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Electric Eel Shocks Like a Taser
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '14 at 07:17 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's reach-out-and-zap-you department:
Science_afficionado writes After a nine month study, a Vanderbilt biologist has determined that the electric eel emits series of millisecond, high-voltage pulses to paralyze its prey just before it attacks. The high-voltage pulses cause the motor neurons in its target to violently contract, leaving it temporarily immobilized in the same fashion as the high-voltage pulses produced by a Taser. He documented this effect using high-speed video. The eel, which is nocturnal and has very poor eyesight, also uses closely spaced pairs of high-voltage pulses when hunting for hidden prey. He determined that the pulses cause the prey's body to twitch which produces water movements that the eel uses to locate its position even when it's hidden from view.

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The Sony Pictures Hack Was Even Worse Than Everyone Thought
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '14 at 05:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's not-looking-good department:
An anonymous reader writes with today's installment of Sony hack news. "It's time to take a moment of silence for Sony Pictures, because more startling revelations about leaked information just came out and employees are starting to panic. BuzzFeed raked through some 40 gigabytes of data and found everything from medical records to unreleased scripts. This is probably the worst corporate hack in history. Meanwhile, Fusion's Kevin Roose is reporting on what exactly happened at Sony Pictures when the hack went down. The hack was evidently so extensive that even the company gym had to shut down. And once the hackers started releasing the data, people started 'freaking out,' one employee said. That saddest part about all of this is that the very worst is probably still to come. Hackers say they stole 100 terabytes of data in total. If only 40 gigabytes contained all of this damning information, just imagine what 100 terabytes contains."

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Starbucks Testing Mobile Order and Pay In Portland On IOS
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '14 at 05:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's get-your-drink-on department:
qubezz writes For those who just can't wait in line, Starbucks announced today that the caffeinated city of Portland will be the first stop in the roll-out of an app for ordering drinks from your mobile device (iPhone only, Android anticipated in 2015). Not a delivery service — it appears your pre-paid drink will be waiting at the end of the bar for the asking. The cost? The app won't operate unless you allow it access to GPS location services, potentially turning every coffee consumer's device into a tracking beacon. For the rest, there's still the independent site mapping which Starbucks are currently open.

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Every Weapon, Armored Truck, and Plane the Pentagon Gave To Local Police
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '14 at 05:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's going-down-the-list department:
v3rgEz writes You may have heard that the image-conscious Los Angeles Unified School District chose to return the grenade launchers it received from the Defense Department's surplus equipment program. You probably have not heard about some of the more obscure beneficiaries of the Pentagon giveaway, but now you can after MuckRock got the Department of Defense to release the full database, letting anyone browse what gear their local department has received.

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Ultrasound Used To Create Haptics That Can Be Touched and Felt
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '14 at 04:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's touch-it-feel-it department:
mrspoonsi writes "Bristol University used ultrasound focused to create 3d objects out of the thin air. The research, led by Dr Ben Long and colleagues Professor Sriram Subramanian, Sue Ann Seah and Tom Carter from the University of Bristol's Department of Computer Science, could change the way 3D shapes are used. The new technology could enable surgeons to explore a CT scan by enabling them to feel a disease, such as a tumor, using haptic feedback. The method uses ultrasound, which is focused onto hands above the device and that can be felt. By focussing complex patterns of ultrasound, the air disturbances can be seen as floating 3D shapes. Visually, the researchers have demonstrated the ultrasound patterns by directing the device at a thin layer of oil so that the depressions in the surface can be seen as spots when lit by a lamp. "In the future, people could feel holograms of objects that would not otherwise be touchable, such as feeling the differences between materials in a CT scan or understanding the shapes of artifacts in a museum."

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Ocean-Going Robot Fleet Completes Fish Tracking Mission
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '14 at 03:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's follow-that-fich department:
Hallie Siegel writes The second phase of an ambitious project to gather valuable information on ocean processes and marine life using a fleet of innovative marine robots has just reached its conclusion. Co-ordinated by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), the Exploring Ocean Fronts project took place off southwest England and saw the largest deployment of robotic vehicles ever attempted in UK water. The marine robot patrols successfully located tagged fish and tracked the movements of individual fish over several days by re-locating them.

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Ask Slashdot: Convincing My Company To Stop Using Passwords?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '14 at 03:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-forgot-duo department:
gurps_npc writes Any password policy sufficiently complex to be secure is too complex to remember so people write them down. Worse, company policy is to leave a message on your answering machine describing it — when the software uses a 6 number password to get your 8 letter/symbol/number/capital/no dupes (ever) real password. I want to suggest a better method. I want to go with a two factor system — either token based or phone based (LaunchKey, Clef, Nok Nok). Does anyone have any advice on specific systems — or points I should bring up? Or alternatives such as graphical based passwords?

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Aliens Are Probably Everywhere, Just Not Anywhere Nearby
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '14 at 01:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's where-is-everyone? department:
rossgneumann writes If there's intelligent life in the cosmos, it's probably nowhere we can get to anytime soon. At least that's the finding of the astrobiologist who, for the first time in decades, has rendered a major update to the key formula scientists use to seek out interstellar life. That'd be the Drake equation, which was developed over half a century ago to determine where life might lurk in the universe. Using the new Kepler data, astrobiologist Amri Wandel did some calculations to estimate the density of life-bearing worlds in our corner of the universe.

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New Effort To Grant Legal Rights To Chimpanzees Fails
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '14 at 01:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's what-about-monkeys department:
sciencehabit writes Advocates of "legal personhood" for chimpanzees have lost another battle. This morning, a New York appellate court rejected a lawsuit by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) to free a chimp named Tommy from captivity. The group had argued that the chimpanzee deserved the human right of bodily liberty. Despite the loss, the NhRP is pursuing more cases in the hopes of conferring legal rights to a variety of animals, from elephants to dolphins.

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Apple Accused of Deleting Songs From iPods Without Users' Knowledge
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '14 at 12:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-cricket department:
SternisheFan writes with this excerpt from a story at AppleInsider that says "During in-court proceedings of Apple's iPod/iTunes antitrust lawsuit on Wednesday, plaintiffs' lawyers claimed Apple surreptitiously deleted songs not purchased through the iTunes Music Store from users' iPods. Attorney Patrick Coughlin, representing a class of individuals and businesses, said Apple intentionally wiped songs downloaded from competing services when users performed a sync with their iTunes library, reports The Wall Street Journal. As explained by the publication, users attempting to sync an iPod with an iTunes library containing music from a rival service, such as RealNetworks, would see an ambiguous error message without prompting them to perform a factory reset. After restoring the device, users would find all non-iTunes music had disappeared. ... It is unclear if iTunes or iPod encountered a legitimate problem, though Coughlin seems to be intimating Apple manufactured the error message as part of a supposed gambit to stop customers from using their iPod to play back music from stores other than iTunes. For its part, Apple said the system was a safety measure installed to protect users."

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Consumer-Grade SSDs Survive Two Petabytes of Writes
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '14 at 11:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's some-of-them-at-least department:
crookedvulture writes The SSD Endurance Experiment previously covered on Slashdot has reached another big milestone: two freaking petabytes of writes. That's an astounding total for consumer-grade drives rated to survive no more than a few hundred terabytes. Only two of the initial six subjects made it to 2PB. The Kingston HyperX 3K, Intel 335 Series, and Samsung 840 Series expired on the road to 1PB, while the Corsair Neutron GTX faltered at 1.2PB. The Samsung 840 Pro continues despite logging thousands of reallocated sectors. It has remained completely error-free throughout the experiment, unlike a second HyperX, which has suffered a couple of uncorrectable errors. The second HyperX is mostly intact otherwise, though its built-in compression tech has reduced the 2PB of host writes to just 1.4PB of flash writes. Even accounting for compression, the flash in the second HyperX has proven to be far more robust than in the first. That difference highlights the impact normal manufacturing variances can have on flash wear. It also illustrates why the experiment's sample size is too small to draw definitive conclusions about the durability of specific models. However, the fact that all the drives far exceeded their endurance specifications bodes well for the endurance of consumer-grade SSDs in general.

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How the NSA Is Spying On Everyone: More Revelations
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '14 at 11:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's your-own-good department:
The Intercept has published today a story detailing documents that "reveal how the NSA plans to secretly introduce new flaws into communication systems so that they can be tapped into—a controversial tactic that security experts say could be exposing the general population to criminal hackers." The documents also describe a years-long effort, aimed at hostile and friendly regimes, from the point of view of the U.S. government, to break the security of various countries' communications networks.

"Codenamed AURORAGOLD, the covert operation has monitored the content of messages sent and received by more than 1,200 email accounts associated with major cellphone network operators, intercepting confidential company planning papers that help the NSA hack into phone networks."

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Using OwnCloud To Integrate Dropbox, Google Drive, and More In Gnome
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '14 at 11:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's all-in-one-and-one-for-all department:
Jason Hibbets writes Jiri Folta was looking for an easy way to have all of his online storage services, such as Google Drive and Dropbox, integrated with his Linux desktop without using any nasty hacks. He shares this solution in this short tutorial, and shows you how to integrate ownCloud with the Gnome desktop and then add your favorite cloud providers to use all of your cloud accounts in one place just as easily as if they were local drives.

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A Backhanded Defense of Las Vegas' Taxi Regulation
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '14 at 10:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's professional-clowns-rather-than-amateur-clowns department:
At Medium.com, Blake Ross takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the consumer protections that exist courtesy of the the Nevada Taxicab Authority, which (putting it mildly) seem to be rather more friendly to the existing taxi businesses in Las Vegas than they are to any disgruntled riders. By contrast with Uber (just booted from Las Vegas), Ross points out that the Taxicab Authority relies on antiquated complaint forms, random police checks, overlooked airport signs, and expensive tracking devices. Nonethess, says Ross, "I stand with Nevada and say—leave this to the pros."

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'Moneyball' Approach Reduces Crime In New York City
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '14 at 09:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's precrime-works-citizens department:
HughPickens.com writes The NYT reports that NY County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.'s most significant initiative has been to transform, through the use of data, the way district attorneys fight crime. "The question I had when I came in was, Do we sit on our hands waiting for crime to tick up, or can we do something to drive crime lower?" says Vance. "I wanted to develop what I call intelligence-driven prosecution." When Vance became DA in 2009, it was glaringly evident that assistant D.A.s fielding the 105,000-plus cases a year in Manhattan seldom had enough information to make nuanced decisions about bail, charges, pleas or sentences. They were narrowly focused on the facts of cases in front of them, not on the people committing the crimes. They couldn't quickly sort minor delinquents from irredeemably bad apples. They didn't know what havoc defendants might be wreaking in other boroughs.

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Negative Online Reviews Are Not Defamation (At Least In Canada)
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '14 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's in-canada-at-least department:
An anonymous reader writes A client who was dissatisfied with the service of an immigration company in Canada took her grievances online, upon which she was sued for defamation and libel by the owner of the company. A Canadian superior court has tossed out the lawsuit with the note: "One may be dissatisfied with the quality or efficiency of services but expressing one's dissatisfaction is not equivalent to defamation." The court noted: "This demand is grossly exaggerated. It flirts with frivolity and abuse within the meaning given to these words in Article 54.1 C.C.P."

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Woz Downplays the Significance of Apple's Startup Garage
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '14 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's having-a-home-seems-pretty-significant department:
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "When thinking about the early days of Apple, most people who know even a little bit about the company probably picture Steve Jobs and cofounder Steve Wozniak busily brainstorming in a small garage in Silicon Valley. That's how the story goes — in fact, the garage where they famously started the company was even deemed a historical site last year. Wozniak, however, doesn't really see that location as a crucial part of Apple's history. "The garage is a bit of a myth," he told Bloomberg Businessweek's Brandon Lisy when asked whether the garage was important to Apple's story. "We did no designs there, no breadboarding, no prototyping, no planning of products. We did no manufacturing there." The garage served as a familiar location for him and Jobs in the early days, Wozniak said, but that's about it. "The garage didn't service much purpose, except it was something for us to feel was our home," he said. "We had no money. You have to work out of your home when you have no money.""

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Windows 10 Adds Battery Saver Feature
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '14 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's perpetual-frontier department:
jones_supa writes In past builds of Windows 10 Technical Preview there has been an interesting feature called Battery Saver, but for the time being it has been just a mockup. In a leaked build 9888, the code is now in place. Battery Saver, as the name implies, will help your mobile device make the most out of your battery. This feature works by limiting the background activity on your device when the mode is activated. You can turn the feature on any time but there is also a setting to have it automatically turn on when the battery capacity goes below a user-defined percentage. Considering that this build was not supposed to make its way out of Redmond and that the company is not releasing any new builds this year, this may be the best look we get until the Consumer Preview arrives.

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The Cost of the "S" In HTTPS
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '14 at 07:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-insignificant department:
An anonymous reader writes Researchers from CMU, Telefonica, and Politecnico di Torino have presented a paper at ACM CoNEXT that quantifies the cost of the "S" in HTTPS. The study shows that today major players are embracing end-to-end encryption, so that about 50% of web traffic is carried by HTTPS. This is a nice testament to the feasibility of having a fully encrypted web. The paper pinpoints also the cost of encryption, that manifests itself through increases in the page loading time that go above 50%, and possible increase in battery usage. However, the major loss due to the "S" is the inability to offer any in-network value added services, that are offered by middle-boxes, such as caching, proxying, firewalling, parental control, etc. Are we ready to accept it? (Presentation can be downloaded from here.)

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UK Completes 250km of Undersea Broadband Rollouts
Posted by News Fetcher on December 04 '14 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's part-of-the-anti-independence-conspiracy department:
DW100 writes The UK has completed a highly challenging rollout of broadband to remote islands in Scotland, covering 250km of seabed. The work has taken many months but will mean some 150,000 residents in the islands will be able to get broadband of up to 80Mbps. A cable laying ship, the Rene Descartes, carried out the work, with the longest cable stretching 50 miles between islands.

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