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PS3 Hacked?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '10 at 04:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's another-one-bites-the-dust deptartment:
Several readers have sent word that George Hotz (a.k.a. geohot), the hacker best known for unlocking Apple's iPhone, says he has now hacked the PlayStation 3. From his blog post: "I have read/write access to the entire system memory, and HV level access to the processor. In other words, I have hacked the PS3. The rest is just software. And reversing. I have a lot of reversing ahead of me, as I now have dumps of LV0 and LV1. I've also dumped the NAND without removing it or a modchip. 3 years, 2 months, 11 days...that's a pretty secure system. ... As far as the exploit goes, I'm not revealing it yet. The theory isn't really patchable, but they can make implementations much harder. Also, for obvious reasons I can't post dumps. I'm hoping to find the decryption keys and post them, but they may be embedded in hardware. Hopefully keys are setup like the iPhone's KBAG."

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NASA Prepping Plans For Flexible Path To Mars
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '10 at 02:15 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's getting-there-is-half-the-fun deptartment:
FleaPlus writes "A group at NASA has been formulating a 'Flexible Path' to Mars architecture, which many expect will be part of the soon-to-be-announced reboot of NASA's future plans. NASA's prior architecture spends much of its budget on creating two in-house rockets, the Ares I and V, and would yield no beyond-LEO human activity until a lunar landing sometime in the 2030s. In contrast, the Flexible Path would produce results sooner, using NASA's limited budget to develop and gain experience with the technologies (human and robotic) needed to progressively explore and establish waypoints at Lagrange points, near-Earth asteroids, the Martian moon Phobos, Mars, and other possible locations (e.g. the Moon, Venus flyby). Suggested interim goals include constructing giant telescopes in deep space, learning how to protect Earth from asteroids, establishing in-space propellant depots, and harvesting resources/fuel from asteroids and Phobos to supply Moon/Mars-bound vehicles."

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Researchers Make a Case For Learning Through Video Game Creation
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '10 at 12:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's now-third-graders-get-to-experience-crunch-time deptartment:
ub3r n3u7r4l1st sends along this snippet from Science Daily: "Computer games have a broad appeal that transcends gender, culture, age and socio-economic status. Now, computer scientists in the US think that creating computer games, rather than just playing them, could boost students' critical and creative thinking skills as well as broaden their participation in computing. ... 'Worldwide, there is increasing recognition of a digital divide, a troubling gap between groups that use information and communication technologies widely and those that do not,' the team explains. 'The digital divide refers not only to unequal access to computing resources between groups of people but also to inequalities in their ability to use information technology fully.' There are many causes and proposed solutions to bridging this divide, but applying them at the educational and computer literacy level in an entertaining and productive way might be one of the more successful. The team adds that teaching people how to use off-the-shelf tools to quickly build a computer game might allow anyone to learn new thinking and computing skills."

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NZ School Goes Open Source Amid Microsoft Mandate
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '10 at 11:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's kiwis-and-penguins-sittin'-in-a-tree deptartment:
Dan Jones writes "Kiwis have built an entire school IT system out of open source software, in less than two months, despite a deal between the New Zealand government and Microsoft that effectively mandates the use of Microsoft products in the country's schools. Albany Senior High School in the northern suburbs of Auckland has been running an entirely open source infrastructure since it opened in 2009. It's using a range of applications like OpenOffice, Moodle for education content, Mahara for student portfolios, and Koha for the library catalogue. Ubuntu Linux is on the desktop and Mandriva provides the server. Interestingly, the school will move into new purpose-built premises this year, which include a dedicated server room designed based on standard New Zealand school requirements, including four racks each capable of holding 48 servers for its main systems. The main infrastructure at Albany Senior High only requires four servers, suggesting an almost 50-fold saving on hardware requirements."

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Ursula Le Guin's Petition Against Google Books
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '10 at 05:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's circling-the-wagons deptartment:
Miracle Jones blogs about the petition against the Google Book Settlement created by science fiction writer Ursula Le Guin, winner of five Hugo awards and six Nebulas. Leguin is urging professional writers who are opposed to the terms of the settlement to sign her online petition before the January 28th deadline. From the petition: "The free and open dissemination of information and of literature, as it exists in our Public Libraries, can and should exist in the electronic media. All authors hope for that. But we cannot have free and open dissemination of information and literature unless the use of written material continues to be controlled by those who write it or own legitimate right in it. We urge our government and our courts to allow no corporation to circumvent copyright law or dictate the terms of that control."

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IPv4 Free Pool Drops Below 10%, 1.0.0.0/8 Allocated
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '10 at 03:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's pure-water deptartment:
mysidia writes "A total of 16,777,216 IP address numbers were just allocated to the Asian Pacific Network Information Centre IP address registry for assignment to users. Some venerable IP addresses such as 1.1.1.1 and 1.2.3.4 have been officially assigned to the registry itself temporarily, for testing as part of the DEBOGON project. The major address blocks 1.0.0.0/8 and 27.0.0.0/8, are chosen accordance with a decision by ICANN to assign the least-desirable remaining IP address ranges to the largest regional registries first, reserving most more desirable blocks of addresses for the African and Latin American internet users, instead of North America, Europe, or Asia. In other words: of the 256 major networks in IPv4, only 24 network blocks remain unallocated in the global free pool, and many of the remaining networks have been tainted or made less desirable by unofficial users who attempted an end-run around the registration process, and treated 'RESERVED' IP addresses as 'freely available' for their own internal use. This allocation is right on target with projected IPv4 consumption and was predicted by the IPv4 report, which has continuously and reliably estimated global pool IP address exhaustion for late 2011 and regional registry exhaustion by late 2012. So, does your enterprise intranet use any unofficial address ranges for private networks?" Reader dude_nl sends in a summary of the issues with allocating from 1.0.0.0/8 from the BGPmon.net blog. "As Alain Durand mentioned on Nanog: 'Who said the water at the bottom of the barrel of IPv4 addresses will be very pure? We ARE running out and the global pain is increasing.'"

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Radiation Therapy Mistakes Cost Lives
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '10 at 02:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's feel-the-burn deptartment:
jmtpi recommends a long NY Times investigative report about how powerful medical linear accelerators have contributed to at least two deaths in the New York area. Although the mistakes were largely due to human error, buggy software also played a role. "...the records described 621 mistakes from 2001 to 2008... most were minor... The Times found that on 133 occasions, devices used to shape or modulate radiation beams... were left out, wrongly positioned, or otherwise misused. On 284 occasions, radiation missed all or part of its intended target or treated the wrong body part entirely. ... Another patient with stomach cancer was treated for prostate cancer. Fifty patients received radiation intended for someone else, including one brain cancer patient who received radiation intended for breast cancer."

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Pope Urges Priests To Go Forth and Blog
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '10 at 01:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's heavy-content-filtering-at-the-seminary deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "Pope Benedict XV, whose own presence on the Web has grown in recent years, is urging priests to use all multimedia tools at their disposal to preach the Gospel and to engage in dialogue with people of other religions and cultures. 'The spread of multimedia communications and its rich "menu of options" might make us think it sufficient simply to be present on the Web,' but priests are 'challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources,' says the Pope. The message from the Pope, prepared for the World Day of Communications, suggests such possibilities as images, videos, animated features, blogs, and Web sites and adds that young priests should become familiar with new media while still in seminary, though the Pope stresses that the use of new technologies must reflect theological and spiritual principles. Many priests and top prelates already interact with the faithful online, and one of Benedict's advisers has his own Facebook profile. So does the archbishop of Los Angeles. The Pope adds, 'I renew the invitation to make astute use of the unique possibilities offered by modern communications. May the Lord make all of you enthusiastic heralds of the Gospel in the new "agorà" which the current media are opening up.'"

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Designing the Computer UIs In Movies
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '10 at 12:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's film-over deptartment:
xandroid points out an NPR interview with Mark Coleran, who "...designs the fancy-but-fake graphics that flash across computers in the movies. He has worked on a laundry list of blockbusters: The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Ultimatum, Children of Men, Mission Impossible III, and many more. He says a lot of the inspiration for computer screens comes from video games." The main point of these fake movie UIs is different than that of real UIs: to tell a story very quickly, not to reveal and enable function.

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A Case For the Necessity of Science Fiction
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '10 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's where-else-will-we-find-green-women deptartment:
unc0nn3ct3d writes "This article makes an interesting point about the necessity of science fiction — or, more specifically, speculative fiction as a tool to aid in the long-term survival of the human species. 'We live in a world that is incredibly frightening for a growing portion of the population because of the exponential rate of change we are experiencing. Our world is changing so fast now that we often don't have time to contemplate the full ramifications that come with the increasingly rapid adoption of new technologies and social changes. Most often this is simply because these changes are being introduced almost one after another after another, without any time to breathe. Speculative fiction, however, if widely adopted, makes it almost instinctive that we think about these situations and possible outcomes before they even arise.'"

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Colliding Particles Can Make Black Holes After All
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '10 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's act-now-while-supplies-last deptartment:
cremeglace writes with this excerpt from ScienceNOW: "You've heard the controversy. Particle physicists predict the world's new highest-energy atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland, might create tiny black holes, which they say would be a fantastic discovery. Some doomsayers fear those black holes might gobble up the Earth — physicists say that's impossible — and have petitioned the United Nations to stop the $5.5 billion LHC. Curiously, though, nobody had ever shown that the prevailing theory of gravity, Einstein's theory of general relativity, actually predicts that a black hole can be made this way. Now a computer model shows conclusively for the first time that a particle collision really can make a black hole." That said, they estimate the required energy for creating a black hole this way to be roughly "a quintillion times higher than the LHC's maximum"; though if one of the theories requiring compact extra dimensions is true, the energy could be lower.

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Why the IRS Should Automatically Fill In Returns With What It Knows
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '10 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's because-addition-is-mentally-taxing deptartment:
theodp writes "An article in the NY Times begins, 'In the digital age, filing income tax returns should be a snap. Important data from employers and financial institutions has already been sent to government computers. Yet taxpayers are still required to perform the chore of preparing a return from scratch, in many cases paying a software company for the privilege.' Why, if your needs are simple, can't you just download forms pre-filled with whatever data the IRS has received about you, make any necessary adjustments, and automatically get the IRS calculation of your taxes? Sounds reasonable, but the IRS rejected the President's proposal to give taxpayers the option to do so as 'not feasible at this time' due to delays in the receipt of W-2 and 1099 data. However, California managed to offer a pre-filled state tax return, which cost only 34 cents to process compared to $2.59 to process a traditional paper return. Despite the success of the pilot, meager funds have been allotted for the program due to the strength of its political opponents — 'principally, Intuit' — according to the state controller. Intuit argues it would be a 'conflict of interest for government to be both tax collector and tax preparer.'"

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Surveillance Backdoor Enabled Chinese Gmail Attack?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '10 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's let's-blame-the-government-now deptartment:
Major Blud writes "CNN is running an opinion piece on their front page from security technologist Bruce Schneier, in which he suggest that 'In order to comply with government search warrants on user data, Google created a backdoor access system into Gmail accounts. This feature is what the Chinese hackers exploited to gain access.' His article is short on sources, and the common belief is that a flaw in IE was the main attack method. Has this come up elsewhere? Schneier continues, 'Whether the eavesdroppers are the good guys or the bad guys, these systems put us all at greater risk. Communications systems that have no inherent eavesdropping capabilities are more secure than systems with those capabilities built in. And it's bad civic hygiene to build technologies that could someday be used to facilitate a police state.'"

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Mozilla's VP of Engineering On H.264
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '10 at 07:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's on-again-ogg-again deptartment:
We recently discussed news that YouTube and Vimeo are each testing their own HTML5 video players using the H.264 format. Firefox does not support H.264, and Mozilla's vice president of engineering, Mike Shaver, has now made a post explaining why. Quoting: "For Mozilla, H.264 is not currently a suitable technology choice. In many countries, it is a patented technology, meaning that it is illegal to use without paying license fees to the MPEG-LA. Without such a license, it is not legal to use or distribute software that produces or consumes H.264-encoded content. Indeed, even distributing H.264 content over the internet or broadcasting it over the airwaves requires the consent of the MPEG-LA, and the current fee exemption for free-to-the-viewer internet delivery is only in effect until the end of 2010. These license fees affect not only browser developers and distributors, but also represent a toll booth on anyone who wishes to produce video content." Mozilla developer Robert O'Callahan has written a blog post on the same subject, following a talk he gave on Friday about the importance of open video on the web.

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Rumor — AT&T Losing iPhone Exclusivity Next Week
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '10 at 06:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can-we-terminate-luke-wilson-now deptartment:
MojoKid writes "An inside source over at HotHardware reports that AT&T will lose their iPhone exclusivity on 1/27, coincident with Apple's upcoming press event next week, though it's not yet clear what other carriers will be stepping in to pick up the iPhone. For anyone who has followed the saga, you may notice that you haven't seen AT&T fighting to extend their original exclusive agreement as of late. In fact, they have spent most of their time fighting Verizon's negative ad campaigns. This may not be all that surprising. Inside of AT&T, word is that the iPhone is causing more trouble than ever before. On some level, having the iPhone is hurting AT&T's image. Do you remember hearing about AT&T's 'horrible network' before the iPhone? The iPhone itself doesn't really handle the switch from 3G to EDGE very gracefully, so calls that are in-progress tend to fail whenever 3G connections aren't optimal and the phone attempts to step down to EDGE. It seems that AT&T may finally be tired of taking the heat."

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Misa Digital Guitar Runs On Linux
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '10 at 05:15 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's far-too-many-degrees-of-freedom deptartment:
conner_bw writes "Imagine strumming a guitar without any strings, on a touchscreen. Think the idea is too far-fetched? The Misa digital guitar claims to be exactly this. Overcoming the natural limitations of a traditional guitar, this new instrument eliminates the need to pluck strings while using the right hand to control sound. Specs: Linux kernel 2.6.31 (Gentoo); 24 frets; touchscreen; MIDI out; RJ-45 Ethernet. My favourite parts of the site are the FAQ (How do you SSH into the guitar?), and this quote from the developer: 'Because the software is open source I'm hoping people completely change the instrument and share new "firmware" with others. Different graphics, different control ideas etc. It would all be free of charge. So I'm hoping that happens as the instrument becomes more familiar.'" The developer, Michael, has not yet promised a delivery date or set a price for the instruments he is manufacturing.

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UK's Freeview HD To Go DRM
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '10 at 02:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's for-some-values-of-free deptartment:
gbjbaanb writes "The BBC has been granted provisional approval to introduce copy protection for Freeview HD after they resubmitted an amended plan. Quoting from Ofcom's statement: 'In view of the fuller submission provided by the BBC, Ofcom is currently minded to approve its request for a multiplex license amendment subject to consultation responses, on the basis that in principle, content management is a justified objective which ensures that the broadest range of HD content is made available to citizens and consumers.' However, it's not too late yet — you can submit your comment and tell them you'd like to be able to record broadcast HD TV. I'm sure the 'content providers' will continue to sell content to the BBC, ITV, etc., if this is not implemented. They'll still take our license fee money (or advertising) and sell us the content, but refuse to let us record or copy it, hoping we'll go out and buy the DVD/Blu-ray as well."

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Artwork Re-Sells Itself Weekly On eBay
Posted by News Fetcher on January 23 '10 at 11:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's schmirst-sale deptartment:
Lanxon writes "How much would you pay for a piece of artwork that you could only own for a week? A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter, 2009, is a black acrylic box that places itself for sale on eBay every seven days thanks to an embedded Internet connection, which, according to the artist's conditions of sale, must be live at all times. Disconnections are only allowed during transport, says the creator, Caleb Larsen. Larsen tells Wired UK: 'Inside the black box is a micro controller and an Ethernet adapter that contacts a script running on [a] server [every] 10 minutes. The server script checks to see if the box currently has an active auction, and if it doesn't, it creates a new auction for the work.'" Another condition of sale is that the artist gets 15% each time the piece is sold. Maybe the First Sale Doctrine works differently in the UK.

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A Practical LCD Writing Tablet
Posted by News Fetcher on January 23 '10 at 08:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's write-on deptartment:
An anonymous reader passes along a word about an innovative LCD writing tablet. The Boogie Board costs $30, can be written on with a stylus or a fingernail, and uses no power in the act of writing. Only erasing consumes power — from a watch battery, which lasts for 50,000 erases. The total cost per "page" comes out to only 1/15th that of steno paper. The writing surface is pressure-sensitive and "highly responsive to variable amounts of pressure," so you can make thick and thin lines.

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Crazy Firewall Log Activity — What Does It Mean?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 23 '10 at 06:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's mainly-on-the-plane deptartment:
arkowitz writes "I happened to have access to five days worth of firewall logs from a US state government agency. I wrote a parser to grab unique IPs out, and sent several million of them to a company called Quova, who gave me back full location info on every 40th one. I then used Green Phosphor's Glasshouse visualization tool to have a look at the count of inbound packets, grouped by country of origin and hour. And it's freaking crazy looking. So I made the video of it and I'm asking the Slashdot community: What the heck is going on?"

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