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Debris, Bodies Recovered From AirAsia Flight 8501
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '14 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's sad-news-for-families department:
Searchers have found traces of the crashed AirAsia Flight 8501, which lost contact with ground controllers shortly after requesting a weather-related course change. Reuters reports that both debris and some passenger remains have been recovered off the coast of Borneo, in a search complicated by waves "up to three meters high." From the report:

About 30 ships and 21 aircraft from Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and the United States have been involved in the search.

The plane, which did not issue a distress signal, disappeared after its pilot failed to get permission to fly higher to avoid bad weather because of heavy air traffic, officials said. It was travelling at 32,000 feet (9,753 metres) and had asked to fly at 38,000 feet, officials said earlier. Pilots and aviation experts said thunderstorms, and requests to gain altitude to avoid them, were not unusual in that area.
... Online discussion among pilots has centred on unconfirmed secondary radar data from Malaysia that suggested the aircraft was climbing at a speed of 353 knots, about 100 knots too slow, and that it might have stalled.


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Lizard Squad: Xbox Live, PSN Attacks Were a 'Marketing Scheme' For DDoS Service
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '14 at 08:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's now-how-much-would-you-pay? department:
blottsie writes The devastating Christmas Day attacks against the gaming networks of Sony and Microsoft were a marketing scheme for a commercial cyberattack service, according to the hackers claiming responsibility for the attacks. Known as Lizard Squad, the hacker collective says it shut down the PlayStation Network (PSN) and Xbox Live network on Dec. 25 using a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, a common technique that overloads servers with data requests. The powerful attacks rendered the networks unusable for days, infuriating gamers around the world and causing yet-untold losses of revenue. Now, members of Lizard Squad say the group is selling the DDoS service they used against Sony and Microsoft to anyone willing to pay.

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BU Students Working On a Cheaper, Gentler Suborbital Rocket
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '14 at 07:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's ma'am-this-won't-hurt-a-bit department:
Zothecula writes The International Space Station may get all the glory, but suborbital rocket flights still play a vital part in space research. The problem is that even though such flights only go to the edge of space, they are expensive, few in number, and put massive stresses on experiments. Partly funded by a Kickstarter campaign, students at Boston University are developing an inexpensive suborbital rocket for educational purposes that uses new engine designs to create a cheaper, reusable suborbital rocket that's easier on the payload.

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10 Years In, Mars Rover Opportunity Suffers From Flash Memory Degradation
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '14 at 07:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's over-engineered-is-correctly-engineered department:
astroengine writes Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has been exploring the Martian surface for over a decade — that's an amazing ten years longer than the 3-month primary mission it began in January 2004. But with its great successes, inevitable age-related issues have surfaced and mission engineers are being challenged by an increasingly troubling bout of "amnesia" triggered by the rover's flash memory. "The problems started off fairly benign, but now they've become more serious — much like an illness, the symptoms were mild, but now with the progression of time things have become more serious," Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager John Callas, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., told Discovery News.

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Early Bitcoin Adopters Facing Extortion Threats
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '14 at 06:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's when-the-ethos-is-malice department:
An anonymous reader writes Wired recounts the story of Hal Finney, one of the very first adopters of Bitcoin. Finney died earlier this year after a long fight with Lou Gehrig's disease. But for months before his death, he was a victim of constant harassment from somebody trying to extort his Bitcoins. He and his family faced a variety of threats, and had a SWAT team called on their residence. And it turns out Finney is not alone — other early adopters are being targeted with similar threats. "That's when someone using the names Nitrous and Savaged hacked into [early adopter Roger Ver's] email accounts and demanded that he cough up 37 bitcoins—about $20,000 at the time—in order to prevent his private information from being published online. Ver refused, and the hacker apparently backed off after Ver put a 37 bitcoin bounty on his head. Ver, who was himself sentenced to 10 months in federal prison for illegally shipping explosive across state lines, believes that Savaged is not only the same person who swatted Hal Finney, but also the person who gained access to Satoshi Nakamoto's email account earlier this year."

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United and Orbitz Sue 22-Year-Old Programmer For Compiling Public Info
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '14 at 05:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's and-for-making-it-harder-to-squeeze-blood-from-a-stone department:
linuxwrangler writes: Aktarer Zaman, a young computer scientist, started a "side project" called Skiplagged to compile a relatively well-known method of finding inexpensive airfares. "The idea is that you buy an airline ticket that has a layover at your actual destination. Say you want to fly from New York to San Francisco — you actually book a flight from New York to Lake Tahoe with a layover in San Francisco and get off there, without bothering to take the last leg of the flight." But organizing fully public information into a user-friendly form has gotten him sued by United and Orbitz. They accuse his not-for-profit site of "unfair competition" and of promoting "strictly prohibited" travel.

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Ask Slashdot: What Tech Companies Won't Be Around In 10 Years?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '14 at 02:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's those-who-fail-to-adapt department:
An anonymous reader writes: It's interesting to look back a decade and see how the tech industry has changed. The mobile phone giants of 10 years ago have all struggled to compete with the smartphone newcomers. Meanwhile, the game console landscape is almost exactly the same. I'm sure few of us predicted Apple's rebirth over the past decade, and many of us thought Microsoft would have fallen a lot further by now. With that in mind, let's make some predictions. What companies aren't going to make it another 10 years? Are Facebook, Twitter, and the other social networking behemoths going to fade as quickly as they arose? What about the heralds of the so-called 'sharing economy,' like Uber? Are IBM and Oracle going to hang on? Along the same lines, what companies do you think will definitely stick around for another decade or more? Post your predictions for all to see. I'll buy you a beer in 10 years if you're right.

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The Making of a 1980s Dungeons & Dragons Module
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '14 at 11:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's rpg-roots department:
An anonymous reader writes: Over at Medium, Jon Peterson (author of Playing at the World) has put up a new in-depth article covering the internal process at TSR that created Dungeons & Dragons modules in the 1980s. The adventures created at that time (by the likes of Tracy Hickman, then a staff designer) paved the way for many later computer role-playing games, and this piece shows how TSR work was pitched, storyboarded, proofed, edited and organized. With the positive reception of the new 5th edition of D&D and the attention paid to the fortieth anniversary of the game, the historical record behind modern gaming gets ever more important.

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Being Colder May Be Good For Your Health
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '14 at 09:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's take-a-chill-pill department:
An anonymous reader writes: If you live in a developed nation, you're probably pretty warm throughout most of the day. Enclosed spaces, thick clothing, and heating devices do a good job to keep the cold away. But this hasn't been the case for most of human history. Even in warmer climates, humans often had to deal with chilly nights and tough winters. That's where our metabolic system evolved, and now people are doing research to figure out if that's a better natural state for maintaining our health.

One recent study found that "when people cool their bedrooms from 75 degrees to 66 degrees, they gain brown fat, the metabolically active fat that burns calories to generate heat." Another showed that "even after controlling for diet, lifestyle, and other factors, people who live in warmer parts of Spain are more likely to be obese than people who live in the cooler parts." The article talks about people letting their house temperatures drop into the 50s and wearing ice vests during the day, all in the name of further research.


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The New (Computer) Chess World Champion
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '14 at 07:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's champions-who-cannot-wear-belts department:
An anonymous reader writes: The 7th Thoresen Chess Engines Competition (TCEC) has ended, and a new victor has been crowned: Komodo. The article provides some background on how the different competitive chess engines have been developed, and how we can expect Moore's Law to affect computer dominance in other complex games in the future.

"Although it is coming on 18 years since Deep Blue beat Kasparov, humans are still barely fending off computers at shogi, while we retain some breathing room at Go. ... Ten years ago, each doubling of speed was thought to add 50 Elo points to strength. Now the estimate is closer to 30. Under the double-in-2-years version of Moore's Law, using an average of 50 Elo gained per doubling since Kasparov was beaten, one gets 450 Elo over 18 years, which again checks out. To be sure, the gains in computer chess have come from better algorithms, not just speed, and include nonlinear jumps, so Go should not count on a cushion of (25 – 14)*9 = 99 years."


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Glowing Hobbit Sword Helps You Find Unsecured Wi-Fi
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '14 at 06:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's caught-in-a-web-soon-to-be-online department:
Molly McHugh writes By disassembling your plastic Sting and incorporating the Spark Core, a tiny Wi-Fi development kit, you can hack the toy's light and enlist it to show you when you are near an unsecure network. The best part about this hack? It only requires two things: a Spark Core and a replica Sting with lights and sound, like this one."

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How Amazon's Ebook Subscriptions Are Changing the Writing Industry
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '14 at 05:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's race-to-zero department:
An anonymous reader writes: Amazon is now offering an ebook subscription service — $9.99/month gets you access to 700,000 titles, both self-published and traditionally published. The funds are gathered together, Amazon takes its cut, and the rest is divided up based on how many times a given book was read.

Some authors like it, and some don't, but John Scalzi pointed out that this business model is notable for being different from how the writing industry has worked in the past: "[T]he thing to actively dislike about the Kindle Unlimited 'payment from a pot' plan is the fact that it and any other plan like it absolutely and unambiguously make writing and publishing a zero-sum game. In traditional publishing, your success as an author does not limit my success — the potential pool of money is so large as to be effectively unlimited, and one's payment is independent of any other purchase a consumer might make, or what any other reader might read.

In the traditional publishing model, it's in my interest to encourage readers to read other authors, because people who read more buy more books — the proverbial tide lifts all boats. In the Kindle Unlimited model, the more authors you and everyone else reads, the less I can potentially earn. And ultimately, there's a cap on how much I can earn — a cap imposed by Amazon, or whoever else is in charge of the 'pot.'"


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Quake On an Oscilloscope
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '14 at 04:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's rocket-jump-with-an-electromagnet department:
An anonymous reader writes: Developer Pekka Väänänen has posted a fascinating report on how he got Quake running on an oscilloscope (video link). Obviously, the graphic details gets stripped down to basic lines, but even then, you need to cull any useless or unseen geometry to make things run smoothly. He says, "To cull the duplicates a <tt>std::unordered_set</tt> of the C++ standard library is used. The indices of the triangle edges are saved in pairs, packed in a single <tt>uint64_t</tt>, the lower index being first. The set is cleared between each object, so the same line could still be drawn twice or more if the same vertices are stored in different meshes. Before saving a line for end-of-the-frame-submit, its indices in the mesh are checked against the set, and discarded if already saved this frame. At the end of each frame all saved lines are checked against the depth buffer of the rendered scene. If a line lies completely behind the depth buffer, it can be safely discarded because it shouldn't be visible."

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Apple Pay For the UK
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '14 at 03:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's it's-coming-sometime-and-maybe department:
An anonymous reader writes about when Apple Pay will be available in the UK. "A major UK bank's concern over data collected by Apple Pay is reportedly stalling negotiations to launch the mobile payments service in the country by 'the first half of 2015.' The Telegraph reports that 'at least one' of the UK's biggest banks is 'uncomfortable with the amount of personal and financial information Apple wants to collect about its customers.' Apple has been adamant about its approach to collecting users' data via Apple Pay. 'We are not in the business of collecting your data,' said Apple exec Eddy Cue when introducing the service in September. 'So when you go to a physical business and use Apple Pay, Apple doesn't know what you bought, where you bought it, or how much you paid for it. The transaction is between you, the merchant, and your bank.'"

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The NSA Uses the Same Chat Protocol As Hackers
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '14 at 03:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's I-think-I'm-in-the-wrong-chatroom department:
rossgneumann writes NSA documents obtained by Edward Snowden and reported on by Der Spiegel on Sunday reveal that the agency communicates internally with Jabber, an open source messaging service used by hackers and activists trying to skirt the NSA's internet surveillance dragnet. A document outlining the NSA's Scarletfever program—a "message driven cryptologic exploitation service" designed as part of the larger Longhaul initiative, a program that collects data and finds ways to break its encryption—contains a curious point buried near the end: "Jabber Chat Room: TBD."

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Aereo Gets OK From Bankruptcy Court To Auction Technology Assets
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '14 at 02:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's everything-must-go department:
An anonymous reader writes Judge Sean Lane of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan gave permission to Aereo to sell its remaining assets to the highest bidder. The decision came after Aereo reached an agreement with the major broadcast networks that are suing the service. From the article: "Now a bankruptcy court in New York has granted Aereo permission to sell off its assets, with one big caveat: those angry broadcasters who shut them down in the first place? They get to approve any sales that go down. The auction will take place on February 24, at which point the broadcasters have two weeks to decide if they're okay with the highest bidder."

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Microsoft Is Building a New Browser As Part of Its Windows 10 Push
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '14 at 01:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's brand-new department:
mpicpp sends word that Microsoft may be working on a new browser. "There's been talk for a while that Microsoft was going to make some big changes to Internet Explorer in the Windows 10 time frame, making IE 'Spartan' look and feel more like Chrome and Firefox. It turns out that what's actually happening is Microsoft is building a new browser, codenamed Spartan, which is not IE 12 — at least according to a couple of sources of mine. Thomas Nigro, a Microsoft Student Partner lead and developer of the modern version of VLC, mentioned on Twitter earlier this month that he heard Microsoft was building a brand-new browser. Nigro said he heard talk of this during a December episode of the LiveTile podcast. Spartan is still going to use Microsoft's Chakra JavaScript engine and Microsoft's Trident rendering engine (not WebKit), sources say. As Neowin's Brad Sams reported back in September, the coming browser will look and feel more like Chrome and Firefox and will support extensions. Sams also reported on December 29 that Microsoft has two different versions of Trident in the works, which also seemingly supports the claim that the company has two different Trident-based browsers. However, if my sources are right, Spartan is not IE 12. Instead, Spartan is a new, light-weight browser Microsoft is building. Windows 10 (at least the desktop version) will ship with both Spartan and IE 11, my sources say. IE 11 will be there for backward-compatibility's sake. Spartan will be available for both desktop and mobile (phone/tablet) versions of Windows 10, sources say."

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Russia Plans To Build World First DNA Databank of All Living Things
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '14 at 01:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's all-in-one-place department:
An anonymous reader writes Researchers from Moscow State University plan to build a database that will house the DNA of every creature known to man. The University has secured a $194 million grant for the project dubbed "Noah's Ark." The gigantic "ark," set to be completed by 2018, will be 430 sq km in size, built at one of the university's central campuses. "It will enable us to cryogenically freeze and store various cellular materials, which can then reproduce. It will also contain information systems. Not everything needs to be kept in a petri dish," MSU rector Viktor Sadivnichy says.

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Ask Slashdot: Best Wireless LED Light Setup for 2015?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '14 at 12:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's don't-actually-jump-start-them department:
An anonymous reader writes I want to get a jump-start on next year's Christmas by wiring up my mother's gnome garden for a Christmas light show. I need a setup that can use wireless LED lights and speakers, the lights using a custom sequence set to music, that can be controlled remotely indoors to go off on a schedule, say every hour. Do you know of an off-the-shelf setup that is cheap and works seamlessly, especially for someone with little to no coding or custom building experience?

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6 Terabyte Hard Drive Round-Up: WD Red, WD Green and Seagate Enterprise 6TB
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '14 at 11:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's best-of-the-best department:
MojoKid writes The hard drive market has become a lot less sexy in the past few years thanks to SSDs. What we used to consider "fast" for a hard drive is relatively slow compared to even the cheapest of today's solid state drives. But there are two areas where hard drives still rule the roost, and that's overall capacity and cost per gigabyte. Since most of us still need a hard drive for bulk storage, the question naturally becomes, "how big of a drive do you need?" For a while, 4TB drives were the top end of what was available in the market but recently Seagate, HGST, and Western Digital announced breakthroughs in areal density and other technologies, that enabled the advent of the 6 Terabyte hard drive. This round-up looks at three offerings in the market currently, with a WD Red 6TB drive, WD Green and a Seagate 6TB Enterprise class model. Though the WD drives only sport a 5400RPM spindle speed, due to their increased areal density of 1TB platters, they're still able to put up respectable performance. Though the Seagate Enterprise Capacity 6TB (also known as the Constellation ES series) drive offers the best performance at 7200 RPM, it comes at nearly a $200 price premium. Still, at anywhere from .04 to .07 per GiB, you can't beat the bulk storage value of these new high capacity 6TB HDDs.

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