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NASA's Deep Space Habitat Could Support the Journey To Mars and a Lunar Return
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '16 at 09:52 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-what-if-we-want-to-buy-butter-with-that-money? department:
MarkWhittington writes: Back in 2012, when NASA first proposed building a deep space habitat (DSH) beyond the moon, the Obama administration took a dim view of the idea. However, fast forward over three years, and the idea has become part of the Journey to Mars program. According to a story in Spaceflight Insider, the deep space habitat will be deployed in cis-lunar space in the 2020s to test various technologies related to sending humans to Mars. The DSH could also be part of an infrastructure that would support a return to the moon should the next administration decide to go that route.

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Finally Calculated: All the Legal Positions In a 19x19 Game of Go
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '16 at 08:32 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's tromp-campaign department:
Reader John Tromp points to an explanation posted at GitHub of a computational challenge Tromp coordinated that makes a nice companion to the recent discovery of a 22 million-digit Mersenne prime. A distributed effort using pooled computers from two centers at Princeton, and more contributed from the HP Helion cloud, after "many hiccups and a few catastrophes" calculated the number of legal positions in a 19x19 game of Go. Simple as Go board layout is, the permutations allowed by the rules are anything but simple to calculate: "For running an L19 job, a beefy server with 15TB of fast scratch diskspace, 8 to 16 cores, and 192GB of RAM, is recommended. Expect a few months of running time." More: Large numbers have a way of popping up in the game of Go. Few people believe that a tiny 2x2 Go board allows for more than a few hundred games. Yet 2x2 games number not in the hundreds, nor in the thousands, nor even in the millions. They number in the hundreds of billions! 386356909593 to be precise. Things only get crazier as you go up in boardsize. A lower bound of 10^{10^48} on the number of 19x19 games, as proved in our paper, was recently improved to a googolplex.
(For anyone who wants to double check his work, Tromp has posted as open source the software used.)

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Privacy Ombudsman Could Handle EU Complaints About US Surveillance
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '16 at 07:14 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's can-think-of-an-easier-solution department:
Mark Wilson writes with this story from Beta News: One of the greatest problems facing anyone trying to tackle the problem of privacy on the web is dealing with the ideologies of different countries, and how this affects data sharing. A level of surveillance that is deemed acceptable in the US, for instance, may be considered completely objectionable in another. The latest suggestion to help overcome this seemingly insurmountable problem is to set up a privacy ombudsman that would be able to handle European complaints and queries about US surveillance.

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Linux 4.5 Adds Raspberry Pi 2 Support, AMD GPU Re-Clocking, Intel Kaby Lake
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '16 at 05:52 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-had-me-with-better-suspend department:
The Linux 4.5 merge window has been open for the last two weeks; that means that the 4.5-rc1 kernel is expected to emerge, with the official kernel following in about eight weeks. An anonymous reader writes with this top-level list of changes to look for, from Phoronix: Linux 4.5 is set to bring many new features across the kernel's 20 million line code-base. Among the new/improved features are Raspberry Pi 2 support, open-source Raspberry Pi 3D support, NVIDIA Tegra X1 / Jetson TX1 support, an open-source Vivante graphics driver, AMDGPU PowerPlay/re-clocking support, Intel Kaby Lake enablement, a Logitech racing wheel driver, improvements for handling suspended USB devices, new F2FS file-system features, and better Xbox One controller handling.

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DOJ and 4 States Want $24 Billion In Fines From Dish Network For Telemarketing
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '16 at 04:31 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's prince-albert-a-running-refrigerator-and-thou department:
walterbyrd writes: The DOJ as well as Ohio, Illinois, California, and North Carolina say that Dish disregarded federal laws on call etiquette. US lawyers are asking for $900 million in civil penalties, and the four states are asking for $23.5 billion in fines, according to the Denver Post. 'Laws against phoning people on do-not-call lists and using recorded messages allow penalties of up to $16,000 per violation,' the Post added.

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Sys-Admin Dispenses Passwords With a Banana
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '16 at 01:52 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's difficult-to-defend-against-bananas department:
An anonymous reader writes: A network administrator in Denmark is requiring users to perform a finger press on a banana to receive their Wi-Fi passwords. "The banana is mounted and in production," he posted Thursday, sharing two pictures. The banana uses a special new circuit board from Makey Makey to form a connection between the banana and a cheap Raspberry Pi computer with a screen attached, according to one technology site. They note that it could also detect finger presses on a doughnut, an apple, or even Jell-o, and offer this quote from the sys-admin about his motivations. "It's fun... It'll make people smile. It beats a static WPA password in funnyness." And most importantly, "When people leave our office, they can't access our WI-Fi because there's no banana to touch." This guy deserves some kind of award, come July 29th.

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Open-Source Ransomware Abused For the Second Time In Real-Life Infections
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '16 at 12:32 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's dark-side-wins-some-rounds department:
An anonymous reader writes: After the Hidden Tear (open-source) ransomware code was used to create the Cryptear.B ransomware, now the EDA2 open-source project was used in the same way to create the Magic ransomware. Both projects were created by the same guy. While he left an encryption flaw for Hidden Tear, he didn't for EDA2, relying on a backdoor in the ransomware's admin panel, which he planned to use to steal the encryption keys from the ransomware authors, if they ever used his tool. Unfortunately, the ransomware's C&C servers were on a free hosting service, and someone reported the account. All the data has been deleted from the servers, there's no backup, the backdoor account is useless, and victims have no way of recovering their files.

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IoT Security Is So Bad, There's a Search Engine For Sleeping Kids
Posted by News Fetcher on January 23 '16 at 07:12 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's what-about-for-active-coffee-makers? department:
An anonymous reader writes: Shodan, a search engine for the Internet of Things (IoT), recently launched a new section that lets users easily browse vulnerable webcams. The feed includes images of marijuana plantations, back rooms of banks, children, kitchens, living rooms, garages, front gardens, back gardens, ski slopes, swimming pools, colleges and schools, laboratories, and cash register cameras in retail stores. While IoT manufacturers are to blame, this also highlights the creepy stuff you can do with Shodan these days. At the start of January, Check Point recommended companies to block Shodan's crawlers. The infosec community came to defend Shodan, and even its founder said that Shodan is uselessly branded as a tool of evil, saying that attackers have their own scanning tools.

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China Likely Cut GHG Emissions In 2015
Posted by News Fetcher on January 23 '16 at 05:51 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's nuclear-war-would-sure-cut-emissions department:
mdsolar writes: Economic and industrial data released [Thursday] by the Chinese government's statistical agency indicates the country's carbon emissions likely fell by around 3% — with the contraction of key heavy industry sectors and the continued expansion of renewable energies driving a wedge between total energy demand and coal use. According to the data, China's coal output fell by 3.5% in 2015, thermal power generation by 3%, coal imports by 30%, pig iron output by 4%, coking coal output by 7%, and cement by 5%. All this suggests that both power sector coal consumption and total coal consumption probably fell by more than 4%. Total oil consumption grew only 1.1% in the first eleven months, gas consumption by 3.7% while cement production (which releases CO2 directly) fell by 4.9%. This indicates a fall of 3-4% in China's fossil CO2 emissions, roughly equal to Poland's total emissions.

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Senior Citizens Hit the Road For Uber
Posted by News Fetcher on January 23 '16 at 05:51 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-drive-like-a-grandpa department:
HughPickens.com writes: Elizabeth Olsen writes at the NYT that a growing number of older Americans are driving for Uber or its competitor Lyft to augment their retirement income. Older drivers are prized because they usually own their own cars, have adequate auto insurance and, according to insurance statistics, have fewer crashes. For most senior drivers, the biggest advantage is the extra income. Many of those who continue working after 65 do so because they would be too poor otherwise, according to a new report from the labor-backed Economic Policy Institute that found the current retirement system inadequate. But driving for a ride-booking service, some retirees said, also can offer more than money. For George Cameron, a 65-year-old former marine in Mechanicsville, Virginia, retirement was not all it cracked up to be. Chiefly, it was dull. "Although I've got a few community things I'm involved in," says Cameron, "I sit at home and listen to the news. And my wife says I'm getting too close to the dog."

Some drivers say it is a great chance to be independent and earn extra cash on their own schedule. Retirees are insulated from many of the shortcomings of the gig economy. But critics say Uber vastly exaggerates the amount of money a driver can make driving full-time. Its workers are contractors, and don't receive benefits. As with most gig economy work, there's no such thing as a career path. But many seniors don't need (second) careers. Not all of them need full-time work. Forty million of them already have health insurance through Medicare. Some say it is exploitation of older people who work as independent contractors, without any benefits, because their age means they have a harder time finding full-time employment. "You have to work close to 50 hours a week to survive," says Musse Bahta who says he has to spend more time on the road since Uber lowered the per-mile fare to $1.35.

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Google May Be Developing Consumer Virtual Reality Hardware
Posted by News Fetcher on January 23 '16 at 03:12 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's youtube-vr-on-the-way department:
An anonymous reader writes: Google's 'Cardboard' virtual reality initiative has put low-cost smartphone VR viewers in the hands of millions, but the experience provided by these simple phone holders doesn't compare with dedicated mobile VR hardware like Samsung's Gear VR. Now it seems that Google may be ready to move from Cardboard viewers to dedicated VR hardware. Four new full-time job listings at the company's Mountain View, CA headquarters seek candidates for the company's virtual reality group who are experienced with designing and manufacturing 'high-volume' consumer electronics devices. Road to VR suggests that Google could be creating a mobile VR headset under its flagship Nexus brand. The postings come just as the company's Clay Bavor dropped other responsibilities to fully dedicate his time as Google's VP of Virtual Reality.

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Software Hall of Fame Member Ed Yourdon Dies
Posted by News Fetcher on January 23 '16 at 01:51 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's sudden-losses department:
New submitter andyjl writes: The software industry lost one of pioneers on Tuesday, January 20, 2016 when Ed Yourdon died from post-operative complications. Ed was a pioneer of the Structured Programming methodologies, was a prodigious author of software-related books, including topics such as "death march" projects, and the problems of Y2K. He was also a personal friend and fellow forensic software analyst specializing in the analysis of failed software development projects and the lack of software development disciplines. He once told me that he read a item on the Internet (which I cannot find) that said, "whenever a programmer writes a GOTO statement, somewhere a Yourdon dies." I am forced to conclude that one of you programmers out there did indeed write a GOTO statement on Tuesday and I want to know who it was. Look at what you did! Did you really have to use a GOTO?

Adds reader theodp: Yourdon was a successful author, whose Slashdot-reviewed books included Rise and Resurrection of the American Programmer, Death March: The Complete Software Developer's Guide to Surviving "Mission Impossible" Projects, Byte Wars: The Impact of September 11 on Information Technology, and Outsourcing: Competing in the Global Productivity Race. Yourdon's Time Bomb 2000!: What the Year 2000 Computer Crisis Means to You!, written with daughter Jennifer, was a Y2K best-seller.

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Utah Bill Would Require IT Workers To Report Child Porn
Posted by News Fetcher on January 23 '16 at 01:51 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's welcome-to-the-block-committee department:
Mr.Intel writes: A Utah lawmaker wants computer technicians to face jail time if they don't immediately report child pornography they discover on someone's computer. The proposal would require computer technicians to report child pornography to law enforcement or a federal cyber tip line if they encounter the material, but they would not be required to go searching for it. If they find it and don't report it, they could be given up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. It would mirror laws already on the books in at least 12 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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Gambling State Says the Solar Gamble Is Over
Posted by News Fetcher on January 23 '16 at 12:32 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's sucker's-bet department:
New submitter mdnuclear writes: In a strange echo of the depressed oil economy SolarCity recently announced a layoff of a quarter of its workforce as the apparent result of the Nevada PUC's decision to phase solar net-metering customers down from retail to wholesale per kWh. A scathing editorial in the WSJ last December took both solar leasing companies and their financial underwriters to task, calling net metering a "regressive political income redistribution in support of a putatively progressive cause." Wednesday the PUC fronted a possible compromise, 'grandfathering' existing net metering customers to their current rates to create a third caste of energy consumers, those who had been in the right place at the right time — for awhile. One who had paid $22k into solar lamented, "I'm not happy; my wife isn't happy, we could have done something else with that money." Like many who leave Vegas, perhaps they should have. But this begs the real question... are net-metering schemes ultimately 'right' or 'wrong' for the grid?

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How Have Large Donations Affected Education Policy In New York City?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 23 '16 at 11:12 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's with-grave-concern-for-all department:
theodp writes: According to Chalkbeat, the expansion of charter schools, the movement to break New York City's large schools into smaller ones, and the push to teach computer science have something in common: the influence of philanthropy. Though contributions from big donors amount to only a fraction of New York City's education spending, they still have a real impact on public school policy, said Jeffrey Henig, the co-author of The New Education Philanthropy: Politics, Policy and Reform, which details how powerful individuals and organizations increasingly use donations to advance policies they support. Increasingly, Henig adds, some of those donors are paying more attention to advocacy, creating at least the appearance, if not the reality, of grassroots support.

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Hot Potato Exploit Gives Attackers the Upper Hand On Multiple Windows Versions
Posted by News Fetcher on January 23 '16 at 09:51 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's here-you-take-it department:
An anonymous reader writes: By chaining together a series of known Windows security flaws, researchers from Foxglove Security have discovered a way to break into almost all of Microsoft's recent versions of Windows. The exploit, named Hot Potato, relies on three different types of attacks, some of which were discovered back at the start of the new millennium, in 2000. Going through these exploits one by one may take attackers from minutes to days, but if successful, the attacker can elevate an application's permissions from the lowest rank to system-level privileges. All of these security flaws have been left unpatched by Microsoft, with the explanation that by patching them, the company would effectively break compatibility between the different versions of their operating system.

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Blue Origin Launches and Lands the Same New Shepard That Few In November
Posted by News Fetcher on January 23 '16 at 08:32 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's home-again-home-again department:
MarkWhittington writes: The commercial space race between Blue Origin and SpaceX continued Friday when the former company launched the same New Shepard spacecraft that it had launched and then landed in November in a suborbital jaunt and then landed it a second time. Blue Origin had therefore accomplished a space first by flying a vertical takeoff and landing rocket into space twice in a row. The company has taken another step toward its goal of taking the well off and adventurous on suborbital jaunts for fun and profit.

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For Data Centers, Google Likes the Southeast
Posted by News Fetcher on January 23 '16 at 08:32 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's pleasant-rolling-hills department:
1sockchuck writes: With new construction projects underway in Alabama and Tennessee, Google will soon have 5 of its 8 company-built U.S. data center campuses located in the Southeast. The strategy is unique among major cloud players, who typically have server farms on each coast, plus one in the heartland. Is Google's focus on the Southeast a leading indicator of future data center development in the region? Or is it simply a case of a savvy player unearthing unique retrofit opportunities that may not work for other cloud builders?

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Psychic Dogs and Enlisted Men: the Military's Research Into ESP
Posted by News Fetcher on January 23 '16 at 07:12 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-knew-they-were-doing-it department:
v3rgEz writes: Government research often pushes the boundaries between science and science fiction. Today, the proud bearer of that mantle is often DARPA, experimenting with robots, cybernetics, and more. But in the sixties, during the height of the Cold War, this research often went into more fantastical realms, even exploring whether ExtraSensory Perception (ESP) was possible. Thanks to FOIA, MuckRock looks back on the paranormal history of American surveillance.

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Google Says It Killed 780 Million 'Bad Ads' In 2015
Posted by News Fetcher on January 23 '16 at 05:52 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's yeah-but-who's-counting? department:
itwbennett writes: According to a new Google report, the search giant disabled more than 780 million "bad ads," including include ads for counterfeit products, misleading or unapproved pharmaceuticals, weight loss scams, phishing ploys, unwanted software and "trick-to-click" cons, globally last year. This marks a 49 percent increase over 2014. For perspective, it would take an individual nearly 25 years to look at the 780 million ads Google removed last year for just one second each, according to Google. If the trend continues, Google's team of more than 1,000 staffers dedicated to killing spam will be even busier in 2016, and they could disable more than a billion junky ads.

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