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Researchers Block HIV Infection In Monkeys With Artificial Protein
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '15 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's winning-another-battle-in-a-long-war department:
An anonymous reader writes: Immunologists have developed a synthetic molecule that's able to attach to HIV and prevent it from interacting with healthy cells. "HIV infects white blood cells by sequentially attaching to two receptors on their surfaces. First, HIV's own surface protein, gp120, docks on the cell's CD4 receptor. This attachment twists gp120 such that it exposes a region on the virus that can attach to the second cellular receptor, CCR5. The new construct combines a piece of CD4 with a smidgen of CCR5 and attaches both receptors to a piece of an antibody. In essence, the AIDS virus locks onto the construct, dubbed eCD4-Ig, as though it were attaching to a cell and thus is neutralized." The new compound was tested in monkeys. After successively higher injections of HIV, all four monkeys who received the compound beforehand stayed from free infection. Any potential medical treatment is still a ways off — the researchers plan more trials in monkeys before involving humans in the testing.

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Sony To Release Google Glass Competitor
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '15 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's year-of-linux-on-the-facetop department:
jfruh writes: With Google retooling its Glass offering, Sony appears to have jumped into the breach to offer an Android-compatible wearable face-computer. The developer edition of SmartEyeglass will be available in March for $840, with a commercial release planned for 2016. The device must be manipulated with a separate, wired controller unit that houses a microphone, speakers and an NFC module.

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Ask Slashdot: Most Useful Browser Extensions?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '15 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's still-waiting-on-an-extension-that-makes-me-lunch department:
An anonymous reader writes: One of the most powerful features of modern browsers is the ability to install third-party extensions. They allow third-party developers to work on really useful niche functionality, and let users customize their browser with the tools they need. Unfortunately, this environment has the same discover-ability and security problems as standalone software. Thus, my question: what are your most useful (and safe) browser extensions? I can't live without some privacy basics like NoScript, AdBlock, and Ghostery. I also find FoxyProxy helpful for getting around geolocation requirements for media streaming. OneTab works pretty well for saving groups of browser tabs, and Pushbullet keeps getting better at managing my phone while I'm at my PC.

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Theory of Information Could Resolve One of the Great Paradoxes of Cosmology
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '15 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bits-of-energy department:
KentuckyFC writes: When physicists attempt to calculate the energy density of the universe from first principles, the number they come up using quantum mechanics is 10^94 g/cm^3 . And yet the observed energy density is about 10^-27 g/cm^3. In other words, our best theory of reality misses the mark by 120 orders of magnitude. Now one researcher says the paradox can be resolved by considering the information content of the universe. Specifying the location of the 10^25 stars in the visible universe to an accuracy of 10 cubic kilometers requires some 10^93 bits. And using Landauer's principle to calculate the energy associated with all these bits gives an energy density of about 10^-30 g/cm^3. That's not a bad first principles result. But if the location has to be specified to the Planck length, then the energy density is about 117 orders of magnitude larger. In other words, the nature of information should lie at the heart of our best theory of reality, not quantum mechanics.

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HTTP/2 Finalized
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '15 at 06:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's onward-and-upward department:
An anonymous reader writes: Mark Nottingham, chair of the IETF HTTP working group, has announced that the HTTP/2 specification is done. It's on its way to the RFC Editor, along with the HPACK specification, where it'll be cleaned up and published. "The new standard brings a number of benefits to one of the Web's core technologies, such as faster page loads, longer-lived connections, more items arriving sooner and server push. HTTP/2 uses the same HTTP APIs that developers are familiar with, but offers a number of new features they can adopt. One notable change is that HTTP requests will be 'cheaper' to make. ... With HTTP/2, a new multiplexing feature allows lots of requests to be delivered at the same time, so the page load isn't blocked." Here's the HTTP/2 FAQ, and we recently talked about some common criticisms of the spec.

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US May Sell Armed Drones
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '15 at 05:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'll-order-a-dozen department:
An anonymous reader writes: Nations allied with the United States may soon be able to purchase armed, unmanned aircraft, according to an updated U.S. arms policy. Purchase requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and foreign military bodies would have to agree to a set of "proper use" rules in order for the U.S. to go ahead with the sale. For example: "Armed and other advanced UAS are to be used in operations involving the use of force only when there is a lawful basis for use of force under international law, such as national self-defense." These rules have done nothing to silence critics of the plan, who point out that the U.S. has killed civilians during remote strikes without much accountability. The drones are estimated to cost $10-15 million apiece.

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Storing Data In Synthetic Fossils
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '15 at 05:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's worked-for-the-dinosaurs department:
Bismillah tips news of research from ETH Zurich which brings the possibility of extremely long-term data storage. The scientists encoded data in DNA, a young but established technique that has a major problem: accuracy. "[E]ven a short period of time presents a problem in terms of the margin of error, as mistakes occur in the writing and reading of the DNA. Over the longer term, DNA can change significantly as it reacts chemically with the environment, thus presenting an obstacle to long-term storage." To get around this issue, they encapsulated the DNA within tiny silica spheres, a process roughly comparable to the fossilization of bones (abstract). The researchers say data can be preserved this way for over a million years.

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Patent Troll Wins $15.7M From Samsung By Claiming To Own Bluetooth
Posted by News Fetcher on February 17 '15 at 11:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's also-invented-the-moon department:
An anonymous reader writes: A jury has upheld patent claims against Samsung and awarded the patent-holder $15.7 million. "The patents relate to compatibility between different types of modems, and connect to a string of applications going back to 1997. The first version of Bluetooth was invented by Swedish cell phone company Ericsson in 1994." Lawyers for the plaintiff argue that the patents cover all devices that use Bluetooth 2.0 or later, so further cases could extend far beyond Samsung. Of course, the company that won the lawsuit wasn't the one who made the invention, or the one who patented it. The company is Rembrandt IP, "one of the oldest and most successful" patent trolls.

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BBC Radio Drops WMA For MPEG-DASH
Posted by News Fetcher on February 17 '15 at 11:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's changing-horses department:
gbjbaanb writes: The BBC has converted its legacy WMA (Windows Media Audio) streams to the "industry-wide and open source" MPEG-DASH format. While this has left some users of old devices unable to receive the broadcasts, the BBC claims the use of WMA was "prohibitively expensive to operate"when existing licence agreements ran out. The BBC says that they are working with "radio industry and manufacturers towards using just one standard."

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Russian Man Extradited To US For Heartland, Dow Jones Cyberattacks
Posted by News Fetcher on February 17 '15 at 09:46 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's justice-takes-its-time department:
itwbennett writes: A Russian man accused of high-profile cyberattacks on Nasdaq, Dow Jones, Heartland Payment Systems and 7-Eleven has been extradited to the U.S. and appeared in court in Newark, New Jersey on Tuesday. Vladimir Drinkman, 34, of Syktyykar and Moscow, Russia was charged for his alleged role in a data theft conspiracy that targeted major corporate networks and stole more than 160 million credit card numbers, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a press release. Drinkman appeared Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey and entered a plea of not guilty to the 11 counts he faces. His trial is scheduled to begin in April.

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MN Legislature Introduces Amendment To Protect Electronic Communications
Posted by News Fetcher on February 17 '15 at 07:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's finally-moving-with-the-times department:
Bob the Super Hamste writes: The Minnesota legislature has introduced an amendment to the State Constitution to enshrine the protections against unreasonable search and seizure to electronic communications and data. The amendment appears to have broad support in the State House, but leadership in the State Senate is lukewarm to it. In the Senate, Judiciary Committee Chairman Ron Latz (DFL) had blocked the amendment, stating that he feels it is redundant. Additionally, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL) opposes the legislation because it is an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution. If it passed, Minnesota would become only the second state to enact such a change (Missouri did so last year with support from 75% of voters).

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Breakthrough In Face Recognition Software
Posted by News Fetcher on February 17 '15 at 05:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's anonymity-takes-another-hit department:
An anonymous reader writes: Face recognition software underwent a revolution in 2001 with the creation of the Viola-Jones algorithm. Now, the field looks set to dramatically improve once again: computer scientists from Stanford and Yahoo Labs have published a new, simple approach that can find faces turned at an angle and those that are partially blocked by something else. The researchers "capitalize on the advances made in recent years on a type of machine learning known as a deep convolutional neural network. The idea is to train a many-layered neural network using a vast database of annotated examples, in this case pictures of faces from many angles. To that end, Farfade and co created a database of 200,000 images that included faces at various angles and orientations and a further 20 million images without faces. They then trained their neural net in batches of 128 images over 50,000 iterations. ... What's more, their algorithm is significantly better at spotting faces when upside down, something other approaches haven't perfected."

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Apple Patents Head-Mounted iPhone
Posted by News Fetcher on February 17 '15 at 04:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's short-step-to-a-literal-eyephone department:
mpicpp sends word of a patent newly awarded to Apple, #8,957,835, which describes a head-mounted apparatus that uses an iPhone (or iPod) as a display. The device "temporarily integrates or merges both mechanically and electronically a head-mounted device with a portable electronic device." It sounds a bit like Samsung's Gear VR headset, and many outlets are reporting it as being a virtual reality device. However, the patent itself doesn't mention VR, and it was filed in 2008, long before the VR rush of the past few years. That said, Apple has recently been trying to hire engineers with experience developing VR-related software, so it's something they could be evaluating.

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Obama Says He's 'A Strong Believer In Strong Encryption'
Posted by News Fetcher on February 17 '15 at 04:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's except-when-it-helps-the-terrists department:
An anonymous reader writes: U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with Re/code recently on a variety of topics relating to technology. The talk included the president's thoughts on encryption, which has been a controversial subject in tech circles lately after government officials (including Obama himself) have publicly complained about default encryption in modern communication tools. In the interview, he says he's a "strong believer in strong encryption," adding, "I lean probably further on side of strong encryption than some in law enforcement." Obama puts it another way, more bluntly: "There's no scenario in which we don't want really strong encryption." However, the president says the public itself is driving concern for leaving law enforcement a way in: "The first time that an attack takes place in which it turns out that we had a lead and we couldn't follow up on it, the public's going to demand answers."

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Oregon Residents Riled Over Virtually Staff-free Data Centers Getting Tax-breaks
Posted by News Fetcher on February 17 '15 at 03:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's all-about-the-benjamins department:
An anonymous reader writes: The population of Hillsboro, Oregon is becoming vocal about the state's enterprise zone program offering enormous tax concessions to companies setting up data centers in the region — even though the five-year deals on offer only require data center operators to employ one person. That's exactly as many people as one DC plant, Infomart Portland, employs full-time, yet it gets more tax relief than highly-staffed enterprise zone neighbor Solarworld. The current influx of data centers to Hillsboro have only generated seven jobs to date. More installations are coming, and all Hillsboro residents are seeing is space taken up that might have gone to businesses that give something of benefit to the community.

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Advice on How to Start an IT Business (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on February 17 '15 at 02:30 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's if-you're-the-boss-and-you-don't-like-the-boss-you-have-a-big-problem department:
Lee Drake owns a small IT service and sales company in Rochester, New York, called OS Cubed. He was a cubicle denizen many years ago, and didn't like it. So he started his own business, first with a partner and later as the sole owner. Rochester may be part of the infamous "rust belt," but Lee seems to be doing well, to the point where he's happy to pass on some tips about how to start and grow your own IT business. While Lee's company specializes in "Microsoft solutions," his advice applies to almost any IT business -- and almost any other kind of business, too.

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Algorithmic Patenting
Posted by News Fetcher on February 17 '15 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's monkeys-at-typewriters department:
An anonymous reader writes: Venturebeat reports on companies using software to "create" patents. They say a company called Cloem will use the software to "linguistically manipulate a seed set of a client's patent claims by, for example, substituting in synonyms or reordering steps in a process, thereby generating tens of thousands of potentially patentable inventions." The article says, "There is reason to believe that at least some of its computer-conceived inventions could be patentable and, indeed, patents have already been granted on inventions designed wholly or in part by software."

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1950s Toy That Included Actual Uranium Ore Goes On Display At Museum
Posted by News Fetcher on February 17 '15 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's potassium-iodide-sold-separately department:
hypnosec writes: The Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab — dubbed the world's most dangerous toy — has gone on display at the Ulster Museum in Northern Ireland. The toy earned the title because it includes four types of uranium ore, three sources of radiation, and a Geiger counter that enables parents to measure just how contaminated their child have become. The Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab was only available between 1951 and 1952 and was the most elaborate atomic energy educational kit ever produced. The toy was one of the most costly toys of the time, retailing at $50 — equivalent to around $400 today.

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Another Star Passed Through Our Oort Cloud 70,000 Years Ago
Posted by News Fetcher on February 17 '15 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's thanks-for-not-hitting-us department:
New submitter mrthoughtful writes: According to researchers at the University of Rochester, a recently discovered dim star (Scholz's star) passed through our Oort cloud 70,000 years ago. At its closest, it was about 52,000 AU distant from Sol, or about 0.8 light-years. This is still quite a distance — Voyager 1 is about 125 AU away right now — but it's far closer than Proxima Centauri's current 266,000 AU. Still, maybe the best way to engage in interstellar travel is just to wait until the time is right.

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Interviews: Ask Stephen Wolfram a Question
Posted by News Fetcher on February 17 '15 at 11:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's go-ahead-and-ask department:
Stephen Wolfram's accomplishments and contributions to science and computing are numerous. He earned a PhD in particle physics from Caltech at 20, and has been cited by over 30,000 research publications. Wolfram is the the author of A New Kind of Science, creator of Mathematica, the creator of Wolfram Alpha, and the founder and CEO of Wolfram Research. He developed Wolfram Language, a general multi-paradigm programming language, in 2014. Stephen has graciously agreed to answer any questions you may have for him. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.

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