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Google Street View Wi-Fi Data Includes Passwords, Email Content
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '10 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's top-of-the-line-pr-nightmare deptartment:
snydeq writes "The French National Commission on Computing and Liberty has found passwords and email messages among the Street View Wi-Fi data Google intercepted, InfoWorld reports. The data protection authority has been investigating Google's recording of traffic carried over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks. Google has said it collected only 'fragments' of personal Web traffic as it passed by because its Wi-Fi equipment automatically changes channels five times a second. With Wi-Fi networks operating at up to 54Mbps, however, those 'fragments' may have been more than just that. 'We can already state that [...] Google did indeed record email access passwords [and] extracts of the content of email messages,' CNIL said."

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80-Year-Old Edison Recording Resurrected
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '10 at 09:15 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's wizard-of-menlo-park deptartment:
embolalia writes "An 80-year-old recording of a live radio broadcast featuring Thomas Edison has been uncovered and reconstituted. The recording was done on an obscure technology called a pallophotophone — Greek for 'shaking light sound' — that uses optical film to reproduce sound. The archivists who uncovered the canisters tucked away on a bottom shelf in a museum in Schenectady, New York (the city where Edison's General Electric was founded), did not have any machine to replay the films. Two GE engineers — working nights and weekends for two years — were able to construct a machine to replay the old tapes, recorded only two years before Edison's death." There's a video at the link, which may or may not contain some of the resurrected recording, but we couldn't get it to play from the Times Union site.

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Pakistani Lawyer Wants Mark Zuckerberg Executed
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '10 at 08:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's just-cut-the-wires deptartment:
Earthquake Retrofit sends along a piece from The Register reporting on a nightmare scenario of legal jurisdiction on the Internet: a Pakistani lawyer has filed blasphemy charges, carrying the death penalty, against Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives (and the pseudonomous user who initiated the "Draw Muhammad" contest last month). Pakistani police have apparently opened an investigation, according to this Google translation of a BBC Urdu report."

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Sleeping iPhones Send Phantom Data
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '10 at 08:00 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's chatting-amongst-themselves deptartment:
Stoobalou writes with a story that got started earlier this month when iPhone users in the US and the UK noticed that their phones seemed to be sending large data bursts via 3G overnight. (Providers are ending unlimited contracts, so iPhone users are paying more attention to how much data they are using.) The discussions began on MacOSRumors and an Apple discussion forum. Thing.co.uk makes this guess as to what is going on, but doesn't offer much in the way of substantiation: "The simple fact of the matter is — as far as we can tell — that the iPhone's push notifications and other small transfers of data are totted up throughout the day and the total for all of those notifications is added up after dark and sent to your airtime provider while your phone is sleeping. If these tiny amounts of data were individually listed your bill would probably be the size of a telephone directory. The reason it is using the 3G network rather than Wi-Fi is that all iPhones up to and including the 3Gs turn off Wi-Fi push functionality while the phone is in sleep mode, in order to preserve battery life. The iPhone 4, incidentally, has better power management so will not need to do this."

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Australian Government May Shelve Internet Filter
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '10 at 07:15 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's making-enough-noise deptartment:
RobHart writes "It is reported that the proposed filters are seen as too toxic a policy to take to the next federal election — due later this year. This is according to a spokesman for the Greens party. A Labor senator has called for the filter to be opt-in."

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DIY Synthetic Aperture Radar
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '10 at 06:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's be-the-first-on-your-block deptartment:
An anonymous reader lets us know about a DIY synthetic aperture radar built for $240 in parts (give or take). Here's PDF slideware from the Ph.D. student's research. "Using a discarded garage door opener, an old cordless drill, and a collection of surplus microwave parts, a high resolution X-band linear rail synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imaging system was developed for approximately $240 material cost. Entry into the field of radar cross section measurements or SAR algorithm development is often difficult due to the cost of high-end precision pulsed IF or other precision radar test instruments."

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Quantum Dots Could Double Solar Energy Efficiency
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '10 at 06:00 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's hot-enough-for-ya deptartment:
dptalia notes the recent publication in Science of research demonstrating a way to use hot electrons in solar cells, resulting in an overall energy conversion efficiency of 66%. Here is the abstract in Science; access to the full article requires a subscription. "A team of University of Minnesota-led researchers has cleared a major hurdle in the drive to build solar cells with potential efficiencies up to twice as high as current levels, which rarely exceed 30 percent. ... Tisdale and his colleagues demonstrated that quantum dots — made not of silicon but of another semiconductor called lead selenide — could indeed be made to surrender their 'hot' electrons before they cooled. The electrons were pulled away by titanium dioxide, another common inexpensive and abundant semiconductor material that behaves like a wire."

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Bill Proposes Canadian Cellphone Unlocking Rights
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '10 at 05:15 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's any-network-that-works deptartment:
SJrX sends in a CBC report that the Canadian New Democratic Party has tabled a bill requiring all cellphone companies to provide unlocked cellphones. (Wikipedia notes, "The party is regarded as falling on the left in the Canadian political spectrum.") This reader adds, "The fact that there is a minority government currently should help this bill's chances of getting passed." "The bill proposes three rules: cellphone carriers would be required to notify customers at the point of purchase whether a phone is locked to work only on their network; they would have to remove such a lock free of charge at any point after the conclusion of the customer's service contract; and they would have to remove it if the customer does not enter into a contract within six months of buying the device up front."

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Firefox Extension HTTPS Everywhere Does What It Sounds Like
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '10 at 04:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's effin'-sweet deptartment:
climenole writes "HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox extension produced as a collaboration between The Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It encrypts your communications with a number of major websites. Many sites on the web offer some limited support for encryption over HTTPS, but make it difficult to use. For instance, they may default to unencrypted HTTP, or fill encrypted pages with links that go back to the unencrypted site. The HTTPS Everywhere extension fixes these problems by rewriting all requests to these sites to HTTPS."

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Microsoft To Add Yet Another Smartphone OS This Year
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '10 at 03:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's 5th-time's-the-charm deptartment:
GMGruman writes "Someone at Microsoft either really loves mobile operating systems or can't make up his mind as to which to use, because Microsoft Thursday announced yet another mobile OS, its fifth. The new Windows Embedded Handheld OS will succeed Windows Mobile 6.5 and run on at least some existing Windows Mobile smartphones. It is not the same mobile OS, known as Windows Phone 7, that Microsoft earlier this year said would replace Windows Mobile and break with it in terms of compatibility so Microsoft could better compete with the iPhone and Google Android OS."

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Thailand Shuts Down 43,000 More Websites
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '10 at 12:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's everybody-loves-the-king-or-else deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Bangkok Post reports that the Thai government has now shut down over 43,000 websites deemed defamatory to the royal institution. Thai ISPs are warned to cooperate 'voluntarily' or lose their license. This is in addition to 17,000+ that were recently blocked for 'national security,' including both Facebook and Twitter accounts."

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IBM's Question-Answering System "Watson" Revisited
Posted by News Fetcher on June 17 '10 at 09:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's can-only-give-you-answers deptartment:
religious freak writes "IBM has created and made the question answering algorithm, Watson, available online. Watson has competed in and won a majority of (mock) matches against humans in Jeopardy. Watson does not connect to the Internet to answer his questions, but rather seeks answers using many different algorithms then employs a ranking algorithm to choose the best answer." We mentioned Watson last year as well.

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Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names
Posted by News Fetcher on June 17 '10 at 06:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's can't-we-stick-to-slashdot-user-ids? deptartment:
Jamie points out this interesting article about how hard it is for programmers to get names right. Since software ultimately is used by and for humans, and we humans are pretty tightly linked to our names (whatever the language, spelling, or orthography), this is a big deal. This piece notes some of the ways that names get mishandled, and suggests rules of thumb (in the form of anti-suggestions) to encourage programmers to handle names more gracefully.

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Flock Switches To Chromium For New Beta
Posted by News Fetcher on June 17 '10 at 03:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's one-stop-blabbing deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Flock, the social networking browser, has moved from Firefox open source code to Chromium in its latest beta. The new Flock is essentially a combination of Chrome and TweetDeck, as you can sign in to Twitter and Facebook accounts and look at a single feed that incorporates updates from both. Currently, the beta is only available on Windows, but a Mac version is slated for later this year."

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Harry Reid Pushes Nevada As "Saudi Arabia of Geothermal Energy"
Posted by News Fetcher on June 17 '10 at 03:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's flogging-sand deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Of all the 'mainstream' forms of renewable energy, it seems that geothermal power is always left in the shadows compared to solar and wind power. However, that looks set to change with news that the US Department of Energy will fund geothermal projects in northwestern Nevada and southeast Oregon. With funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the DOE has stated a 'conditional commitment' to provide a partial guarantee for a rumored $98.5 million loan to the Nevada Geothermal Power Company (NGP). According to US Senator Harry Reid, 'Northern Nevada is the Saudi Arabia of geothermal energy.'"

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Ranking Soccer Players By Following the Bouncing Ball
Posted by News Fetcher on June 17 '10 at 02:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's well-it-ain't-baseball deptartment:
sciencehabit excerpts from an interesting report on interesting place of statistics for soccer, in the stats-obsessed world of sports: "Only a handful of soccer ranking systems exist, most of which rely on limited information: the number of goals scored in a match, the number of goals assisted, and some indices of a match's difficulty and importance. ... So researchers turned to an unlikely source: social networks. Applying the kinds of mathematical techniques used to map Facebook friends and other networks, the team created software that can trace the ball's flow from player to player. As the program follows the ball, it assigns points for precise passing and for passes that ultimately lead to a shot at the goal. Whether the shot succeeds doesn't matter. Only the ball's flow toward the goal and each player's role in getting it there factors into the program's point system, which then calculates a skill index for each team and player."

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Google Urged To Let Personal Data Fade Away
Posted by News Fetcher on June 17 '10 at 02:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's dust-in-the-wind deptartment:
jee4all writes with this excerpt from E-week: "Researchers say personal information should 'degrade' — becoming less specific over time — to protect users' privacy. Rather than amassing personal data and holding on to it as long as legally possible, companies such as Google should allow the data to degrade over time, according to researchers. In an interview with the BBC this week, Dutch researcher Harold van Heerde discussed his work on the idea of allowing data to becomes less specific over time. Letting the specifics gradually disappear could protect consumer privacy while also meeting the needs of service providers, he said."

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Deformable Liquid Mirrors For Adaptive Optics
Posted by News Fetcher on June 17 '10 at 01:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's mirror-mirror-on-the-magnet deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "Want to make a great concave mirror for your telescope? Put a drop of mercury in a bowl and spin the bowl. The mercury will spread out to a concave reflective surface smoother than anything we can make with plain old glass right now. The key problem in this situation is that the bowl will always have to point straight up. MIT's Technology Review is nalyzing a team's success in combating problems with abringing liquid mirrors into the practical applications of astronomy. To fight the gravity requirement, the team used a ferromagnetic liquid coated with a metal-like film and very strong magnetic fields to distort the surface of that liquid as they needed. But this introduces new non-linear problems of control when trying to sync up several of these mirrors similar to how traditional glass telescopes use multiple hexagon shaped mirrors mounted on actuators. The team has fought past so many of these problems plaguing liquid mirrors that they produced a proof of concept liquid mirror just five centimeters across with ninety-one actuators cycling at one Kilohertz and the ability to linearize the response of the liquid. And with that, liquid mirrors take a giant leap closer to practicality."

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FCC Vote Marks Effort To Take Greater Control of the Web
Posted by News Fetcher on June 17 '10 at 12:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's why-yes-I-would-like-more-pie deptartment:
GovTechGuy writes "The FCC voted today to open an inquiry into how the broadband industry is regulated, the first step in a controversial attempt to assert greater regulatory control over Internet Service providers. In a 3-2 vote the Democratic members of the Commission voted to move forward with the FCC's proposal to reclassify broadband as a telecom service, increasing the regulation it is subject to. The move also has large implications for net neutrality, which FCC Commissioner Julius Genachowski has made a focus under his watch."

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Bluecherry Releases GPL'd MPEG-4 Driver
Posted by News Fetcher on June 17 '10 at 12:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's radical-thinking deptartment:
azop writes "Today Bluecherry released a GPL'd driver for its multiple-input MPEG-4 hardware compression cards. The driver supports audio and video capture from 4, 8, and 16-channel single-card encoders using the Video4Linux and ALSA APIs. More information about the driver and its features can be found on Bluecherry's development blog and on Ben Collins' personal blog. Bluecherry is the first Linux software company to release a complete driver based on Linux kernel APIs (Video4Linux and ALSA) for multiple-input hardware-compressed MPEG-4 capture cards under the GPL. The cards are designed for security applications (Digital Video Recording); however, other applications could potentially make use of the compressed streams and Video4Linux API integration. An H.264 version is 'in the works.'"

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