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Stay Off the Grid, Win $10,000
Posted by News Fetcher on February 05 '10 at 11:30 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's running-man deptartment:
DariusD writes "Last summer, Wired writer Evan Ratliff wrote a story about how people erase their identities and start over. After it ran, he tried to disappear — spending 25 days on the lam until a few enterprising Wired readers tracked him down through some brilliant hacking and sleuthing. Now we're going to try the experiment again. Evan, Wired, Loneshark Games and I are working with Universal Pictures to do another, similar contest connected to the new film Repo Men, and this time we want you to go on the run. We need four applicants willing to disappear from their lives from late February to late March. If they can stay hidden for that time period, they'll end up with $10,000 each."

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Robotic Audi To Brave Pikes Peak Without a Driver
Posted by News Fetcher on February 05 '10 at 10:30 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's zoom-zoom-splat deptartment:
Scifi83 writes "A team of researchers at the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS) has filled the trunk of an Audi TTS with computers and GPS receivers, transforming it into a vehicle that drives itself. The car will attempt Pikes Peak without a driver at race speeds, something that's never been done."

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New Most Precise Clock Based On Aluminum Ion
Posted by News Fetcher on February 05 '10 at 09:45 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's many-stitches-in-time deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "The National Institute for Standards and Technology has unveiled a new clock that will 'neither gain nor lose one second in about 3.7 billion years' making it an atomic clock twice as precise as the previous pacesetter that was based on mercury atoms. Experts call it a 'milestone for atomic clocks.' The press release describes the workings: 'The logic clock is based on a single aluminum ion (electrically charged atom) trapped by electric fields and vibrating at ultraviolet light frequencies, which are 100,000 times higher than microwave frequencies used in NIST-F1 and other similar time standards around the world.' This makes the aluminum ion clock a contender to replace the standard cesium fountain clock (within 1 second in about 100 million years) as NIST's standard. For those of you asking 'So what?' the article describes the important applications such a device holds: 'The extreme precision offered by optical clocks is already providing record measurements of possible changes in the fundamental "constants" of nature, a line of inquiry that has important implications for cosmology and tests of the laws of physics, such as Einstein's theories of special and general relativity. Next-generation clocks might lead to new types of gravity sensors for exploring underground natural resources and fundamental studies of the Earth. Other possible applications may include ultra-precise autonomous navigation, such as landing planes by GPS.'"

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Mentioning Android Is a No-No In iPhone App Store
Posted by News Fetcher on February 05 '10 at 09:00 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's wash-your-mouth-out deptartment:
donberryman writes "Apple has told a software developer that its application cannot be included in the iPhone App Store if it mentions Google Android. The developer just wanted to mention that the app was a finalist in Google's Android Developer's Challenge." The developer complied with apparent good humor. Here is their blog post, which includes the text of the iPhone store's not-quite-rejection.

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Can You Trust Chinese Computer Equipment?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 05 '10 at 08:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's or-anybody's-really deptartment:
Ian Lamont writes "Suspicions about China slipping eavesdropping technology into computer exports have been around for years. But the recent spying attacks, attributed to China, on Google and other Internet companies have revived the hardware spying concerns. An IT World blogger suggests the gear can't be trusted, noting that it wouldn't be hard to add security holes to the firmware of Chinese-made USB memory sticks, computers, hard drives, and cameras. He also implies that running automatic checks for data of interest in the compromised gear would not be difficult." The blog post mentions Ken Thompson's admission in 1983 that he had put a backdoor into the Unix C compiler; he laid out the details in the 1983 Turing Award lecture, Reflections On Trusting Trust: "The moral is obvious. You can't trust code that you did not totally create yourself. (Especially code from companies that employ people like me.) No amount of source-level verification or scrutiny will protect you from using untrusted code. In demonstrating the possibility of this kind of attack, I picked on the C compiler. I could have picked on any program-handling program such as an assembler, a loader, or even hardware microcode. As the level of program gets lower, these bugs will be harder and harder to detect. A well installed microcode bug will be almost impossible to detect."

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Graphene Transistors 10x Faster Than Silicon
Posted by News Fetcher on February 05 '10 at 07:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's can't-be-too-rich-either deptartment:
Asadullah Ahmad writes "IBM has created transistors made from carbon atoms, which operate at 100 gigahertz, while using a manufacturing process that is compatible with current semiconductor fabrication. With silicon close to its physical limits, graphene seems like a viable replacement until quantum computing gets to desktop. Quoting: 'Researchers have previously made graphene transistors using laborious mechanical methods, for example by flaking off sheets of graphene from graphite; the fastest transistors made this way have reached speeds of up to 26 gigahertz. Transistors made using similar methods have not equaled these speeds.'" The other day we discussed what sounds like similar research by a group of scientists at Tohoku University; that team did not produce transistors, however.

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UCLA Profs Banned From Posting Course Videos
Posted by News Fetcher on February 05 '10 at 07:00 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's film-professionals-of-tomorrow deptartment:
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "As of Winter Quarter 2010, UCLA professors will no longer be able to post videos on their course websites. Although they've long relied upon fair use protections for educational use, the Association for Information Media and Equipment has made claims that they're copyright infringers, even though the videos are only available on campus and the students are allowed to watch the videos in the Instructional Media Lab. Even though they believe their use of the materials to be fair, the UCLA has decided to back down rather than face litigation. Many professors have commented that this will hurt students, because they now have to watch all videos at the IML, which isn't open on weekends, forcing students to try to fit assigned videos between classes."

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Once Again, US DoJ Opposes Google Book Search
Posted by News Fetcher on February 05 '10 at 06:15 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's no-so-fast-there-cappy deptartment:
angry tapir and severa other readers passed along the news that the US Department of Justice has come out against the revised agreement to settle copyright lawsuits brought against Google by authors and publishers. This is a major blow to Google's efforts to build a massive digital-books marketplace and library. From the DoJ filing (PDF): "...the [Amended Settlement Agreement] suffers from the same core problem as the original agreement: it is an attempt to use the class action mechanism to implement forward-looking business arrangements that go far beyond the dispute before the Court in this litigation. As a consequence, the ASA purports to grant legal rights that are difficult to square with the core principle of the Copyright Act that copyright owners generally control whether and how to exploit their works during the term of copyright. Those rights, in turn, confer significant and possibly anticompetitive advantages on a single entity — Google."

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Routine DNA Tests For Newborns Mean Looming Privacy Problems
Posted by News Fetcher on February 05 '10 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's let's-just-size-you-for-your-uniform deptartment:
pogopop77 writes "CNN has an interesting story about how newborn babies in the United States are routinely screened for a panel of genetic diseases. Since the testing is mandated by the government, it's often done without the parents' consent. However, many states store that DNA information indefinitely, and even make it available to researchers with little or no privacy safeguards. Sometimes even the names are attached! Here is information on state-by-state policies (PDF) of the handling of the DNA information."

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GameStop, Other Retailers Subpoenaed Over Credit Card Information Sharing
Posted by News Fetcher on February 05 '10 at 03:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-can-trust-us deptartment:
New York State's Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, has subpoenaed a number of online retailers, including GameStop, Barnes & Noble, Ticketmaster and Staples, over the way they pass information to marketing firms while processing transactions. MSNBC explains the scenario thus: "You're on the site of a well-know retailer and you make a purchase. As soon as you complete the transaction a pop-up window appears. It offers a discount on your next purchase. Click on the ad and you are automatically redirected to another company's site where you are signed up for a buying club, travel club or credit card protection service. The yearly cost is usually $100 to $145. Here's where things really get smarmy. Even though you did not give that second company any account information, they will bill the credit or debit card number you used to make the original purchase. You didn't have to provide your account number because the 'trusted' retailer gave it to them for a cut of the action." While there is no law preventing this sort of behavior, Cuomo hopes the investigation will pressure these companies to change their ways, or at least inform customers when their information might be shared.

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First Room-Temperature Germanium Laser Completed
Posted by News Fetcher on February 05 '10 at 02:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's please-keep-your-comments-germanium deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "MIT researchers have built and demonstrated the first room-temperature germanium laser that can produce light at wavelengths suited for communication. This achievement has two parts: '[U]nlike the materials typically used in lasers, germanium is easy to incorporate into existing processes for manufacturing silicon chips. So the result could prove an important step toward computers that move data — and maybe even perform calculations — using light instead of electricity. But more fundamentally, the researchers have shown that, contrary to prior belief, a class of materials called indirect-band-gap semiconductors can yield practical lasers.' While these are only the initial steps in what may become optical computing devices, the article paints it as very promising. The painful details will be published in the journal Optics Letters."

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Fallout: New Vegas Coming This Fall, Trailer Released
Posted by News Fetcher on February 05 '10 at 12:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's out-is-still-falling deptartment:
Bethesda announced today that Fallout: New Vegas is scheduled for release sometime this fall, and they released a trailer as well. Details are scant yet on the official site, but they had this to say:"Experience all the sights and sounds of fabulous New Vegas, brought to you by Vault-Tec, America's First Choice in Post Nuclear Simulation. Explore the treacherous wastes of the Great Southwest from the safety and comfort of your very own vault: Meet new people, confront terrifying creatures, and arm yourself with the latest high-tech weaponry as you make a name for yourself on a thrilling new journey across the Mojave wasteland. A word of warning, however — while Vault-Tec engineers have prepared for every contingency,* in Vegas, fortunes can change in an instant. Enjoy your stay. (* Should not be construed as a legally-binding claim.)"

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Lord Lucas Says Record Companies "Blackmail" Users
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '10 at 11:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's lord-timothy-yields-his-time deptartment:
Kijori writes "Lord Lucas, a member of the UK House of Lords, has accused record companies of blackmailing internet users by accusing people of copyright infringement who have no way to defend themselves. 'You can get away with asking for £500 or £1,000 and be paid on most occasions without any effort having to be made to really establish guilt. It is straightforward legal blackmail.' The issue is that there is no way for people to prove their innocence, since the record company's data is held to be conclusive proof, and home networking equipment does not log who is downloading what. Hopefully, at the very least, the fact that parliament has realised this fact will mean that copyright laws will get a little more sane."

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Murdoch Says E-Book Prices Will Kill Paper Books
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '10 at 08:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's moving-companies-are-probably-unhappy-too deptartment:
hrimhari writes "The settlement between Amazon and Macmillian got the attention of a known dinosaur. Consistent to his views, Mr. Murdoch wants to defend his book editors by killing the cheaper solution. '"We don't like the Amazon model of selling everything at $9.99," Murdoch said. "They pay us the wholesale price of $14 or whatever we charge," he said. "But I think it really devalues books, and it hurts all the retailers of the hardcover books.'"

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Pluto — a Complex and Changing World
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '10 at 06:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's can-imagine-quite-a-bit deptartment:
astroengine writes "After 4 years of processing the highest resolution photographs the Hubble Space Telescope could muster, we now have the highest resolution view of Pluto's surface ever produced. Most excitingly, these new observations show an active world with seasonal changes altering the dwarf planet's surface. It turns out that this far-flung world has more in common with Earth than we would have ever imagined."

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Craig Mundie Wants "Internet Driver's Licenses"
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '10 at 05:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's genuine-advantage deptartment:
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Craig Mundie, Microsoft's Chief Research and Strategy Officer, called for the creation of an 'Internet Driver's License' at the World Economic Forum in Davos, saying, 'If you want to drive a car you have to have a license to say that you are capable of driving a car, the car has to pass a test to say it is fit to drive and you have to have insurance.' Of course, there are quite a few problems with this. For starters, internet use cannot yet cause death or dismemberment like car accidents can; and this would get rid of most of the good of internet anonymity while retaining all of the bad parts, especially in terms of expanding the market for stolen identities. Even though telephone networks have long been used by scammers and spammers/telemarketers, we've never needed a 'Telephone Driver's License.'"

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Keep SSH Sessions Active, Or Reconnect?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '10 at 03:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's lock-your-door-or-carry-your-lunch deptartment:
borjonx writes "Is it safer to log out of an SSH session, and re-establish it later, or just keep the connection open? Like many of you, I use OpenSSH to connect to my Slackware Linux boxes remotely from Linux and WinXP (putty.exe) clients. At home and at work, I wonder if it would be safer to just leave the connection open (my clients are physically secured, the servers limit connections with hosts.allow). Is it more secure to re-establish the connection over an insecure link (big bad internet) where people can sniff that handshaking, or is it more secure to just remain connected? I connect 1 to 4 times per day, most days."

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Police Want Fast Track To Get At Your Private Data
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '10 at 02:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's if-you-have-nothing-to-hide deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "According to this story on CNET, police again are pushing for new laws requiring ISPs and webmail providers to store users' private data for five years and also want a new electronic way of speeding up subpoenas and search warrants via police-only encrypted portals at all ISPs and webmail providers."

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Symbian Completes Transition To Open Source
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '10 at 01:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's still-a-contender-or-not deptartment:
Grond writes "Symbian, maker of the the world's most popular mobile operating system, has completed the transition to a completely open platform months ahead of schedule. While the kernel was opened up last year, the entire platform is now open source, primarily under the Eclipse Public License. A FAQ is available with more information about the platform opening."Adds an anonymous reader, linking to PC Magazine's story on the transition: "By putting Symbian fully in the public domain, the Symbian Foundation is pitting it against Google's Android. Symbian is well known across most of the world, but it's mostly a foreign curiosity in the US. AT&T is the only carrier that currently has a symbian phone in its lineup, the Nokia E71x."

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Following Tech's Money Trail In Washington
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '10 at 12:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's can't-beat-em-seek-rent-through-'em deptartment:
snydeq writes "Having outlayed $111 million to gain political influence in 2009, the tech industry is clearly learning how to play the lobbying game, writes InfoWorld's Bill Snyder. And while longtime lobbying stalwart General Motors nearly outspent the tech industry on its own, the rise of lobbying among tech giants, especially those under antitrust scrutiny, is staggering. Google, which has been drawing interest from the feds over its online advertising business, has increased its efforts twelve-fold in the past four years. And while Google frames its sudden increased interest in Washington as a matter of growth inspiring greater civic responsibility, the company may find itself sucked further into Washington, now that it is party to an international spat involving both the US and Chinese governments. Among those that top the list of tech lobbyists, Oracle, Intel, and Microsoft all have come under scrutiny in the past year, with Intel accused of monopolistic practices and Oracle requiring sign off on its merger with Sun."

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