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Probe Into NSA Activity Reveals Germany Spying On Germans
Posted by News Fetcher on December 01 '14 at 02:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's das-Volk-und-den-Staat department:
cold fjord writes The Local (DE) reports, "The Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's foreign intelligence service, spied on some citizens living abroad, a former lawyer for the spies told MPs on Thursday. Dr Stefan Burbaum ... said that some Germans were targeted as "office holders," a legal loophole the spies used to circumvent the law that protects Germans citizens from being spied on by its own intelligence agency. ... the German spies argue that a citizen working for a foreign company abroad is only protected in his private life, not in his professional communications ... "The office holder is the legal person," Burbaum said. ... "This construct of an office holder is just as absurd in practice as it appears in the law," Konstantin von Notz of the Green party said. Further, foreigners' communications conducted abroad are not protected, even if they are in contact with German people or work for a German company. MPs ... criticized the BND's ability to operate in a "lawless zone" when it came to spying on foreigners. ... the BND regularly retains traffic which it had not received specific permission to investigate which it collects during such trawls. In this way, access acquired under the "G10 law" becomes a "foot in the door" to otherwise closed-off sources of data, Burbaum said." The parliamentary investigation was initiated by reports that Chancellor Merkel's phone was being tapped by NSA, but later it was found that at least five countries were tapping Merkel's phone.

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Who Needs NASA? Exoplanet Detected Using a DSLR
Posted by News Fetcher on November 30 '14 at 11:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's small-cheap-everywhere department:
Iddo Genuth writes Until 20 years ago even the best telescopes in the world could not detect a planet outside our solar system. Now, with the aid of a basic DSLR, low cost lens and some DIY magic, you just might be able to "see" ET's home planet for yourself. Your DSLR can do much more than just take a few nice portraits or the occasional vacation photos – if you have some DIY experience (O.K. a bit more than just "some"), you might be able to repeat what David Schneider was recently been able to do — that is, building his own planet finder using only inexpensive photo gear, low cost electronics, the right kind of software and a lot of patience. Although Schneider was "only" able to rediscover an already known exsoplanet (some 63 light-years away from us), what he did — and more importantly how he did it — might allow planet hunting to become closer to SETI@home than NASA's 550,000 million dollar Kepler space telescope project.

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Breath Test For Pot Being Developed At WSU
Posted by News Fetcher on November 30 '14 at 07:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's what-point-oh-eight's-too-good-for-ya? department:
An anonymous reader writes with this news from Tacoma, WA's News Tribune: A team at Washington State University is working to develop a breath test that could quickly determine whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana. Law enforcement officers already use preliminary breath tests in the field to estimate drivers' blood alcohol content. But no similar portable tool exists to test for marijuana impairment ... Stoned drivers have become an increasing concern since Washington voters legalized recreational use of marijuana ... A quarter of blood samples taken from drivers in 2013, the first full year the initiative was in effect, came back positive for pot. ... officers and prosecutors rely on blood tests to determine how much active THC is present in a driver's blood. Those test results aren't immediately available to patrol officers who suspect someone is driving high." Also reported: "Under Washington's legal marijuana law, those who get caught driving with a blood content of at least 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter are subject to an automatic driver's license suspension of 90 days or more."

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DOOM 3DO Source Released On Github
Posted by News Fetcher on November 30 '14 at 04:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-are-doomed department:
New submitter burgerbecky writes The port that was as hellish as the game world itself, DOOM for the 3DO's source code has been released on github. The original programmer outlined the corners cut and why.

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Game Theory Analysis Shows How Evolution Favors Cooperation's Collapse
Posted by News Fetcher on November 30 '14 at 03:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's stealing-your-money-while-you-read-this department:
First time accepted submitter Ugmug (1495847) writes Last year, University of Pennsylvania researchers Alexander J. Stewart and Joshua B. Plotkin published a mathematical explanation for why cooperation and generosity have evolved in nature. Using the classical game theory match-up known as the Prisoner's Dilemma, they found that generous strategies were the only ones that could persist and succeed in a multi-player, iterated version of the game over the long term. But now they've come out with a somewhat less rosy view of evolution. With a new analysis of the Prisoner's Dilemma played in a large, evolving population, they found that adding more flexibility to the game can allow selfish strategies to be more successful. The work paints a dimmer but likely more realistic view of how cooperation and selfishness balance one another in nature."

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Black Friday '14: E-commerce Pages Far Slower Than They Were in 2013
Posted by News Fetcher on November 30 '14 at 02:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's scarce-resources department:
An anonymous reader writes Black Friday news kicked off this weekend quite early when Best Buy was hit with a massive outage, but it turns out that was only half the story. The top 50 e-commerce websites were slower overall this year compared to last, suggesting customers were frustrated even if they could get to their favorite shopping site. Web performance monitoring company Catchpoint Systems looked at aggregate performance this weekend and compared it to the same timeframe in 2013. The results are notable: desktop web pages were 19.85 percent slower, while mobile web pages were a whopping 57.21 percent slower.

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Football Concussion Lawsuits Start To Hit High Schools
Posted by News Fetcher on November 30 '14 at 01:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's mind-terrible-thing-to-smash department:
HughPickens.com writes Michael Tarm reports that a former high school quarterback has filed a lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association saying it didn't do enough to protect him from concussions when he played and still doesn't do enough to protect current players. This is the first instance in which legal action has been taken for former high school players as a whole against a group responsible for prep sports in a state. Such litigation could snowball, as similar suits targeting associations in other states are planned. "In Illinois high school football, responsibility — and, ultimately, fault — for the historically poor management of concussions begins with the IHSA," the lawsuit states. It calls high school concussions "an epidemic" and says the "most important battle being waged on high school football fields ... is the battle for the health and lives of" young players. The lawsuit calls on the Bloomington-based IHSA to tighten its head-injury protocols. It doesn't seek damages. "This is not a threat or attack on football," says attorney Joseph Siprut, who reached a $75 million settlement in a similar lawsuit against the NCAA in 2011. "Football is in danger in Illinois and other states — especially at the high school level — because of how dangerous it is. If football does not change internally, it will die. The talent well will dry up as parents keep kids out of the sport— and that's how a sport dies."

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WHO Timeline for Ebola Containment Proves Hard To Meet
Posted by News Fetcher on November 30 '14 at 12:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's mythical-doctor-month department:
The Associated Press, as carried by Salon, reports that the World Health Organization's intended timeline for limiting the spread of Ebola in the several West African countries where it has claimed thousands of lives has proved to be too optimistic. According to the article,

Two months ago, the World Health Organization launched an ambitious plan to stop the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa, aiming to isolate 70 percent of the sick and safely Ebola 70 percent of the victims in the three hardest-hit countries — Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — by December 1.

Only Guinea is on track to meet the December 1 goal, according to an update from WHO.

In Liberia, only 23 percent of cases are isolated and 26 percent of the needed burial teams are in place. In Sierra Leone, about 40 percent of cases are isolated while 27 percent of burial teams are operational.


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Physicist Kip Thorne On the Physics of "Interstellar"
Posted by News Fetcher on November 30 '14 at 10:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's it's-a-movie-get-through-it department:
A review of Interstellar at Scientific American that was not entirely flattering of the film's scientific aspects caught the eye of Cal Tech physicist Kip Thorne, who served as a consultant on the movie, and has actually written a book on the physics depicted. He and SciAm writer Lee Billings ended up having a conversation about how the film deals with time travel, black holes, and more. A slice:

I think the laws of physics very probably forbid warp drives and traversable wormholes. The research that has gone on over the past 25 years trying to determine whether its possible all point in negative directions, but it’s not a firmly closed door. So there are two issues here. One is that the laws of physics probably forbid it, but, gee, if they don’t, it would be great to have! The other is that the technology required to make a warp drive or a traversable wormhole is so far, far, far beyond the technology needed for a laser sail or a nuclear-pulse rocket that I would not be in favor of putting any significant resources into trying to develop it.

Now, you may have small amounts of money—tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars—spent on this, but nothing is wrong with that. Peer-review, at least in the United States and in Europe, is too strong for there to be any danger of millions or billions of dollars being spent on these things. The technology required for wormholes is so far removed from our current and plausible near-future capabilities that to throw lots of money at it would almost certainly be a total boondoggle.


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Supreme Court To Decide Whether Rap Lyric Threats Are Free Speech
Posted by News Fetcher on November 30 '14 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-in-front-of-the-children-or-judges department:
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in Elonis v. United States, in a case that could result in more attention paid to language in online postings. After a series of angry posts on Facebook in the form of explicit rap lyrics "about killing his estranged wife, shooting up a kindergarten class and attacking an FBI agent," Anthony Elonis "was convicted of making threats of violence and sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison. A federal appeals court rejected his claim that his comments were protected by the First Amendment.

The Obama administration says requiring proof that a speaker intended to be threatening would undermine the law's protective purpose. In its brief to the court, the Justice Department argued that no matter what someone believes about his comments, it does not lessen the fear and anxiety they might cause for other people.


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Ask Slashdot: IT Career Path After 35?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 30 '14 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's your-cane-is-in-the-mail department:
An anonymous reader writes "All my friends seem to be moving towards a managerial role, and I'm concerned about my increasing age in a business where, according to some, 30 might as well be 50. But I still feel young, and feel like I have so much to learn. So many interesting technical challenges cross my path, as I manage to move towards larger and more complex projects. I am in higher demand than ever, often with multiple headhunters contacting me in the same day. But will it last? Is age discrimination a myth? Are there statistics on how many IT people move into management? I know some older programmers who got bored with management and successfully resumed a tech-only career. Others started their own small business. What has been your experience? Do you/have you assumed a managerial role? Did you enjoy it? Have you managed to stay current and marketable long after 35?"

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Test Flight For NASA's Orion Capsule Slated for December 4
Posted by News Fetcher on November 30 '14 at 07:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's big-red-button department:
Space.com (which will also carry live web-cam coverage) reports that the <a>Orion capsule</a> is scheduled for a test flight, sans passengers, on Thursday, December 4th. For this test flight, Orion will make two orbits of Earth, with the second lap taking the capsule 15 times farther from the planet than the International Space Station. Officials have attached more than 1,000 sensors to the spacecraft to monitor its systems during flight.

Orion will also beam down images from its cameras as it is flying through space. NASA will use the information gathered during the test flight to make improvements to the spacecraft before humans set foot onboard.


The Houston Chronicle has an article with some excellent diagrams of the planned flight, the Orion capsule itself, as well as some of the technological and political history behind the project.

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The Driverless Future: Buses, Not Taxis
Posted by News Fetcher on November 30 '14 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's what-about-segway department:
jfruh writes Driverless vehicles are coming. The question is: what form will they take? Uber's management has suggested that, rather than owning our own private autonomous, cars, we'll all be glad to pay Uber by the trip for a private ride in one. But an Italian consultant working on experimental driverless vehicles in Europe thinks that the future will lie with automated buses, because driverless cars, "may be able to go and park themselves out of harm's way, they may be able to do more trips per day, but they will still need a 10 ft wide lane to move a flow of 3600 persons per hour ... their advantages completely fade away in an urban street, where the frequent obstacles and interruptions will make robots provide a performance that will be equal, or worse than, that of a human driver, at least in terms of capacity and density."

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Forbes Revisits the Surface Pro 3, Which May Face LG Competition
Posted by News Fetcher on November 30 '14 at 04:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's plusses-minuses department:
Forbes writer Marco Chiappetta revisits Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 half a year after its U.S. debut, and finds the tablet-laptop hybrid has held up pretty well, but suffers some dings worth knowing about before jumping at holiday sale prices, pointing out a number of scenarios where a full-fledged notebook, even if it’s roughly the same size, will be the better choice. I’ve found that the Surface Pro 3 is ideal for users that will likely fire the machine up when sitting at a desk or when in a conference room-type environment that has a table. The Surface Pro 3’s performance is plenty good for everyday computing and office applications, and the screen is top notch. Using the Surface Pro 3 as a notepad with its stylus is also very useful. In fact, over the course of the device’s life, Microsoft has issued a number of firmware, driver, and OS updates that have improved the overall responsiveness and usefulness of the Surface Pro 3. For those who want a laptop, though for actual laptop use, the Surface is an awkward fit. However, a thin, tablet-convertible, touchscreen laptop may appear soon from LG, as well.

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Hayabusa 2 Asteroid Probe Postponed By Weather Until Early December
Posted by News Fetcher on November 30 '14 at 01:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's or-just-whenever department:
As reported by The Register, Japan's Hayabusa 2 mission to mine (or at least sample) an asteroid, which was to have been launched Saturday, has been delayed by weather, until a time no earlier than Monday, Dec. 1st (and from JAXA's web site, it appears that Dec. 3rd is the current target):

If all goes to plan, the space probe will lift off next month and fly out to asteroid 1999JU3 by mid-2018 using ion engines. The craft will orbit the rock before dropping a bomb onto the surface. The resulting blast should leave a hole [in] the asteroid. The probe will then land and dig around in the rubble for material from below the surface using a "sampler horn". The probe will then take off again and head for home carrying its booty, and is due to return in 2020 or slightly later.

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Kim Dotcom Faces Jail At Bail Hearing
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '14 at 10:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's such-cynicism department:
An anonymous reader writes A bail hearing will resume on Monday at which New Zealand authorities will claim one-time internet tycoon Kim Dotcom is a flight risk and should be sent to jail to await his extradition hearing. The Crown quizzed Dotcom on his finances, contacts and even his online gaming habits this week. Authorities argued he had breached bail conditions by trying to sell a Rolls Royce and having contact with former Megaupload colleagues. Dotcom is wanted in the US on criminal copyright violation and racketeering charges.

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Graphene May Top Kevlar As a Bullet-Stopping Material
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '14 at 07:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's kevlar's-watching-its-back department:
The Royal Society of Chemistry reports that U.S. researchers Edwin Thomas and Jae-Hwang Lee have been testing the strength of graphene mesh in one role it's probably destined to appear in down the road: as ballistic shielding material. From the article: We cannot use conventional techniques such as a gun barrel or gunpowder [on this scale],’ explains Lee. ‘Instead we used a laser to accelerate a microscale silica bullet [at the multilayer graphene target].’

The bullet was propelled into stacked graphene sheets at supersonic speeds of up to 2000mph by the gases produced by laser pulses rapidly evaporating a gold film. The team calculated the energy difference of the bullet before and after to determine the energy absorbed.

Neil Bourne, director of the National Centre for Matter under Extreme Conditions in the UK, who was not involved in the research, described the technique as ‘very exciting’. ‘They have taken a standard laboratory ballistics configuration and demonstrated its utility on microscopic scales,’ he says.

Graphene was able to absorb up to 0.92MJ/kg of ballistic energy in the test, with cracks forming around the impact zone. By comparison, steel targets only absorbed up to 0.08MJ/kg at the same speed.


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A Rift In OnePlus, Cyanogen Relationship
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '14 at 04:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's when-companies-fight department:
As reported at SlashGear and Engadget, One Plus (which has been selling phones running Android-derived Cyanogen Mod rather than Android proper) has won't be selling its phones with Cyanogen Mod to Indian consumers. Instead, according to Slashgear, "When OnePlus launches their device for the Indian market, Cyanogen won't be on it. Cyanogen has instead chosen to go with Micromax, an OEM more familiar to the Indian market. Cyanogen and Micromax also have an exclusive deal." ZDNet reports that One Plus's One, loaded with Android 5.0 after this kerfuffle, will be available to Indian buyers for a 72-hour period (already in progress), rather than by invitation only, which had previously been the only option.

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Music Publishers Sue Cox Communications Over Piracy
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '14 at 02:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-must-crack-the-whip department:
wabrandsma (2551008) writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica:
BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music have sued Cox Communications for copyright infringement, arguing that the Internet service provider doesn't do enough to punish those who download music illegally.
Both BMG and Round Hill are clients of Rightscorp, a copyright enforcement agent whose business is based on threatening ISPs with a high-stakes lawsuit if they don't forward settlement notices to users that Rightscorp believes are "repeat infringers" of copyright.

In their complaint (PDF), the music publishers also decided to publicly post IP addresses.


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Ask Slashdot: Making a 'Wife Friendly' Gaming PC?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '14 at 01:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's or-any-spouse-reallly department:
shadeshope writes Having just gotten married, I find that for some inexplicable reason my wife doesn't like my huge, noisy, 'ugly' gaming PC being in the living room. I have tried hiding it in a TV cabinet: still too noisy. I have placed it in another room and run HDMI and USB cables, but the propagation delay caused horrible tearing and lag when playing games. Have any other slashdotters encountered this problem? I don't want to buy a console (Steam sales let me game so cheaply), or mess with water cooling. Ideally I would just hide it in the attic, is there some wireless technology that would be fast enough for gaming use? I have become quite attached to 'behemoth.' I have been upgrading him for years and he is the centre of my digital life. I run plex home theatre, media centre, steam, iTunes and air server. Will I have to do my gaming in the spare room? Once I have sorted this small problem going to try and make a case for the efficacy of a projector to replace the television..... it takes up less space, motorized screen could be hidden when not in use, etc.

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