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Inside England and Wales' DNA Regime
Posted by News Fetcher on November 24 '09 at 10:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's how-far-do-you-trust deptartment:
Sockatume writes "The UK's Human Genetics Commission has published its report on the collection of DNA by the Police forces in England and Wales. Currently, Police collect DNA from every suspect in a case which could lead to a criminal record, and retain that material, which the European Court of Human Rights has ruled illegal. The government plans to keep all DNA samples for suspects from England, Wales and Northern Ireland for up to six years, except for DNA from individuals arrested during terrorism-related investigations, which will be retained forever. The report states that the police frequently performed arrests solely to collect DNA, that certain demographics (such as young, black men) were 'very highly over-represented,' that there was 'very little concrete evidence' that the DNA database had any actual use in investigating crime, and that the database contained material from individuals arrested in Scotland and Northern Ireland, outside its remit. Of the 4.5m individuals in the database, a fifth have never received any convictions or cautions from the Police. The report recommends that an independent advisory body oversee the database, and that laws be passed to limit the uses of the database, while tracking those with access to it, and making misuse of the information a criminal offence."

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Prison Terms For Spammer Ralsky, Scientology DoS Attacker
Posted by News Fetcher on November 24 '09 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's at-least-ralksy's-is-longer deptartment:
tsu doh nimh writes "Alan Ralsky, the 64 year-old dubbed the 'Godfather of Spam,' was sentenced to 51 months in prison on Monday, The Washington Post's Security Fix reports. According to anti-spam group Spamhaus.org, Ralsky has been spamming since at least 1997, using dozens of aliases and tens of thousands of 'zombies' or hacked PCs to relay junk e-mail. Also sentenced — to 40 months in jail — was Ralsky's 48-year-old son-in-law, Scott K. Bradley and two other men named last year in a 41-count indictment for wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and violations of the CAN-SPAM Act." And eldavojohn writes "Nineteen year old Dmitriy Guzner, Anonymous member and Scientology DDoS attacker, received one year and one day in jail for his admitted crime. His sentence could have been a maximum ten years. According to the Church of Scientology, Anonymous has harassed and attacked them with '8,139 threatening phone calls, 3.6 million e-mails, 141 million hits on its website, ten acts of vandalism against its property, 22 bomb threats, and eight death threats against Church leaders.'"

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Giving Touch-Screen Buttons Depth and Height With Pneumatics
Posted by News Fetcher on November 24 '09 at 08:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's wait-for-pneumatic-spam deptartment:
blee37 writes "Researchers at Carnegie Mellon demonstrate 'popping out' touch screen buttons to become physical buttons using pneumatics. The idea is to combine the dynamic reconfigurability of touch screen buttons with the tactile feedback of real buttons. The technology could be applied where tactile feedback is currently lacking, such as in car navigation systems, ATMs, or cell phones."

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Would You Use a Free Netbook From Google?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 24 '09 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's google-i-opener deptartment:
Glyn Moody writes "The response to Google's Chromium OS has been rather lukewarm. But suppose it's just part of something much bigger: a netbook computer from Google that would cost absolutely nothing. Because all the apps and data are stored in the cloud, storage requirements would be minimal; screens are getting cheaper, and the emphasis on lean code means that a low-cost processor could be used. Those relatively small hardware costs could then be covered by advertising in the apps — after all, they are just Web pages. Interestingly, Google has not only rolled out advertising to more of its services recently, it has also started running AdSense ads in the desktop application Google Earth. Would you accept a free Google netbook — or is the price you would pay in terms of the company knowing even more about what you do on an hour-by-hour basis just too high?"

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A Skeptical Reaction To IBM's Cat Brain Simulation Claims
Posted by News Fetcher on November 24 '09 at 07:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's why-stop-at-dog-brain-after-all deptartment:
kreyszig writes "The recent story of a cat brain simulation from IBM had me wondering if this was really possible as described. Now a senior researcher in the same field has publicly denounced IBM's claims." More optimisticaly, dontmakemethink points out an "astounding article about new 'Neurogrid' computer chips which offer brain-like computing with extremely low power consumption. In a simulation of 55 million neurons on a traditional supercomputer, 320,000 watts of power was required, while a 1-million neuron Neurogrid chip array is expected to consume less than one watt."

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Intelsat Launches Hardware For Internet Routing From Space
Posted by News Fetcher on November 24 '09 at 06:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's distinguish-from-other-talking-birds deptartment:
coondoggie writes "A radiation-proof Cisco router was sent into space today aboard an Intelsat satellite with the goal to set up military communications from space. The router/satellite combo are a key part of the US Department of Defense's Internet Routing In Space (IRIS) project, which aims to route IP voice, video and data traffic between satellites in space in much the same way packets are moved on the ground, reducing delays, saving on capacity and offering greater network flexibility, Cisco stated."

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New Virginia IT Systems Lack Network Backup
Posted by News Fetcher on November 24 '09 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's private-did-not-make-perfect deptartment:
1sockchuck writes "Virginia's new state IT system is experiencing downtime in key services because of a mind-boggling oversight: the state apparently neglected to require network backup in a 10-year, $2.3 billion outsourcing deal with Northrop Grumman. The issue is causing serious downtime for state services. This fall the Virginia DMV has suffered 12 system outages panning a total of more than 100 hours, and downtime hampered the state transportation department when a state of emergency was declared during the Nov. 11 Northeaster."

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Geek Travel To London From the US — Tips?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 24 '09 at 02:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's see-the-largest-paired-bluetooth-devices deptartment:
Audrey23 writes "I am traveling to London from Washington state for two weeks in December for pleasure (use-it-or-lose-it vacation scenario) and was wondering if I should bother bringing my laptop. I know that I would have to change the region code on my wireless amongst other things and the power cord would have to be changed for a UK outlet. Would I be better off not bringing my laptop and just using Internet kiosks (do they exist in London?) or would having my laptop be a better choice to keep in touch, off-load my digital images etc? I plan on hitting the British Museum but was wondering what geeky things to do that are in London that might be worth going to and any tips hints on overseas travel for geeks? I travel quite a bit in the states but this will be my first trip overseas and want to make the best of my stay in merry old England. What words of advice do you travel seasoned geeks have for me?"

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Solar-Powered Plane Makes Runway Debut
Posted by News Fetcher on November 24 '09 at 12:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's endless-summer deptartment:
MikeChino writes "The much-hyped Solar Impulse airplane just completed its first runway test, paving the way for a 20-to-25-day trip around the world next year. Conceived by Bertrand Piccard, the single-pilot plane successfully used its four solar powered motors to taxi around the runway. If all goes according to plan the plane will be able to fly day and night without fuel, signaling a bright future for solar-powered flight."

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Bing Cashback Can Cost You Money
Posted by News Fetcher on November 23 '09 at 08:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's wotta-boggin deptartment:
paltemalte writes "Microsoft and various retailers have teamed up to bring you cashback on purchases made via Bings price comparison feature. There is a little snag though — it seems that when you have a Bing cookie living in your browser, some retailers will quote you a higher price than if you come with no Bing cookie in your system."

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English Shell Code Could Make Security Harder
Posted by News Fetcher on November 23 '09 at 06:00 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's little-bobby-tables-takes-up-writing deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes to tell us that finding malicious code might have just become a little harder. Last week at the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, security researchers Joshua Mason, Sam Small, Fabian Monrose, and Greg MacManus presented a method they developed to generate English shell code [PDF]. Using content from Wikipedia and other public works to train their engine, they convert arbitrary x86 shell code into sentences that read like spam, but are natively executable. "In this paper we revisit the assumption that shell code need be fundamentally different in structure than non-executable data. Specifically, we elucidate how one can use natural language generation techniques to produce shell code that is superficially similar to English prose. We argue that this new development poses significant challenges for in-line payload-based inspection (and emulation) as a defensive measure, and also highlights the need for designing more efficient techniques for preventing shell code injection attacks altogether."

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IBM Smartphone Software Translates 11 Languages
Posted by News Fetcher on November 23 '09 at 04:15 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's open-source-and-share-the-fun deptartment:
coondoggie writes to mention that IBM researchers have an internal smartphone software project that is capable of translating text between English and 11 other languages (Chinese, Korean, Japanese, French, Italian, Russian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Arabic). There are no concrete plans to release this as a public product, but IBM certainly isn't shutting out that possibility. "Hosted as an internal IBM service since August 2008, n.Fluent offers a secure real-time translation tool that translates text in web pages, electronic documents, Same time instant message chats, and provides a BlackBerry mobile translation application. According to IBM the software, n.Fluent, was developed from an internal IBM crowd-sourcing project where Big Blue's nearly 400,000 employees in more than 170 countries submit, update and continuously refine word translations. Every time it's used, n.Fluent 'learns' and improves its translation engine. To date, the tool has been used by IBMers to translate more than 40 million words, IBM stated."

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Program To Detect Smuggled Nuclear Bombs Stalls
Posted by News Fetcher on November 23 '09 at 03:30 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's i-see-a-business-opportunity-here deptartment:
Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that a program to detect plutonium or uranium in shipping containers has stalled because the United States has run out of helium 3, a crucial raw material needed to build the 1,300 to 1,400 machines to be deployed in ports around the world to thwart terrorists who might try to deliver a nuclear bomb to a big city by stashing it in one of the millions of containers that enter the United States every year. Helium 3 is an unusual form of the element that is formed when tritium, an ingredient of hydrogen bombs, decays — but the government mostly stopped making tritium in 1989 after accumulating a substantial stockpile of Helium 3 as a byproduct of maintaining nuclear weapons. 'I have not heard any explanation of why this was not entirely foreseeable,' says Representative Brad Miller, chairman of a House subcommittee that is investigating the problem. Helium 3 is not hazardous or even chemically reactive, and it is not the only material that can be used for neutron detection. The Homeland Security Department has older equipment that can look for radioactivity, but it does not differentiate well between bomb fuel and innocuous materials that naturally emit radiation like cat litter, ceramic tiles and bananas — and sounds false alarms more often. In a letter to President Obama, Miller called the shortage 'a national crisis' and said the price had jumped to $2,000 a liter from $100 in the last few years. With continuing concern that Al Qaida or other terrorists will try to smuggle a nuclear weapon into the United States, Congress has mandated that, by 2012, all containers bound for the US be inspected overseas."

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Recession Pushes More Workers to Steal Data
Posted by News Fetcher on November 23 '09 at 02:45 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's flexible-morality deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes to share the findings of a recent transatlantic survey which suggests that the recession is pushing workers to be a little bit more accommodating when it comes to sharing, viewing, or stealing sensitive information from the company they work(ed) for. "Pilfering data has become endemic in our culture as 85% of people admit they know it's illegal to download corporate information from their employer but almost half couldn't stop themselves taking it with them with the majority admitting it could be useful in the future! [...] The survey entitled 'the global recession and its effect on work ethics,' carried out for a second year by Cyber-Ark – found that almost half of the respondents 48% admit that if they were fired tomorrow they would take company information with them and 39% of people would download company/competitive information if they got wind that their job was at risk. Additionally a quarter of workers said that the recession has meant that they feel less loyal towards their employer."

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LHC Has First Collisions After Years of Waiting
Posted by News Fetcher on November 23 '09 at 02:15 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's no-black-holes-or-gateways-to-hell-yet deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Only four days after the first attempt to send a particle beam around the LHC, we have arrived at the point when all four experiments got their first real collisions from the machine. This was met by celebrations and champagne, as people have been waiting years and years for this moment. It is a testament to the engineering of the machine that collisions were reached already, so few days after restarting. The LHC had already demonstrated ca 10h stable beams, and now also stable beams in both directions at the same time. In the coming weeks, we need only wait for increased intensity and the first attempts at acceleration."

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Obama Kicks Off Massive Science Education Effort
Posted by News Fetcher on November 23 '09 at 01:15 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's need-a-new-space-race deptartment:
In a speech at the White House today, President Obama launched a new campaign, "Educate to Innovate," designed to get American students fired up about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The full text of the speech is also available on whitehouse.gov. "The new campaign builds on the President's Inaugural Address, which included a vow to put science 'in its rightful place.' One of those rightful places, of course, is the classroom. Yet too often our schools lack support for teachers or the other resources needed to convey the practical utility and remarkable beauty of science and engineering. As a result, students become overwhelmed in their classes and ultimately disengaged. They lose, and our nation loses too. The partnerships launched today aim to change that. They respond to a challenge made by the President in April, when he spoke at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences and asked the nation's philanthropists, professional and educational societies, corporations, and individuals to collaborate and innovate with the goal of reinvigorating America's STEM educational enterprise. The partnerships announced today — dramatic commitments in the hundreds of millions of dollars, generated through novel collaborations and creative outreach activities — are just the first wave of commitments anticipated in response to his call."

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Opera 10.10 Released, Includes New "Unite" Tech
Posted by News Fetcher on November 23 '09 at 12:30 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's but-does-it-live-in-the-cloud deptartment:
Opera 10.10 has been released, and with it their new "Unite" technology, which allows users to share content directly between all of their own devices. Unite wraps both web browser and web server into a single package in an attempt to change the way users think about their browser. "'We promised Opera Unite would reinvent the Web,' said Jon von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera. 'What we are really doing is reinventing how we as consumers interact with the Web. By giving our devices the ability to serve content, we become equal citizens on the Web. In an age where we have ceded control of our personal data to third-parties, Opera Unite gives us the freedom to choose how we will share the data that belongs to us.'"

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Chrome OS Benched Against Moblin, Ubuntu Netbook, More
Posted by News Fetcher on November 23 '09 at 12:15 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's feels-a-little-like-apples-to-oranges deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Using the latest build of Google's Chromium OS source-code, Phoronix built it out to run on a Samsung netbook and ran sixteen benchmarks putting it up against Moblin 2.1, Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10, openSUSE 11.2, and Fedora 12. They ran some of their usual desktop benchmarks (encoding, video, etc..) but more interestingly he ran a number of battery, CPU usage, and memory consumption tests under different settings that show some of the advantages and disadvantages for each of the Linux distributions and spotted a few bugs along the way."

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Hacked Climate Emails Stoke Debate
Posted by News Fetcher on November 23 '09 at 11:15 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's you-expected-them-to-play-fair? deptartment:
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a series of hacked emails and documents that were recently posted on Wikileaks are causing quite a stir in the scientific community. All told, more than 1,000 emails and 2,000 documents were stolen from the Climate Research Unit in East Anglia University in the U.K. "The emails include discussions of apparent efforts to make sure that reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that monitors climate science, include their own views and exclude others. In addition, emails show that climate scientists declined to make their data available to scientists whose views they disagreed with. [] Phil Jones, the director of the East Anglia climate center, suggested to climate scientist Michael Mann of Penn State University that skeptics' research was unwelcome: We 'will keep them out somehow -- even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!' Neither man could be reached for comment Sunday."

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Modern Tech Versus the Past
Posted by News Fetcher on November 23 '09 at 11:15 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's bring-back-gladiators deptartment:
CNETNate writes "Most of us assume modern life is the peak of human achievement, but is it really? CNET decided to take a look at the major technologies of the modern world and compare them to their closest equivalent of pre-digital mankind — Facebook vs dinner parties, World of Warcraft vs actual war craft, iPhones vs hills on fire — and the results are surprising. And slightly dumb, so laugh."

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