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VR Tested by NFL To Confront Sexism and Racism
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '16 at 07:54 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Super-Bowl-of-hype department:
More than $8 billion a year is spent on diversity training which a Harvard professor believes is largely ineffective. So later this year the NFL will also try using new VR scenarios from Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab. "We want to be known as the best place to work," says NFL vice president Troy Vincent," while Dropbox's head of diversity says she's also had conversations about eliminating bias in job interviews by conducting "blind" interviews using avatars. The Stanford lab's scenarios place users in unsettling situations -- for example, angry harassment by white avatars while the user's avatar is black. "I'm not saying, 'Put on a VR goggle and you've solved racism'," says the Stanford lab's director. "But I'm optimistic it can help."

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Website Attempts To Generate Every Possible Patentable Invention
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '16 at 06:34 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's AIs-vs-attorneys department:
An anonymous reader writes: All Prior Art is a project attempting to algorithmically create and publicly publish all possible new prior art, thereby making the published concepts not patent-able. The concept is to democratize ideas and to preempt patent trolls. The work is released on-line and in files of 10,000 ideas under a creative commons license. The system works by pulling text from the entire database of US issued and published (un-approved) patents and creating prior art from the patent language. While most inventions generated will be nonsensical, the cost to computationally create and publish millions of ideas is nearly zero -- which allows for a higher probability of possible valid prior art.

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NASA's Kepler Enters Emergency Mode 75 Million Miles From Earth
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '16 at 05:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's what's-happening? department:
Loren Grush, writing for The Verge: NASA engineers have declared a mission emergency for the agency's planet-hunting spacecraft Kepler, which has somehow switched into emergency mode. Now that a mission emergency has been declared, the Kepler team has priority access to NASA's deep space telecommunications system in order to try to get the spacecraft back to normal operations. Emergency mode is the lowest operational mode the spacecraft has. It also requires a lot more fuel than usual, which is why the Kepler mission team is working hard to get the spacecraft back to normal. But communication with Kepler isn't easy. The spacecraft is currently 75 million miles away from Earth right now, according to NASA, so any communications signal traveling at the speed of light will take up to 13 minutes to travel to and from the spacecraft. Kepler has detected nearly 5,000 exoplanets over the years -- of which 1,000 have been confirmed.

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Free Lightsaber Event Now Battling Lucasfilm's Lawyers
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '16 at 03:41 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's help-me-Obi-Wan-Kenobi department:
For eight years the arts collective Newmindspace had been staging free lightsaber battles, and in December they set a world record with 9,951 "combatants" simultaneously participating in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle. But then in January they received a letter from the copyright attorneys for the Star Wars franchise. "We immediately stopped using the words 'lightsaber,' 'Jedi,' 'Sith' and 'The Force,' " the group's co-founder told the technology blog of the San Jose Mercury News, saying they've still been "aggressively pursued" for the last three months. '''In March we received further communication stating 'The Light Battle Tour' and 'light sword' were still too close to their trademarks, and we moved to settle the dispute to avoid legal action." Their new solution involves referring to the weapons as "catblades", and they've re-branded their upcoming series of events (which begins on April 30 in San Jose) as the "Cats in Space Tour".

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Jet Pack Company Executive Crashes During A Test Flight
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '16 at 01:01 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's unidentified-falling-objects department:
The Vice President of Jet Pack International was hospitalized Friday after crashing during a test flight in Denver, according to the Associated Press. Though he's successfully flown the company's hydrogen peroxide-fueled jet pack more than 400 times, Friday the vice president experienced "control issues" while hovering 20 feet over the "Go Fast" energy drink company while testing some adjustments, and ultimately crashed in a nearby industrial park. He fell on his head, and he wasn't wearing a helmet, but after receiving 27 stitches, he was released from the hospital Saturday afternoon. The company's jet pack normally has a range of about one-quarter of a mile (and reaches heights of 100 feet) with a flying time of 32 seconds, the Associated Press reports, adding that "The FAA is investigating the crash."

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Childbirth Charity Hack Leaks 15,000 Expectant Parents Data
Posted by News Fetcher on April 09 '16 at 09:02 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's unborn-identity-theft department:
An anonymous reader writes: A data breach has been uncovered at the UK's National Childbirth Trust, with over 15,000 new and expectant parents' details compromised. The charity "has apologized to its users and has informed them that their email addresses, usernames and an encrypted version of their passwords had been exposed in the data leak," according to The Stack. "It has assured members that no sensitive or financial information was accessed. The hack, which targeted the NCT's registration database, has since been reported to the police and the UK's data watchdog, the Information Commissioner's Office."

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IBM's Watson AI Implanted Into a Robot, Evolves, Can Now Sense Emotions
Posted by News Fetcher on April 09 '16 at 06:21 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's domo-arigato department:
bigwophh writes that IBM's Watson cognitive computing platform "is now more capable and human-like, especially when encapsulated in a robot body." An article from Hot Hardware reports that this week at NVIDIA's GPU Technology Conference, "We saw Watson in robot form respond to queries just like a human would, using not only speech but movement. When its dancing skills were called into question, the robot responded by showing off its Gangnam Style moves." After winning Jeopardy's million-dollar championship in 2011, Watson moved on to "more practical applications" like providing data-analyzing services for doctors, lawyers, and other professionals, and "the capabilities of what IBM has created are nothing short of amazing... Just like a real person, the underlying AI can get a read on people through movement and cognitive analysis of their speech. It can determine mood, tone, inflection, and so forth."

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How San Francisco Hazed a Tech Bro
Posted by News Fetcher on April 09 '16 at 04:51 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's second-acts department:
An anonymous reader writes: In December 2013 San Francisco's tension with its surging tech class reached a breaking point. Protesters swarmed Google buses. They stood in front of Twitter carrying a coffin labeled "Affordable Housing." Google glassholes were on the rise. In the midst of this, the CEO and founder of AngelHack posted a rant about the homeless. "In downtown SF the degenerates gather like hyenas, spit, urinate, taunt you, sell drugs, get rowdy, they act like they own the center of the city," Greg Gopman wrote. He thought he was becoming a thought leader. Instead, the entire city turned against him. Reviled and suddenly unemployable, Gopman spent a quixotic year spinning up businesses to solve homelessness. His journey is weirdly emblematic of today's startup-fueled San Francisco.

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Despite Lean Space Budgets Russia Is Headed For the Moon
Posted by News Fetcher on April 09 '16 at 03:21 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's robots-first department:
MarkWhittington writes: Thanks to the collapse of oil prices that has ravaged the Russian economy, dependent as it is on fossil fuel exports, Russia's space program is facing draconian budget cuts... Still, the country that lost the race to the moon still has ambitious plans for Earth's closest neighbor... The Russians even have hopes of landing cosmonauts on the lunar surface by the end of the 2020s.

New evidence of subsurface ice helped fuel their interest in human moon landings, according to Science magazine, which reports that Russia is first planning five robotic missions to the moon over the next nine years. Three of these will be conducted with the European Space Agency, including one which will drill for underground samples in the new areas of the lunar surface, and the director of Russia's space agency says "the next decade will be quite busy for us."

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Now Streaming: How To Do a Kidney Transplant
Posted by News Fetcher on April 09 '16 at 03:21 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's take-two-videos-and-call-me-in-the-morning department:
tedlistens writes: In January, hundreds of students enrolled in the University of Leiden Medical School's 'Clinical Kidney Transplantation.' But they weren't there: the class is completely virtual, the world's first massively open online course to offer instruction in the surgical procedure. Taught by 13 doctors through videos and interactive modules...the free course isn't intended to replace real-life education with hospital patients. Nor is it likely to prepare students to conduct a kidney transplant anytime soon. (For a fee, students can receive a certificate of completion.) But it's part of a new digital push among medical schools around the world, including Harvard and Stanford, that are seeking to educate a generation of students raised on smartphones and to expand their audiences to virtually anyone with a computer and an internet connection.

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Researchers Help Shut Down Spam Botnet That Enslaved 4,000 Linux Machines
Posted by News Fetcher on April 09 '16 at 01:51 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's battling-spammers department:
An anonymous reader shares an article on Ars Technica: A botnet that enslaved about 4,000 Linux computers and caused them to blast the Internet with spam for more than a year has finally been shut down. Sophisticated Mumblehard spamming malware flew under the radar for five years. Known as Mumblehard, the botnet was the product of highly skilled developers. It used a custom "packer" to conceal the Perl-based source code that made it run, a backdoor that gave attackers persistent access, and a mail daemon that was able to send large volumes of spam. Command servers that coordinated the compromised machines' operations could also send messages to Spamhaus requesting the delisting of any Mumblehard-based IP addresses that sneaked into the real-time composite blocking list, or CBL, maintained by the anti-spam service. "There was a script automatically monitoring the CBL for the IP addresses of all the spam-bots," researchers from security firm Eset wrote in a blog post published Thursday. "If one was found to be blacklisted, this script requested the delisting of the IP address. Such requests are protected with a CAPTCHA to avoid automation, but OCR (or an external service if OCR didn't work) was used to break the protection."

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Popular Firefox Add-Ons Open Millions To New Attack
Posted by News Fetcher on April 09 '16 at 01:51 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's rogue-addon department:
An anonymous reader writes: Security researchers claim that NoScript and other popular Firefox add-on extensions are exposing millions of end users to a new type of vulnerability which, if exploited, can allow an attacker to execute malicious code and steal sensitive data. The vulnerability resides in the way Firefox extensions interact with each other. From a report on SlashGear, "The problem is that these extensions do not run sandboxed and are able to actually access data or functions from other extensions that are also enabled. This could mean, for example, that a malware masquerading as an add-on can access the functionality of one add-on to get access to system files or the ability of another add-on to redirect users to a certain web page, usually a phishing scam page. In the eyes of Mozilla's automated security checks, the devious add-on is blameless as it does nothing out of the ordinary." Firefox's VP of Product acknowledged the existence of the aforementioned vulnerability. "Because risks such as this one exist, we are evolving both our core product and our extensions platform to build in greater security. The new set of browser extension APIs that make up WebExtensions, which are available in Firefox today, are inherently more secure than traditional add-ons, and are not vulnerable to the particular attack outlined in the presentation at Black Hat Asia. As part of our electrolysis initiative -- our project to introduce multi-process architecture to Firefox later this year -- we will start to sandbox Firefox extensions so that they cannot share code."

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High Schoolers Use Homemade Nuclear Fusion Reactor To Dominate Science Fairs
Posted by News Fetcher on April 09 '16 at 12:21 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's extracurricular-reactivities department:
An anonymous reader writes: 20 high school students gather every Friday night in a basement of a modest home in Federal Way, Washington to work on science experiments using a home-made nuclear fusion reactor. [They've also reportedly won top honors in science fairs as well as college scholarships.] This extreme science club is the brainchild of Carl Greninger, a Program Manager at Microsoft by day, scientist by night. He was concerned about the current state of high school science education, [and] lamented that the public school system does not truly expose students to the excitement of experimental discovery. So using his own money (and one-ton of radiation shielding), Greninger "gathered some students and built a working nuclear fusion reactor in his garage."

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Solar Panel Developed That Can Generate Electricity From Rain
Posted by News Fetcher on April 09 '16 at 12:21 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's affinity-for-solar-power department:
Reader Socguy writes: Scientists in China have developed a prototype solar panel with a single atom-thick layer of graphene on the surface. This layer allows the panel to generate electricity, not just from the sun but also from any rain that falls on it. This development promises to further boost the output of solar panels during times of less than optimal conditions.Also from the report, "All it takes is a mere one-atom thick graphene layer for an excessive amount of electrons to move as they wish across the surface. In situations where water is present, graphene binds its electrons with positively charged ions. Some of you may know this process to be called as the Lewis acid-base interaction."

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Sophisticated Bribe Scheme Gets Malware Onto Chinese Antivirus Whitelist
Posted by News Fetcher on April 09 '16 at 10:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's black-hats-vs-white-hats department:
An anonymous reader writes "Malware operators have bribed employees of a gaming company to bundle malware with their mobile apps." Because the app-maker reportedly had a good-faith agreement with China's biggest antivirus company, the apps were apparently whitelisted without a thorough check, according to Softpedia. They cite a report from Check Point which describes how attackers would later pretend to be shoppers on a popular Chinese site where pictures of the desired items are sent to sellers. "The seller would open the picture on a PC and become infected," writes Check Point, "because the Trojan would not be detected," and a subsequent request for a refund would deliver the login credentials for the seller's payment account. "This example illustrates how important it is to avoid third-party stores and to instead at least rely on stores with more reliable security," argues Check Point. "But even still, stores like the App Store and Google Play aren't immune to threats."

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The FBI Director Puts Tape Over His Webcam
Posted by News Fetcher on April 09 '16 at 09:31 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's warrant-proof-webcam department:
Martin Kaste, reporting for NPR: FBI Director James Comey gave a speech this week about encryption and privacy, repeating his argument that "absolute privacy" hampers law enforcement. But it was an offhand remark during the Q&A session at Kenyon College that caught the attention of privacy activists. Kaste points to a tweet by The Kenyon Collegian, "Comey admits he puts a piece of tape over the webcam lens on his laptop." The thought of the FBI chief taping over his webcam is an arresting one for many. His comment Wednesday was in response to a question about growing public awareness of the ways technology can spy on people, and he acknowledged sharing in the surveillance anxiety. "I saw something in the news, so I copied it. I put a piece of tape -- I have obviously a laptop, personal laptop -- I put a piece of tape over the camera. Because I saw somebody smarter than I am had a piece of tape over their camera." Not everyone is a fan. Security and privacy activist Christopher Soghoian said, "FBI Director Comey has created a "warrant-proof webcam" that will thwart lawful surveillance should he ever be investigated. Shame on him."

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Senate Bill Draft Would Prohibit Unbreakable Encryption
Posted by News Fetcher on April 09 '16 at 09:31 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I'm-just-a-bill department:
buck-yar quotes a report from the Associated Press: "A draft version of a Senate bill would effectively prohibit unbreakable encryption and require companies to help the government access data on a computer or mobile device with a warrant."
The two Senators finalizing the bill announced "No individual or company is above the law," saying their goal is to ensure compliance with court orders to help law enforcement or to provide decrypted information. The ACLU's legislative counsel argued the drafted legislation represents a "clear threat to everyone's privacy and security," and the bill is opposed by another member of the Senate committee, Ron Wyden, who says it would require "American companies to build a backdoor... They would be required by federal law per this statute to decide how to weaken their products to make Americans less safe."

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Variation in Depiction of Same Emoji on Different Platforms Can Lead To Miscommunication
Posted by News Fetcher on April 09 '16 at 08:11 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's tiny-faces-causing-miscommunication department:
How your device depicts an emoji depends on the operating system it is running. The same "smiley face" emoticon, for instance, appears slightly different when viewed on an iPhone, an Android-powered handset, and a Windows Phone-powered handset. This variation can cause miscommunication between people (PDF), a study by GroupLens Research has found. The research lab in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota said that sometimes this can cause people to misinterpret the emotion and the meaning of emoji-based communication "quite significantly." The conclusion reads: Emoji are used alongside text in digital communication, but their visual nature leaves them open to interpretation. In addition, emoji render differently on different platforms, so people may interpret one platform's rendering differently than they interpret another platform's. Psycholinguistic theory suggests that interpretation must be consistent between two people in order to avoid communication challenges. In this research, we explored whether emoji are consistently interpreted as well as whether interpretation remains consistent across renderings by different platforms. For 5 different platform renderings of 22 emoji Unicode characters, we find disagreement in terms of both sentiment and semantics, and these disagreements only increase when considering renderings across platforms.

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Donald Trump's 'Nuclear' Uncle
Posted by News Fetcher on April 09 '16 at 08:11 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's nuclear-nephew department:
An anonymous reader writes:
In 1936 a reporter watched Donald Trump's uncle John, an MIT professor of engineering, as he was struck by two high-voltage sparks while demonstrating the grounding of an new X-ray machine which could generate a million volts of power. And immediately after Nikola Tesla's death in 1943, the FBI called John G. Trump to review the scientific papers Tesla left behind, according to a new article in The New Yorker. They joke that now John's nephew Donald "seldom sounds as ungrounded as when he invokes Professor Trump, the younger brother of his father, Fred," while campaigning for president. But while comparing the candidate's statements to the historical record, they conclude that "John Trump really does seem to have been a brilliant scientist," noting that he performed both radar and short-wave research for the allies during World War II and helped design medical X-ray machines.

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Every Voter In The Philippines Exposed In Massive Data Breach
Posted by News Fetcher on April 09 '16 at 06:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's voting-is-serious-business department:
schwit1 writes: "The database of the Philippine Commission on Elections has been breached and the personal information of 55 million voters potentially exposed in what could rank as the worst ever government data breach anywhere," according to Infosecurity Magazine.
The magazine attributes an initial web site breach to Anonymous, who were reportedly trying to persuade the commission to enable more security features on their automated vote-counting system before upcoming national elections on May 9. A second group named LulzSec Pilipinas then later posted the entire voter database online.

Trend Micro originally broke the story, writing that "Every registered voter in the Philippines is now susceptible to fraud and other risks after a massive data breach leaked the entire database of the Philippines' Commission on Elections." They report that the breached data even included 15.8 million fingerprint records, as well as 1.3 million records for overseas Filipino voters, including their passports' numbers and expiration dates, all stored in plain text.

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