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Ask Slashdot: What Tablet and Software For a Partially Sighted Person?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '15 at 05:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's real-world-stories-welcome department:
RobHart (70431) writes My friend has had both retinas detach, twice. He is legally blind but partially sighted. He has a number of devices that help him read (either by magnifying the text or as text to speech) — but none are really portable. What do Slashdotters recommend (if anything) in terms of a tablet and software that will make it possible for him to do email and read at least some web sites?

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UK Suspect Arrested In Connection With PSN/XBL 'Lizard Squad' Attacks
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '15 at 04:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's just-a-bit-of-fun department:
Dave Knott writes UK Police have arrested an 18-year-old man over involvement in the cyber-attacks on Sony's PlayStation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live gaming services over Christmas, for which the Lizard Squad hacking group claimed responsibility. The man was arrested Friday in Southport, England, on suspicion of computer hacking, threats to kill and swatting. Computers and other electronic devices were seized during the arrest by officers from two UK cybercrime units working in conjunction with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. A spokesman said that police were still in the early stages of an investigation working closely with the FBI to identify further people involved in the attacks.

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Eric Holder Severely Limits Civil Forfeiture
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '15 at 03:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what's-yours-is-mine department:
gurps_npc writes: As most people know, the US has for quite some time let police seize pretty much anything they wanted to, forcing you to go to court to get back your stuff (at significant expense). Most of the problems came about because the Federal government let the local cops keep most of what they took.

Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General, has changed the rules of that program, making it more difficult for the police to do it under the federal program. They can still use local state programs, but that accounts for only about 57% of the cash taken. Holder did not end the program entirely — he left in some exceptions for things like explosives, weapons, and items related to child pornography, which all together amount to about 1% of the current federal program. Still, with this action he will have struck a serious blow to a despicable practice that serious newspapers and comedy TV shows decried as nothing more than legalized theft.


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To Avoid Detection, Terrorists Made Messages Seem Like Spam
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '15 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hello-sir-madam department:
HughPickens.com writes: It's common knowledge the NSA collects plenty of data on suspected terrorists as well as ordinary citizens, but the agency also has algorithms in place to filter out information that doesn't need to be collected or stored for further analysis, such as spam emails. Now Alice Truong reports that during operations in Afghanistan after 9/11, the U.S. was able to analyze laptops formerly owned by Taliban members. According to NSA officer Michael Wertheimer, they discovered an email written in English found on the computers contained a purposely spammy subject line: "CONSOLIDATE YOUR DEBT."

According to Wertheimer, the email was sent to and from nondescript addresses that were later confirmed to belong to combatants. "It is surely the case that the sender and receiver attempted to avoid allied collection of this operational message by triggering presumed "spam" filters (PDF)." From a surveillance perspective, Wertheimer writes that this highlights the importance of filtering algorithms. Implementing them makes parsing huge amounts of data easier, but it also presents opportunities for someone with a secret to figure out what type of information is being tossed out and exploit the loophole.


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The Anthropocene Epoch Began With 1945 Atomic Bomb Test, Scientists Say
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '15 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's either-that-or-the-day-we-invented-hot-pockets department:
hypnosec writes: Scientists have proposed July 16, 1945 as the beginning of the Anthropocene Epoch. That was the day of the first nuclear detonation test. They say "the Great Acceleration" — the period when human activities started having a significant impact on Earth – are a good mark of the beginning of the new epoch. Since then, there has been a significant increase in population, environmental upheaval on land and oceans, and global connectivity. The group says in their article (abstract), "The beginning of the nuclear age ... marks the historic turning point when humans first accessed an enormous new energy source – and is also a time level that can be effectively tracked within geological strata, using a variety of geological clues."

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'Be My Eyes' App Crowdsources Help For the Blind
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '15 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's is-this-a-rabid-wolverine-chewing-on-my-leg? department:
An anonymous reader writes: A new not-for-profit app, Be My Eyes, aims to help the visually-impaired by connecting them with volunteer users who can support them in their daily lives via live video calls. Once downloaded, Be My Eyes asks the user to identify as blind or sighted, to see if you require help or are offering it. When a blind person requests assistance the app scans the system for an available volunteer. The blind user connects with the volunteer over a video call and points to the item they would like described. Be My Eyes was created by Hans Jørgen Wiberg, a visually-impaired entrepreneur, at a startup event. Wiberg teamed up with Robocat, the Danish software studio behind Haze and Thermo, to make his vision a reality.

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The 'Radio Network of Things' Can Cut Electric Bills (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '15 at 12:45 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's trying-to-bring-the-electric-power-grid-into-the-21st-century department:
We all love 'The Internet of Things.' Now imagine appliances, such as your refrigerator and hot water heater, getting radio messages from the power grid telling them when they should turn on and off to get the best electricity prices. Now kick that up to the electric company level, and give them a radio network that tells them which electric provider to get electricity from at what time to get the best (wholesale) price. This is what e-Radio is doing. They make this claim: "Using pre-existing and near ubiquitous radio signals can save billions of dollars, reduce environmental impact, add remote addressability and reap additional significant societal benefits."

Timothy noticed these people at CES. They were one of the least flashy and least "consumer-y" exhibitors. But saving electricity by using it efficiently, while not glamorous, is at least as important as a $6000 Android phone. Note that the guy e-Radio had at CES speaking to Timothy was Scott Cuthbertson, their Chief Financial Officer. It's a technology-driven company, from Founder and CEO Jackson Wang on down, but in the end, saving money is what they sell. (Alternate Video Link)

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NASA, NOAA: 2014 Was the Warmest Year In the Modern Record
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '15 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-it-was-cold-this-morning department:
Titus Andronicus writes: NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration both announced today that 2014 was the warmest year in the instrumental temperature record, surpassing the prior winners, 2010 and 2005. NASA also released a short video. They said, "Since 1880, Earth’s average surface temperature has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius), a trend that is largely driven by the increase in carbon dioxide and other human emissions into the planet’s atmosphere. The majority of that warming has occurred in the past three decades. ... While 2014 temperatures continue the planet’s long-term warming trend, scientists still expect to see year-to-year fluctuations in average global temperature caused by phenomena such as El Niño or La Niña. These phenomena warm or cool the tropical Pacific and are thought to have played a role in the flattening of the long-term warming trend over the past 15 years. However, 2014’s record warmth occurred during an El Niño-neutral year."

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SpaceX Landing Attempt Video Released
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '15 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's if-at-first-you-don't-succeed department:
An anonymous reader writes: Last week, SpaceX attempted to land a Falcon 9 rocket on an autonomous ocean platform after successfully launching supplies to the ISS. It didn't work, but Elon Musk said they were close. Now, an amazing video has been recovered from an onboard camera, and it shows just how close it was. You can see the rocket hitting the platform while descending at an angle, then breaking up. Musk said a few days ago that not only do they know what the problem was, but they've already solved it. The rocket's guiding fins require hydraulic fluid to operate. They had enough fluid to operate for 4 minutes, but ran out just prior to landing. Their next launch already carries 50% more hydraulic fluid, so it shouldn't be an issue next time.

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AMD Catalyst Is the Broken Wheel For Linux Gaming
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '15 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's didn't-squeek-enough-to-get-the-grease department:
An anonymous reader writes: Tests of the AMD Catalyst driver with the latest AAA Linux games/engines have shown what poor shape the proprietary Radeon driver currently is in for Linux gamers. Phoronix, which traditionally benchmarks with open-source OpenGL games and other long-standing tests, recently has taken specially interest in adapting some newer Steam-based titles for automated benchmarking. With last month's Linux release of Metro Last Light Redux and Metro 2033 Redux, NVIDIA's driver did great while AMD Catalyst was miserable. Catalyst 14.12 delivered extremely low performance and some major bottleneck with the Radeon R9 290 and other GPUs running slower than NVIDIA's midrange hardware. In Unreal Engine 4 Linux tests, the NVIDIA driver again was flawless but the same couldn't be said for AMD. Catalyst 14.12 wouldn't even run the Unreal Engine 4 demos on Linux with their latest generation hardware but only with the HD 6000 series. Tests last month also showed AMD's performance to be crippling for NVIDIA vs. AMD Civilization: Beyond Earth Linux benchmarks with the newest drivers.

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Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '15 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's since-yelling-doesn't-seem-to-help department:
reifman writes: Fizzmint CEO Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack says she "never had a problem with Mitt Romney's use of the phrase 'binders full of women.' ... Instead of congratulating him for his realization and his attempt to (awkwardly) rectify the situation, we crucified him for not already having a network of accomplished women." The scarcity of women in tech is a central issue in Seattle, where Amazon's growth is literally reshaping the city. The company refuses to release its technology workforce diversity numbers, and it's been criticized for interviewing practices that put female candidates on a "horrifying steeplechase [by] careless and non-people-oriented technologists." Van Vlack says, "It's stupid on every level not to acknowledge the obstacles women face when they try to join a tech company." She suggests three concrete steps for technology leaders to attract more women into the fold: 1) Push your technical recruiters to hit 20% thresholds for female candidates 2) Challenge and question your personal assumptions about the leadership skills of women in technology and 3) Transparently and openly take a stand to improve your company's diversity figures.

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Google Releases More Windows Bugs
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '15 at 09:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's speak-softly-and-carry-a-big-bugtracker department:
An anonymous reader writes: Just days after Google angered Microsoft by releasing information about a Windows security flaw, they've now released two more. "The more serious of the two allows an attacker to impersonate an authorized user, and then decrypt or encrypt data on a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 device. Google reported that bug to Microsoft on Oct. 17, 2014, and made some background information and a proof-of-concept exploit public on Thursday. Project Zero is composed of several Google security engineers who investigate not only the company's own software, but that of other vendors as well. After reporting a flaw, Project Zero starts a 90-day clock, then automatically publicly posts details and sample attack code if the bug has not been patched." Microsoft says there's no evidence these flaws have been successfully exploited.

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Lost Beagle2 Probe Found 'Intact' On Mars
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '15 at 08:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's so-close-and-yet-so-far department:
New submitter Stolga sends this report from the BBC:
The missing Mars robot Beagle2 has been found on the surface of the Red Planet, apparently intact. High-resolution images taken from orbit have identified its landing location, and it looks to be in one piece. The UK-led probe tried to make a soft touchdown on the dusty world on Christmas Day, 2003, using parachutes and airbags — but no radio contact was ever made with the probe. Many scientists assumed it had been destroyed in a high-velocity impact.

The new pictures, acquired by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, give the lie to that notion, and hint at what really happened to the European mission. Beagle's design incorporated a series of deployable "petals," on which were mounted its solar panels. From the images, it seems that this system did not unfurl fully. "Without full deployment, there is no way we could have communicated with it as the radio frequency antenna was under the solar panels," explained Prof Mark Sims, Beagle's mission manager from Leicester University.


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Steam For Linux Bug Wipes Out All of a User's Files
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '15 at 07:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's big-oops department:
An anonymous reader sends a report of a bug in Steam's Linux client that will accidentally wipe all of a user's files if they move their Steam folder. According to the bug report:
I launched steam. It did not launch, it offered to let me browse, and still could not find it when I pointed to the new location. Steam crashed. I restarted it. It re-installed itself and everything looked great. Until I looked and saw that steam had apparently deleted everything owned by my user recursively from the root directory. Including my 3tb external drive I back everything up to that was mounted under /media.
Another user reported a similar problem — losing his home directory — and problems with the script were found: at some point, the Steam script sets <tt>$STEAMROOT</tt> as the directory containing all Steam's data, then runs <tt>rm -rf "$STEAMROOT/"*</tt> later on. If Steam has been moved, <tt>$STEAMROOT</tt> returns as empty, resulting in <tt>rm -rf "/"*</tt> which causes the unexpected deletion.

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US/UK Will Stage 'Cyber-Attack War Games' As Pressure Against Encryption Mounts
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '15 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's do-you-want-to-play-a-game? department:
An anonymous reader writes: British prime minister David Cameron is currently visiting Washington to discuss the future of cyber-security in Britain and North America. The leaders have announced that their respective intelligence agencies will mount ongoing cyber-attack "war games" starting this summer in an effort to strengthen the West's tarnished reputation following the Sony hacking scandal. Somewhat relatedly, a recently-leaked Edward Snowden document show the NSA giving dire warnings in 2009 of the threat posed by the lack of encrypted communications on the internet.

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Systemd's Lennart Poettering: 'We Do Listen To Users'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '15 at 06:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's disagreeing-is-not-ignoring department:
M-Saunders writes: Systemd is ambitious and controversial, taking over a large part of the GNU/Linux base system. But where did it come from? Even Red Hat wasn't keen on it at the start, but since then it has worked its way into almost every major distro. Linux Voice talks to Lennart Poettering, the lead developer of Systemd, about its origins, its future, its relationship with Upstart, and handling the pressures of online flamewars.

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Parents Investigated For Neglect For Letting Kids Walk Home Alone
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '15 at 05:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-walking-children? department:
HughPickens.com writes The WaPo reports that Danielle and Alexander Meitiv in Montgomery County Maryland say they are being investigated for neglect after letting their 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter make a one-mile walk home from a Silver Spring park on Georgia Avenue on a Saturday afternoon. "We wouldn't have let them do it if we didn't think they were ready for it," says Danielle. The Meitivs say they believe in "free-range" parenting, a movement that has been a counterpoint to the hyper-vigilance of "helicopter" parenting, with the idea that children learn self-reliance by being allowed to progressively test limits, make choices and venture out in the world. "The world is actually even safer than when I was a child, and I just want to give them the same freedom and independence that I had — basically an old-fashioned childhood," says Danielle. "I think it's absolutely critical for their development — to learn responsibility, to experience the world, to gain confidence and competency."

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Deep-Frying Graphene Microspheres For Energy Storage
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '15 at 02:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's served-with-a-side-of-ranch department:
ckwu writes Materials scientists have constructed round, pom-pom-like graphene microparticles by spraying graphene oxide droplets into a hot solvent—a process akin to deep-frying. The technique could provide a simple, versatile means to make electrode materials for batteries and supercapacitors, possibly leading to devices with improved energy and power densities, the researchers say. The microparticles contain graphene nanosheets radiating out from their centers, which increases the exposed surface area of the graphene and creates open nanochannels that can enhance charge transfer. Electrodes made with the graphene microspheres had higher capacitance than those made with unassembled graphene sheets, demonstrating that the 3-D structure of the particles improved performance.

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Google Finally Quashes Month-Old Malvertising Campaign
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '15 at 12:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's better-late-than-never department:
jfruh writes Since the middle of December, visitors to sites that run Google AdSense ads have intermittently found themselves redirected to other sites featuring spammy offerings for anti-aging and brain-enhancing products. While webmasters who have managed to figure out which advertisers are responsible could quash the attacks on their AdSense consoles, only now has Google itself managed to track down the villains and ban them from the service.

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Simple Rogue WiFi Hotspot Captures High Profile Data
Posted by News Fetcher on January 15 '15 at 09:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's protect-ya-neck department:
jones_supa writes Gustav Nipe, president of Sweden's Pirate Party's youth wing, was successful with somewhat trivial social engineering experiment in the area of the Sälen security conference. He set up a WiFi hotspot named "Öppen Gäst" ("Open Guest") without any kind of encryption. What do you know, a large amount of unsuspecting high profile guests associate with the network. Nipe says he was able to track which sites people visited as well as the emails and text messages of around 100 delegates, including politicians and journalists as well as security experts. He says that he won't be revealing which sites were visited by specific experts, as the point was just to draw attention to the issue of rogue network monitoring. The stunt has already sparked criticism in Swedish newspapers and on social media, with some angry comments saying that Nipe breached Sweden's Personal Data Act.

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