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Review of HTC Desire As Alternative To iPhone
Posted by News Fetcher on April 25 '10 at 10:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-exactly-a-ringing-endorsement deptartment:
Andrew Smith writes "My search for an alternative to the iPhone has been long and frustrating. On paper, the HTC Desire is the first serious challenger to the iPhone's reign as king of phones. But how does it compare in use? There is much good and much bad. (This review is primarily for UK readers as HTC's new handset, the Incredible, will not be available [in the UK].)"

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Israel Repeals iPad Ban
Posted by News Fetcher on April 25 '10 at 07:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's please-take-it-out-of-your-bag-though deptartment:
SillySilly writes "The ban has been lifted: The Communications Ministry announced Saturday evening that starting Sunday it will allow Apple's iPad tablet computer into the country, following two weeks of confiscations and confusion."

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Change In Experiment Will Delay Shuttle Launch
Posted by News Fetcher on April 25 '10 at 04:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's real-life-zeno's-paradox deptartment:
necro81 writes "A $1.5 billion gamma ray experiment, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, that was to have launched aboard the space shuttle Endeavor to the International Space Station in July, has undergone a last minute design change that will change the launch date, pushing back the end of the shuttle program by at least several months. The change replaces the original liquid helium-cooled superconducting magnet with a more conventional one, which will reduce the risks involved (superconducting magnets can be problematic — just ask CERN) and will greatly extend the useful life of the spectrometer (the liquid helium coolant would have boiled away within a few years of launch). Although the conventional electromagnet is only 1/5th as strong, its increased lifespan should allow for substantially more science to be conducted, especially considering the ISS's extended mission life. As the change is still underway, the impact to the final shuttle schedule is not fully known."

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Best Alternatives To the Big Name Social Media?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 25 '10 at 03:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's use-anklebook-myface-and-pffft deptartment:
rueger writes "Over a couple of years I have actually found Facebook pretty useful and/or entertaining. It has certainly allowed me to stay connected with a lot of people with whom I otherwise would have lost track, and for all its weaknesses it was handy for sharing links and such. This week, though, the privacy escapades have pushed me (and a lot of other people) over the edge. If Twitter's 140 characters aren't enough, Linked In is too business oriented, MySpace too ugly, and Buzz ... (does anyone even use Buzz?) What social media options are out there for all of those non-uber-techy folks?"

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20 Years of Hubble
Posted by News Fetcher on April 25 '10 at 01:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's another-nasa-fake deptartment:
GPLHost-Thomas writes "The Hubble Space Telescope roared into space 20 years ago to begin a career rewriting what we know about the universe around us: accomplishments like the age of the Universe, Galaxies cores, how planets form, and so on. Nasa released some of the most spectacular photos for the event."

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How To Get 39 Megapixels From a 53-Year-Old Camera
Posted by News Fetcher on April 25 '10 at 12:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's was-always-envious-of-ex's-hasselblad deptartment:
G3ckoG33k writes "An article at The Register Hardware describes how Hasselblad film cameras dating back to 1957 can be given a new life using a digital back to get images at a super resolution of 39 megapixels. From the article: 'The CFV-39 digital back allows you to get those cameras out from the last century and use the V-System cameras with their beautiful glass once again, it simply fits in place of where the roll film used to be. Hasselblads have never been inexpensive, but talk about a return on investment. Here is a manufacturer looking after a fiercely loyal user-base and along with it offering what could be seen as the ultimate green camera system.' Oh, by the way most pictures taken during the Apollo space program in the 1960s were taken with Hasselblad." Hasselblad's been making digital backs for quite a while now, but this one's very impressive in speed (and cost — "only" about $14,000) compared to earlier models.

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X264 Project Announces Blu-ray Encoding Support
Posted by News Fetcher on April 25 '10 at 11:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's news-from-mid-spectrum deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "The x264 project has announced the first free software encoder to be able to generate Blu-ray compliant video. In addition, the announcement comes with a torrent of an x264-encoded Blu-ray disc containing entirely free content, such as the Open Movie Project videos. While there are still no free software Blu-ray authoring tools, hopefully this will change now that video and audio are taken care of so that everyone will be able to make their own Blu-rays without expensive proprietary software. Additionally, it seems the Criterion Collection is a friend of free software, having sponsored the effect to confirm x264's compliance with the Blu-ray spec."

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Mass. Data Security Law Says "Thou Shalt Encrypt."
Posted by News Fetcher on April 25 '10 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's some-serious-micromanagement deptartment:
emeraldd writes with this snippet from SQL Magazine summarizing what he calls a "rather scary" new data protection law from Massachusetts: "Here are the basics of the new law. If you have personally identifiable information (PII) about a Massachusetts resident, such as a first and last name, then you have to encrypt that data on the wire and as it's persisted. Sending PII over HTTP instead of HTTPS? That's a big no no. Storing the name of a customer in SQL Server without the data being encrypted? No way, Jose. You'll get a fine of $5,000 per breach or lost record. If you have a database that contains 1,000 names of Massachusetts residents and lose it without the data being encrypted that's $5,000,000. Yikes.'"

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The Mystery of the Missing Methane
Posted by News Fetcher on April 25 '10 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-find-your-lack-of-cows-disturbing deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "Astrobiology Magazine reports that NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has discovered something odd about GJ 436b, a planet about the size of Neptune located 33 light-years away, circling the star Gliese 436. The mystery? GJ 436b lacks methane, an ingredient common to many of the planets in our solar system. Methane is present on our life-bearing planet, manufactured primarily by microbes living in cows, and all of the giant planets in our solar system have methane too, despite their lack of cows. Spitzer was able to detect the faint glow of GJ 436b by watching it slip behind its star, an event called a secondary eclipse. As the planet disappears, the total light observed from the star system drops, and the diference is then measured to find the brightness of the planet at various wavelengths. Eventually, a larger space telescope could use the same kind of technique to search smaller, Earth-like worlds for methane and other chemical signs of life, such as water, oxygen and carbon dioxide. Adam Showman, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona, says the 'provocative result' raises questions about the evolution of this planet, as well as the possibility that its atmosphere might represent an entirely new class of atmospheres that has never been explored."

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Russian Hacker Selling 1.5M Facebook Accounts
Posted by News Fetcher on April 25 '10 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's army-of-pokes deptartment:
Sir Codelot writes "A hacker who calls himself Kirllos has obtained and is now offering to sell 1.5 million Facebook IDs at astonishingly low prices — $25 per 1,000 IDs for users with fewer than 10 friends and $45 per 1,000 IDs for users with more than 10 friends. Looking at the numbers, Kirllos has stolen the IDs of one out of every 300 Facebook users. Quoting: 'VeriSign director of cyber intelligence Rick Howard told the New York Times that it appeared close to 700,000 had already been sold. Kirllos would have earned at least $25,000 from the scam. Howard told the newspaper that it was not apparent whether the accounts and passwords were legitimate, however a Russian underground hacking magazine reported it had tested some of Kirllos' previous samples and managed to get into people's accounts.'"

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Ubisoft's DRM Cracked — For Real This Time
Posted by News Fetcher on April 25 '10 at 07:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's see-you-next-scheme deptartment:
therufus writes "A few days after the release of Assassin's Creed 2, naughty piracy sites were announcing they had cracked Ubisoft's Online Services Platform. Turns out, that wasn't entirely true. While it was possible to load into the game, players were unable to advance past a certain memory block. But now, it seems Ubisoft will need to draft a new response. A new crack has begun circulating that removes the DRM entirely."

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Reconstructing Users' Web Histories From Personalized Search Results
Posted by News Fetcher on April 25 '10 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's we-know-it's-not-your-roommate deptartment:
An anonymous reader sends along this excerpt from MIT's Technology Review: "Personalization is a key part of Internet search, providing more relevant results and gaining loyal customers in the process. But new research highlights the privacy risks that this kind of personalization can bring. A team of European researchers, working with a researcher from the University of California, Irvine, found that they were able to hijack Google's personalized search suggestions to reconstruct users' Web search histories (PDF). Google has plugged most of the holes identified in the research, but the researchers say that other personalized services are likely to have similar vulnerabilities."

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Don't Talk To Aliens, Warns Stephen Hawking
Posted by News Fetcher on April 25 '10 at 05:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's even-if-they-have-candy deptartment:
Megaport writes "Promoting his new series on the Discovery channel, Stephen Hawking has given an interview to the Times in which 'he has suggested that extraterrestrials are almost certain to exist but that instead of seeking them out, humanity should be doing all that it can to avoid any contact.' He says, 'I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach. ... If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans.' Personally, I've always thought that the indigenous people of the world really had no chance to avoid contact here on such a small planet, but is hiding under our collective bed an option for humanity in the wider galaxy?"

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The End of the 3.5 Inch Floppy Continues
Posted by News Fetcher on April 25 '10 at 04:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's finally-we-can-standardize-on-bernoulli deptartment:
JoshuaInNippon writes "In a brief press release buried within Sony Japan's website, the company announced that they would be ending sales of the classic 3.5 inch floppy disk in the country in March of 2011. Sony introduced the size to the world in 1981, which saw its heyday in the 1990s. Sony has been one of the last major manufacturers to continue shipments of the disk type they helped develop, but had ended most worldwide sales in March of this year. The company's production of the 3.5 inch floppy ceased in 2009. Sony noted the demand, or a lack thereof, as the reason. The company's withdrawal is one of the final marks in the slow death of the floppy era."

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Several Link-Spam Architectures Revealed
Posted by News Fetcher on April 25 '10 at 01:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's labyrinthine-luring deptartment:
workie writes "Using data derived from website infections, RescueTheWeb.org has found several interesting link-spam architectures. One architecture is where concentric layers of hijacked websites are used to increase the page rank and breadth of reach (within search engine search results) of scam sites. The outer layers link to the inner layers, eventually linking to a site that redirects the user to the scam site. Another architecture involves hijacked sites that redirect the user to fake copies of Google, having the appearance that the visitor is still within Google, but in reality they are on a Google look alike that contains only nefarious links."

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Bridging the Digital Divide In Uganda, By Freight
Posted by News Fetcher on April 24 '10 at 10:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's my-most-beloved-recipient deptartment:
jtrust27 writes "Slow or non-existent internet connections have meant that the people of Uganda for the last three decades have not been able to harness the many advantages of the online economy. This social and economic exclusion of the poorest of the poor was further accentuated by the impossibility for a Ugandan to obtain a credit card or make PayPal payments — a simple requirement to be able to pay for goods and services online. Most merchants and payment gateway providers automatically block all credit cards from Africa and it is not possible to get a verified PayPal account in many African nations." Now, a Ugandan company called EasyPayUganda is helping people sidestep these restrictions, by allowing customers to make online payments by proxy in order to pay for services and goods. EasyPayUganda is also providing a logistics solution, forwarding customers shipments to Uganda, as most online merchants will not ship to Africa.

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Was Flight Ban Over Ash an Overreaction?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 24 '10 at 07:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's in-his-unbiased-opinion-of-course deptartment:
HaymarketRiot writes "Richard Branson has claimed that the flight ban, due to the eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajokull, was an overreaction on the part of the authorities. Britain's government has even called for the airlines to be compensated. This does look like a perfect excuse for already greedy airlines to try and get more money ... any experts care to comment on the effect of volcanic ash on planes?"

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IEEE Introduces Mario Level-Generation Competition
Posted by News Fetcher on April 24 '10 at 04:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's so-they-hate-employment deptartment:
bgweber writes "Last year, the IEEE conference on Computational Intelligence and Games hosted a competition to determine who could write the best AI for playing Mario levels (YouTube video). This year, the conference has expanded the competition to include a track on level generation as well, where the goal is to procedurally generate new levels online . Submitting an entry is as easy as implementing a Java interface that performs procedural content generation. The implications of this competition are techniques for greatly increasing the replayability of games, since each gameplay session could present new levels to the player."

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Open Source Router To Replace WRT54GL?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 24 '10 at 04:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's need-a-beamer deptartment:
jeremyz writes "With the inclusion of 802.11n in more and more Wi-Fi devices, the WRT54GL is losing its usefulness, even though it's still the de-facto standard for open source, Linux-running wireless routers. I've been looking around for a 802.11n router to replace the WRT54GL, but haven't really found anything besides the Netgear's WNR3500L. At first look, the WNR3500L looked great, but after some further investigation, I found that Netgear hasn't released all of the source, as they should have to comply with the GPL. Are there any good 802.11n routers to replace my aging WRT54GL?"

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EComStation 2.0 GA To Be Released May 14
Posted by News Fetcher on April 24 '10 at 03:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's be-first-in-line deptartment:
martiniturbide writes "After a long delay, eComStation 2.0 GA will finally become reality. It will be released in time to be presented at the Warpstock Europe 2010 event which is held in Trier, Germany, from May 14 to 16. We consider eComStation 2.0 to be the biggest overhaul of OS/2 so far. Together with a team of both hired and volunteer developers, we have extended the functionality, removed limitations, updated hardware support as far as possible, and resolved close to 1000 issues that had been reported since the release of eComStation 1.2R. The new eComStation 2.0 GA is the result of several years of combined efforts and investments."

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