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3.46-Billion-Year-Old 'Fossils' Were Not Created By Life Forms
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '15 at 05:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's stupid-tricksy-fossilses department:
sciencehabit writes: What are the oldest fossils on Earth? For a long time, a 3.46-billion-year-old rock from Western Australia seemed to hold the record. A 1993 Science paper (abstract) suggested that the Apex chert contained tiny, wormy structures that could have been fossilized cell walls of some of the world's first cyanobacteria. But now there is more evidence that these structures have nothing to do with life. The elongated filaments were instead created by minerals forming in hydrothermal systems, researchers report (abstract). After the minerals were formed, carbon glommed on to the edges, leaving behind an organic signature that looked suspiciously like cell walls.

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Netflix Is Betting On Exclusive Programming
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '15 at 04:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-did-say-you-wanted-a-la-carte department:
An anonymous reader writes: You may have heard of the recent launch of the new Daredevil TV show, and possibly the hit shows House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. They're all original programming from Netflix — the company that used to just mail DVDs to your door. But Netflix is now running a lot more than just those three shows — it has 320 hours of original programming planned for this year. This article discusses how Netflix is betting big on original, exclusive content, and what that means for the future of television. "Traditionally, television networks needed to stand for something to carve out an audience, he said, whereas the Internet allows brands to mean different things to different people because the service can be personalized for individual viewers. That means that for a conservative Christian family, Netflix should stand for wholesome entertainment, and, for a 20-year-old New York college student, it should be much more on the edge, he said.... 'We've had 80 years of linear TV, and it's been amazing, and in its day the fax machine was amazing,' he said. "The next 20 years will be this transformation from linear TV to Internet TV.'"

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How Security Companies Peddle Snake Oil
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '15 at 03:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-this-snake-oil-is-in-the-cloud! department:
penciling_in writes: There are no silver bullets in Internet security, warns Paul Vixie in a co-authored piece along with Cyber Security Specialist Frode Hommedal: "Just as 'data' is being sold as 'intelligence', a lot of security technologies are being sold as 'security solutions' rather than what they really are: very narrow-focused appliances that, as a best case, can be part of your broader security effort." We have to stop playing "cops and robbers" and pretending that all of us are potential targets of nation-states, or pretending that any of our security vendors are like NORAD, warn the authors.

Vixie adds, "We in the Internet security business look for current attacks and learn from those how to detect and prevent those attacks and maybe how to predict, detect, and prevent what's coming next. But rest assured that there is no end game — we put one bad guy in prison for every hundred or so new bad guys who come into the field each month. There is no device or method, however powerful, which will offer a salient defense for more than a short time. The bad guys endlessly adapt; so must we. Importantly, the bad guys understand how our systems work; so must we."


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NASA's Rocket Maker To Begin 3D Printing Flight-Ready Components
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '15 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-their-3d-printers-are-way-better-than-yours department:
Lucas123 writes: United Launch Alliance (ULA), the company that makes rockets for NASA and the U.S. Air Force, plans to 3D print more than 100 flight-ready components for its next-gen Vulcan rocket. The company also just printed its first flight-ready component, a new Environmental Control System for its current Atlas V rocket. The ECS assembly had previously contained 140 parts that were made by third party suppliers, but ULA was able to reduce the parts to just 16, resulting in a 57% part-cost reduction. Along with cost reduction, ULA said 3D printing frees it from contracts with parts providers who may or may not deliver on time depending on whether the deem the rocket maker a priority at any given time. The company, which launches 12 rockets each year, is also hoping to use 3D printing for a more traditional role — rapid prototyping of parts. "We have a long list of [parts] candidates to evaluate — over 100 polymer parts we're considering and another 50 or so metal parts we're considering," said Greg Arend, program manager for additive manufacturing at ULA.

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Why the Journey To IPv6 Is Still the Road Less Traveled
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '15 at 02:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's that-has-made-all-the-difference department:
alphadogg writes The writing's on the wall about the short supply of IPv4 addresses, and IPv6 has been around since 1999. Then why does the new protocol still make up just a fraction of the Internet? Though IPv6 is finished technology that works, rolling it out may be either a simple process or a complicated and risky one, depending on what role you play on the Internet. And the rewards for doing so aren't always obvious. For one thing, making your site or service available via IPv6 only helps the relatively small number of users who are already set up with the protocol, creating a nagging chicken-and-egg problem.

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New PCIe SSDs Load Games, Apps As Fast As Old SATA Drives
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '15 at 01:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's you-don't-need-a-race-car-if-you're-just-driving-to-work department:
crookedvulture writes Slashdot has covered a bunch of new PCI Express SSDs over the past month, and for good reason. The latest crop offers much higher sequential and random I/O rates than predecessors based on old-school Serial ATA interfaces. They're also compatible with new protocols, like NVM Express, which reduce overhead and improve scaling under demanding loads. As one might expect, these new PCIe drives destroy the competition in targeted benchmarks, hitting top speeds several times faster than even the best SATA SSDs can muster. The thing is, PCIe SSDs don't load games or common application data any faster than current incumbents—or even consumer-grade SSDs from five years ago. That's very different from the initial transition from mechanical to solid-state storage, where load times improved noticeably for just about everything. Servers and workstations can no doubt take advantage of the extra oomph that PCIe SSDs provide, but desktop users may struggle to find scenarios where PCIe SSDs offer palpable performance improvements over even budget-oriented SATA drives.

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Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '15 at 01:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's put-down-the-wrench-and-back-away department:
Mr_Blank writes Automakers are supporting provisions in copyright law that could prohibit home mechanics and car enthusiasts from repairing and modifying their own vehicles. In comments filed with a federal agency that will determine whether tinkering with a car constitutes a copyright violation, OEMs and their main lobbying organization say cars have become too complex and dangerous for consumers and third parties to handle. The dispute arises from a section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that no one thought could apply to vehicles when it was signed into law in 1998. But now, in an era where cars are rolling computing platforms, the U.S. Copyright Office is examining whether provisions of the law that protect intellectual property should prohibit people from modifying and tuning their cars.

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Mysterious "Cold Spot": Fingerprint of Largest Structure In the Universe?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '15 at 12:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's biggest-there-is department:
astroengine writes At the furthest-most reaches of the observable universe lies one of the most enigmatic mysteries of modern cosmology: the cosmic microwave background (CMB) Cold Spot. Discovered in 2004, this strange feature etched into the primordial echo of the Big Bang has been the focus of many hypotheses — could it be the presence of another universe? Or is it just instrumental error? Now, astronomers may have acquired strong evidence as to the Cold Spot's origin and, perhaps unsurprisingly, no multiverse hypothesis is required. But it's not instrumental error either. It could be a vast "supervoid" around 1.8 billion light-years wide that is altering the characteristics of the CMB radiation traveling through it.

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Astronaut Snaps Epic Star Trek Selfie In Space
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '15 at 12:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's zero-g-cosplay department:
mpicpp writes with this story about astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti's tribute to a Star Trek icon. "Captain Kathryn Janeway led the USS Voyager through many harrowing lost-in-space adventures. She was the first female Starfleet captain to take the lead role in a 'Trek' series. Janeway is fictional, but she is an inspiration to many women interested in space. European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, the first Italian woman in space, took a moment to celebrate Captain Janeway at around 250 miles above Earth. Cristoforetti is currently aboard the International Space Station. She tweeted a selfie on April 17 while dressed in a Star Trek: Voyager-style red and black uniform with a purple turtleneck. The image shows her pointing a thumb at SpaceX's Dragon supply capsule."

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Swift Tops List of Most-Loved Languages and Tech
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '15 at 11:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's apple-of-you-eye department:
Nerval's Lobster writes Perhaps developers are increasingly overjoyed at the prospect of building iOS apps with a language other than Objective-C, which Apple has positioned Swift to replace; whatever the reason, Swift topped Stack Overflow's recent survey of the "Most Loved" languages and technologies (cited by 77.6 percent of the 26,086 respondents), followed by C++11 (75.6 percent), Rust (73.8 percent), Go (72.5 percent), and Clojure (71 percent). The "Most Dreaded" languages and technologies included Salesforce (73.2 percent), Visual Basic (72 percent), WordPress (68.2 percent), MATLAB (65.6 percent), and SharePoint (62.8 percent). Those results were mirrored somewhat in recent list from RedMonk, a tech-industry analyst firm, which ranked Swift 22nd in popularity among programming languages (based on data drawn from GitHub and Stack Overflow) but climbing noticeably quickly.

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Old Marconi Patent Inspires Tiny New Gigahertz Antenna
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '15 at 10:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's getting-small department:
agent elevator writes Gehan Amaratunga and a group of engineers in England noted that the Guglielmo Marconi's famous British patent application from 1900 had an interesting and little noticed detail. It depicted a transmitter linked to an antenna connected to a coil, which had one end dangling while the RF signal was fed to the middle of the coil. That detail inspired them to develop a way to reduce the size of a GHz antenna without significant transmission loss by using dielectrics as the radio wave emitting material instead of conductors.

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Colors Help Set Body's Internal Clock
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '15 at 10:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's sleepy-blue department:
First time accepted submitter MakeItGlow writes A new study by researchers from the University of Manchester found that mice use the color of light to set their body clock. The researchers investigated whether color signals from the eyes wound up in the suprachiasmatic nucleus—the part of the brain in vertebrates that keeps time using electrical and chemical signals. From the article: "Scientists have long known about the role light plays in governing circadian rhythms, which synchronize life’s ebb and flow with the 24-hour day. But they weren’t sure how different properties of light, such as color and brightness, contributed to winding up that clock. 'As a sort of common sense notion people have assumed that the clock somehow measures the amount of light in the outside world,' says Tim Brown, a neuroscientist at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and an author of the new study. 'Our idea was that it might be doing something more sophisticated than that.'”

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George Lucas Building Low-Income Housing Next Door To Millionaires
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '15 at 09:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's rich-and-poor department:
BarbaraHudson writes His neighbors wouldn't let him build a film studio on his land, so George Lucas is retaliating in a way that only the cream of Hollywood could — by building the largest affordable housing development in the area — and footing the entire $200 million bill, no government subsidies or grants. The complex of affordable housing, funded and designed by Lucas, would sit on 52 acres of land and provide homes to 224 low-income families, and there's very little his fellow Bay Area residents can do about it, because the land is zoned residential.

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Broken Beer Bottle Battle In Debate Over Merits of Android Over iPhone
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '15 at 09:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's sticks-stones-and-beer-bottles department:
HughPickens.com writes Lee Hutchinson writes at Ars Technica that platform loyalty is a powerful thing, as two roommates in Tulsa, Oklahoma stabbed each other with broken beer bottles in a debate over the relative merits of Android versus iPhones. Tulsa police were called to Evergreen Apartments at 1 a.m after a woman found a man covered in blood, stumbling around the parking lot and found that two roommates had been drinking and arguing over their mobile phones. The two men broke beer bottles and stabbed each other with them and one of the men smashed a bottle over the back of the other man's head. "In over 35 years as a cop, this is one of the oddest reasons I've seen for assault," says Maj. Rod Hummel. According to Channel 8 News, police had no comment when asked which phone was in fact better.

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New Dark Web Market Is Selling Zero-Day Exploits
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '15 at 08:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's finest-crime department:
Sparrowvsrevolution writes Over the last month, a marketplace calling itself TheRealDeal Market has emerged on the dark web, with a focus on sales of hackers' zero-day attack methods. Like the Silk Road and its online black market successors like Agora and the recently defunct Evolution, TheRealDeal runs as a Tor hidden service and uses bitcoin to hide the identities of its buyers, sellers, and administrators. But while some other sites have sold only basic, low-level hacking tools and stolen financial details, TheRealDeal's creators say they're looking to broker premium hacker data like zero-days, source code, and hacking services, often offered on an exclusive, one-time sale basis.

Currently an iCloud exploit is being offered for sale on the site with a price tag of $17,000 in bitcoin, claiming to be a new method of hacking Apple iCloud accounts. "Any account can be accessed with a malicious request from a proxy account," reads the description. "Please arrange a demonstration using my service listing to hack an account of your choice." Others include a technique to hack WordPress' multisite configuration, an exploit against Android's Webview stock browser, and an Internet Explorer attack that claims to work on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7, available for around $8,000 in bitcoin. None of these zero days have yet been proven to be real, but an escrow system on the site using bitcoin's multisignature transaction feature is designed to prevent scammers from selling fake exploits.


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Elon Musk Bailed Out of $6bn Google Takeover To Save Tesla From 2013 Bankruptcy
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '15 at 08:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's on-second-thought department:
An anonymous reader sends word that Elon Musk almost sold Tesla to Google in 2013 when the company was close to bankruptcy. "Elon Musk had a deal to sell his electric car company Tesla, to Google for $6bn (£4bn) when it was heading for bankruptcy with just two weeks' worth of cash left in the bank. During the first week of March 2013, Musk spoke to his friend Larry Page, chief executive of Google, about the search giant buying his car company, which at the time was suffering from falling sales amid technical problems with the few Model S luxury sedan cars it had delivered. Ashlee Vance, author of upcoming book Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, claims in an extra for Bloomberg two people 'with direct knowledge of the deal' said Musk and Page agreed to the buyout and shook on a price of around $6bn. This was plus promises from Google to invest $5bn for factory expansion and to not break Tesla up or close it down."

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D-Link Apologizes For Router Security
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '15 at 07:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's our-bad department:
Mark Wilson writes D-Link has issued an apology to its customers for an on-going security issue with many of its routers. A problem with the Home Network Administration Protocol (HNAP) means that it is possible to bypass authorization and run commands with escalated privileges. The list of routers affected by the issue is fairly lengthy, and D-Link has already issued one patch. But rather than fixing the problem, last week's update left routers wide open to exactly the same problem. As it stands at the moment, a firmware patch is still being produced for a total of 17 routers. In the meantime, all D-Link has to offer is an apology. While unhelpful patches have already been issued, D-Link is currently working away on replacement firmware updates. The release dates for these patches is not yet set in stone, but some are due today (20 April), some tomorrow (21 April) and the remainder on 24 April.

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Comcast and TWC Will Negotiate With Officials To Save Their Merger
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '15 at 06:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's lets-talk-about-this department:
An anonymous reader writes with news about Comcast and Time Warner Cable's attempt to keep their proposed merger alive. "Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc. are slated to sit down for the first time on Wednesday with Justice Department officials to discuss potential remedies in hopes of keeping their $45.2 billion merger on track, according to people familiar with the matter. The parties haven't met face-to-face to hash out possible concessions in the more than 14 months since the deal was announced. Staffers at both the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission remain concerned a combined company would wield too much power in the broadband Internet market and give it unfair competitive leverage against TV channel owners and new market entrants that offer video programming online, said people with knowledge of the review."

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ISS Could Be Fitted With Lasers To Shoot Down Space Junk
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '15 at 05:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's point-and-shoot department:
An anonymous reader writes Japan's Riken research institute has suggested a new idea for dealing with space junk. They say a fiber optic laser mounted onto the International Space Station could blast debris out of the sky. From the article: "To combat the increasingly dense layer of dead satellites and miscellaneous space debris that are enshrouding our planet, no idea — nets, lassos, even ballistic gas clouds — seems too far-fetched to avoid. Now, an international team of researchers led by Japan's Riken research institute has put forward what may be the most ambitious plan to date. They propose blasting an estimated 3,000 tons of space junk out of orbit with a fiber optic laser mounted on the International Space Station."

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William Shatner Proposes $30 Billion Water Pipeline To California
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '15 at 05:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's pipe-it-in department:
Taco Cowboy writes The 84-year-old Star Trek star wants to build a water pipeline to California. All it'll cost, according to Mr. Shatner, is $30 billion, and he wants to KickStarter the funding campaign. According to Mr. Shatner, if the KickStarter campaign doesn't raise enough money then he will donate whatever that has been collected to a politician who promise to build that water pipe. Where does he wants to get the water? Seattle, "A place where there's a lot of water. There's too much water," says Mr. Shatner.

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