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"Once In a Lifetime" Asteroid Sighting Monday Night
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '15 at 11:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's watch-the-show department:
An anonymous reader writes Tonight, Asteroid 2004 BL86 will make a pass by the Earth at just 745,000 miles away. This should offer stargazers a great opportunity to see the half-kilometer space rock. CNN has some tips on the best method and time to look. From the article: "The best chance for viewing will be from 8 p.m. ET Monday to 1 a.m. ET Tuesday. Asteroid 2004 BL86 is large, and it will brighten, but nonetheless will not be observable with the naked eye. Some astronomy websites say a pair of binoculars could do the trick, but Sky & Telescope recommends at least a 3- or 4-inch diameter telescope. 'One good technique for fast-movers like 2004 BL86 is to identify and lock onto a star along its path,' Sky & Telescope senior editor Kelly Beatty says. 'Then just watch at the time that the asteroid is predicted to pass by that particular star.'"

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Germany Plans Highway Test Track For Self-Driving Cars
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '15 at 10:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's look-mutter-no-hands department:
An anonymous reader writes with news about a new project to test autonomous vehicles in Germany. "The German government wants to convert part of the A9 Autobahn in Bavaria into a test-field for advanced car technology. The project is key to ensuring the country's 'digital sovereignty,' according to its transport minister. The track, part of the 'Digitales Testfeld Autobahn' project, would be launched this year, Alexander Dobrindt said on Monday in an interview (in German) with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. The plan involves equipping the road with infrastructure to allow cars to communicate with each other and the road's own sensors to provide necessary data on traffic. 'Cars with assisted driving and later fully-automated cars will be able to drive there,' Dobrindt said. Germany, a major European car producer, wants to have robotic car technology that's not dependent on foreign companies, the minister said. Domestic producers 'won't rely on Google' he stressed."

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Windows 10: Charms Bar Removed, No Start Screen For Desktops
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '15 at 09:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's check-it-out department:
jones_supa writes Late last week, Microsoft pushed out a new build (9926) of Windows 10 to those of you who are running the Technical Preview. The latest version comes with many new features, some easily accessible, others bubbling under, but two big changes are now certain: the Charms bar is dead, and Start Screen for large devices is no more. Replacing the Charms bar is the Action Center, which has many of the same shortcuts as the Charms bar, but also has a plethora of other information too. Notifications are now bundled into the Action Center and the shortcuts to individual settings are still easily accessible from this window. The Start Screen is no longer present for desktop users, the options for opening it are gone. Continuum is the future, and it has taken over what the Start Screen initiated with Windows 8.

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Scientists Determine New Way To Untangle Proteins By Unboiling an Egg
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '15 at 08:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's I-would-like-my-eggs-undone-please department:
An anonymous reader sends word of this biotech breakthrough. "Univ. of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) and Australian chemists have figured out how to unboil egg whites—an innovation that could dramatically reduce costs for cancer treatments, food production and other segments of the $160 billion global biotechnology industry, according to findings published in ChemBioChem. 'Yes, we have invented a way to unboil a hen egg,' said Gregory Weiss, UCI professor of chemistry and molecular biology & biochemistry. 'In our paper, we describe a device for pulling apart tangled proteins and allowing them to refold. We start with egg whites boiled for 20 min at 90 C and return a key protein in the egg to working order.'"

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Google Explains Why WebView Vulnerability Will Go Unpatched On Android 4.3
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '15 at 08:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's no-patch-for-you department:
MojoKid writes If you're running Android 4.3 or earlier, you're pretty much out of luck when it comes to a baked-in defense against a WebView vulnerability that was discovered earlier this month by security analyst Tod Beardsley. The vulnerability leaves millions of users open to attack from hackers that choose to exploit the security hole. WebView is a core component of the Android operating system that renders web pages. The good news is that the version of WebView included in Android 4.4 KitKat and Android 5.0 Lollipop is based on Chromium and is not affected by the vulnerability. The bad news is that those running Android 4.3 and earlier are wide open, which means that 60 percent of Android users (or nearly one billion customers) are affected. What's most interesting is that Google has no trouble tossing grenades at the feet of Microsoft and Apple courtesy of its Project Zero program, but doesn't seem to have the resources to fix a vulnerability that affects a substantial portion of the Android user base.

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Inside Ford's New Silicon Valley Lab
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '15 at 07:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's take-a-look-around department:
An anonymous reader writes Engadget takes a look at Ford's new Research and Innovation Center located in Palo Alto. The company hopes to use the new facility to speed the development of projects such as autonomous cars and better natural voice recognition. From the article: "This isn't Ford's first dance with the Valley — it actually started its courtship several years ago when it opened its inaugural Silicon Valley office in 2012. The new center, however, is a much bigger effort, with someone new at the helm. That person is Dragos Maciuca, a former Apple engineer with significant experience in consumer electronics, semiconductors, aerospace and automotive tech. Ford also hopes to build a team of 125 professionals under Maciuca, which would make the company one of the largest dedicated automotive research teams in the Valley."

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Omand Warns of "Ethically Worse" Spying If Unbreakable Encryption Is Allowed
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '15 at 06:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's don't-make-it-hard-for-us department:
Press2ToContinue writes In their attempts to kill off strong encryption once and for all, top officials of the intelligence services are coming out with increasingly hyperbolic statements about why this should be done. Now, a former head of GCHQ, Sir David Omand has said: "One of the results of Snowden is that companies are now heavily encrypting [communications] end to end. Intelligence agencies are not going to give up trying to get the bad guys. They will have to get closer to the bad guys. I predict we will see more close access work."

According to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which reported his words from a talk he gave earlier this week, by this he meant things like physical observation, bugging rooms, and breaking into phones or computers.

"You can say that will be more targeted but in terms of intrusion into personal privacy — collateral intrusion into privacy — we are likely to end up in an ethically worse position than we were before."

That's remarkable for its implied threat: if you don't let us ban or backdoor strong encryption, we're going to start breaking into your homes.


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Secret Service Investigating Small Drone On White House Grounds
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '15 at 06:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's a-little-off-course department:
An anonymous reader sends word that the Secret Service is investigating a "device," described as a small drone, found on the grounds of the White House. "A small drone was found on the White House grounds overnight, two law enforcement sources told ABC News, but White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the situation 'does not pose any sort of ongoing threat.' The Secret Service is investigating the device, Earnest said. Police, fire and other emergency vehicles swarmed around the White House in the pre-dawn hours, with several clustered near the southeast entrance to the mansion. The White House was dark and the entire perimeter was on lockdown until around 5 a.m., when pass holders who work in the complex were allowed inside."

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Verizon, Cable Lobby Oppose Spec-Bump For Broadband Definition
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '15 at 05:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's never-let-the-government-define-words department:
WheezyJoe writes Responding to the FCC's proposal to raise the definition of broadband from 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream to 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up, the lobby group known as the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) wrote in an FCC filing Thursday that 25Mbps/3Mbps isn't necessary for ordinary people. The lobby alleges that hypothetical use cases offered for showing the need for 25Mbps/3Mbps "dramatically exaggerate the amount of bandwidth needed by the typical broadband user", referring to parties in favor of the increase like Netflix and Public Knowledge. Verizon, for its part, is also lobbying against a faster broadband definition. Much of its territory is still stuck on DSL which is far less capable of 25Mbps/3Mbps speeds than cable technology.

< article continued at Slashdot >

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For New Yorkers, Cablevision Introduces a Wi-Fi-Centric VoiP Network
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '15 at 03:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's they'll-take-manhattan department:
The New York Times reports that
Cablevision Systems plans to announce on Monday the start of a low-cost mobile phone service that will use Wi-Fi for connectivity rather than standard cellular networks, the first such service to be introduced by a cable operator. Called Freewheel, the service will offer unlimited data, talking and texting worldwide for $29.95 a month, or $9.95 a month for Cablevision’s Optimum Online customers — a steep discount compared with standard offerings from traditional cellular carriers. Freewheel customers initially must use a specific Motorola Moto G smartphone, which is being sold for $99.95. The service goes on sale next month, and no annual contract is required.

(Reuters carries a similar story.)

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How Do We Know the Timeline of the Universe?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '15 at 12:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's magic-8-ball-helps-narrow-things-down department:
StartsWithABang writes The history of the Universe happened in a well-known order: inflation ends, matter wins out over antimatter, the electroweak symmetry breaks, antimatter annihilates away, atomic nuclei form, then neutral atoms, stars, galaxies, and eventually us. But scientists and science magazines often publish timelines of the Universe with incredibly precise times describing when these various events occur. Here's how we arrive at those values, along with the rarely-publicized uncertainties.

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Google Handed To FBI 3 Wikileaks Staffers' Emails, Digital Data
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '15 at 09:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's why-there-oughtta-be-a-constitution department:
Ariastis writes Google took almost three years to disclose to the open information group WikiLeaks that it had handed over emails and other digital data belonging to three of its staffers to the FBI under a secret search warrant issued by a federal judge. WikiLeaks were told last month of warrants which were served in March 2012. The subjects of the warrants were the investigations editor of WikiLeaks, the British citizen Sarah Harrison; the spokesperson for the organisation, Kristinn Hrafnsson; and Joseph Farrell, one of its senior editors. When it notified the WikiLeaks employees last month, Google said it had been unable to say anything about the warrants earlier as a gag order had been imposed.

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Anonymous Asks Activists To Fight Pedophiles In 'Operation Deatheaters'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '15 at 06:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's or-have-you-stopped-beating-her? department:
HughPickens.com writes The Independent reports that hacktivist group Anonymous, in a project named Operation DeathEaters, is calling for help in its fight against international pedophile networks, or what it calls the "paedosadist industry" and has issued a video instructing activists on how they can aid in the operation. The Anonymous project is intended to break what it says is a conspiracy of silence among sympathetic politicians, police and mainstream media to downplay the full extent of the online child sex industry. "The premise behind OpDeathEaters is to expose high level complicity, obstruction of justice and cover-up in the paedo-sadist industry in order to show the need for independent inquiries," says Heather Marsh, an online activist who is helping to co-ordinate the operation and describes herself as an "old friend" of Anonymous. The Anonymous database, which will be hosted on the GitHub online repository, promises to collate cases from all around the world, cross-referencing connections within sub-groups including the police, armed forces, schoolteachers, politicians, media, academics and religious organisations. The database's ultimate purpose has yet to be fully determined, but in the first instance the group says it wants to shut down the child-sex industry by "dismantling the power structure which held it there" and by "educating to create a cultural change".

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Ed Felten: California Must Lead On Cybersecurity
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '15 at 04:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's so-goes-the-nation department:
An anonymous reader writes In a Sacramento Bee op-ed, (in)famous computer security researcher Ed Felten responds to the State of the Union cybersecurity proposal. He doesn't mince words: "The odds of clearing Congress: low. The odds of materially improving security: even lower. "What he suggests as an alternative, though, is a surprise. "California," he writes, "could blaze a trail for effective cybersecurity policy." He calls for the state government to protect critical infrastructure and sensitive data, relying on outside auditors and experts. It's an interesting idea. Even if it doesn't go anywhere, at least it's some fresh thinking in this area of backward policy.

From Felten's essay: Critical infrastructure increasingly relies on industrial automation systems. And those systems are often vulnerable – they keep a default password, for instance, or are accessible from the public Internet. These are not subtle or sophisticated errors. Fixing them requires basic due diligence, not rocket science. Requiring the state’s critical infrastructure providers to undergo regular security audits would be straightforward and inexpensive – especially relative to the enormous risks. Areas of sensitive data are also low-hanging cyber fruit. In health care, education and finance, California already imposes security and privacy requirements that go beyond federal law. Those legal mandates, though, are mostly enforced through after-the-fact penalties. Much like critical infrastructure, sectors that rely upon sensitive data would benefit from periodic outside auditing.

Of any state government's, California's policies also have the chance to help (or harm) the most people: nearly 39 million people, according to a 2014 U.S. Census estimate.

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SpaceX, US Air Force Settle Spy Sat Dispute
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '15 at 03:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's show-elon-what-you're-wearing department:
hypnosec writes The US Air Force and private space flight company SpaceX have settled their dispute involving the military's expendable rocket program, thereby paving the way for SpaceX to join the spy satellite launch program known as Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV). The settlement opens doors for SpaceX to compete with United Launch Alliance (ULA) for launch of spy satellites. ULA is a joint Boeing-Lockheed venture – the only private player to have received clearance for launching black ops satellites.

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DirectX 12 Lies Dormant Within Microsoft's Recent Windows 10 Update
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '15 at 02:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's until-activated-by-a-trigger-word department:
MojoKid writes After last Wednesday's Windows 10 event, early adopters and IT types were probably anxious for Microsoft to release the next preview build. Fortunately, it didn't take long as it came out on Friday, and it's safe to say that it introduced even more than many were anticipating (but still no Spartan browser). However, in case you missed it, DirectX 12 is actually enabled in this Windows 10 release, though unfortunately we'll need to wait for graphics drivers and apps that support it, to take advantage of DX 12 features and performance enhancements.

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A Call That Made History, 100 Years Ago Today
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '15 at 01:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's bet-he-was-slammed-for-texting-too department:
alphadogg writes These days, making a call across the U.S. is so easy that people often don't even know they're talking coast to coast. But 100 years ago Sunday, it took a hackathon, a new technology and an international exposition to make it happen. The first commercial transcontinental phone line opened on Jan. 25, 1915, with a call from New York to the site of San Francisco's Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Alexander Graham Bell made the call to his assistant, Thomas Watson. Just 39 years earlier, Bell had talked to Watson on the first ever phone call, in Boston, just after Bell had patented the telephone.

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Fish Found Living Half a Mile Under Antarctic Ice
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '15 at 12:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's we're-going-to-need-a-lot-more-line department:
BarbaraHudson (3785311) writes "Researchers were startled to find fish, crustaceans and jellyfish investigating a submersible camera after drilling through nearly 2,500 feet (740 meters) of Antarctic ice. The swimmers are in one of the world's most extreme ecosystems, hidden beneath the Ross Ice Shelf, roughly 530 miles (850 kilometers) from the open ocean. "This is the closest we can get to something like Europa," said Slawek Tulaczyk, a glaciologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz and a chief scientist on the drilling project. More pictures here."

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Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '15 at 11:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's let's-make-a-wager department:
An anonymous reader writes In the recent Slashdot discussion on the D programming language, I was surprised to see criticisms of Pascal that were based on old information and outdated implementations. While I'm sure that, for example, Brian Kernighan's criticisms of Pascal were valid in 1981, things have moved on since then. Current Object Pascal largely addresses Kernighan's critique and also includes language features such as anonymous methods, reflection and attributes, class helpers, generics and more (see also Marco Cantu's recent Object Pascal presentation). Cross-platform development is fairly straightforward with Pascal. Delphi targets Windows, OS X, iOS and Android. Free Pascal targets many operating systems and architectures and Lazarus provides a Delphi-like IDE for Free Pascal. So what do you think? Is Pascal underrated?

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Fark's Drew Curtis Running For Governor of Kentucky
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '15 at 10:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's dark-horse department:
New submitter AlCapwn writes [Fark founder] Drew Curtis announced on Friday that he will be running for governor of Kentucky. "We have a theory that we're about to see a huge change in how elections and politics work. Across the country, we have seen regular citizens stepping up and challenging the status quo built by political parties and career politicians. They have been getting closer and closer to victory and, here in Kentucky, we believe we have a chance to win and break the political party stronghold for good."

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