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In Florida, Secrecy Around Stingray Leads To Plea Bargain For a Robber
Posted by News Fetcher on February 23 '15 at 12:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's it-looks-just-like-a-snipe department:
schwit1 writes The case against Tadrae McKenzie looked like an easy win for prosecutors. He and two buddies robbed a small-time pot dealer of $130 worth of weed using BB guns. Under Florida law, that was robbery with a deadly weapon, with a sentence of at least four years in prison. But before trial, his defense team detected investigators' use of a secret surveillance tool, one that raises significant privacy concerns. In an unprecedented move, a state judge ordered the police to show the device — a cell-tower simulator sometimes called a StingRay — to the attorneys. Rather than show the equipment, the state offered McKenzie a plea bargain. Today, 20-year-old McKenzie is serving six months' probation after pleading guilty to a second-degree misdemeanor. He got, as one civil liberties advocate said, the deal of the century.

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Rocket Flown Through Northern Lights To Help Unlock Space Weather Mysteries
Posted by News Fetcher on February 22 '15 at 09:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's david-bowie-enjoyed-the-trip department:
Zothecula writes The northern lights are more than one of nature's most awe inspiring sights, they are an electromagnetic phenomena that can adversely affect power grids and communications and navigation systems. Researchers from the University of Oslo have flown a rocket through the phenomena to take a closer look with the aim of gathering data that will help in predicting space weather.

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Bill Nye Disses "Regular" Software Writers' Science Knowledge
Posted by News Fetcher on February 22 '15 at 06:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's line-in-the-sand department:
conoviator writes Bill Nye, one of the foremost science educators in the United States states that only the upper crust members of American science and technology (with degrees from top tier schools) understand science, particularly climate change. He opines that "regular software writers" dwell in the realm of the semi-science-literate. Nye rates science education in the U.S. an F. ("But if it makes you feel any better, you can say a B-minus.")

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Inside the Business of Online Reputation Spin
Posted by News Fetcher on February 22 '15 at 04:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's loved-the-armband-harry department:
The Guardian has a long, thought-provoking piece (it's an excerpt from an upcoming book) on the way that online PR works, when individuals or organizations pay online spin doctors to change the way they're perceived online. Embarrassing photos, ill-considered social media posts, even quips that have ended up geting the speaker into hot water, can all be crowded out, even if not actually expunged, by injecting lots of innocuous information, photos, and other bits of information. That crowding out seems to be the reputation managers' prime tactic. Besides a brush of his own with identity theft (or at least unwanted borrowing), the author spoke at length with both Adria Richards and "Hank"; both of whom ended up losing their jobs in the aftermath of what became known as Donglegate, after Richards tweeted about jokes that she overheard Hank and another developer share at PyCon 2013.

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Ars: SSL-Busting Code That Threatened Lenovo Users Found In a Dozen More Apps
Posted by News Fetcher on February 22 '15 at 03:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's keeps-on-giving department:
Ars Technica reports on the continuing revelations about the same junkware that Lenovo has shipped on their computers, but which is known now to be present in at least 14 pieces of software.

The list of software known to use the same HTTPS-breaking technology recently found preinstalled on Lenovo laptops has risen dramatically with the discovery of at least 12 new titles, including one that's categorized as a malicious trojan by a major antivirus provider. ... What all these applications have in common is that they make people less secure through their use of an easily obtained root CA [certificate authority], they provide little information about the risks of the technology, and in some cases they are difficult to remove," Matt Richard, a threats researcher on the Facebook security team, wrote in Friday's post. "Furthermore, it is likely that these intercepting SSL proxies won't keep up with the HTTPS features in browsers (e.g., certificate pinning and forward secrecy), meaning they could potentially expose private data to network attackers. Some of these deficiencies can be detected by antivirus products as malware or adware, though from our research, detection successes are sporadic."

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Mars One Does Not Renew Contracts For Robotic Missions
Posted by News Fetcher on February 22 '15 at 01:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's first-one-was-good-enough department:
braindrainbahrain writes Mars One is, of course, the highly speculative, low credibility project to land humans on Mars after a one-way trip. In 2013 they had announced that two contracts had been awarded to the aerospace industry to develop a Mars orbiter and a Mars lander to carry a science experiment payload to the surface. Both contracts have been completed, but so far, Mars One has no immediate plans to renew the contracts and pursue further development of the crafts.

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The Imitation Game Fails Test of Inspiring the Next Turings
Posted by News Fetcher on February 22 '15 at 12:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's thought-he-was-great-in-wargames-though department:
reifman writes In 'The Imitation Game': Can This Big Fat Cliche Win Best Picture?, reviewer Monica Guzman blasts the film for distorting history and missing the opportunity to inspire today's tech savvy, highly surveilled generation to follow in Turing's path: Instead of an inventor, it shows a stereotype. Instead of inspiring us to follow in the footsteps of a person who shaped technology, the film inspires us only to get out of the way of the next genius who can. The Imitation Game changed aspects of the real Alan Turing's personality to conform more closely to our idea of the solitary nerd. It falls in line with the tired idea that only outcasts could love computers...As for explaining the science behind Turing's code-breaking machine, the movie doesn't bother. if invention doesn't deserve top billing in this story, where the technology at its heart is not only historically significant but hugely resonant in our lives today, then I don't know where it would. The message of the movie is that the uncommon man can do amazing things, but the message we need is that the common man, woman, anybody can and should tinker with the technology that manages our whole world.

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How Walking With Smartphones May Have Changed Pedestrian Etiquette
Posted by News Fetcher on February 22 '15 at 11:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's outta-the-way-bub department:
An anonymous reader writes The phenomenon of 'distracted walking' — pedestrians who walk while using smartphones — has raised civic attention in the last few years, with Utah issuing fines and cities in China creating dedicated 'smartphone lanes' for walkers who need to keep up with Whatsapp on the move. This article argues that smartphone users have become so accustomed to other people getting out of their way that they will no longer negotiate for sidewalk space even when not using their phones.

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"Exploding Kittens" Blows Up Kickstarter Records
Posted by News Fetcher on February 22 '15 at 10:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's someone's-gotta-be-in-the-lead department:
The Register reports that the crowdfunded Exploding Kittens card game from Oatmeal (and Tesla museum fund-raiser) Matthew Inman, along with X-box veterans Elan Lee and Shane Small, has become the highest-grossing game project yet on Kickstarter. After an intensive fundraising campaign, the trio collected $8.78m from 219,382 backers to launch the game. This breaks the record for the largest ever Kickstarter game project, previously held by hackable Android gaming console Ouya.

According to the blurb on Exploding Kittens' (now closed) Kickstarter page, players "take turns drawing cards until someone draws an exploding kitten and loses the game."


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Iran Allows VPNs To Make Millions In Profit
Posted by News Fetcher on February 22 '15 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's have-cake-and-eat-it-too department:
New submitter Patrick O'Neill writes with this excerpt from The Daily Dot: Anti-censorship technology is de jure illegal in Iran, but many VPNs are sold openly, allowing Iranians to bounce around censorship and seemingly render it ineffective. Nearly 7 in 10 young Iranians are using VPNs, according to the country's government, and a Google search for "buy VPN" in Persian returns 2 million results. Iran's Cyber Police (FATA) have waged a high-volume open war against the VPNs, but it's still very easy to find, buy, and use the software. It's so easy, in fact, that you can use Iran's government-sanctioned payment gateways (Pardakht Net, Sharj Iran, Jahan Pay & Baz Pardakht) to buy the tools that'll beat the censors. To use these gateways, however, customers have to submit their Iranian bank account and identity, all but foregoing hopes of privacy or protection from authorities."

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Al-Shabaab Video Threat Means Heightened Security at Mall of America
Posted by News Fetcher on February 22 '15 at 08:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's worst-case-scenarios department:
Reuters and other news outlets carry the news that the Minnesota's gigantic Mall of America is under heightened security after a video threat posted online by terrorist group <a>Al-Shabaab</a>. Also at CNN and CBS News. According to Reuters' version of the story: The U.S. homeland security chief said on Sunday he takes seriously a threat made by Somali-based Islamist militants against shopping malls, including the Mall of America in Minnesota, and urged people going there to be careful.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was reacting to a video released by al Shabaab appearing to call for attacks on Western shopping areas, specifically mentioning Mall of America, the West Edmonton Mall in Canada and London's Oxford Street. ... Mall officials issued a statement about the threat made by the group, saying they are monitoring events with the help of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

"Mall of America has implemented extra security precautions, some may be noticeable to guests, and others won’t be," the officials said.


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Will Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis Support Cryptocurrency In Greece?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 22 '15 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's for-health-points department:
giulioprisco writes New Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, former Economist-in-Residence at game developer Valve Corporation, sees something like Bitcoin — or, more likely, a state-controlled "Fedcoin" — possibly playing a role in the (necessarily creative) rescue of the Greek economy. "The technology of Bitcoin, if suitably adapted, can be employed profitably in the Eurozone," he said.

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An Evidence-Based Approach To Online Dating
Posted by News Fetcher on February 22 '15 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's if-at-first-you-don't-succeed department:
HughPickens.com writes Rachel Nuwer writes in the NYT that Dr. Sameer Chaudhry's online dating persona was garnering no response from the women he reached out to so he synthesized 86 literature studies on the subject of online dating in the fields of psychology, sociology, and computer, behavioral, and neurocognitive sciences.in hopes of improving his odds. As it turns out, success begins with picking a user name. While men are drawn to names linked to physical traits (e.g., Cutie), the researchers found, women prefer ones that indicate intelligence (e.g., Cultured). Both sexes respond well to playful names (e.g. Fun2bwith) and shy away from ones with negative connotations (e.g., Bugg). User names that begin with letters from the first half of the alphabet do better than those from the latter half. "As human beings, we have a tendency to give things at the top of a pile more value," says Khan. As for your profile photo, pick a photo with a genuine smile, one that crinkles the eyes, and with a slight head tilt (it's linked to attractiveness). And if you're looking for a male partner, go for that photo of you in siren red—a color that enhances men's attraction to women. "For those attracted to browse into the profile, a description of personal traits increased likeability when it: showed who the dater was and what they were looking for in a 70:30 ratio; stayed close to reality; and employed simple language with humor added. Invitations were most successful in obtaining a response from the potential date when they: were short personalized messages addressing a trait in their profile; rhymed with their screen name or headline message; and extended genuine compliments." And finally, don't wait too long before arranging a face to face meeting.

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Ask Slashdot: Parental Content Control For Free OSs?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 22 '15 at 04:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's good-idea-or-not department:
m.alessandrini writes Children grow up, and inevitably they will start using internet and social networks, both for educational and recreational purposes. And it won't take long to them to learn to be autonomous, especially with all the smartphones and tablets around and your limited time. Unlike the years of my youth, when internet started to enter our lives gradually, now I'm afraid of the amount of inappropriate contents a child can be exposed to unprepared: porn, scammers, cyberbullies or worse, are just a click away.

For Windows many solutions claim to exist, usually in form of massive antivirus suites. What about GNU/Linux? Or Android? Several solutions rely on setting up a proxy with a whitelist of sites, or similar, but I'm afraid this approach can make internet unusable, or otherwise be easy to bypass. Have you any experiences or suggestions? Do you think software solutions are only a part of the solution, provided children can learn hacking tricks better than us, and if so, what other 'human' techniques are most effective?


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Intel Core M Enables Lower Cost Ultrabooks; Asus UX305 Tested
Posted by News Fetcher on February 22 '15 at 12:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's can-never-be-too-cheap-or-too-thin department:
MojoKid (1002251) writes Asus announced their super-slim Zenbook UX305 during the IFA trade show in Berlin in September. The machine will be available in two models, one with a 1920x1080 IPS display and one with a QHD+ display that boasts a native resolution of 3200x1800. They're both built around Intel's more power-efficient Core M processor, which was designed for ultra-thin and "fanless" form factors. Intel's Core M does seem to offer significant advances both in terms of power consumption and performance, which enables many of the design features found on the 12.3mm thin UX305. The Core M 5Y10 in the Asus Zenbook UX305 is complemented by 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and this is one of the few ultrabooks to feature a matte display. All told, the machine put up some decent numbers in the benchmarks and battery life was excellent, but what's perhaps most interesting is that this is an "ultrabook" class machine that weighs in at much more palatable $700 price tag.

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Humans' Big Brains Linked To a Small Stretch of DNA
Posted by News Fetcher on February 21 '15 at 10:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's can't-have-nuclear-bombs-without-big-brains department:
A new study (abstract) described in the L.A. Times suggests that "just 10 differences on one particular strand of human DNA lying near a brain-development gene could have been instrumental in the explosive growth in the human neocortex."

The DNA region, containing just 1,200 base pairs, is not a gene. But it lies near one that is known to affect early development of the human neocortex, according to the study, published online Thursday in Current Biology. Researchers showed that the region, known as HARE5, acts as an enhancer of the gene FZD8. Embryos of mice altered with human HARE5 developed significantly larger brains and more neurons compared with embryos carrying the chimp version, according to the study.

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How One Climate-Change Skeptic Has Profited From Corporate Interests
Posted by News Fetcher on February 21 '15 at 07:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's note-that-doesn't-mean-he's-wrong department:
Lasrick writes Elected officials who want to block the EPA and legislation on climate change frequently refer to a handful of scientists who dispute anthropogenic climate change. One of scientists they quote most often is Wei-Hock Soon, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who claims that variations in the sun's energy can largely explain recent global warming. Newly released documents show the extent to which Dr. Soon has made a fortune from corporate interests. 'He has accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work.' The Koch Brothers are cited as a source of Dr. Soon's funding.

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ISS Crew Install Cables For 2017 Arrival of Commercial Capsules
Posted by News Fetcher on February 21 '15 at 05:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's in-meters-they're-even-longer department:
The Associate Press, as carried by the San Francisco Chronicle, reports that
NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Terry Virts have attached more than 300 feet of cable to the exterior of the International Space Station in the first in a series of three planned spacewalks; in total, the wiring job they're undertaking will involve 764 feet of power and data cables.

The extensive rewiring is needed to prepare for NASA’s next phase 260 miles up: the 2017 arrival of the first commercial spacecraft capable of transporting astronauts to the orbiting lab.
NASA is paying Boeing and SpaceX to build the capsules and fly them from Cape Canaveral, which hasn’t seen a manned launch since the shuttles retired in 2011. Instead, Russia is doing all the taxi work — for a steep price.
The first of two docking ports for the Boeing and SpaceX vessels — still under development — is due to arrive in June. Even more spacewalks will be needed to set everything up.
Mission Control left two cables — or about 24 feet worth — for the next spacewalk coming up Wednesday. Four hundred feet of additional cable will be installed next Sunday on spacewalk No. 3.


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Drug-Resistant Malaria May Pose Major Threat
Posted by News Fetcher on February 21 '15 at 04:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-just-crazy-dream-pills department:
According to Newsweek, "A strain of drug-resistant malaria that was discovered last summer along the Thailand-Cambodia border has been been spreading throughout Southeast Asia, to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar." Specifically, the samples are resistant to anti-malarial artemisinin.

The study analyzed more than 900 blood samples from malaria patients at over 55 different sites in Myanmar. The results showed that the drug-resistant bug was widespread, and dangerously close to the Indian border in the country’s Sagaing region. "Our study shows that artemisinin resistance extends over more of southeast Asia than had previously been known, and is now present close to the border with India,” wrote the researchers in the study abstract.

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Nvidia Faces Suit Over GTX970 Performance Claims
Posted by News Fetcher on February 21 '15 at 03:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's lot-of-work-for-a-few-pixels department:
According to this story at PC World, Nvidia was hit with a class action lawsuit Thursday that claims it misled customers about the capabilities of the GTX 970, which was released in September.

Nvidia markets the chip as having 4GB of performance-boosting video RAM, but some users have complained the chip falters after using 3.5GB of that allocation.

The lawsuit says the remaining half gigabyte runs 80 percent slower than it's supposed to. That can cause images to stutter on a high resolution screen and some games to perform poorly, the suit says.

It was filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern California and names as defendants Nvidia and Giga-Byte Technology, which sells the GTX 970 in graphics cards.

Nvidia declined to comment on the lawsuit Friday and Giga-Byte couldn't immediately be reached.


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