend contacting their data protection registrar immediately."

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New I/O Standard Bids To Replace Mini PCI Express
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 10:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's lame-name deptartment:
DeviceGuru writes "LinuxDevices reports that a group of companies today unveiled — and demonstrated products based on — a tiny new PCI Express expansion standard. Although it's somewhat larger than the PCI Express Mini Card, the tiny new 43mm x 65mm FeaturePak card's high density 230-pin edgecard connector provides twice the number of PCI Express and USB 2.0 channels to the host computer, plus 100 lines dedicated to general purpose I/O, of which 34 signal pairs are implemented with enhanced isolation for use in applications such as gigabit Ethernet or high-precision analog I/O. While FeaturePaks will certainly be used in all sorts of embedded devices (medical instruments, test equipment, etc.), the tiny cards could also be used for developing configurable consumer devices, for example to add an embedded firewall/router or security processor to laptop or notebook computers, or for modular functionality in TV set-top-boxes and Internet edge devices." The president of Diamond Systems, which invented the new card, said "Following the FeaturePak initiative's initial launch, we intend to turn the FeaturePak specification, trademark, and logo over to a suitable standards organization so it can become an industry-wide, open-architecture, embedded standard" (but to use the logo you have to join the organization).

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Chilean Earthquake Shortened Earth's Day
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 08:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's ice-skater-effect deptartment:
ailnlv writes "Days on Earth just got shorter. The recent earthquake in Chile shifted the planet's axis by about 8 cm and shortened days by 1.26 microseconds 'The changes can be modeled, though they're difficult to detect physically given their small size... Some changes may be more obvious, and islands may have shifted... Santa Maria Island off the coast near Concepcion, Chile’s second-largest city, may have been raised 2 meters (6 feet) as a result of the latest quake...'"

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Google Awarded Broad Patent For Location-Based Advertising
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 08:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's you-are-here-and-we-own-you deptartment:
Mashable has a report of a patent that just issued (6-1/2 years after filing) — apparently Google now has a lock on location-based advertising. It's not clear that the search company intends to assert the patent against any other companies (such as emerging rival Apple), but it's useful as leverage. Here is the patent.

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Aurora Attack — Resistance Is Futile, Pretty Much
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 06:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's big-leagues deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "Do you have branch offices in China? iSec has published a new report (PDF) outlining the severity of the attacks on Google.cn, allegedly by the Chinese government, dubbed 'Aurora' attacks. Up to 100 companies were victims, and some are speculating that resistance to such attacks is futile. The report lays out the shape of the attacks — which were customized per-company based on installed vulnerable software and antivirus protection: '1. The attacker socially engineers a victim, often in an overseas office, to visit a malicious website. 2. This website uses a browser vulnerability to load custom malware on the initial victim's machine. 3. The malware calls out to a control server, likely identified by a dynamic DNS address. 4. The attacker escalates his privilege on the corporate Windows network, using cached or local administrator credentials. 5. The attacker attempts to access an Active Directory server to obtain the password database, which can be cracked onsite or offsite. 6. The attacker uses cracked credentials to obtain VPN access, or creates a fake user in the VPN access server. 7. At this point, the attack varies based upon the victim. The attacker may steal administrator credentials to access production systems, obtain source code from a source repository, access data hosted at the victim, or explore Intranet sites for valuable intellectual property.' The report also has pages of recommendations as well as lessons learned, which any systems administrator — even those inside the US — should read and take note of."

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Newborns' Blood Used To Build Secret DNA Database
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 05:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's texas-baby-blood-spots deptartment:
Kanel notes a summary up at New Scientist of an investigation by a Texas newspaper revealing that Texas health officials had secretly transferred hundreds of newborn babies' blood samples to the federal government to build a DNA database. Here's the (long and detailed) article in the Texas tribune. From New Scientist: "The Texas Department of State Health Services routinely collected blood samples from newborns to screen for a variety of health conditions, before throwing the samples out. But beginning in 2002, the DSHS contracted Texas A&M University to store blood samples for potential use in medical research. These accumulated at rate of 800,000 per year. The DSHS did not obtain permission from parents, who sued the DSHS, which settled in November 2009. Now the Tribune reveals that wasn't the end of the matter. As it turns out, between 2003 and 2007, the DSHS also gave 800 anonymized blood samples to the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory to help create a national mitochondrial DNA database. This came to light after repeated open records requests filed by the Tribune turned up documents detailing the mtDNA program. Apparently, these samples were part of a larger program to build a national, perhaps international, DNA database that could be used to track down missing persons and solve cold cases."

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"Patent Markings" Lawsuits Could Run Into the Trillions
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 04:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's who-you-callin'-a-qui-tam deptartment:
bizwriter writes "The latest legal bugaboo facing manufacturers is the false patent marking suit. Using what has been until recently an obscure type of legal action, individuals and enterprising law firms have targeted large manufacturers with lawsuits that can easily run million of dollars — in a case involving a drink cup manufacturer, over $10 trillion — for incorrectly including patent numbers on products. Some companies named in such suits are 3M, Cisco, Pfizer, Monster Cable, and Merck. Even expired patent numbers can be actionable." Sounds like a perfect opportunity for some enlightened appeals court to inject some sense into the debate. What do you think the chances are? Note: if ever there were a page that cries out for the Readibility bookmarklet, this is it.

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Google Acquires Online Image Editing Tool Picnik
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 03:30 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's google-shopping-spree deptartment:
Many different sources are writing to tell us about Google's acquisition of online image editing tool Picnik. "And all this leads us to today’s exciting news: we’ve just been acquired by Google! What does this mean for Picnik? It means we can think BIG. Google processes petabytes of data every day, and with their worldwide infrastructure and world-class team, it is truly the best home we could have found. Under the Google roof we’ll reach more people than ever before, impacting more lives and making more photos more awesome. What does this mean for you Picnikers? Nothing is changing right away, but Picnik now has more potential than ever before. The team that built Picnik from the grass up will continue making advanced and powerful photo-editing easier, more intuitive and more fun, so stay tuned to hear about all the cool new stuff we’re working on."

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US Military Surrenders To Social Media, Changes Access Restrictions
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 02:45 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's mcpon-needs-more-facebook-friends deptartment:
Thanks to a new policy by the Department of Defense, members of the US Military will now have limited access to social media sites. "According to the memorandum, members of military departments and all authorized users of the Non-classified Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPRNET) can now use the publicly accessible capabilities of various social networking and user-generated content sites, instant messaging, forums, and e-mail. This includes YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and others. Access to porn, gambling, or hate crime sites will remain restricted, however, and commanders can cut down on social media use if they feel the need to 'preserve operations security.'"

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