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Bitcoin Gets Its First TV Ads
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '14 at 10:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's as-seen-on-TV department:
MRothenberg writes Bitcoin's not just for libertarians and drug dealers any more! Electronic payment service BitPay this week launched a campaign aimed at making Bitcoin transactions more appealing to mainstream business owners — the first time Bitcoin has been featured in a TV spot. Conceived by Felton Interactive Group, the two new ads promote Bitcoin and BitPay as a secure alternative to traditional credit-card transactions.

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Ringing In 2015 With 40 Linux-Friendly Hacker SBCs
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '14 at 07:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's pick-your-favorite department:
DeviceGuru writes As seen in this year-end summary of 40 hacker-friendly SBCs, 2014 brought us plenty of new Linux and Android friendly single-board computers to tinker with — ranging from $35 bargains, to octa-core powerhouses. Many of the new arrivals feature 1-2GHz multicore SoCs, 1-2GB RAM, generous built-in flash, gigabit Ethernet, WiFi, on-board FPGAs, and other extras. However, most of the growth has been in the sub-$50 segment, where the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone reign supreme, but are now being challenged by a growing number of feature-enhanced clones, such as the Banana Pi and Orange Pi. Best of all, there's every reason to expect 2015 to accelerate these trends.

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The Billionaires' Space Club
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '14 at 05:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's small-club department:
theodp writes Silicon sultans are the new robber barons, writes The Economist, adding that "they have been diversifying into businesses that have little to do with computers, while egotistically proclaiming that they alone can solve mankind's problems, from aging to space travel." Over at Slate, NYU journalism prof Charles Seife is less-than impressed with The Billionaires' Space Club. "It's an old trick," begins Seife. "Multimillionaires regularly try to spin acts of crass ego gratification as selfless philanthropy, no matter how obviously self-serving. They jump out of balloons at the edge of the atmosphere, take submarines to the bottom of the ocean, or shoot endangered animals on safari, all in the name of science and exploration. The more recent trend is billionaires making fleets of rocket ships for private space exploration. What makes this one different is that the public actually seems to buy the farce." Seife goes on to argue that "neither [Elon] Musk's nor [Richard] Branson's goals really seem to break new ground, despite all the talk of exploration."

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When FISA Court Rejects a Surveillance Request, the FBI Issues a NSL Instead
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '14 at 04:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's giving-yourself-permission department:
An anonymous reader writes We've talked quite a bit about National Security Letters (NSLs) and how the FBI/DOJ regularly abused them to get just about any information the government wanted with no oversight. As a form of an administrative subpoena -- with a built in gag-order -- NSLs are a great tool for the government to abuse the 4th Amendment. Recipients can't talk about them, and no court has to review/approve them. Yet they certainly look scary to most recipients who don't dare fight an NSL. That's part of the reason why at least one court found them unconstitutional. At the same time, we've also been talking plenty about Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which allows the DOJ/FBI (often working for the NSA) to go to the FISA Court and get rubberstamped court orders demanding certain 'business records.' As Ed Snowden revealed, these records requests can be as broad as basically 'all details on all calls.' But, since the FISA Court reviewed it, people insist it's legal. And, of course, the FISA Court has the reputation as a rubberstamp for a reason — it almost never turns down a request. However, in the rare instances where it does, apparently, the DOJ doesn't really care, knowing that it can just issue an NSL instead and get the same information. At least that appears to be what the DOJ quietly admitted to doing in a now declassified Inspector General's report from 2008."

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Pope Francis To Issue Encyclical On Global Warming
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '14 at 03:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's it's-getting-hot-in-here department:
HughPickens.com writes The Guardian reports that following a visit in March to Tacloban, the Philippine city devastated in 2012 by typhoon Haiyan, Pope Francis plans to publish a rare encyclical on climate change and human ecology urging all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds. "A papal encyclical is rare," says Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences who revealed the pope's plans when he delivered Cafod's annual Pope Paul VI lecture. "It is among the highest levels of a pope's authority. It will be 50 to 60 pages long; it's a big deal." The encyclical will be sent to the world's 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests, who will distribute it to parishioners. Within Catholicism in recent times, an encyclical is generally used for significant issues, and is second in importance only to the highest ranking document now issued by popes, an Apostolic Constitution. "Just as humanity confronted revolutionary change in the 19th century at the time of industrialization, today we have changed the natural environment so much," says Sorondo. "If current trends continue, the century will witness unprecedented climate change and destruction of the ecosystem with tragic consequences."

< article continued at Slashdot >

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WikiLeaks Claims Employee's Google Mail, Metadata Seized By US Government
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '14 at 03:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's and-the-contents-of-your-locker department:
An anonymous reader writes On Christmas Eve, as the National Security Agency was releasing a report on NSA employees' abuses of surveillance technology, Google was telling WikiLeaks about another sort of surveillance. According to a statement by WikiLeaks on Twitter, Google informed the organization on December 24 that the Gmail mailboxes and account metadata of a WikiLeaks employee had been turned over to law enforcement under a U.S. federal warrant.

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India Blocks Code Sharing Websites On Anti-Terror Advisory
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '14 at 02:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's no-code-for-you department:
darkstar019 writes The Indian government has banned websites under the pretext that ISIS is using them for anti-Indian purposes. The list includes code sharing websites like Pastebin, Github and Sourceforge. As of now, these websites are still up. From the article: "Officials from the department of Information Technology and the department of telecom were not available for comment. 'These are all providing very dangerous kind of cut and paste services..You can take code, cut it, paste it, remove it, delete it,' said one government official who requested anonymity."

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South Korean Activist To Drop "The Interview" In North Korea Using Balloons
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '14 at 01:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's it's-raining-movies department:
Siddharth Srinivas writes Park Sang Hak a North Korean democracy activist said he will start dropping 100,000 DVDs and USBs with Sony's "The Interview" by balloon in North Korea as early as late January. He's partnering with the U.S.-based non-profit Human Rights Foundation, which is financing the making of the DVDs and USB memory sticks of the movie with Korean subtitles.

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US Army Could Waive Combat Training For Hackers
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '14 at 12:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's general-leroy-jenkins department:
An anonymous reader sends word that the U.S. Army may adjust some of its training practices and rules in order to attract the best "cyber warriors" available. "New U.S. Army cyber warriors could be spared the rigors of combat training to help the Pentagon attract badly needed recruits from the ponytail wearing Google generation, a top American general has suggested. Lt Gen Brown, commander of the US Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, said: 'We need to give serious consideration to how the US Army could combine the technical expertise of the "Google" generation with its more traditional military skills. In order to gain an intellectual advantage over adversaries in cyberspace, we will need to tap into a talent pool that may not fit the stereotypical soldier profile. Our goal is to recruit the best talent possible.'" This is not the first time there has been talk about loosening requirements to fill these roles.

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Google Researcher Publishes Unpatched Windows 8.1 Security Vulnerability
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '14 at 11:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's protect-ya-neck department:
An anonymous reader writes "Google's security research database has after a 90 day timeout automatically undisclosed a Windows 8.1 vulnerability which Microsoft hasn't yet patched. By design the system call <tt>NtApphelpCacheControl()</tt> in ahcache.sys allows application compatibility data to be cached for quick reuse when new processes are created. A normal user can query the cache but cannot add new cached entries as the operation is restricted to administrators. This is checked in the function <tt>AhcVerifyAdminContext()</tt>. Long story short, the aforementioned function has a vulnerability where it doesn't correctly check the impersonation token of the caller to determine if the user is an administrator. It hasn't been fully verified if Windows 7 is vulnerable. For a passer-by it is also hard to tell whether Microsoft has even reviewed the issue reported by the Google researcher. The database has already one worried comment saying that automatically revealing a vulnerability just like that might be a bad idea."

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Designing the Best Board Game
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '14 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's do-not-pass-go department:
An anonymous reader writes: Twilight Struggle tops BoardGameGeek's ranking of user-rated board games, handily beating classics like Puerto Rico, Settlers of the Catan, and Risk. FiveThirtyEight has an article about the game's design, and how certain design choices can affect enjoyment. Quoting: "Gupta has a few theories about why his game has done so well. For one, it's a two-player game — the Americans vs. the Soviets. Two-player games are attractive for a couple of reasons. First, by definition, half the players win. People like winning, and are likely to replay and rate highly a game they think they have a chance to win. ... The data offers some evidence for Gupta's hypothesis. Games that support three players rate highest, with an average of 6.58. But two-player games are a close second, with an average rating of 6.55. Next closest are five-player games, which average 6.39. ... The shortest games are the lowest rated, on average. But players don't favor length without bounds. Three hours seems to be right around the point of diminishing marginal returns. Another key to the game's success is its mix of luck and skill."
What design elements do you particularly enjoy or hate in board games?

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Ask Slashdot: What Should We Do About the DDoS Problem?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '14 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's build-another-internet-and-don't-tell-the-hackers department:
An anonymous reader writes: Distributed denial of service attacks have become a big problem. The internet protocol is designed to treat unlimited amounts of unsolicited traffic identically to important traffic from real users. While it's true DDoS attacks can be made harder by fixing traffic amplification exploits (including botnets), and smarter service front ends, there really doesn't seem to be any long term solution in the works. Does anyone know of any plans to actually try and fix the problem?

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The Coming Decline of 'Made In China'
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '14 at 09:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's everything-becomes-more-expensive department:
retroworks writes: Adam Minter documents the move of Chinese steel mills to Africa, and speculates that China's years of incredible rates of economic growth may already be over. This one steel mill's move to Africa, by itself, increases Africa's production by two-thirds. "The officials in Hebei Province who oversee the company may have felt they had no choice. First, they undoubtedly faced political pressure to reduce their environmental impact in China: reducing production of steel, cement and glass -- all highly polluting industries, especially in developing countries -- will have a direct impact on Xi Jinping’s pollution goals. (Starting in Hebei will have the added benefit of cleaning up polluted, neighboring Beijing.) Second, Hebei may simply be at a loss as to how to scale back businesses that they recognize have become massively bloated. Officials in China’s construction-related industries clearly have too much capacity and too little demand." It's also possible that these moves will be encouraged by China's transition to clean economy, though that could be a bad thing for pollution in Africa.

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Super-Sensitive Motion Sensor Could Be Used To Hunt For Extraterrestrial Life
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '14 at 08:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it's-life,-jim,-but-not-as-we-know-it department:
Zothecula writes: People often state that certain planets are too hot, cold or toxic to support life. The catch, however, is that those people are really just talking about life as we know it here on Earth. By that same token, when rovers exploring other planets seek out chemical signatures associated with life forms, they're only able to identify chemicals that we know to look for. That's why Swiss scientists from the EPFL research center have created a device that identifies microscopic life based on nanoscale movements instead of chemistry (abstract).

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Pew Survey: Tech Increases Productivity, But Also Time Spent Working
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '14 at 07:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's one-step-forward-two-steps-back department:
An anonymous reader writes: A survey of American workers conducted by the Pew Research Center found that email was their most indispensable tool, topping even broad access to the internet. 46% of workers say their productivity has increased thanks to email, the internet, and cell phones, while only 7% say those technologies have caused it to decrease. While many workers say technology has created a more flexible work schedule, they also say it has increased the total amount of hours they spend working. Almost half of the surveyed employees say their employer either forbids or explicitly blocks access to certain websites at the office. How have these technologies affected your work environment?

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FBI Monitoring Hacking Targets For Retaliation
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '14 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's never-start-a-fight-but-always-end-one department:
An anonymous reader writes: As high profile security breaches continue to grab headlines, little is being done visibly by the government to prevent future attacks. This is prompting some victims (and potential victims) to find creative ways to stop the hackers. The FBI is now concerned that U.S. companies and institutions are themselves breaking laws by retaliating with cyberattacks of their own. "In February 2013, U.S officials met with bank executives in New York. There, a JPMorgan official proposed that the banks hit back from offshore locations, disabling the servers from which the attacks were being launched ... Federal investigators later discovered that a third party had taken some of the servers involved in the attack offline, according to the people familiar with the situation. Based on that finding, the FBI began investigating whether any U.S. companies violated anti-hacking laws in connection with the strike on those servers, according to people familiar with the probe."

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Doppler Radar Used By Police To Determine Home Occupancy
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '14 at 05:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's partly-sunny-with-a-chance-of-people department:
schwit1 sends an article by Orin Kerr about a court case where a judge has had to weigh Fourth Amendment protections against law enforcement's ability to use a Doppler radar device to tell whether people are present within a home. Kerr writes:
If the government has the burden of proving reasonable suspicion, should the court treat the absence of information in the record on this point as not changing its otherwise-reached view that there is reasonable suspicion (as it does), or should that be treated as a potentially serious deficiency in getting to reasonable suspicion that the government has to overcome?

I’m not sure of the answer. We don’t normally encounter this question because we normally understand the uses and limits of investigatory tools. If the officer looked through the window and didn’t see any other people, for example, we could intuitively factor that into the reasonable suspicion inquiry without having to think about burdens of proof. I’m less sure what we’re supposed to do when the government use a suspicion-testing technological device with unknown capabilities."

The judge in the court case wrote, "New technologies bring with them not only new opportunities for law enforcement to catch criminals but also new risks for abuse and new ways to invade constitutional rights (PDF). ... Unlawful searches can give rise not only to civil claims but may require the suppression of evidence in criminal proceedings. We have little doubt that the radar device deployed here will soon generate many questions for this court and others along both of these axes."

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War Tech the US, Russia, China and India All Want: Hypersonic Weapons
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '14 at 02:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's faster-than-a-speeding-bullet department:
An anonymous reader writes: They can hit any target in 30 minutes or less. They travel anywhere from Mach 5 to Mach 25. All the major powers want them, and many look at them as a military game changer — if only they can make them work. Are hypersonic weapons the future of military doctrine?

Hypersonic weapons — or ballistic weapons that can hit a target flying many times faster than the speed of sound — have been hyped since the 1970s. Currently almost all of the major powers are trying to build them. The U.S. and China seem to be the furthest along, and are working on various types of systems. China hopes such weapons could be a game changer and deter any U.S. actions in Asia. There is, however, one big problem (besides the insane amount of technology to make them work, considering their speed): a possible arms race that could lead to a nuclear war:

"According to some analysts, the development of hypersonic weapons creates the conditions for a new arms race, and could risk nuclear escalation. Given that the course of hypersonic research has acknowledged both of these concerns, why have several countries started testing the weapons?"


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Peter Diamandis: Technology Is Dissolving National Borders
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '14 at 11:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'm-sure-we'll-build-walls-in-their-place department:
An anonymous reader writes: Peter Diamandis, creator of the X-PRIZE Foundation, has a thoughtful piece on how technology is wearing away at the barriers between nationalities. He asks, "[W]hat really defines your nationality these days? Is it where you were live? Where you work? The language you speak? The currency you use?" Diamandis then proceeds to point out the following facts: Working remotely is now widespread, and will only become moreso once telepresence robots become ubiquitous. Translation services, both for written and spoken language are approaching sci-fi-level capabilities. The rise of cryptocurrencies is providing a method for people worldwide to move away from national currencies. He argues that in the coming decades, these technologies will mature and begin to make the concept of nationality much less important than it is today. Do you agree?

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Security Research At the Hague, Netherlands: Mobile Network and Internet Threats
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '14 at 10:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's broad-trends-and-specific-answers department:
MojoKid writes: The Hague Security Delta (HSD) is the official title of a collaborative effort between Netherlands businesses, their federal government and multiple research institutions, to identify emerging security threats, share best practices, and foster collaboration between industry, governments, and universities. One of the most pressing issues they're tackling is that of mobile network and internet security. One point that the Netherlands' officials made repeatedly is that the country is essentially the "digital gateway" to Europe. This might seem like hubris but once you look at the arrangement of undersea cables between the U.S. and Europe, it makes a lot more sense. The Netherlands is far from the only transatlantic connection hub between the U.S. and Europe, but it certainly accounts for a significant chunk of total cable capacity. One of the brainchildren of the HSD is the creation of what it calls the "Trusted Networks Initiative" that would allow direct denial of service attacks originating from specific countries to be cut off. By creating a network "bridge" that can be raised and lowered, the idea is that content and visitors can be cleanly isolated from the bad actors launching an attack. There's an intrinsic assumption here — specifically, the idea that attackers are gathered into a group of systems that can cleanly be split from the so-called "trusted" networks that would continue to operate. It is however, an interesting concept to thwart broad-scale DDoS attacks.

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