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Rosetta's Philae Probe To Land On Comet Tomorrow
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '14 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's best-of-luck department:
An anonymous reader writes: After more than 10 years travelling, the Rosetta mission will take its next, momentous step by landing the Philae probe on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko tomorrow. How f!@#$%ing cool is that?! Follow the landing live using the webcast, blog, or Twitter feed. (Keep in mind there's a 28-minute delay due to the time it takes the radio signals to reach Earth). Here's the scheduling info: "For the primary landing scenario, targeting Site J, Rosetta will release Philae at 08:35 GMT/09:35 CET at a distance of 22.5 km from the center of the comet, landing about seven hours later. The one-way signal travel time between Rosetta and Earth on 12 November is 28 minutes 20 seconds, meaning that confirmation of the landing will arrive at Earth ground stations at around 16:00 GMT/17:00 CET. If a decision is made to use the backup Site C, separation will occur at 13:04 GMT/14:04 CET, 12.5 km from the center of the comet. Landing will occur about four hours later, with confirmation on Earth at around 17:30 GMT/18:30 CET. The timings are subject to uncertainties of several minutes."

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Apple's Luxembourg Tax Deals
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '14 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's everybody's-doing-it department:
Presto Vivace sends a report from the Australian Financial Review on how Apple uses a holding company based in Luxembourg to avoid taxes on its iTunes revenue. Quoting:
The 2011 accounts for iTunes Sàrl [the holding company] give the first inside view of how Apple accounts for its growing earnings from digital content. They are part of a massive leak of Luxembourg tax documents uncovered in an investigation led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Remarkably, the accounts show Luxembourg has been more effective in extracting tax from iTunes than Ireland has with much larger Apple sales. Turnover for iTunes Sàrl exploded from €353 million ($508 million) in 2009 to €2.05 billion in 2013. Secret appendices to the 2011 accounts break down some of Apple’s costs. It shows that Apple takes a third of iTunes’ revenues as its gross profit margin. The 2011 figures showed that a flat 50 per cent of this gross profit was paid in intercompany charges.
(Followup on a similar strategy from Amazon we discussed last week.)

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HBO Developing Asimov's Foundation Series As TV Show
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '14 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's to-succeed,-planning-alone-is-insufficient department:
wired_parrot writes: Jonathan Nolan, writer of Interstellar and The Dark Knight, and producer of the TV show "Person of Interest," is teaming up with HBO to bring to screen a new series based on Isaac Asimov's Foundation series of books. This would be the first adaptation of the Hugo-award-winning series of novels to the screen.

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Multi-Process Comes To Firefox Nightly, 64-bit Firefox For Windows 'Soon'
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '14 at 10:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's why-not-go-straight-to-640-bit department:
An anonymous reader writes with word that the Mozilla project has made two announcements that should make hardcore Firefox users very happy. The first is that multi-process support is landing in Firefox Nightly, and the second is that 64-bit Firefox is finally coming to Windows. The features are a big deal on their own, but together they show Mozilla's commitment to the desktop version of Firefox as they both improve performance and security. The news is part of a slew of unveilings from the company on the browser's 10th anniversary — including new Firefox features and the debut of Firefox Developer Edition.

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Fukushima Radiation Nears California Coast, Judged Harmless
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '14 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's dispersion-is-awesome department:
sciencehabit writes After a two-and-a-half year ocean journey, radioactive contamination from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has drifted to within 160 kilometers of the California coast, according to a new study. But the radiation levels are minuscule and do not pose a threat, researchers say. The team found a high of just 8 becquerels of radiation per cubic meter in ocean samples off the coast. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for drinking water allow up to 7400 becquerels per cubic meter.

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Germans Can Get Free Heating From the Cloud
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '14 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-just-free-water department:
judgecorp writes The idea of re-using waste server heat is not new, but German firm Cloud&Heat seems to have developed it further than most. For a flat installation fee, the company will install a rack of servers in your office, with its own power and Internet connection. Cloud&Heat then pays the bills and you get the heat. As well as Heat customers, the firm wants Cloud customers, who can buy a standard OpenStack-based cloud compute and storage service on the web. The company guarantees that data is encrypted and held within Germany — at any one of its Heat customers' premises. In principle, it's a way to build a data center with no real estate, by turning its waste heat into an asset. A similar deal is promised by French firm Qarnot.

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Black IT Pros On (Lack Of) Racial Diversity In Tech
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '14 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's convergent-factors department:
Nerval's Lobster writes While pundits and analysts debate about diversity in Silicon Valley, one thing is very clear: Black Americans make up a very small percentage of tech workers. At Facebook, Google, and Yahoo, that number is a bit less than 2 percent of their respective U.S. workforces; at Apple, it's closer to 7 percent. Many executives and pundits have argued that the educational pipeline remains one of the chief impediments to hiring a more diverse workforce, and that as long as universities aren't recruiting a broader mix of students for STEM degrees, the corporate landscape will suffer accordingly. But black IT entrepreneurs and professionals tell Dice that the problem goes much deeper than simply widening the pipeline; they argue that racial bias, along with lingering impressions of what a 'techie' should look like, loom much larger than any pipeline issue.

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AT&T Won't Do In-Flight Wi-Fi After All
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '14 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's back-to-the-ebooks department:
jfruh writes In-flight Wi-Fi services tend to be expensive and disappointingly slow. So when AT&T announced a few months ago that it was planning on getting into the business, with customer airlines being able to connect to AT&T's LTE network instead of slow satellite services, the industry shook. But now AT&T has announced that, upon further review, they're not going to bother.

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333 Km/h Rocket-Powered Bicycle Sets New Speed Record
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '14 at 08:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hope-they-used-a-good-zamboni department:
Dave Knott writes François Gissy of France has claimed a new bicycle speed record. As you might guess, he was not pedalling – he was seated atop a hydrogen peroxide-powered rocket with three thrusters fastened to the frame of an elongated, but otherwise ordinary-looking bicycle. In a video posted on YouTube that announces the record, a Ferrari racing the bike is left far behind within seconds of leaving the starting line. The bike, designed by Gissy's friend, Arnold Neracher, reached its top speed of 333 km/h (207mph) in just 4.8 seconds and 250 metres. According to Guinness World Records, the fastest speed ever for a bicycle that wasn't rocket powered was 268.831 km/h by Fred Rompelberg of the Netherlands, riding behind a wind-shield fitted dragster in 1995 and assisted by the slipstream of the car. The current unassisted bicycle speed record is 133.8 km/h — a record that a team in Toronto is trying to break.

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Google To Lease and Refurbish Naval Air Base For Space Exploration
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '14 at 07:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's diversified-enterprise department:
Taco Cowboy writes Google has signed a long-term lease for part of a historic Navy air base, where it plans to renovate three massive hangars and use them for projects involving aviation, space exploration and robotics. The giant Internet company will pay $1.16 billion in rent over 60 years for the property, which also includes a working air field, golf course and other buildings. The 1,000-acre site is part of the former Moffett Field Naval Air Station on the San Francisco Peninsula. Google plans to invest more than $200 million to refurbish the hangars and add other improvements, including a museum or educational facility that will showcase the history of Moffett and Silicon Valley, according to a NASA statement. The agency said a Google subsidiary called Planetary Ventures LLC will use the hangars for "research, development, assembly and testing in the areas of space exploration, aviation, rover/robotics and other emerging technologies." NASA plans to continue operating its Ames Research Center on the former Navy site. Google will take over operations at the runways and hangars, including a massive structure that was built to house dirigible-style Navy airships in the 1930s. NASA said the deal will save it $6.3 million in annual maintenance and operation costs.

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Earth's Oxygen History Could Explain "Darwin's Dilemma" In Evolution
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '14 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-expected-a-straight-line-on-the-graph? department:
TaleSlinger (3080869) writes Scientists following two different lines of evidence have just published research [Here's the abstract to the paywalled Science paper] that
may help resolve "Darwin's dilemma,"
a mystery that plagued the father of evolution until his death more than a century ago. Life appeared when the earth was tens of millions of years old, but evolution didn't go into high gear until the "Cambrian Explosion", nearly a billion years later. The two papers propose complementary theories that help explain this. The first suggests that scientists have long overestimated the amount of oxygen in the earth's atmosphere in the pre-Cambrian era just before the "explosion." The second suggests suggests that very dramatic changes driven by the tectonic breakup of the so-called "supercontinents" of the pre-Cambrian era could have caused an extraordinary leap in oxygen levels of both the ancient oceans and the earth's atmosphere. These two studies fit neatly together, suggesting that a world deprived of oxygen could have changed relatively quickly into an incubator for new life in shallow ponds spread across the continents and fed by waters rich in nutrients. Perhaps that set the stage for the explosion, which may have been five times the evolutionary rate seen today.


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GNOME Project Seeks Donations For Trademark Battle With Groupon
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '14 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's how-similar-how-confusing? department:
Drinking Bleach writes Groupon has released a tablet-based point of sale system called Gnome, despite the well-known desktop environment's existence and trademark status. This is also not without Groupon's internal knowledge of the GNOME project; they were contacted about the infringement and flatly refused to change the name of their own product, in addition to filing many new trademark applications for theirs. The GNOME project is seeking donations to help them in a legal battle against these trademark applications, and to get Groupon to stop using their name. They are seeking at least $80,000 to challenge a first set of ten trademark applications from Groupon, out of 28 applications that have been filed.

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Gridlock In Action: Retailers Demand New Regulations To Protect Consumers
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '14 at 05:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's use-your-terrible-system-to-fix-your-terrible-system department:
chicksdaddy writes: How bad is the gridlock in Washington D.C.? So bad that the nation's retailers are calling for federal legislation on cyber security and data protection to protect consumer information — even though they would bear the brunt of whatever legislation is passed. The Security Ledger notes that groups representing many of the nation's retailers sent a letter (PDF) to Congressional leaders last week urging them to pass federal data protection legislation that sets clear rules for businesses serving consumers.

"The recent spate of news stories about data security incidents raises concerns for all American consumers and for the businesses with which they frequently interact," the letter reads. "A single federal law applying to all breached entities would ensure clear, concise and consistent notices to all affected consumers regardless of where they live or where the breach occurs."

Retailers would likely bear the brunt of a new federal data protection law. The motivation for pushing for one anyway may be simplicity. Currently, there are 47 different state-based security breach notification laws, as well as laws in the District of Columbia and Guam. There is broad, bi-partisan agreement on the need for a data breach and consumer protection law. However, small differences of opinion on its scope and provisions, exacerbated by political gridlock in Congress since 2010 have combined to stay the federal government's hand.

< article continued at Slashdot >

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How To End Online Harassment
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '14 at 02:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can't-we-all-just-get-along department:
Presto Vivace sends this excerpt from an article at the Kernel, titled 'With Gamergate, it's not enough to ignore the trolls.'
Gendered bigotry against women is widely considered to be "in bounds" by Internet commenters (whether they openly acknowledge it or not), and subsequently a demographic that comprises half of the total human population has to worry about receiving rape threats, death threats, and the harassment of angry mobs simply for expressing their opinions. This needs to stop, and while it's impossible to prevent all forms of harassment from occurring online, we can start by creating a culture that shames individuals who cross the bounds of decency.

We can start by stating the obvious: It is never appropriate to use slurs, metaphors, graphic negative imagery, or any other kind of language that plays on someone's gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion. Not only is such language inappropriate regardless of one's passion on a given subject, but any valid arguments that existed independently of such rhetoric should have been initially presented without it. Once a poster crosses this line, they should lose all credibility.

Similarly, it is never acceptable to dox, harass, post nude pictures, or in any other way violate someone's privacy due to disagreement with their opinions. While most people would probably agree with this in theory, far too many are willing to access and distribute this humiliating (and often illegal) content. Instead of simply viewing stories of doxing, slut-shaming, and other forms of online intimidation as an unfortunate by-product of the digital age, we should boycott all sites that publish these materials.


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German Spy Agency Seeks Millions To Monitor Social Networks
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '14 at 11:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-took-the-wrong-lesson-from-this department:
itwbennett writes: Germany's foreign intelligence agency reportedly wants to spend €300 million (about $375 million) in the next five years on technology that would let it spy in real time on social networks outside of Germany, and decrypt and monitor encrypted Internet traffic. The agency, which already spent €6.22 million in preparation for this online surveillance push, also wants to use the money to set up an early warning system for cyber attacks, the report said (Google translation of German original). A prototype is expected to be launched next June with the aim of monitoring publicly available data on Twitter and blogs.

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Worrying Aspects of Linux Gaming
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '14 at 09:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's year-of-linux-on-the-console? department:
jones_supa writes: Former Valve engineer Rich Geldreich has written up a blog post about the state of Linux Gaming. It's an interesting read, that's for sure. When talking about recent bigger game ports, his take is that the developers doing these ports just aren't doing their best to optimize these releases for Linux and/or OpenGL. He points out how it took significant resources from Valve to properly optimize Source engine for Linux, but that other game studios are not walking the last mile. About drivers, he asks "Valve is still paying LunarG to find and fix silly perf bugs in Intel's slow open source driver. Surely this can't be a sustainable way of developing a working driver?" He ends his post by agreeing with a Slashdot comment where someone is basically saying that SteamOS is done, and that we will never get our hands on the Steam Controller.

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Mozilla Updates Firefox With Forget Button, DuckDuckGo Search, and Ads
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '14 at 08:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's onward-and-upward department:
Krystalo writes: In addition to the debut of the Firefox Developer Edition, Mozilla today announced new features for its main Firefox browser. The company is launching a new Forget button in Firefox to help keep your browsing history private, adding DuckDuckGo as a search option, and rolling out its directory tiles advertising experiment.

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Tor Project Mulls How Feds Took Down Hidden Websites
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '14 at 07:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's inside-job department:
HughPickens.com writes: Jeremy Kirk writes at PC World that in the aftermath of U.S. and European law enforcement shutting down more than 400 websites (including Silk Road 2.0) which used technology that hides their true IP addresses, Tor users are asking: How did they locate the hidden services? "The first and most obvious explanation is that the operators of these hidden services failed to use adequate operational security," writes Andrew Lewman, the Tor project's executive director. For example, there are reports of one of the websites being infiltrated by undercover agents and one affidavit states various operational security errors." Another explanation is exploitation of common web bugs like SQL injections or RFIs (remote file inclusions). Many of those websites were likely quickly-coded e-shops with a big attack surface. Exploitable bugs in web applications are a common problem says Lewman adding that there are also ways to link transactions and deanonymize Bitcoin clients even if they use Tor. "Maybe the seized hidden services were running Bitcoin clients themselves and were victims of similar attacks."

< article continued at Slashdot >

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The Strangeness of the Mars One Project
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '14 at 05:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's volunteer-space-travel department:
superboj sends an article written after its author investigated the Mars One Project for over a year. Even though 200,000 people have (supposedly) signed up as potential volunteers on a one-way trip to Mars, there are still frightfully few details about how the mission will be accomplished. From the article:
[Astronaut Chris Hadfield] says that Mars One fails at even the most basic starting point of any manned space mission: If there are no specifications for the craft that will carry the crew, if you don’t know the very dimensions of the capsule they will be traveling in, you can’t begin to select the people who will be living and working inside of it. "I really counsel every single one of the people who is interested in Mars One, whenever they ask me about it, to start asking the hard questions now. I want to see the technical specifications of the vehicle that is orbiting Earth. I want to know: How does a space suit on Mars work? Show me how it is pressurized, and how it is cooled. What’s the glove design? None of that stuff can be bought off the rack. It does not exist. You can’t just go to SpaceMart and buy those things."
The author concludes that the Mars One Project is "...at best, an amazingly hubristic fantasy: an absolute faith in the free market, in technology, in the media, in money, to be able to somehow, magically, do what thousands of highly qualified people in government agencies have so far not yet been able to do over decades of diligently trying, making slow headway through individually hard-won breakthroughs, working in relative anonymity pursuing their life’s work."

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New Book Argues Automation Is Making Software Developers Less Capable
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '14 at 04:16 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's more-time-to-browse-the-internet-though department:
dcblogs writes: Nicholas Carr, who stirred up the tech world with his 2003 essay, IT Doesn't Matter in the Harvard Business Review, has published a new book, The Glass Cage, Automation and Us, that looks at the impact of automation of higher-level jobs. It examines the possibility that businesses are moving too quickly to automate white collar jobs. It also argues that the software profession's push to "to ease the strain of thinking is taking a toll on their own [developer] skills." In an interview, Carr was asked if software developers are becoming less capable. He said, "I think in many cases they are. Not in all cases. We see concerns — this is the kind of tricky balancing act that we always have to engage in when we automate — and the question is: Is the automation pushing people up to higher level of skills or is it turning them into machine operators or computer operators — people who end up de-skilled by the process and have less interesting work?

I certainly think we see it in software programming itself. If you can look to integrated development environments, other automated tools, to automate tasks that you have already mastered, and that have thus become routine to you that can free up your time, [that] frees up your mental energy to think about harder problems. On the other hand, if we use automation to simply replace hard work, and therefore prevent you from fully mastering various levels of skills, it can actually have the opposite effect. Instead of lifting you up, it can establish a ceiling above which your mastery can't go because you're simply not practicing the fundamental skills that are required as kind of a baseline to jump to the next level."


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