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Stopping Malaria By Immunizing Mosquitoes
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's will-they-get-a-public-option deptartment:
RedEaredSlider writes "Millions of people in the tropics suffer from malaria, a mosquito-borne disease that has been difficult to treat and which costs many developing countries millions of dollars per year in lost productivity. Up to now, efforts at controlling it have focused on attacking the parasites that cause it, keeping mosquitoes from biting, or killing the insects. But at Johns Hopkins University, Rhoel Dinglasan, an entomologist and biologist, decided to try another tack: immunizing mosquitoes. When a mosquito bites an infected human, it takes up some of the gametocytes. They aren't dangerous to people at that stage. Since plasmodium is vulnerable there, that is the point Dinglasan chose to attack. A mosquito's gut has certain receptor molecules in it that the plasmodium can bind to. Dinglasan asked what would happen if the parasite couldn't 'see' them, which would happen if another molecule, some antigen, were binding to those receptors."

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Annual US Intelligence Bill Tops $80 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's annual-US-stupidity-bill-much-higher deptartment:
Ponca City writes "The LA Times reports that the US government has disclosed its annual intel budget for the first time in more than a decade: $80.1 billion on intelligence gathering, representing about 12% of the nation's $664-billion defense budget. The government revealed the total intelligence budget twice before, in 1997 and 1998, in response to a lawsuit. It was $26.6 billion and $26.7 billion, respectively, meaning the budget has tripled in 12 years. 'It is clear that the overall spending on intelligence has blossomed to an unacceptable level in the past decade,' says Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. Dana Priest reported that more than 1,200 government agencies or offices and almost 2,000 outside contractors are involved in counter-terrorism activities, producing about 50,000 intelligence reports each year, far more than the government can effectively digest. The US is running so many secret programs that James R. Clapper Jr., director of national intelligence, said during his confirmation hearings that 'only one entity in the entire universe' knows what they're all doing, and 'that's God.'"

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The Galaxy May Have Billions of Habitable Planets
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's going-full-drake deptartment:
The Bad Astronomer writes "A recent astronomical report (abstract in Science) came out stating that as many as 1 in 4 sun-like stars have roughly earth-mass planets. But are they habitable? A simple bit of math based on some decent assumptions shows that there may be billions of potentially habitable worlds in the galaxy. '... astronomers studied 166 stars within 80 light years of Earth, and did a survey of the planets they found orbiting them. What they found is that about 1.5% of the stars have Jupiter-mass planets, 6% have Neptune-mass ones, and about 12% have planets from 3 – 10 times the Earth’s mass. This sample isn’t complete, and they cannot detect planets smaller than 3 times the Earth’s mass. But using some statistics, they can estimate from the trend that as many as 25% of sun-like stars have earth-mass planets orbiting them!' Getting to them, of course, is another problem altogether..."

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Hiding Backdoors In Hardware
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hamster-escape-route deptartment:
quartertime writes "Remember Reflections on Trusting Trust, the classic paper describing how to hide a nearly undetectable backdoor inside the C compiler? Here's an interesting piece about how to hide a nearly undetectable backdoor inside hardware. The post describes how to install a backdoor in the expansion ROM of a PCI card, which during the boot process patches the BIOS to patch grub to patch the kernel to give the controller remote root access. Because the backdoor is actually housed in the hardware, even if the victim reinstalls the operating system from a CD, they won't clear out the backdoor. I wonder whether China, with its dominant position in the computer hardware assembly business, has already used this technique for espionage. This perhaps explains why the NSA has its own chip fabrication plant."

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Mount Everest Gets 3G Service
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 08:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's yeti-bell deptartment:
bossanovalithium writes "It's what every mountaineer wants when they reach the summit of Mount Everest: a 3G high-speed communication. Those who have trekked to the top will soon able to call their mates, go on Facebook or Twitter, and boast that they got there thanks to TeliaSonera and its subsidiary in Nepal, Ncell, which have brought 3G to the Mount Everest area. Climbers who reached Everest's 8,848-meter-high peak previously depended on expensive and erratic satellite phone coverage and a voice-only network set up by China Mobile in 2007 on the Chinese side of the mountain."

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IE6 Addiction Inhibits Windows 7 Migrations
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 07:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's second-verse-same-as-the-first deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "As anyone in the industry will tell you, a lot of money went into developing web applications specific to IE6. And corporations can't leave Windows XP for Windows 7 until IE6 runs (in some way) on Windows 7. Microsoft wants to leave that non-standard browser mess behind them, but as the article notes, 'Organizations running IE6 have told Gartner that 40% of their custom-built browser-dependent applications won't run on IE8, the version packaged with Windows 7. Thus, many companies face a tough decision: Either spend time and money to upgrade those applications so that they work in newer browsers, or stick with Windows XP.' Support for XP is going to end in April 2014. In order to deal with this, companies are looking at virtualizing IE6 only (instead of a full operating system) so that it can run on Windows 7 — even though Microsoft says this violates licensing agreements. IE6 is estimated to have roughly 16% of browser market share, and due to mistakes in the past it may never truly die."

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Facebook Adds Friend Stalker Tool
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can't-win-for-losing deptartment:
nk497 writes "Facebook has added a new tool that brings together conversations and photos between friends onto a single page, but — as usual — has crossed the creepy line. Not only does clicking the See Friendship tool let users view photos, comments and events shared between themselves and their friend, it also offers a search tool to do the same between any two mutual friends, making it easy to see everything any two people have ever said to each other Facebook. As usual, the site should have tested the function out on their users first, with one saying: 'I've always wanted this! And yes, I'm a creepy stalker.' Also, as usual for Facebook, all users are automatically opted in, and there's currently no obvious way to turn it off."

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Scholars Say ACTA Needs Senate Approval
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's setting-us-up-for-disappointment-when-they-ratify-it deptartment:
suraj.sun passes along this excerpt from Wired: "More than 70 academics, mostly legal scholars, are urging President Barack Obama to open a proposed international intellectual-property agreement to public review before signing it. The likely route for that is bringing the [Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement] to the Senate for ratification. ... the intellectual property accord, which Obama could sign by year's end, has pretty much been hammered out in secret between the European Union, Japan, the United States and a few other international players, including Canada and Australia. Noticeably absent is China. That said, these academics suggested that Obama does not have the authority to unilaterally sign the accord, which has been in the works for three years and is nearly final. Instead, they said, it should be considered a treaty, necessitating two-thirds Senate approval."

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Vans Drive Themselves Across the World
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 05:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's next-up-beer-runs deptartment:
bossanovalithium writes "Four driverless electric vans successfully ended a 13,000-kilometer test drive from Italy to China which mirrored the journey carried out by Marco Polo in the Middle Ages. The four vans, packed with navigation gear and other computer software, drove themselves across eastern Europe, Russia, Kazakhstan and the Gobi Desert without getting lost. They had been equipped with four solar-powered laser scanners and seven video cameras that work together to detect and avoid obstacles."

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Separating Cyber-Warfare Fact From Fantasy
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 04:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's joshua-called-me deptartment:
smellsofbikes writes "This week's New Yorker magazine has an investigative essay by Seymour Hersh about the US and its part in cyber-warfare that makes for interesting reading. Hersh talks about the financial incentives behind many of the people currently pushing for increased US spending on supposed solutions to network vulnerabilities and the fine and largely ignored distinction between espionage and warfare. Two quotes in particular stood out: one interviewee said, 'Current Chinese officials have told me that [they're] not going to attack Wall street, because [they] basically own it,' and Whitfield Diffie, on encryption, 'I'm not convinced that lack of encryption is the primary problem [of vulnerability to network attack]. The problem with the Internet is that it's meant for communication among non-friends.' The article also has some interesting details on the Chinese disassembly and reverse-engineering of a Lockheed P-3 Orion filled with espionage and eavesdropping hardware that was forced to land in China after a midair collision."

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Inside Google's Anti-Malware Operation
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '10 at 01:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's please-use-more-stress-positions deptartment:
Trailrunner7 writes "A Google malware researcher gave a rare peek inside the company's massive anti-malware and anti-phishing efforts at the SecTor conference here, and the data the company has gathered shows that the attackers who make it their business to infect sites and exploit users are adapting their tactics very quickly and creatively to combat the efforts of Google and others. While Google is still a relative newcomer to the public security scene, the company has deployed a number of services and technologies recently that are designed to identify phishing sites, as well as sites serving malware, and prevent users from finding them. The tools include the Google SafeBrowsing API and a handful of services that are available to help site owners and network administrators find and eliminate malware and the attendant bugs from their sites. Fabrice Jaubert, of Google's anti-malware team, said the company has had good luck identifying and weeding out malicious sites of late. Still, as much as 1.5 percent of all search result pages on Google include links to at least one malware-distribution site, he said."

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Australia's Privacy Boss Slams Gov't Data-Retention Scheme
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '10 at 10:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's here-we've-got-czars-instead-of-bosses deptartment:
mask.of.sanity writes "The Australian Government's privacy commissioner has slammed its plans to implement a data retention scheme, in which it would asked telcos and internet to store the browsing and calling logs of Australian subscribers. He said the scheme would put user privacy in jeopardy because data will lie around at the behest of law enforcement. The Aussie scheme would be based on that which exists in Europe under the EU Directive. The directive aims to give law enforcement authorities the ability to ascertain the identity of a person using a public network to communicate by mobile, fixed line, email, or internet. The directive defines 'data' to be collected as 'traffic data and location data and the related data necessary to identify the subscriber or user.'"

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Electric Car Goes 375 Miles On One 6-Minute Charge
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '10 at 07:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's now-that's-more-like-it deptartment:
thecarchik writes with this quote from AllCarsElectric: "We all know that battery packs are the weakest link in electric vehicles. Not only are they heavy and expensive, but they take a long time to recharge and on average can only provide around 100 miles per charge. A German-based company has changed all that with a new vehicle capable of driving up to 375 miles at moderate highway speeds. ... It doesn't end there. The company responsible for the battery pack, DBM Energy, claims a battery pack efficiency of 97 percent and a recharge time of around 6 minutes when charged from a direct current source. Unlike the small Daihatsu which was heavily modified by a team in Japan earlier this year that achieved a massive 623 miles on a charge at around 27 mph, the Audi A2 modified by DBM Energy was able to achieve its 375 miles range at an average speed of 55 mph."

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Mozilla Labs Add-On Provides Video and Audio Recording From the Browser
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '10 at 04:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's straightforward-enough deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla Labs is working on an experimental add-on which enables video and audio recording in the browser. Anant Narayanan writes on the Mozilla Labs blog, 'The Rainbow add-on for Firefox is an early developer prototype that enables web developers to access local video and audio recording capabilities using just a few lines of JavaScript. The add-on generates files encoded in open formats: Theora (for video) and Vorbis (for audio) in an Ogg container. The resulting files are accessible in DOM using HTML5 File APIs, which may be used to upload them to a server.' Support for live streaming and WebM is planned for a future version of the add-on."

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Verizon To Pay $25M For Years of 'Mystery Fees'
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '10 at 03:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's honestly-we-had-no-idea deptartment:
Ponca City writes "The Washington Post reports that The FCC has reached a record $25 million settlement with Verizon Wireless over the company's wrongly charging subscribers "mystery" Internet fees over the past several years — the largest settlement in FCC history. With the action, Verizon Wireless's total costs associated with false data fees reached $77.8 million, one of the largest payouts for false business practices in the communications services industry. 'People shouldn't find mystery fees when they open their phone bills — and they certainly shouldn't have to pay for services they didn't want and didn't use,' says FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. 'In these rough economic times, every $1.99 counts.' Verizon Wireless said in a news release that its overcharges were inadvertent. 'We accept responsibility for those errors, and apologize to our customers who received accidental data charges on their bills.'"

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Adobe Warns of Critical Flash Bug, Already Being Exploited
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '10 at 02:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's dirty-captalists deptartment:
Trailrunner7 writes "On the same day that it plans to release a patch for a critical flaw in Shockwave, Adobe confirmed on Thursday morning that there is a newly discovered bug in Flash that is being actively exploited already in attacks against Reader. The vulnerability affects Flash on all of the relevant platforms, including Android, as well as Reader on Windows and Mac, and won't be patched for nearly two weeks. The new Flash bug came to light early Thursday when a researcher posted information about the problem, as well as a Trojan that is exploiting it and dropping a pair of malicious files on vulnerable PCs. Researcher Mila Parkour tested the bug and posted a screenshot of the malicious files that a Trojan exploiting the vulnerability drops during its infection routine. Adobe has since confirmed the vulnerability and said that it is aware of the attacks against Reader."

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Forming New Mobile Networks With People-Borne Sensors
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '10 at 01:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's game-of-telephone deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes with this snippet from Medical Daily: "Members of the public could form the backbone of powerful new mobile internet networks by carrying wearable sensors. According to researchers from Queen's University Belfast, the novel sensors could create new ultra high bandwidth mobile internet infrastructures and reduce the density of mobile phone base stations. The engineers from Queen's renowned Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), are working on a new project based on the rapidly developing science of body centric communications."

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Launch Command Preserved In Power Failure, But Nuclear Designs Still Risky
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '10 at 12:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's look-we've-increased-and-decreased-risk deptartment:
With a follow-up to Tuesday's story, Martin Hellman writes "Slashdot reported that a system failure at Warren AFB in Wyoming affected 50 ICBMs and that 'various security protocols built into the missile delivery system, like intrusion alarms and warhead separation alarms, were offline.' Assuaging fears that America's nuclear deterrent might have been compromised during this failure, the source article notes that the missiles still could be launched from airborne command centers. Other reports cite an administration official offering assurances that 'at no time did the president's ability [to launch] decrease.' Given the difficulty of debugging software and hardware that is probably not a good thing. The history of nuclear command and control systems has too many examples of risky designs that favor the ability to launch over the danger of an accidental one."

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Time To Rethink the School Desk?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '10 at 12:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's time-to-rethink-school-generally deptartment:
theodp writes "As part of its reimagine the 21st-century classroom project, Slate asks: Is the best way to fix the American classroom to improve the furniture? While adults park their butts in $700 Aeron chairs, kids still sprawl and slump and fidget and dangle their way through the day in school furniture designed to meet or beat a $40 price point. 'We've seen in adults that if you put them in the right chair, their performance increases,' says Harvard's Jack Dennerlein. 'Is the same true for children? I can't see why not.' For school districts with deep pockets, there are choices — a tricked-out Node chair from IDEO and Steelcase can be had for $599."

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For Firefox 4, You'll Need To Wait Until 2011
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '10 at 11:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's they-wanted-a-prime-number deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla said that it will not be releasing Firefox 4 RC, or the final version, before early 2011. Apparently, the bugfixes in the current beta take up much more time than anticipated. Mozilla is working on the feature freeze release Beta 7, which has 14 bugs left. The beta 7 is about six weeks behind schedule and will be released "when it is ready", according to Mozilla. It seems as if the original schedule, which estimated that Firefox 4 RC would be released in the second half of October was a bit too optimistic. Microsoft, by the way, released a new IE9 platform preview (PP6) at PDC 20910 today."

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