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Apple Voiding Smokers' Warranties?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 21 '09 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's a-what-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away deptartment:
Mr2001 writes "Consumerist reports that Apple is refusing to work on computers that have been used in smoking households. 'The Apple store called and informed me that due to the computer having been used in a house where there was smoking, [the warranty has been voided] and they refuse to work on the machine "due to health risks of second hand smoke,"' wrote one customer. Another said, 'When I asked for an explanation, she said [the owner of the iMac is] a smoker and it's contaminated with cigarette smoke, which they consider a bio-hazard! I checked my Applecare warranty and it says nothing about not honoring warranties if the owner is a smoker.' Apple claims that honoring the warranty would be an OSHA violation. (Remember when they claimed enabling 802.11n for free would be a Sarbanes-Oxley violation?)"

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Pittsburgh To Tax Students
Posted by News Fetcher on November 21 '09 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's this-will-go-over-well deptartment:
societyofrobots writes "Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has proposed taxing college and professional students for the privilege of receiving an education in the city. The proposed tax will charge students in the city at a rate of 1% of their yearly tuition — which, at Carnegie Mellon, would mean roughly a $400 tax (PDF) on most students. As the tax proposal hit local media outlets this week, the mayor repeatedly emphasized the burden that college students have placed on city services, and the need for students to pay their 'fair share.'"

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Major Electronics Firms Support Ending Use of "Conflict Minerals"
Posted by News Fetcher on November 21 '09 at 05:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's americans-just-want-their-fancy-phones deptartment:
tburton writes "The US House of Representatives yesterday released the Conflict Minerals Trade Act (HR 4128) to try and end the international trade of tungsten, tantalum and col-tan, the mining of which is accused of fueling violent rape and murder in eastern Congo. Since the very same minerals power the most popular consumer electronics from HP, Verizon, Nokia, RIM and Intel, the Information Technology Industry Council has quickly signed a statement of support. Advocacy groups are hopeful these commitments prove to be meaningful as consumers begin to question the end result of the supply chains powering their favorite gadget."

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Bing Censoring All Simplified Chinese Language Queries
Posted by News Fetcher on November 21 '09 at 02:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's boy-that's-a-great-wall deptartment:
boggis writes "Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times journalist, is calling for a boycott of Microsoft's Bing. They have censored search requests at the request of the Chinese Government (like certain others). The difference is that Bing has censored all searches done anywhere in simplified Chinese characters (the characters used in mainland China). This means that a Chinese speaker searching for Tiananmen anywhere in the world now gets the impression that it is just a lovely place to visit."

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Cyber Attacks On US Military Jump Sharply In 2009
Posted by News Fetcher on November 20 '09 at 11:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's proportional-with-gold-farming deptartment:
angry tapir writes "Cyber attacks on the US Department of Defense — many of them coming from China — have jumped sharply in 2009, a US congressional committee has reported. Citing data provided by the US Strategic Command, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said that there were 43,785 malicious cyber incidents targeting Defense systems in the first half of the year. That's a big jump. In all of 2008, there were 54,640 such incidents. If cyber attacks maintain this pace, the yearly increase will be around 60 percent. The full report (PDF) is available online."

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RFID Fingerprints To Fight Tag Cloning
Posted by News Fetcher on November 20 '09 at 09:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's cloning-is-bad-haven't-you-seen-scifi deptartment:
Bourdain writes with news out of the University of Arkansas, where researchers are looking for ways to combat counterfeit RFID tags. Passive tags typically wait for a reader to transmit a signal of the appropriate strength and frequency before sending their own transmission. The scientists found that the amount of power required to trigger this varies quite a bit from one tag to the next, especially when many different frequencies are sampled. This and other physical characteristics give the tag its own "fingerprint" that is independent of the signal information stored in its memory, which the researchers say will facilitate the detection of cloned tags.

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Try Out Chrome OS In a Virtual Machine
Posted by News Fetcher on November 20 '09 at 07:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's that-didn't-take-long deptartment:
itwbennett writes "Some very generous Alpha OS geeks have snagged the Chrome OS source code and compiled a version to share with the rest of us, writes blogger Peter Smith. 'The build comes in the form of a virtual machine, which means you'll need VMWare or VirtualBox running, and of course the image of Chrome OS itself. The folks at gdgt are distributing the latter, and they've set up a page with all the links you'll need. You'll need to create a gdgt account if you don't have one yet. The Chrome OS image is only a bit over 300 megs, so it's a fast download. If you need a little more handholding, TechCrunch has a step-by-step guide to getting Chrome OS installed and running using VirtualBox, and a Chrome OS torrent they link to.'"

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iPhone Game Piracy "the Rule Rather Than the Exception"
Posted by News Fetcher on November 20 '09 at 05:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hey-some-people-can't-afford-that-99-cents deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Many game developers don't think of the iPhone as being a system which has extensive game piracy. But recent comments by developers and analysts have shown otherwise, and Gamasutra speaks to multiple parties to evaluate the size of the problem and whether there's anything that can be done about it. Quoting: 'Greg Yardley confirms that getting ripped off by pirates is the rule rather than the exception. Yardley is co-founder and CEO of Manhattan-based Pinch Media, a company that provides analytic software for iPhone games. ... "What we've determined is that over 60% of iPhone applications have definitively been pirated based on our checks," he reveals, "and the number is probably higher than that." While it's impossible to estimate how much money developers are losing, it involves more than the price of the game, he says. "What developers lose is not necessarily the sale," he explains, "because I don't believe pirates would have bought the game if they hadn't stolen it. But when there is a back-end infrastructure associated with a game, that is an ongoing incremental cost that becomes a straight loss for the developer."'"

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New Microsoft Silverlight Features Have Windows Bias
Posted by News Fetcher on November 20 '09 at 04:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's open-is-as-open-does deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes with this quote from a story at El Reg about an early look at the Silverlight 4 beta: "There are ... major changes to Silverlight's out-of-browser functionality, a loose equivalent to Adobe Systems' AIR runtime for Flash. Even when fully sandboxed, which means having the same permissions that would apply to a browser-hosted Silverlight applet, out-of-browser applications get an HTML control, custom window settings, and the ability to fire pop-up notifications. ... Unfortunately, some of these features are not what they first appear. The HTML control in Silverlight 4 is not a new embedded browser from Microsoft, but uses components from Internet Explorer on Windows, or Safari on the Mac, which means that the same content might render differently. The HTML control only works out-of-browser, and simply displays a blank space if browser-hosted. Clipboard support is text-only in the Silverlight 4 beta, though this could change for the full release. More seriously, COM automation is a Windows-only feature, introducing differentiation between the Mac and Windows implementations."

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How Heavy Is the Internet?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 20 '09 at 03:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's he's-not-heavy-he's-my-router deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Ever wondered how much the internet physically weighs? 498,438,559,990kg, according to CNET. To reach this figure, they added together public data on the weight of every computer, server and connecting cable. To this they added 6,075,000kg of iPhones, and over 6,800,000kg of Blackberries. Finally, they added the weight of 287,524 viruses and 85 billion+ webpages."

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Anti-Smoking Vaccine Is Nearing the Market
Posted by News Fetcher on November 20 '09 at 02:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's kicking-it deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "Almost 6 years ago we discussed a vaccine to help people quit smoking as it entered human clinical trials. Now it looks like the finishing touches have been put on a deal that will go into effect once phase III testing of the drug now called NicVAX is completed. NicVAX was developed by Nabi Biopharmaceuticals, who have agreed to license it to GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals; it is expected to complete phase III testing successfully. Others have fallen short of this goal, in pursuit of a smoking-cessation market expected to hit $4.6 billion worldwide by 2016. Nabi has also sold an experimental vaccine for staph infections; and in 2008 we discussed news of a cocaine vaccine."

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iPhone Owners Demand To See Apple Source Code
Posted by News Fetcher on November 20 '09 at 02:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's you're-a-brick deptartment:
CWmike writes "iPhone owners charging Apple and AT&T with breaking antitrust laws asked a federal judge this week to force Apple to hand over the iPhone source code, court documents show. The lawsuit, which was filed in October 2007, accuses Apple and AT&T of violating antitrust laws, including the Sherman Act, by agreeing to a multi-year deal that locks US iPhone owners into using the mobile carrier. On Wednesday, the plaintiffs asked US District Court Judge James Ware to compel Apple to produce the source code for the iPhone 1.1.1 software, an update that Apple issued in September 2007. The update crippled iPhones that had been unlocked, or 'jailbroken,' so that they could be used with mobile providers other than AT&T. The iPhone 1.1.1 'bricked' those first-generation iPhones that had been hacked, rendering them useless and wiping all personal data from the device. The plaintiffs say that the source code is necessary to determine whether all iPhones were given the same 1.1.1 update, and whether it was designed to brick all or just some hacked iPhones."

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Microsoft's Lack of Nightly Builds For IE
Posted by News Fetcher on November 20 '09 at 02:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's think-of-the-developers deptartment:
Ricky writes "Many wonder why Microsoft doesn't offer nightly builds of Internet Explorer — or at least something more frequent than months-to-years. Ars talks with Microsoft's general manager for IE, who says the IE9 development cycle will look much the same as previous versions. Not a great idea."

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Proton Beams Sent Around the LHC
Posted by News Fetcher on November 20 '09 at 01:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's going-in-circles deptartment:
feldhaus writes "The BBC reports that the first beams for over one year have been successfully sent around the complete circumference of the Large Hadron Collider. Engineers do not yet have a stable circulating beam but they hope to by 0600 GMT on Saturday."

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Some Claim Android App Store Worse Than iPhone's
Posted by News Fetcher on November 20 '09 at 01:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's scylla-meet-charybdis deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "If you think the iPhone app store is the only mobile game store suffering an exodus, some game publishers claim Android's app store isn't much better, for a different reason — it doesn't generate much revenue. In fact, French game developer Gameloft (which owes 13% of its profits to iPhone game sales), said, 'We have significantly cut our investment in Android platform, just like... many others. It is not as neatly done as on the iPhone. Google has not been very good to entice customers to actually buy products. On Android nobody is making significant revenue. We are selling 400 times more games on iPhone than on Android.' So the trade-off seems to be more sales but an annoying approval process, versus a lack of sales promotions and no annoyance around approval. It seems that those in it for money will opt for iPhone, and those in it for distribution will opt for Android. Or maybe someone will get it right one of these days?"

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Climatic Research Unit Hacked, Files Leaked
Posted by News Fetcher on November 20 '09 at 12:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's playing-dirty deptartment:
huckamania was one of many readers to write with the news that the University of East Anglia's Hadley Climatic Research Unit was hacked, and internal documents released. Some discussion and analysis of the leaked items can be found at Watts Up With That. The CRU has confirmed that a breach occurred, but not that all 61 MB of released material is genuine. Some of the emails would seem to raise concerns about the science as practiced — or at least beg an explanation. From the Watts Up link: "[The CRU] widely recognized as one of the world's leading institutions concerned with the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change. Consisting of a staff of around thirty research scientists and students, the Unit has developed a number of the data sets widely used in climate research, including the global temperature record used to monitor the state of the climate system, as well as statistical software packages and climate models. An unknown person put postings on some climate skeptic websites that advertised an FTP file on a Russian FTP server. Here is the message that was placed on the Air Vent today: 'We feel that climate science is, in the current situation, too important to be kept under wraps. We hereby release a random selection of correspondence, code, and documents' The file was large, about 61 megabytes, containing hundreds of files. It contained data, code, and emails apparently from the CRU. If proved legitimate, these bombshells could spell trouble for the AGW crowd." Reader brandaman supplied the link to the archive of pilfered data. Reader aretae characterized the emails as revealing "...lots of intrigue, data manipulation, attempting to shut out opposing points of view out of scientific journals. Almost makes you think it's a religion. Anyone surprised?" And reader bugnuts adds, for context: "These emails are certainly taken out of context, whether they are legitimate or fraudulent, which adds to the confusion."

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Aging Nuclear Stockpile Good For Decades To Come
Posted by News Fetcher on November 20 '09 at 11:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's still-go-boom deptartment:
pickens writes "The NY Times reports that the Jason panel, an independent group of scientists advising the federal government on issues of science and technology, has concluded that the a program to refurbish aging nuclear arms is sufficient to guarantee their destructiveness for decades to come, obviating a need for a costly new generation of more reliable warheads, as proposed by former President Bush. Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona and other Republicans have argued that concerns are growing over the reliability of the US's aging nuclear stockpile, and that the possible need for new designs means that the nation should retain the right to conduct underground tests of new nuclear weapons. The existing warheads were originally designed for relatively short lifetimes and frequent replacement with better models, but such modernization ended after the US quit testing nuclear arms in 1992. All weapons that remain in the arsenal must now undergo a refurbishment process, known as life extension. The Jason panel found no evidence that the accumulated changes from aging and refurbishment posed any threat to weapon destructiveness, and that the 'lifetimes of today's nuclear warheads could be extended for decades, with no anticipated loss of confidence.' But the panel added that federal indifference could undermine the nuclear refurbishment program (as this report from last May illustrates). Quoting the report (PDF): 'The study team is concerned that this expertise is threatened by lack of program stability, perceived lack of mission importance and degradation of the work environment.'"

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Netbooks Have Higher Failure Rate Than Laptops
Posted by News Fetcher on November 20 '09 at 11:00 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's get-what-you-pay-for-sometimes deptartment:
Barence writes "Netbooks are more likely to fail within the first year than their more expensive laptop brethren, according to new research. SquareTrade, an independent US warranty provider, analyzed the failure rates of more than 30,000 laptops covered by its own warranties. It found that 5.8% of netbooks malfunctioned within the first year, compared to 4.7% for regular laptops and 4.2% for premium laptops costing more than $1,000. The research also raises question marks over the legendary reliability of Macs. Three PC manufacturers — Asus, Toshiba, and Sony — boasted better reliability rates than Apple. Macs have a 17.4% malfunction rate over three years, compared to market-leader Asus, which has a 15.6% failure rate. HP was the worst of the nine PC vendors listed, with a malfunction rate of 25.6% over three years."

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Xbox Live Class Action Being Investigated
Posted by News Fetcher on November 20 '09 at 10:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's modders-unite deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "Were you negatively affected by the recent ban on Xbox Live for modifying hardware you own? Did you modify yours for homebrew or altering things you paid for and not to engage in piracy? Abington IP would like to hear from you and may be able to help. From that page: 'If you are an Xbox Live subscriber, had your modified Xbox console banned from Xbox Live, were not refunded a prorated sum for the time left on your subscription, or have experienced other problems as a result of being banned, and would like to participate in a class action against Microsoft, please submit your information below.' Someone is finally standing up for the legitimate hobbyists. Should Microsoft worry?"

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Patent Issued For Podcasting
Posted by News Fetcher on November 20 '09 at 09:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's next-a-patent-on-the-eardrum deptartment:
pickens writes "The EFF is reaching out for help after a company called Volomedia got the Patent Office to grant them exclusive rights to 'a method for providing episodic media' that could threaten the community of podcasters and millions of podcast listeners. 'It's a ridiculously broad patent, covering something that many folks have been doing for many years,' writes Rebecca Jeschke. 'Worse, it could create a whole new layer of ongoing costs for podcasters and their listeners.' To bust this patent, EFF is looking for additional 'prior art' — evidence that the podcasting methods described in the patent were already in use (PDF) before November 19, 2003. 'In particular, we're looking for written descriptions of methods that allow a user to download pre-programmed episodic media like audio files or video files from a remote publisher, with the download occurring after the user subscribes to the episodes, and with the user continuing to automatically receive new episodes.'"

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