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FBI Obtains Phone Records With a Post-it Note
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '10 at 04:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's do-you-have-a-subpoena-or-a-note-from-home? deptartment:
angry tapir writes "The FBI was so cavalier — and telecom companies so eager to help — that a verbal request or even one written on a Post-it note was enough for operators to hand over customer phone records, according to a damning report (PDF) released on Wednesday by the US Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General."

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Half of Google News Users Browse But Don't Click
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '10 at 03:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's just-browsing-thanks deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from the International Business Times: "Nearly half of the users of Google News skim the headlines at the news aggregator site without clicking through to the publisher, according to new research. ... Outsell analyst Ken Doctor said in a statement that 'among the aggregators, Google's effect on the newspaper industry is particularly striking.' 'Though Google is driving some traffic to newspapers, it's also taking a significant share away," Doctor said. 'A full 44 percent of visitors to Google News scan headlines without accessing newspapers' individual sites.' ... With a number of US newspaper owners considering charging online, Outlook found that only 10 percent of those surveyed would be willing to pay for a print newspaper subscription to gain online access."

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Microsoft Sues TiVo To Help AT&T
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '10 at 03:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's twisted-tale deptartment:
Julie188 writes "Microsoft is suing TiVo, claiming patent infringement. Microsoft is doing this because TiVo has sued AT&T — and AT&T happens to be Microsoft's largest customer of Microsoft's Mediaroom IPTV technology. Microsoft says that TiVo has copied Microsoft's Mediaroom IPTV technology in its DVRs. If Microsoft wins, it would effectively block TiVo from selling DVRs without a licensing deal with Microsoft."

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Correlation Found Between Brain Structure and Video Game Success
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '10 at 03:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's correlation-does-not-equal-yadda-yadda deptartment:
kghapa writes "Still want to argue that video games shrink your brain? While video games have been previously shown to stimulate brain activity and improve coordination skills, a recently published study has directly linked structures in the human brain with video game aptitude. And yes, apparently size does matter in this case. Quoting: '... each subject received 20 hours of training to play a video game specifically created for research purposes, called Space Fortress. It's basically an Asteroids-type arcade game, in which the object is to knock down and destroy an enemy fortress while dodging space mines. However, the game has lots of extra twists that require close attention. Some of the players were told to focus exclusively on running up a high score, while others were told to shift their priorities between several goals. The result? The subjects who had more volume in an area called the nucleus accumbens did significantly better in the early stages of training. Meanwhile, those who were well-endowed in different areas of the striatum, known as the caudate nucleus and putamen, handled the shifting strategies better.'"

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NASA Will Crowdsource Its Photos of Mars
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '10 at 02:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's find-waldo-win-a-shuttle-main-engine deptartment:
tedlistens writes "NASA is asking the public to suggest subjects for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, its super powerful camera currently orbiting Mars. Since it arrived there in 2006, the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has seen more success than that lost lander, recording nearly 13,000 observations of Martian terrain, with each image covering dozens of square miles and revealing details as small as a desk. By letting the public in on the Martian photo shoot, scientists aren't just getting more people excited about space exploration. They're hoping that crowdsourcing imaging targets will increase the camera's already bountiful science return. Despite the thousands of pictures already taken, less than 1 percent of the Martian surface has been imaged."

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Apple Patches Massive Holes In OS X
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '10 at 02:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's well-it-wouldn't-be-polite-to-patch-windows deptartment:
Trailrunner7 writes with this snippet from ThreatPost: "Apple's first Mac OS X security update for 2010 is out, providing cover for at least 12 serious vulnerabilities. The update, rated critical, plugs security holes that could lead to code execution vulnerabilities if a Mac user is tricked into opening audio files or surfing to a rigged Web site." Hit the link for a list of the highlights among these fixes.

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Obama DOJ Sides With RIAA Again In Tenenbaum
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '10 at 01:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's could-make-a-jaded-man-more-jaded deptartment:
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Despite having had some time to get their act together, Obama's Department of Justice has filed yet another brief defending the RIAA's outlandish statutory damages theory — that someone who downloaded an mp3 with a 99-cent retail value, causing a maximum possible damages of 35 cents, is liable for from $750 to $150,000 for each such file downloaded, in SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum. The 25- page brief (PDF) continues the DOJ's practice of (a) ignoring the case law which holds that the Supreme Court's due process jurisprudence is applicable to statutory damages, (b) ignoring the law review articles to like effect, (c) ignoring the actual holding of the 1919 case they rely upon, (d) ignoring the fact that the RIAA failed to prove 'distribution' as defined by the Copyright Act, and (e) ignoring the actual wording and reasoning of the Supreme Court in its leading Gore and Campbell decisions. Jon Newton of p2pnet.net attributes the Justice Department's 'oversights' to the 'eye-popping number of people [in its employ] who worked for, and/or are directly connected with, Vivendi Universal, EMI, Warner Music and Sony Music's RIAA.'"

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How Do You Volunteer Professional Services?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '10 at 12:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's with-caution deptartment:
keefus_a writes "My wife and I usually take a week long vacation in the Spring and I tossed out the idea of volunteering abroad. Neither of us has a problem with doing manual labor, or whatever task is needed. However, I thought it might be of some value, and substantially more rewarding than our daily grind, if we could volunteer our professional services (I'm a network guy and my wife has a master's degree in counseling). The problem is that I haven't found any resources for doing so on a short-term basis. So I ask Slashdot. Has anyone ever done short-term volunteer work in your professional field? What organization did you contact? Or are we better off donating money to a particular cause and just working on a tan?"

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Disney Releases 3D Texture Mapper Source Code
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '10 at 12:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's nice-of-them deptartment:
dsavi writes "Ptex, Walt Disney Animation Studio's cutting-edge 3D texture mapping library which was first used on nearly every surface in the 2008 animated feature Bolt, was released under the BSD license on Friday. Quoting the announcement on monophyl.com: 'We expect to follow Ptex with other open source projects that we hope the community will find beneficial. We will soon be launching a new Walt Disney Animation Studios Technology page under disneyanimation.com. It will include links to our open source projects as will as a library of recent publications.' This looks good for open source 3D graphics."

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Benchmarks of Debian GNU/kFreeBSD vs. GNU/Linux
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '10 at 12:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's slashing-for-both-teams deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "The Debian Squeeze release is going to be accompanied by a first-rate kFreeBSD port and now early benchmarks of this port have started coming out using daily install images. The Debian GNU/kFreeBSD project is marrying the FreeBSD kernel with a GNU userland and glibc while making most of the Debian repository packages available for kfreebsd-i386 and kfreebsd-amd64. The first Debian GNU/kFreeBSD benchmarks compare the performance of it to Debian GNU/Linux with the 2.6.30 kernel while the rest of the packages are the same. Results are shown for both i386 and x86_64 flavors. Debian GNU/kFreeBSD may be running well, but it has a lot of catching up to do in terms of speed against Linux."

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Python Essential Reference 4th Ed.
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '10 at 11:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it deptartment:
stoolpigeon writes "It has been ten years since David Beazley wrote the first edition of Python Essential Reference. The book has proven itself as a valuable resource to Python developers and has been kept current over those ten years, with the fourth edition coming at an interesting time for Python. Python 3 was a major release that broke backwards compatibility. Python 3 has been around for a year now. That said, the current download page at the official Python site states, 'If you don't know which version to use, start with Python 2.6.4; more existing third party software is compatible with Python 2 than Python 3 right now.' Beazley, in keeping with the pragmatic roots of a reference that sticks to what is 'essential,' has removed the coverage on features from 2 that were removed from 3. At the same time, the primary focus for new features that came with 3 is limited to those that have been back-ported to 2. This approach, born out of a desire to keep the reference relevant, provides a blended approach that is above all else practical." Read on for the rest of JR's review.

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Failed Games That Damaged Or Killed Their Companies
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '10 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's cause-or-symptom deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Develop has an excellent piece up profiling a bunch of average to awful titles that flopped so hard they harmed or sunk their studio or publisher. The list includes Haze, Enter The Matrix, Hellgate: London, Daikatana, Tabula Rasa, and — of course — Duke Nukem Forever. 'Daikatana was finally released in June 2000, over two and a half years late. Gamers weren't convinced the wait was worth it. A buggy game with sidekicks (touted as an innovation) who more often caused you hindrance than helped ... achieved an average rating of 53. By this time, Eidos is believed to have invested over $25 million in the studio. And they called it a day. Eidos closed the Dallas Ion Storm office in 2001.'"

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What Tools Do FLOSS Developers Need?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '10 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's does-soda-count-as-a-tool deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "I am a free software developer; I maintain one relatively simple project written in C, targeted at end users, but I feel that I could contribute something more to the FLOSS community than my project. Instead of focusing on another project targeted at end users, I thought that I could spend my time working on something FLOSS developers need ('Developers, developers, developers, developers!'). The question is: what more do FLOSS developers need from existing development tools? What would attract new developers to existing FLOSS development tools? Which existing development tools need more attention? I can contribute code in C, Python and bash, but I can also write documentation, do testing and translate to my native language. Any hints?"

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Kernel Contributor Corbet Says Linux Community Is 'Intimidating'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '10 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what-are-you-looking-at deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Key Linux kernel contributor Jonathan Corbet has admitted the developer community can be intimidating and hard to break into. He highlighted the issue during his Linux.conf.au presentation on the Linux kernel. Corbet expressed concern about the exclusivity of the kernel community, but says it's doing well regardless. He said in a period of just over a year, 55,000 individual changes from 2,700 developers (representing 370 employers) were made to the kernel, equaling 2.8 million lines of code. Corbet called the process 'alive and active.'"

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Brain Drain, Admin Failures Threaten the FCC's Role
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '10 at 09:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's outsource-it-to-india deptartment:
coondoggie writes "The Federal Communications Commission has brain drain and administration problems that could decrease its effectiveness at a time when advanced service technologies such as wireless and broadband present significant regulatory challenges. On the brain drain front, a report out today (PDF) from watchdogs at the Government Accountability Office stated that from fiscal year 2003 to 2008, the number of engineers at the FCC decreased by 10%. Similarly, the overall number of economists decreased by 14%. While the total number of engineers and economists in the workforce has decreased from 2003 to 2008, the percentages remained the same. The GAO also criticized the FCC's public comment policy, saying, 'While FCC relies heavily on public input to inform its decisions, it tends to do so without giving the public access to the actual text of a given proposal. If parties are able to submit vague summaries that may not fully reflect meetings between FCC officials and outside parties, then stakeholders will continue to question whether commission decisions are being influenced by information that was not subject to public comment or rebuttal and that, in some cases, is submitted just before a commission vote.'"

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NYTimes Confirms It Will Start Charging For Online News In 2011
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '10 at 08:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bad-news-bears deptartment:
jmtpi writes "The article is frustratingly vague, but the New York Times is confirming earlier speculation that it will start charging online readers who visit the site regularly. Occasional users will still get free access to a certain number of articles per month. Most of the key details are not yet determined, but the system is scheduled to be deployed at the beginning of next year." The Times is planning on rolling its own pay system, and it will doubtless use the rest of 2010 to look at how sites like the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times fare before deciding on specifics. How often do you readers typically hit articles at nytimes.com in a given month? We try to avoid linking to stories behind paywalls when possible, and if the Times chooses a low monthly limit, you'll probably see a lot fewer links to their site — which would be a shame.

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Asus DR-570 E-Reader To Bring OLED Display
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '10 at 08:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's oled-tech-is-trouble-for-my-bank-account deptartment:
MojoKid writes "Reportedly, Asus will be introducing the DR-570 color eReader by the end of 2010, but it won't be just another one in the crowd. In fact, it just might be a game-changer. The reader will supposedly have a 6" screen, but rather than using e-ink like every other reader out there, this one will utilize a color OLED screen. Word is the unit will last a whopping 122 hours on a full charge. It should also be able to run Flash applications, download books over 3G to Wi-Fi, and most likely surf the web, unlike any other reader out there." Asus will be rolling out two other ebook reader models this year as well.

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Newly-Found Windows Bug Affects All Versions Since NT
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '10 at 07:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's staying-power deptartment:
garg0yle writes "A researcher has found a security bug that could allow privilege escalation in Windows. Nothing new there, right? Well, this affects the Virtual DOS Machine, found in every 32-bit version of Windows all the way back to Windows NT. That's 17 years worth of Windows and counting. 'Using code written for the VDM, an unprivileged user can inject code of his choosing directly into the system's kernel, making it possible to make changes to highly sensitive parts of the operating system. ... The vulnerability exists in all 32-bit versions of Microsoft OSes released since 1993, and proof-of-concept code works on the XP, Server 2003, Vista, Server 2008, and 7 versions of Windows, Ormandy reported.'"

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Analyst Estimates AT&T Needs To Spend $5B To Catch Up
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '10 at 07:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's connection-lost deptartment:
itwbennett writes "The public's perception of AT&T's network is poor and declining, apparently because of real shortcomings when compared with Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel,' says Gerard Hallaren, director of research at TownHall Investment Research. 'AT&T's capital expenditures on its wireless network from 2006 through September 2009 totaled about $21.6 billion, compared with $25.4 billion for Verizon and $16 billion for Sprint (including Sprint's investments in WiMax operator Clearwire). Over that time, Verizon has spent far more per subscriber: $353, compared with $308 for AT&T,' Hallaren said. 'Even Sprint has outspent AT&T per subscriber, laying out $310 for network capital expenditure.' All this means AT&T has a choice, says Hallaren: 'spend or suffer.'"

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Sound Generator Lethal From 10 Meters
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '10 at 06:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can-you-hear-me-now deptartment:
penguinrecorder writes "The Thunder Generator uses a mixture of liquefied petroleum, cooking gas, and air to create explosions, which in turn generate shock waves capable of stunning people from 30 to 100 meters away. At that range, the weapon is relatively harmless, making people run in panic when they feel the sonic blast hitting their bodies. However, at less than ten meters, the Thunder Generator is capable of causing permanent damage or killing people."

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