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Bug In DOS-Based Voting Machines Disrupts Belgian Election
Posted by News Fetcher on May 26 '14 at 11:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's slowing-things-down department:
jfruh (300774) writes "In 20 cantons in Belgium's Flanders region, voting machines are x86 PCs from the DOS era, with two serial ports, a parallel port, a paltry 1 megabyte of RAM and a 3.5-inch disk drive used to load the voting software from a bootable DOS disk. A software bug in those machines is slowing the release of the results from yesterday's election, in which voters chose members of the regional, national, and European parliaments. The remaining voting machines, which are Linux-based, are unaffected, as were voters in the French-speaking Wallonia region of the country, most of whom use paper ballots."

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Registry Hack Enables Continued Updates For Windows XP
Posted by News Fetcher on May 26 '14 at 10:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's buying-time department:
DroidJason1 (3589319) writes "A registry workaround, which tricks Windows Update into thinking you are running Windows Embedded POSReady 2009, allows you to get free security updates until 2019. All you need is a simple 32bit or 64bit registry entry in order to make this work. POSReady 2009 is slated to receive security updates for another five years. Microsoft ended support for Windows XP on April 8th of 2014."

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Google Releases VirusTotal Uploader For OS X
Posted by News Fetcher on May 26 '14 at 10:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's check-it-out department:
An anonymous reader writes "Google today announced the release of VirusTotal Uploader for OS X, allowing Mac users to upload suspicious files for scanning. You can download it now directly for OS X 10.8 and 10.9 from VirusTotal. For those who don't know, VirusTotal Uploader for Windows is a popular tool for submitting suspicious files to the online scanning service. The process is as simple as right-clicking any file and selecting the relevant option from the context menu."

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Author Charles Stross: Is Amazon a Malignant Monopoly, Or Just Plain Evil?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 26 '14 at 10:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's bad-or-really-bad department:
An anonymous reader writes "Sci-fi author Charles Stross has a post providing insight into Amazon's recent bullying tactics against a major book publishing group. He puts the fight into perspective for the two most important parts of the book market: author and reader. He says: 'Amazon's strategy (as I noted in 2012) is to squat on the distribution channel, artificially subsidize the price of ebooks ("dumping" or predatory pricing) to get consumers hooked, rely on DRM on the walled garden of the Kindle store to lock consumers onto their platform, and then to use their monopsony buying power to grab the publishers' share of the profits. If you're a consumer, in the short term this is good news: it means you get cheap books. But if you're a reader, you probably like to read new books. By driving down the unit revenue, Amazon makes it really hard for publishers—who are a proxy for authors—to turn a profit. Eventually they go out of business, leaving just Amazon as a monopoly distribution channel retailing the output of an atomized cloud of highly vulnerable self-employed piece-workers like myself. At which point the screws can be tightened indefinitely. And after a while, there will be no more Charlie Stross novels because I will be unable to earn a living and will have to go find a paying job. TL:DR; Amazon's strategy against Hachette is that of a bullying combine the size of WalMart leaning on a much smaller supplier. And the smaller supplier in turn relies on really small suppliers like me. It's anti-author, and in the long term it will deprive you of the books you want to read.'"

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Hands-On With Sony's VR Headset
Posted by News Fetcher on May 26 '14 at 09:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's maybe-that-should-be-heads-on department:
It wasn't long after the rise of the Oculus Rift that Sony hopped on the virtual reality bandwagon and announced a headset of their own. Now, Eurogamer has had a chance to operate and test Sony's hardware, which they say "has its own distinct vision for VR," as well as a distinct focus on console gaming.
"On the 640x768 per eye first-gen Rift, the result was the perception of a disappointingly minuscule resolution, with a highly distracting "screen door" effect where you could see between the pixels. This is far less of an issue with Morpheus, and we were pleasantly surprised by how good image quality is in an environment where resolution remains at a premium. In discussing the situation with Sony, it's clear that some effort has gone into judging how to best apply the fisheye lens effect that distorts the image, with a stronger focus on retaining resolution in the key focus area. Over and above that, we wouldn't be surprised if the narrower field of view also contributes to improving image integrity. ... However, in comparing Morpheus to what we've seen from Oculus VR, it's perhaps surprising to discover that a truly transformative element of the proposition comes from a piece of hardware that you might already own: PlayStation Move. Our aspirations for the hardware were never fully realized, but the hook-up with Morpheus is a match made in heaven - in fact, if there is to be a struggle for market leadership with Oculus (and potentially Microsoft), the existing motion controller is undoubtedly one of the strongest weapons in Sony's arsenal."

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Human "Suspended Animation" Trials To Start This Month
Posted by News Fetcher on May 26 '14 at 08:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's buck-rogers department:
An anonymous reader writes in with news about a UPMC Presbyterian Hospital trial starting this month which brings us one step closer to suspended animation. "The researchers behind it don't want to call it suspended animation, but it's the most conventional way to explain it. The world's first humans trials will start at the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, with 10 patients whose injuries would otherwise be fatal to operate on. A team of surgeons will remove the patient's blood, replacing it with a chilled saline solution that would cool the body, slowing down bodily functions and delaying death from blood loss. According to Dr. Samuel Tisherman, talking to New Scientist: 'We are suspending life, but we don't like to call it suspended animation because it sounds like science fiction... we call it emergency preservation and resuscitation.'" We covered this story a few months ago when it was announced.

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Games That Make Players Act Like Psychopaths
Posted by News Fetcher on May 26 '14 at 08:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's aka-every-game-on-xbox-live department:
An article at Wired takes a look at two multiplayer survival games, DayZ and Rust, and at the behavior of players when their actions are freed from a civilized moral code. 'Violence wouldn't bother a psychopath, [Dr. Adam Perkins] says, but they might have another incentive to avoid violence: the consequences of getting caught. Most psychopaths are logical people, he says, and understand that actions bring consequences. The threat of repercussions — say, for example, prison — might keep them from acting out. Such disincentives do not exist in virtual worlds. Absent a sense of empathy, you're free to rob and kill at will. What we do with this reveals something about us.

Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test, says imagining ourselves doing something horrible is a way to see ourselves in a new light. "One of the ways we keep ourselves moral is to imagine the terrible things we could do, but then don't do," Ronson says. "You stand on a train platform and think, 'I could push that person in front of the train.' That thought pops into your head, and it doesn't make you a lunatic. It makes you a good person, because what you're actually saying is, 'Oh my god, I’m capable of doing a terrible thing, but I would never actually do it.'" ... But we're still left with the big question: Are our actions in a virtual world tantamount to imagining those things we could do in real life but never would? Or are we merely behaving as we would in real life if there were no consequences for our actions?'

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The Internet Is Now Part of the Crime Scene
Posted by News Fetcher on May 26 '14 at 07:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's looking-back department:
theodp (442580) writes "Over at Forbes, Kashmir Hill examines the disturbing Internet footprint of Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger. 'A decade ago,' observes TechCrunch's John Biggs in The Internet Is Now Part Of The Crime Scene, 'a crime scene was a photo and a report. Now it is a sea of interconnected tracings, the murderer bobbing loosely in social media and the forums. We can watch him make his way through these straits, we can watch the madness growing, and we can watch his terrible end, all through murk of media. We are quick to judge and we are quick to look at his wake and say, definitively, that he was this or he was that. He was frustrated. The frustration grew. He went to a place he thought would help. It didn't.'"

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The Major Theoretical Blunders That Held Back Progress In Modern Astronomy
Posted by News Fetcher on May 26 '14 at 06:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's more-you-don't-know department:
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "The history of astronomy is littered with ideas that once seemed incontrovertibly right and yet later proved to be bizarrely wrong. Not least among these are the ancient ideas that the Earth is flat and at the center of the universe. But there is no shortage of others from the modern era. Now one astronomer has compiled a list of examples of wrong-thinking that have significantly held back progress in astronomy. These include the idea put forward in 1909 that telescopes had reached optimal size and that little would be gained by making them any bigger. Then there was the NASA committee that concluded that an orbiting x-ray telescope would be of little value. This delayed the eventual launch of the first x-ray telescope by half a decade, which went on to discover the first black hole candidate among other things. And perhaps most spectacularly wrong was the idea that other solar systems must be like our own, with Jupiter-like planets orbiting at vast distances from their parent stars. This view probably delayed the discovery of the first exoplanet by 30 years. Indeed, when astronomers did find the first exo-Jupiter, the community failed to recognize it as a planet for six years. As Mark Twain once put it: 'It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.'"

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Steve Ballmer In Talks To Buy Los Angeles Clippers
Posted by News Fetcher on May 26 '14 at 05:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's dribblers-dribblers-dribblers department:
SmartAboutThings (1951032) writes "According to rumors circulating, the wife of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has reportedly met billionaire former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer on Sunday and they discussed the selling of the club. Previously, it was reported that Donald Sterling had surrendered control of the Los Angeles Clippers to his wife. The rumored deal has been estimated at about $2 billion, and if it does get through, there are chances that Ballmer might want to move the club to Seattle. If Ballmer does end up buying the Clippers, this would make him the second former Microsoft top executive to own an NBA team, after Paul Allen, the owner of the Portland Trailblazers."

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Cambridge Company Unveils 3D Printed "Fruit"
Posted by News Fetcher on May 26 '14 at 05:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's print-versus-pick department:
An anonymous reader writes "A Cambridge England company called Dovetailed has created the world's first 3D printed 'fruit'. They use a process of spherification to create little balls of fruit puree, which they then print to form the shape of the given fruit. Images here where you can see a 3D printed raspberry. Vaiva Kalnikait, creative director and founder of Dovetailed, said: 'We have been thinking of making this for a while. It’s such an exciting time for us as an innovation lab. Our 3D fruit printer will open up new possibilities not only to professional chefs but also to our home kitchens – allowing us to enhance and expand our dining experiences. We have re-invented the concept of fresh fruit on demand.'"

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Twitter Capitulates To Governments, Censors Users
Posted by News Fetcher on May 26 '14 at 05:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's cost-of-doing-business-with-hitler department:
An anonymous reader writes "Twitter made a public stance in 2011 to remain a platform for free speech, having helped fuel movements such as the Arab Spring. This past week, however, Twitter is shown to have complied with Russian government demands to block a pro-Ukrainian Twitter feed from reaching Russian citizens, with Turkish government demands that it remove content that the Turkish government wants removed, and with a Pakistani bureaucrat's request that content he considers blasphemous and unethical be censored in Pakistan. Given Twitter's role in the democratic uprisings of the past few years, what do these capitulations bode for future movements? Will other platforms take Twitter's place? Or is the importance to democracy of platforms such as Twitter overblown?"

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Official MPG Figures Unrealistic, Says UK Auto Magazine
Posted by News Fetcher on May 26 '14 at 01:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's your-mileage-may-vary department:
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "Research carried out by UK consumer magazine What Car? which concluded that official manufacturers' MPG figures are unrealistic. Based on the research, new car buyers in the UK who trust official, government-sanctioned fuel economy figures will pay an average of £1,000 (€1,216) more than they expect on fuel over a three-year period. Since launching True MPG two years ago, What Car? has tested almost 400 cars in real-world conditions, using cutting-edge test equipment and achieving economy figures that are on average 19% lower than the government figures."

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Sony Bringing PlayStation To China
Posted by News Fetcher on May 25 '14 at 11:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's 10-million-consoles-and-8-games department:
VentureBeat reports that one market formerly closed to console makers is opening up in a big way. An excerpt:

"One month after Microsoft announced it’s launching the Xbox One in China this September, Sony today announced that its PlayStation business is coming to the world’s most populous country. It’s unclear which PlayStation hardware and games will come to China — or when — but it’s reasonable to assume Sony will bring its PlayStation 4 console (and perhaps its PlayStation Vita handheld) to China later this year. The Chinese game industry is already worth $13 billion, most of which gets spent on PC and mobile. That’s not console makers’ fault: China implemented a console ban in 2000, saying it would protect children from violent video games. As soon as the Chinese Ministry of Culture said it would begin working on new rules, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony all expressed interest in bringing their consoles to the country. Like Microsoft, which is working with Chinese media firm BesTV to bring the Xbox One to China, Sony also has a local partner: Shanghai Oriental Pearl Culture Development (OPCD). Both OPCD and BesTV are subsidiaries of China’s Shanghai Media Group."

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Sifting Mt. Gox's Logs Reveals Suspicious Trading Patterns
Posted by News Fetcher on May 25 '14 at 07:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's didn't-do-it-and-nobody-saw-me department:
This analysis of trading logs from the Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange analyzes a subset of the transactions that took there prior to the Mt. Gox collapse, and makes the case that two bots (the writer calls them "Willy," and "Markus") were making suspicious transactions which may have been used to intentionally manipulate the trading price, and which can explain the loss of Bitcoin inventory on which the exchange's failure was blamed.
The author of the analysis says "[T]here is more than plenty of evidence to suspect that what happened at Mt. Gox may have been an inside job. What I hope to achieve by releasing this analysis into the wild is for the public to learn the truth behind what happened at Mt. Gox, how it affected the Bitcoin price, and hopefully for the individuals responsible for the massive fraud that occurred at Mt. Gox to be put to justice. Although the evidence shown in this report is far from conclusive, it can hopefully spur a more rigorous investigation into Mt. Gox’s accounting data, both by the public (using the leaked data) and the authorities (forensic investigation on the actual data)."

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Mental Illness Reduces Lifespan As Much as Smoking
Posted by News Fetcher on May 25 '14 at 04:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's both-at-once-is-just-asking-for-it department:
That smoking is bad for your health is a commonplace; cancer, lung disease, and other possible consequences can all shorten smokers' lifespans. A new meta study from researchers at Oxford concludes that mental illness is just as big a factor in shortening lives, and not only because depression is a contributing factor to suicide.
From the story at NPR: "We know that smoking boosts the risk of cancer and heart disease, says Dr. Seena Fazel, a psychiatrist at Oxford University who led the study. But aside from the obvious fact that people with mental illnesses are more likely to commit suicide, it's not clear how mental disorders could be causing early deaths. The researchers looked at data on 1.7 million patients, drawing from 20 recent scientific reviews and studies from mostly wealthy countries. Comparing the effects of mental illness and smoking helps put the stats in context, Fazel tells Shots. 'It was useful to benchmark against something that has a very high mortality rate.'" [Press release from Oxford.]

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Haiku Gains Support For Current Radeon HD Cards
Posted by News Fetcher on May 25 '14 at 03:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's old-and-new-together department:
As reported by Phoronix, the Haiku operating system "has added (untested) support for the newest AMD Radeon graphics cards to its open-source driver for the BeOS-compatible operating system." (Specifically, that support is for the "Mullins" and "Hawaii" graphics processors.) Impressive that this project keeps the BeOS flag raised and continues to modernize; Haiku has been around since 2001 — years longer than Be, Inc. itself lasted.

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Is Bamboo the Next Carbon Fibre?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 25 '14 at 02:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's ok-but-avoid-the-spreading-kind department:
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from the BBC about one very cool building material: "Real carbon fibre, mind, is still just as wondrous as it was in the last century, even if a bit more commonplace in road cars. But it's still very expensive to make in large pieces and quantities, it requires copious energy to manufacture, can be very brittle if made poorly, is not recyclable and can impose a detrimental impact of the environment when being produced. In other words, it is ripe for disruption. Technology stands still for no one. But could nature provide carbon fibre's replacement? So argues Gary Young, a renowned manufacturer of surfboards who has spent his life pioneering alternative materials use for that industry. 'With the right approach, bamboo can be used in many applications in the automotive world where its performance qualities can better carbon fibre's,' Young says. 'Plus, it does not have a negative effect on the environment.''"

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HP Delivers a Big-Name, 7-inch Android Tablet For $100: Comes With Compromises
Posted by News Fetcher on May 25 '14 at 12:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's good-thing-about-races-to-the-bottom. department:
Ars Technica reports that HP is back in the $100 tablet market, and this time with a tablet that's intended to be priced there instead of just a fire sale. The new offering lacks Bluetooth and GPS, among other features you might wish for in a tablet, and the screen is surrounded by a hefty bezel, but manages a pretty good list of features. Ars summarizes: "For $100, you can't expect much of the spec sheet. The HP 7 Plus has a 7-inch 1024x600 IPS display, a 1GHz quad-core Cortex A7 processor (made by a company called "Allwinner"), 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, 802.11 b/g/n, a microSD slot, and a 2800 mAh battery. The biggest downside HP could have fixed at this price point is the software: it's only running Android 4.2.2. Android versions are free, HP." Having an avaialble microSD slot beats some more expensive options, too.

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Quad Lasers Deliver Fast, Earth-Based Internet To the Moon
Posted by News Fetcher on May 25 '14 at 11:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-the-latency department:
A joint project involving NASA and MIT researchers had demonstrated technology that could supply a lunar colony with broadband via lasers ("faster Internet access than many U.S. homes get") and has already demonstrated its worth in communications with spacecraft. From ComputerWorld's article: "The Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) kicked off last September with the launch of NASA's LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer), a research satellite now orbiting the moon. NASA built a laser communications module into LADEE for use in the high-speed wireless experiment. LLCD has already proved itself, transmitting data from LADEE to Earth at 622Mbps (bits per second) and in the other direction at 19.44Mbps, according to MIT. It beat the fastest-ever radio communication to the moon by a factor of 4,800." Communicating at such distances means overcoming various challenges; one of the biggest is the variability in Earth's atmosphere. The LLCD doesn't try to power through the atmosphere at only one spot, therefore, but uses four separate beams in the New Mexico desert, each aimed "through a different column of air, where the light-bending effects of the atmosphere are slightly different. That increases the chance that at least one of the beams will reach the receiver on the LADEE.
Test results have been promising, according to MIT, with the 384,633-kilometer optical link providing error-free performance in both darkness and bright sunlight, through partly transparent thin clouds, and through atmospheric turbulence that affected signal power."

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