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HTTP Intermediary Layer From Google Could Dramatically Speed Up the Web
Posted by News Fetcher on November 12 '09 at 11:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's sufficient-disclosure deptartment:
grmoc writes "As part of the 'Let's make the web faster' initiative, we (a few engineers — including me! — at Google, and hopefully people all across the community soon!) are experimenting with alternative protocols to help reduce the latency of Web pages. One of these experiments is SPDY (pronounced 'SPeeDY'), an application-layer protocol (essentially a shim between HTTP and the bits on the wire) for transporting content over the web, designed specifically for minimal latency. In addition to a rough specification for the protocol, we have hacked SPDY into the Google Chrome browser (because it's what we're familiar with) and a simple server testbed. Using these hacked up bits, we compared the performance of many of the top 25 and top 300 websites over both HTTP and SPDY, and have observed those pages load, on average, about twice as fast using SPDY. Thats not bad! We hope to engage the open source community to contribute ideas, feedback, code (we've open sourced the protocol, etc!), and test results."

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How To DDoS a Federal Wiretap
Posted by News Fetcher on November 12 '09 at 11:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's first-step-get-wiretapped deptartment:
alphadogg writes "Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania say they've discovered a way to circumvent the networking technology used by law enforcement to tap phone lines in the US. The flaws they've found 'represent a serious threat to the accuracy and completeness of wiretap records used for both criminal investigation and as evidence in trial,' the researchers say in their paper, set to be presented Thursday at a computer security conference in Chicago. Following up on earlier work on evading analog wiretap devices called loop extenders, the Penn researchers took a deep look at the newer technical standards used to enable wiretapping on telecommunication switches. They found that while these newer devices probably don't suffer from many of the bugs they'd found in the loop extender world, they do introduce new flaws. In fact, wiretaps could probably be rendered useless if the connection between the switches and law enforcement are overwhelmed with useless data, something known as a denial of service (DOS) attack."

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$9 Million ATM Hacking Ring Indicted
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '09 at 07:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's good-luck-with-those-arrests deptartment:
Trailrunner7 writes "US and international prosecutors have indicted a criminal ring that they allege was responsible for an ATM scam last November that stole about $9 million from RBS WorldPay. The criminals cracked payroll debit cards and withdrew money from ATMs in hundreds of cities around the world. A federal grand jury in Atlanta has indicted eight men in connection with the scheme, including five Estonians, one Russian, one Moldovan, and one unidentified man. Prosecutors allege that the men "used sophisticated hacking techniques" to defeat the company's encryption system. The scam involved an elaborate plan in which the attackers first bypassed the encryption on the debit cards, which RBS WorldPay issues to customers for employee payroll purposes. They then raised the limits on the accounts attached to the cards, then provided a network of 'cashers' with 44 counterfeit payroll debit cards, which were used to withdraw more than $9 million from more than 2,100 ATMs in at least 280 cities worldwide, including cities in the United States, Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Italy, Japan and Canada. The $9 million loss occurred within a span of less than 12 hours; 130 different ATMs in 49 cities were hit within one 30-minute period."

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Best Tool For Remembering Passwords?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '09 at 05:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's encrypted-plain-text-file-on-a-stick deptartment:
StonyCreekBare writes "Lately I've been rethinking my personal security practices. Should my laptop be stolen, having Firefox 'fill in' passwords automatically for me when I go to my bank's site seems sub-optimal. Keeping passwords for all the varied sites on the computer in a plain-text file seems unwise as well. Keeping them in my brain is a prescription for disaster, as my brain is increasingly leaky. A paper notepad likewise has its disadvantages. I have looked at a number of password managers, password 'vaults' and so on. The number of tools out there is a bit overwhelming. Magic Password Generator add-in for Firefox seems competent, but it's tied to Firefox, and I have other places and applications where I want passwords. And I might be accessing my sites from other computers that don't have it installed. The ideal tool in my mind should be something that is independent of any application, browser, or computer; something that is easily carried, but which if lost poses no risk of compromise. What does the Slashdot crowd like in password tools?"

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Google Gives the Gift of Free Airport Wi-Fi
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '09 at 05:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's no-self-interest-here-no-sir deptartment:
itwbennett writes "Google is giving you something to be thankful for as you travel this holiday season. The company announced today that it is offering free Wi-Fi at 47 airports across the US between now and January 15. If you haven't booked your flights yet, you want to factor this into your plans. Here's a list of the 47 airports, which cover about 35% of all US passengers, according to Google. The Burbank and Seattle airports will continue to offer the free Google Wi-Fi indefinitely." The HuffPo notes another altruistic note in Google's gesture: "As another way to pass on the spirit of the season, once they log on to networks in any of the participating airports, travelers will have the option [of making] a donation to Engineers Without Borders, the One Economy Corporation, or the Climate Savers Computing Initiative. Google will match the donations made across all the networks up to $250,000, and the airport network that generates the highest amount per passenger by January 1, 2010 will receive $15,000 to donate to the local nonprofit of their choice."

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Researchers Take Down a Spam Botnet
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '09 at 03:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's chalk-up-one-for-the-good-guys deptartment:
The Register is reporting on the takedown of a botnet once responsible for 1/3 of the world's spam. The deed was done by researchers from the security firm FireEye, who detailed the action a series of blog posts. PC World's coverage estimates that lately the botnet has accounted for 4% of spam. From the Register: "After carefully analyzing the machinations of the massive botnet, alternately known as Mega-D and Ozdok, the FireEye employees last week launched a coordinated blitz on dozens of its command and control channels. ... Almost immediately, the spam stopped, according to M86 Security blog. ... The body blow is good news to ISPs that are forced to choke on the torrent of spam sent out by the pesky botnet. But because many email servers already deployed blacklists that filtered emails sent from IP addresses known to be used by Ozdok, end users may not notice much of a change. ... With [the] head chopped off of Ozdok, more than 264,000 IP addresses were found reporting to sinkholes under FireEye's control..."

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Intel's New E-Reader For the Visually Impaired
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '09 at 02:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's tell-me-a-story deptartment:
serverguy writes "Intel will be releasing a win for all visually impaired members of society, a new device called the Intel Reader. It allows visually impaired people to take a snapshot of a newspaper, book, or magazine and have it read back to them. It's estimated that in the US alone there are as many as 55 million people who could make use of such a device. It comes at hefty price though: the paperback-sized device costs $1,499. The device contains a 5-megapixel camera and is powered by a Linux OCR system that converts text into spoken words. The device can hold up to 2GB of data, which would equate to around 600 snapshots. In addition to reading text, the device can also play back audio books in a number of supported formats such as MP3 and WAV. The Intel Reader is expected to be released next Tuesday." The device won't be speedy: "Intel says it takes about 30 seconds to process each page of text... It took... about 30 minutes to scan in the pages of a 250-page book and then one hour to process them."

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EC Formally Objects To Oracle's Purchase of Sun
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '09 at 01:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's bringing-about-the-most-feared-outcome deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "The EC has presented Oracle and Sun with a statement of objections. Despite the promotion of former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos, the statement seems to focus entirely on what many have feared: MySQL vs. Oracle databases. From Sun's 8-K SEC filing: 'The Statement of Objections sets out the Commission's preliminary assessment regarding, and is limited to, the combination of Sun's open source MySQL database product with Oracle's enterprise database products and its potential negative effects on competition in the market for database products.' The EU and the EC are getting a rep for disagreeing with US counterparts." On Monday afternoon the DoJ reiterated its support for the deal. Matthew Aslett has a helpful timeline of the action from the EC.

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Whistleblower Claims IEA Is Downplaying Peak Oil
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '09 at 01:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's routine-denial deptartment:
Yesterday the Guardian ran a story based on two anonymous sources inside the International Energy Agency who claimed that the agency had distorted key figures on oil reserves. "The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the [IEA] who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying. The senior official claims the US has played an influential role in encouraging the watchdog to underplay the rate of decline from existing oil fields while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves." Today the IEA released its annual energy outlook and rejected the whistleblowers' charges. The Guardian has an editorial claiming that the economic establishment is too fearful to come clean on the reality of oil suppplies, and makes an analogy with the (marginalized, demonized) economists who warned of a coming economic collapse in 2007.

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Whistleblower Claims IEA Is Downplaying Peak Oil
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '09 at 01:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's routine-denial deptartment:
Yesterday the Guardian ran a story based on two anonymous sources inside the International Energy Agency who claimed that the agency had distorted key figures on oil reserves. "The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the [IEA] who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying. The senior official claims the US has played an influential role in encouraging the watchdog to underplay the rate of decline from existing oil fields while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves." Today the IEA released its annual energy outlook and rejected the whistleblowers' charges. The Guardian has an editorial claiming that the economic establishment is too fearful to come clean on the reality of oil suppplies, and makes an analogy with the (marginalized, demonized) economists who warned of a coming economic collapse in 2007.

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Unknown 7m Asteroid Almost Impacted Earth
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '09 at 11:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's just-passing-by deptartment:
xp65 writes "A previously undiscovered asteroid came within 14,000 km of Earth — just over one Earth diameter 1/30 the lunar distance — on Friday, and astronomers noticed it only 15 hours before closest approach. On Nov. 6 at around 16:30 EST, a 7-meter asteroid, now called 2009 VA, came only about 2 Earth radii from impacting our planet. This is the third-closest known non-impacting Earth approach on record for a cataloged asteroid. The asteroid was discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey and was quickly identified by the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge MA as an object that would soon pass very close to the Earth. JPL's Near-Earth Object Program Office also computed an orbit solution for this object, and determined that it was not headed for an impact." The article notes, "On average, objects the size of 2009 VA pass this close about twice per year and impact Earth about once every 5 years."

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Chicago Court Throwing Out LIDAR Speeding Tickets
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '09 at 10:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's should-happen-more-often deptartment:
bridgeco writes "Chicago Traffic Court Judges have been throwing out speeding cases in which the driver's speed was measured with a LIDAR. Judges are asking for a special 'Frye Hearing' to determine the accuracy of these devices. Many motorists nabbed for speeding by a laser gun, instead of radar, are seeing their tickets thrown out at Chicago's traffic court because of a legal issue that the city's law department has been unable to overcome. Within the past year judges in Cook County Traffic Court in Chicago determined that speeds captured by lidar were not admissible because the devices had not been proven scientifically reliable in an Illinois court, said Jennifer Hoyle, spokeswoman for the law department, which prosecutes most speeding tickets in the city." (Here's some background on LIDAR from Wikipedia.)

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Justice Dept. Asked For Broad Swath of IndyMedia's Visitor Records
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '09 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's here's-our-shredder's-output deptartment:
DesScorp writes "In a case that tests whether online and independent journalism has the same protections as mainstream journalism, the Justice Department sent Indymedia a grand jury subpoena. It requires a list of all visitors on a day, and further, a gag order to Indymedia 'not to disclose the existence of this request.' CBS reports that 'Kristina Clair, a 34-year-old Linux administrator living in Philadelphia who provides free server space for Indymedia.us, said she was shocked to receive the Justice Department's subpoena,' and that 'The subpoena from US Attorney Tim Morrison in Indianapolis demanded "all IP traffic to and from www.indymedia.us" on June 25, 2008. It instructed Clair to "include IP addresses, times, and any other identifying information," including e-mail addresses, physical addresses, registered accounts, and Indymedia readers' Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and so on.' Clair is being defended by the Electronic Frontier Foundation."

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10% of US Energy Derived From Old Soviet Nukes
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '09 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's what-about-the-peak-nukes-problem deptartment:
Nrbelex writes "The New York Times reports that about 10 percent of electricity generated in the United States comes from fuel from dismantled nuclear bombs, mostly Russian. 'It's a great, easy source' of fuel, said Marina V. Alekseyenkova, an analyst at Renaissance Bank and an expert in the Russian nuclear industry that has profited from the arrangement since the end of the cold war. But if more diluted weapons-grade uranium isn't secured soon, the pipeline could run dry, with ramifications for consumers, as well as some American utilities and their Russian suppliers.'"

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SFLC Finds One New GPL Violation Per Day
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '09 at 08:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's learning-something-new deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "In July, the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) leveled the finger at Microsoft for a GPL violation but how often does this actually happen? Sunday, Brad M. Kuhn (tech director at the SFLC) stated in his blog that since August of 2009 he has been finding about one per day. So why is it that we have only covered a handful of these cases in the news? Brad offers sage wisdom; surprisingly, he recommends, 'Don't go public first. Back around late 1999, when I found my first GPL violation from scratch, I wanted to post it to every mailing list I could find and shame that company that failed to respect and cooperate with the software freedom community. I'm glad that I didn't do that, because I've since seen similar actions destroy the lines of communication with violators, and make resolution tougher.' Public shame is evidently not always the best answer. Ars has a few more details and notes that (in accordance with Brad's advice) lawsuits are usually a dead last resort."

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Glenn Beck Loses Dispute Over Parody Domain
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '09 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-sure-if-strawman-is-quite-the-right-fallacy deptartment:
CuteSteveJobs writes "Glenn Beck fought the law and the law won. Parody website DidGlennBeckRapeAndMurderAYoungGirlIn1990.com attacked Beck using the same straw man arguments Beck himself is famous for: 'We're not accusing Glenn Beck of raping and murdering a young girl in 1990 — in fact, we think he didn't! But we can't help but wonder ... Why won't he deny that he raped and killed a young girl in 1990?' Beck didn't see the humour and tried to have the site shut down. He sued the creator on the grounds the site 'violated his name as a trademark.' But in a sudden outbreak of common sense, WIPO rejected Beck's complaint finding the site 'can be said to be making a political statement,' which is a 'legitimate non-commercial use' of Beck's name. But after winning, the owner voluntarily handed Beck the domain anyway. Still, it's comforting to know that satire — the only weapon politicians and talking heads fear — is still safely in the hands of the public where it belongs."

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Regulator Blocks BBC DRM Plans
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '09 at 07:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hey-at-least-they-report-it deptartment:
TheRaven64 writes "The BBC's plans to introduce DRM for over-the-air digital broadcasts were today dealt a setback when the regulator, Ofcom, asked them the same question that has been asked of many DRM systems: 'How does this benefit the consumer?' The letter to the BBC is quoted in the article as saying that 'Ofcom received a large number of responses to this consultation, in particular from consumers and consumer groups, who raised a number of potentially significant consumer "fair use" and competition issues that were not addressed in our original consultation.' This does not end the chance of the BBC being allowed to introduce DRM in the future, but it at least delays their opportunity to do so."

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Attack of the PowerPoint-Wielding Professors
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '09 at 06:15 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's all-power-corrupts-and-powerpoint-corrupts-absolutely deptartment:
theodp writes "A CS student blogger named Carolyn offers an interesting take on why learning from PowerPoint lectures is frustrating. Unlike an old-school chalk talk, professors who use PowerPoint tend to present topics very quickly, leaving little time to digest the visuals or to take learning-reinforcing notes. Also, profs who use the ready-made PowerPoint lectures that ship with many textbooks tend to come across as, shall we say, less than connected with their material. Then there are professors who just don't know how to use PowerPoint, a problem that is by no means limited to college classes."

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US Supreme Court Skeptical of Business Method Patents
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '09 at 05:15 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's feeling-bilski deptartment:
Trepidity writes "The US Supreme Court held oral argument Monday in Bilski , a business-methods patent case that might also have important implications for software patents (We have previously discussed the case several times). The tone of the argument appears to be good news, as the justices were very skeptical of the broad patentability claims. They even brought up a parade of absurd hypothetical patents quite similar to the ones Slashdotters tend to mention in these kinds of debates. Roberts surmised that 'buy low, sell high' might be a patentable business method, Sotomayor wondered if speed-dating could be patentable, Breyer questioned whether a professor could patent a lesson plan that kept his students from falling asleep, and Scalia brought up the old-time radio soap opera Lorenzo Jones , featuring a hare-brained inventor with delusions of getting rich." Patently O has good blow-by-blow coverage of the day's proceedings. Official argument transcripts will be up soon, they say.

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In the UK, Big Brother Recedes and Advances
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '09 at 02:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's now-get-rid-of-the-damn-cameras deptartment:
PeterAitch writes "The UK government's Home Office has put a hold on their surveillance project to track details of everybody's email, mobile phone, text, and Web use after being warned of problems with privacy as well as technical feasibility and high costs." Four hours before the above Guardian story was filed, the BBC reported that the same Home Office insisted that it will push ahead with plans "to compel communication service providers to collect and retain records of communications from a wider range of internet sources, from social networks through to chatrooms and unorthodox methods, such as within online games."

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