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Data Research Reveals When Taking a Yellow Cab Is Cheaper Than an Uber
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '15 at 09:46 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's gimme-a-lift department:
An anonymous reader writes A team of data scientists have come up with a system to identify times when regular yellow taxis are cheaper alternatives to an Uber [in New York]. Researchers from the University of Cambridge and the University of Nanmur in Belgium have compared a broad dataset of both yellow taxi and Uber fares in New York and have discovered that for a trip costing less than $35 Uber is often the most expensive option. The data scientists were able to reach this conclusion by comparing trip and fare data for each yellow taxi ride taken in 2013 and entering it into Uber's fare query system. Prices were taken from Uber's lowest-cost service Uber X and the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission.

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New Site Mocks Bad Artwork On Ebook Covers
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '15 at 09:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's modern-dorm-room-posters department:
An anonymous reader writes A British newspaper is celebrating "the world's worst ebook artwork", as discovered by the creator of a new Tumblr feed. 'It's the hubris of it that people get a kick out of — the devil-may-care attitude of an author who, with zero arts training, says to themselves: "How hard can it be?" Two different authors simply cut-and-pasted smaller images over a background showing the planets, according to one Kindle blog, which notes that one author actually pasted eyes and lips onto the planets, creating an inadvertently creepy montage. But the site's creator tells the newspaper that it's ultimately meant to be an affectionate tribute to their rejection of the mundane and appreciating each creative and beautiful mess.

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Global Learning XPRIZE Senior Director Matt Keller Answers Your Questions
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '15 at 09:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's here-they-are department:
A couple of weeks ago you had a chance to ask former Vice President of One Laptop per Child, and current Senior Director of the Global Learning XPRIZE Matt Keller about education and the competition. The XPRIZE challenges teams from around the world to develop open source software that will allow children in developing countries to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic with a Grand Prize of $10 million. Below you will find his answers to your questions.

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Researchers Find Same RSA Encryption Key Used 28,000 Times
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '15 at 08:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's well-if-it-workef-for-that-guy department:
itwbennett writes In the course of trying to find out how many servers and devices are still vulnerable to the Web security flaw known as FREAK, researchers at Royal Holloway of the University of London found something else of interest: Many hosts (either servers or other Internet-connected devices) share the same 512-bit public key. In one egregious example, 28,394 routers running a SSL VPN module all use the same 512-bit public RSA key.

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3D Audio Standard Released
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '15 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's if-you-had-a-pair-of-ears-on-the-back-of-your-head department:
CIStud writes The Audio Engineering Society (AES) has released its new 3D Audio Standard (AES69-2015), covering topics such as binaural listening, which is growing due to increased usage of smartphones, tablets and other individual entertainment systems that offer audio using headphones. AES states that an understanding of the way that the listener experiences binaural sound, expressed as head-related transfer functions (HRTF) facilitates the way to 3D personal audio. The standard also looks into convolution-based reverberation processors in 3D virtual audio environments, which has also grown with the increase of available computing power.

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White House Office of Administration Not Subject to FOIA, Says White House
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '15 at 07:01 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's well-they-certainly-are-transparent department:
An anonymous reader writes with this story at USA Today: The White House is removing a federal regulation that subjects its Office of Administration to the Freedom of Information Act, making official a policy under Presidents Bush and Obama to reject requests for records to that office. The White House said the cleanup of FOIA regulations is consistent with court rulings that hold that the office is not subject to the transparency law.

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Ex-NSA Researcher Claims That DLL-Style Attacks Work Just Fine On OS X
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '15 at 06:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's it's-a-feature department:
An anonymous reader writes Ex-NSA and NASA researcher Patrick Wardle claims to have developed a reliable technique of Shared Library replacement which renders Apple's OSX operating system just as vulnerable to exploitation as Windows has been (via its 'DLL' shared libraries) for years. Speaking at CanSecWest, Wardle explained that Apple's refusal to encrypt software downloads via its App Store allows an attacker on the same network to inject a malicious 'dylib' (shared library) without altering the hash of the legitimate-but-vulnerable software, thereby leaving the Developer ID signature intact. Wardle ran a crafted Python script on a typical Mac and discovered 150 dylib-dependent applications, including Apple's own Xcode developer environment — revealed last week by Edward Snowden to be a priority target for the NSA due to its ability to propagate compromised software.

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Fraud Rampant In Apple Pay
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '15 at 05:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's play-money department:
PvtVoid writes with this report from the New York TImes, excerpting: An industry consultant, Cherian Abraham, put the fraud rate [for Apple Pay] at 6 percent, compared with a traditional credit card fraud rate that is relatively minuscule, 10 cents for every $100 spent. [i.e. one tenth of one percent]. The vulnerability in Apple Pay is in the way that it — and card issuers — "onboard" new credit cards into the system. Because Apple wanted its system to have the simplicity for which it has become famous and wanted to make the sign-up process "frictionless," the company required little beyond basic credit card information about a user. Nor did it provide much information to the banks, like full phone numbers and addresses, that might help them detect fraud early. The banks, desperate to become their customers' default card on Apple Pay — most add only one to their iPhones — did little to build their own defenses or to push Apple to provide more detailed information about its customers. Some bank executives acknowledged that they were were so scared of Apple that they didn't speak up.

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This App Lets You Piggyback Facebook's Free Internet To Access Any Site
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '15 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's bits-is-bits department:
sarahnaomi writes In countries like Zambia, Tanzania, or Kenya, where very few have access to the Internet, Facebook is bringing its own version of the net: Internet.org, an app that gives mobile users free access to certain sites such as Google, Wikipedia and, of course, Facebook. While the initiative has clearly positive goals, it's also been criticized as an "imperialistic" push for Facebook colonies, where novice Internet.org users will grow up thinking their restricted version of the web is the real internet. To fight against that possibility, a 20-year-old developer from Paraguay is working on an app that tunnels the "regular" internet through Facebook Messenger, one of the services free to use on Internet.org's app. This allows Internet.org users to establish a link to the outside, unrestricted internet, circumventing restrictions.

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Analysis: People Who Use Firefox Or Chrome Make Better Employees
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '15 at 04:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's also-handsomer-and-better-at-darts department:
HughPickens.com writes: In the world of Big Data, everything means something. Now Joe Pinsker reports that Cornerstone OnDemand, a company that sells software that helps employers recruit and retain workers, has found after analyzing data on about 50,000 people who took its 45-minute online job assessment, that people who took the test on a non-default browser, such as Firefox or Chrome, ended up staying at their jobs about 15 percent longer than those who stuck with Safari or Internet Explorer. They also tended to perform better on the job as well. Chief Analytics Officer Michael Housman offered an explanation for the results in an interview with Freakonomics Radio: "I think that the fact that you took the time to install Firefox on your computer shows us something about you. It shows that you're someone who is an informed consumer," says Housman. "You've made an active choice to do something that wasn't default." But why would a company care about something as seemingly trivial as the browser a candidate chooses to use? "Call centers are estimated to suffer from a turnover rate of about 45 percent annually (PDF), and it can cost thousands of dollars to hire new employees," says Pinsker. "Because of that, companies are eager to find any proxy for talent and dedication that they can."

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Ask Slashdot: Good Keyboard?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '15 at 01:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's must-fit-through-doors department:
An anonymous reader writes: After five years of service, my keyboard is dying, and I'm starting to look for a new one. Since it's for my primary machine, and I spend a lot of hours there for both work and leisure, I'd like to invest in a high-quality replacement. What do you recommend? I've been using a Logitech G15, and it worked well enough — but not well enough for me to buy another. (I've also heard Logitech's build quality has been on the decline in recent years — has that been your experience, those of you who own their recent hardware?) My use cases include coding and gaming, so durability is a big plus.

I'd prefer something a bit less bulky than the G15, which has a raised area at the top for media controls and a tiny screen. I don't mind a thicker bottom bezel so much. I'm not a huge fan of ergonomic/split keyboards, but if you know a really excellent one, I wouldn't rule it out. Same with mechanical keyboards — love the action, but the noise is an issue. I don't need any particular bells and whistles, but don't mind them. As for a budget... as I said, it's for a heavy-use machine, so I don't mind investing in great hardware. (That said, if I'm spending $150+, it better automatically make sure all my semicolons are in the right place.) So, what keyboard has served you well?


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Deploying Solar In California's Urban Areas Could Meet Demand Five Times Over
Posted by News Fetcher on March 16 '15 at 11:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's full-conversion-mods department:
Lucas123 writes: About 8% of terrestrial surfaces in California have been developed, ranging from cities and buildings to park spaces. If photovoltaic panels, along with concentrating solar power, were more effectively deployed in and around those areas, it could meet between three and five times what California currently uses for electricity, according to a new study. The study from the Carnegie Institution for Science, found that using small- and utility-scale solar power in and around developed areas could generate up to 15,000 terawatt-hours of energy a year using photovoltaic technology, and 6,000 TWh of energy a year using concentrating solar power technology. "Integrating solar facilities into the urban and suburban environment causes the least amount of land-cover change and the lowest environmental impact," post-doctoral environmental earth scientist Rebecca Hernandez said.

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New 3D Printing Process Claimed To Be 25X Faster Than Current Technology
Posted by News Fetcher on March 16 '15 at 10:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's may-be-t1000-in-disguise department:
ErnieKey writes: Carbon3D, a startup based in Redwood City, CA. has just announced a new breakthrough 3D printing technology called Continuous Liquid Interface Production technology (CLIP). The process works by using oxygen as an inhibiting agent as a UV light rapidly cures a photosensitive resin (abstract). "Conventional 3D printers usually take several hours to print an object — because with most printing methods, they need to individually treat each new layer of material after it's put down so that the next layer can be put down on top of it. The new method is much faster because it works continually, instead of in layers, eliminating this step. As a result, it works in minutes, rather than hours — 25 to 100 times faster, its creators say, than conventional 3D printing." The company has just emerged from stealth mode and announced that they have raised a staggering $41 million to further develop the process and bring it to market.

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World's Most Powerful Laser Diode Arrays Deployed
Posted by News Fetcher on March 16 '15 at 09:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's aside-from-the-secret-white-house-defense-lasers department:
Zothecula writes: The High-Repetition-Rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System (HAPLS) under construction in the Czech Republic is designed to generate a peak power of more than 1 petawatt. The key component to this instrument – the laser "pump" – will be a set of solid-state laser diode arrays recently constructed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. At peak power, this electronic assemblage develops a staggering 3.2 million watts of power and are the most powerful laser diode arrays ever built.

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Judicial Committee Approves FBI Plan To Expand Hacking Powers
Posted by News Fetcher on March 16 '15 at 08:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's pretend-to-be-surprised department:
Presto Vivace sends this report from the National Journal:
A judicial advisory panel Monday quietly approved a rule change that will broaden the FBI's hacking authority despite fears raised by Google that the amended language represents a "monumental" constitutional concern. The Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules voted 11-1 to modify an arcane federal rule to allow judges more flexibility in how they approve search warrants for electronic data, according to a Justice Department spokesman. Known as Rule 41, the existing provision generally allows judges to approve search warrants only for material within the geographic bounds of their judicial district. But the rule change, as requested by the department, would allow judges to grant warrants for remote searches of computers located outside their district or when the location is unknown.

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Politics Is Poisoning NASA's Ability To Do Science
Posted by News Fetcher on March 16 '15 at 06:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's pretend-to-be-surprised department:
An anonymous reader writes: Phil Plait just published an article about how politics is interfering with NASA's ability to perform vital scientific experiments. As expected when we heard that Ted Cruz would be made head of the committee in charge of NASA's funding, the Texas senator is pushing hard for NASA to stop studying Earth itself. Plait writes, "Over the years, NASA has had to beg and scrape to get the relatively small amount of money it gets—less than half a percent of the national budget—and still manages to do great things with it. Cruz is worried NASA's focus needs to be more on space exploration. Fine. Then give them enough money to do everything in their charter: Explore space, send humans there, and study our planet. Whether you think climate change is real or not—and it is— telling NASA they should turn a blind eye to the environment of our own planet is insanity." He concludes, "[T]he politics of funding a government agency is tying NASA in knots and critically endangering its ability to explore."

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How Police Fight To Keep Use of Stingrays Secret
Posted by News Fetcher on March 16 '15 at 04:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-can-trust-us department:
v3rgEz writes: The NY Times looks at how local police are fighting to keep their use of cell phone surveillance secret, including signing NDAs with Stingray manufacturer Harris Corp and claiming the documents have been lost. It's part of a broader trend of local agencies adopting the tactics of covert intelligence groups as they seek to adopt new technology in the digital era. "The nondisclosure agreements for the cell site simulators are overseen by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and typically involve the Harris Corporation, a multibillion-dollar defense contractor and a maker of the technology. What has opponents particularly concerned about StingRay is that the technology, unlike other phone surveillance methods, can also scan all the cellphones in the area where it is being used, not just the target phone. ... For instance, in Tucson, a journalist asking the Police Department about its StingRay use was given a copy of a nondisclosure agreement. 'The City of Tucson shall not discuss, publish, release or disclose any information pertaining to the product,' it read, and then noted: 'Without the prior written consent of Harris.'"

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New Compound Quickly Disables Chemical Weapons
Posted by News Fetcher on March 16 '15 at 03:31 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's breaking-things-that-break-people department:
sciencehabit writes: In 2013, the Syrian military allegedly launched sarin gas rockets into a rebel-held town, killing hundreds. After diplomats brokered a deal to eradicate the weapons, international organizations began the dangerous job of destroying them. One roadblock to chemical weapons disposal is that heat and humidity quickly break down enzymes that can disable the deadly chemicals. Now, researchers have developed a highly stable compound that can inactivate nerve agents like sarin in a matter of minutes.

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ICE Tells Reporter Its Secretive Drone Program Isn't Newsworthy
Posted by News Fetcher on March 16 '15 at 02:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's need-to-know-only department:
v3rgEz writes Wondering how Immigration and Customs Enforcement uses drones along the border? ICE says you shouldn't be, declaring the topic "isn't news" anymore. The agency rejected a FOIA request fee waiver regarding Operation Safeguard because the program, started in secret 12 years ago, is no longer new. A March 3 letter signed by an ICE lawyer defined "news" as "information that is about current events or that would be of current interest to the public." Hard to see how the government's drone program, even if it is over a decade old, doesn't hold current interest, but maybe a useful example of what happens when you let agencies dictate what is — and isn't — news.

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"Hello Barbie" Listens To Children Via Cloud
Posted by News Fetcher on March 16 '15 at 02:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's can't-talk-now-the-doll-is-listening department:
jones_supa writes For a long time we have had toys that talk back to their owners, but a new "smart" Barbie doll's eavesdropping and data-gathering functions have privacy advocates crying foul. Toymaker Mattel bills Hello Barbie as the world's first "interactive doll" due to its ability to record children's playtime conversations and respond to them, once the audio is transmitted over WiFi to a cloud server. In a demo video, a Mattel presenter at the 2015 Toy Fair in New York says the new doll fulfills the top request that Mattel receives from girls: to have a two-way dialogue. "They want to have a conversation with Barbie," she said, adding that the new toy will be "the very first fashion doll that has continuous learning, so that she can have a unique relationship with each girl." Susan Linn, the executive director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, has written a statement in which she says how the product is seriously creepy and creates a host of dangers for children and families. She asks people to join her in a petition under the proposal of Mattel discontinuing the toy.

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