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BlackBerry Outtages Across North America
Posted by News Fetcher on December 23 '09 at 06:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's iphones-are-just-slow deptartment:
TheHappyMailAdmin writes "BlackBerry service in North America is out: no email, no BB Messenger and no web browsing. Last carrier estimate I got was 24 hours until service will be restored, with others saying they've gotten estimates from support from between 3 hours to 2 days. BES and BIS services are impacted, and it's across all carriers. Bad timing for RIM as people are wrapping up their holiday shopping..."

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Comcast Pays Out $16M In P2P Throttling Suit
Posted by News Fetcher on December 23 '09 at 05:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's bad-money-after-good deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "Comcast has settled out of court to the tune of $16 million in one of several ongoing P2P throttling class action lawsuits. You may be eligible for up to $16 restitution if 'you live in the United States or its Territories, have a current or former Comcast High-Speed Internet account, and either used or attempted to use Comcast service to use the Ares, BitTorrent, eDonkey, FastTrack or Gnutella P2P protocols at any time from April 1, 2006 to December 31, 2008; and/or Lotus Notes to send emails any time from March 26, 2007 to October 3, 2007.' $16 million seems low. And it's too bad this was an out-of-court settlement instead of a solid precedent-setting decision for your right to use P2P applications. The settlement will probably not affect the slews of other Comcast P2P throttling suits, and it's unclear whether it will placate the FCC."

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Amazon Kindle Proprietary Format Broken
Posted by News Fetcher on December 23 '09 at 02:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's let-a-thousand-e-books-bloom deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "The Register reports that the proprietary document format used by the Amazon online store and Amazon's Kindle has been successfully reverse engineered, allowing these DRM-protected documents to be converted into the open MOBI format. Users of alternative e-book readers rejoice." Here are the hacker's notes on the program he is calling "Unswindle," and here is the (translated) forum where the Kindle challenge was posed and answered.

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Target.com's Agressive SEO Tactic Spams Google
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '09 at 11:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's wide-of-the-mark deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "Greg Niland is blogging about target.com's aggressive near-spam search engine optimization, and is more than a little critical not only of how this affects the most popular search engine, but also why it will probably persist. If you want an example, search for 'Exercise Bike Clearance' and click the first link."

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A New Libel Defense In Canada; For Blogs Too
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '09 at 09:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's matters-of-public-interest deptartment:
roju writes "The Globe and Mail reports that the Canadian Supreme Court has created a new defense against claims of defamation, allowing for reporting in the public interest. They specifically included bloggers as eligible, writing: '...the traditional media are rapidly being complemented by new ways of communicating on matters of public interest, many of them online, which do not involve journalists. These new disseminators of news and information should, absent good reasons for exclusion, be subject to the same laws as established media outlets.' and 'A review of recent defamation case law suggests that many actions now concern blog postings and other online media which are potentially both more ephemeral and more ubiquitous than traditional print media. ... [I]t is more accurate to refer to the new defense as responsible communication on matters of public interest.'"

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Intel Patches Flaws In Trusted Execution Tech
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '09 at 08:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's trusting-trust deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Joanna Rutkowska's company Invisible Things Lab has issued the results of their research into flaws in Intel's Trusted Execution Technology (TXT), whose function is to provide a mechanism for safe loading of system software and to protect sensitive files. ITL describes how flaws in TXT can be used to compromise the integrity of a software loaded via an Intel TXT-based loader in a generic way, fully circumventing any protection TXT is supposed to provide. The attack exploits an implementation error in the so-called SINIT Authenticated Code modules and that could potentially allow a malicious attacker to elevate their privileges. Intel has released a patch for the affected chipsets, which include the Q35, GM45, PM45 Express, Q45, and Q43 Express." Here are ITL's press release and Intel's advisory (both PDF).

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Nuclear Reactors As Art
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '09 at 06:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's springfield-diagrammed deptartment:
Hemos recommends the coverage over at Wired of a project to digitize nuclear reactor art. "Not all nuclear reactors are built alike. Power plant designs can vary in their fuels, coolants, and configurations, a fact beautifully illustrated by a series of reactor wall charts originally published in issues of Nuclear Engineering International during the 1970s and 1980s. Since then, the charts have been lovingly collected by Ronald Knief, a nuclear engineer at Sandia National Laboratory. Recently, he completed his collection... and began to digitize the drawings. The first eight out of more than 100 have now been permanently archived online... 'This is not a CAD/CAM-type thing,' Knief said. 'This really is art.'"

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Wikileaks Targets the Local News Frontier
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '09 at 04:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's think-locally-disrupt-globally deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "Wikileaks has been pretty successful on a global scale — from ACTA documents to East Anglian e-mails, it is the definitive place to find suppressed documents. But some are saying that now Wikileaks should begin focusing on a local level. From the article: 'The organization has applied for a $532,000 two-year grant from the Knight Foundation to expand the use of its secure, anonymous submission system by local newspapers. The foundation's News Challenge will give as much as $5 million this year to projects that use digital technology to transform community news. WikiLeaks proposes using the grant to encourage local newspapers to include a link to WikiLeaks' secure, anonymous servers so that readers can submit documents on local issues or scandals. The newspapers would have first crack at the material, and after a period of time — perhaps two weeks, [German Wikileaks spokesman Daniel] Schmitt said — the documents would be made public on the main WikiLeaks page.' Anyone reading this who works for a community news source and would like to host sensitive documents with no risk: here is your solution."

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Citibank Denies Reported Breach Linked To Russian Gang
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '09 at 03:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's no-russians-in-here-no-siree deptartment:
alphadogg writes "US authorities are investigating the theft of an estimated tens of millions of dollars from Citibank by criminals using Russian software tailored for the attack, according to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required to access that link — CNET's coverage here). The security breach at the major US bank was detected mid-year based on traffic from Internet addresses formerly used by the Russian Business Network gang, the WSJ reported today, citing unnamed government sources. The Russian Business Network is a well-known group linked to malicious software, hacking, child pornography, and spam. The FBI is probing the case, the report said. It was not known whether the money had been recovered and a Citibank representative said the company denied any system breach or losses, according to the report."

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How Can I Contribute To Open Source?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '09 at 02:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's in-kind deptartment:
rtobyr writes "I work for a state government agency. That means we can't donate money, because it's a 'gift of public funds.' I had the idea to put up a Web page stating that we 'use the following free software to save tax dollars,' as a way to help spread the word about open source software, but management calls this an 'endorsement.' A mirror server is a no-go as well. I'm certainly not a talented enough programmer to help with development. I've donated $10 here and there out of my own pocket, but I'm hoping you Slashdotters have some creative ideas about how my organization could give something back to the teams that create free software we benefit so much from."

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Opera 10.5 Pre-Alpha Is Out, and It's Fast
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '09 at 02:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's fat-lady-has-not-sung deptartment:
sgunhouse writes to let us know that, following a leaked internal build over the weekend, Opera Software has now released their official 10.5 pre-alpha. There are no Linux versions yet. And an anonymous reader adds, "Opera's 10.5 pre-alpha includes the Carakan JavaScript Engine. Benchmarks now show that Opera is competitive with Chrome, beating it in Sunspider and other tests. Safari, Firefox, and IE are all behind. This is still pre-alpha, so further speed gains should be expected."

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Windows 7 May Finally Get IPv6 Deployed
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '09 at 01:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's whatever-it-takes deptartment:
Esther Schindler writes "According to this article at IT Expert Voice, Windows 7 and IPv6: Useful at Last?, we've had so many predictions that this will be 'the year of IPv6' that most of us have stopped listening. But the network protocol may have new life breathed into it because IPv6 is a requirement for DirectAccess. DirectAccess, a feature in Windows 7, makes remote access a lot easier — and it doesn't require a VPN. (Lisa Vaas interviews security experts and network admins to find out what they think of that idea.) The two articles examine the advantages and disadvantages of DirectAccess, with particular attention to the possibility that Microsoft's sponsorship may give IPv6 the deployment push it has lacked."

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Microsoft Ordered To Pay $290M, Stop Selling Word
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '09 at 12:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's not-a-troll deptartment:
Cytalk and other readers tipped us to Microsoft's loss in a US appeals court, in a patent case brought by Canadian company i4i. Microsoft must now pay $290M and either stop selling Word (and probably Office) by January 11, or somehow work around the patent by that date. A Seattle PI blog reports that Redmond has a few options left: "In a statement, Microsoft said it was working hard to comply with the injunction. The company also said it is considering further legal options, including possible requests for a new hearing or a writ of certiorari from the US Supreme Court."

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The US Economy Needs More "Cool" Nerds
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '09 at 11:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's we-be-cool deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "Steve Lohr writes in the NY Times that the country needs more 'cool' nerds — professionals with hybrid careers that combine computing with other fields like medicine, art, or journalism. Not enough young people are embracing computing, often because they are leery of being branded nerds. Educators and technologists say that two things need to change: the image of computing work, and computer science education in high schools. Today, introductory courses in computer science are too often focused merely on teaching students to use software like word processing and spreadsheet programs, says Janice C. Cuny, a program director at the National Science Foundation adding that the Advanced Placement curriculum concentrates too narrowly on programming. 'We're not showing and teaching kids the magic of computing,' Cuny says. The NSF is working to change this by developing a new introductory high school course in computer science and seeking to overhaul Advanced Placement courses as well. The NSF hopes to train 10,000 high school teachers in the modernized courses by 2015. Knowledge of computer science and computer programming is becoming a necessary skill for many professions, not only science and technology but also increasingly for marketing, advertising, journalism and the creative arts. 'We need to gain an understanding in the population that education in computer science is both extraordinarily important and extraordinarily interesting,' says Alfred Spector, vice president for research and special initiatives at Google. 'The fear is that if you pursue computer science, you will be stuck in a basement, writing code. That is absolutely not the reality.'"

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Florida Congressman Wants Blogging Critic Fined, Jailed
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '09 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's gov't-we-deserve-is-a-canard deptartment:
vvaduva writes "Florida Rep. Alan Grayson wants to see one of his critics go directly to jail, all over her use of the word 'my' on her blog. In a four-page letter sent to [US Attorney General Eric] Holder, Grayson accuses blogger Angie Langley of lying to federal elections officials and requests that she be fined and imprisoned for five years. Her lie, according to Grayson, is that she claims to be one of his constituents. Langley, Grayson says, is misrepresenting herself by using the term 'my' in the Web site's name."

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The Best, Worst, and Ugliest OSes of the Decade
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '09 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's jesux-not-mentioned deptartment:
itwbennett writes "Hundreds of Operating Systems were released during the past decade, finding their way into microdevices, watches, refrigerators, mobile phones, cars, motorcycles, jets, even the International Space Station. Some worked; some even worked well. Others, sadly, didn't. And some were just ahead of their time. Blogger Tom Henderson takes a look back at the best and worst OSes of the decade. Among the worst? Vista, as you'd suspect, along with WinME. But what about GNU Hurd? And some of the best? Solaris/OpenSolaris 10, Mac OS X, and newcomer Google Android."

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Microsoft Policies Help Virus Writers, Says Security Firm
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '09 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's this-door-to-remain-unlocked-at-all-times deptartment:
Barence writes "Security firm Trend Micro has accused Microsoft of giving malware writers a helping hand by advising users not to scan certain files on their PC because 'they are not at risk of infection.' Trend Micro warns that by making such information available, Microsoft is effectively creating a hit list for malware writers. 'Following the recommendations does not pose a significant threat as of now, but it has a very big potential of being one,' the company's researcher, David Sancho, writes on theTrend Micro blog."

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New USPTO Test Could Limit Software-Based Patents
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '09 at 08:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's counting-but-on-fingers deptartment:
bizwriter writes "The high tech industry has been waiting for a Supreme Court decision in the Bilski case to decide fundamental questions, like when you can patent software. But there's a new test from the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (PDF) that just became precedential, meaning that it offers new grounds on which the US Patent and Trademark Office can deny patents on machines that use mathematical algorithms."

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Climate, Habitat Threaten Wild Coffee Species
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '09 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's ok-panic deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "BBC reports that Dr. Aaron Davis of the Royal Botanical Gardens claims 'almost three-quarters of the world's wild coffee species are threatened, as a result of habitat loss and climate change. "Conserving the genetic diversity within this genus has implications for the sustainability of our daily cup, particularly as coffee plantations are highly susceptible to climate change.'"

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CherryPal's $99 "Odd Lots" Netbook
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '09 at 07:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's cool-approach deptartment:
Robotech_Master writes "CherryPal, which Slashdot last covered back in 2008, has released a $99 netbook, the Africa, aimed at the developing world but (unlike the OLPC) available for sale to the consumer. But unlike most netbooks, the Africa is not actually made to a set design. Instead, it uses a hacker-like approach similar to the way home PC builders build their cheap beige boxes. CherryPal purchases odd lots of whatever components are available most inexpensively, builds netbooks out of them, and calls them Africas. The resulting machines will at least meet and may exceed the minimum specs given on CherryPal's website, and may be built around an ARM, MIPS, or X86-based CPU depending on what parts CherryPal has on hand at the time. The device ships with 'at least' Windows CE or CherryPal's custom 'Green Maraschino' Debian-based Linux distro."

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