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The Raid-Proof Hosting Technology Behind 'The Pirate Bay'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 22 '14 at 04:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's pesky-vikings-and-their-lessons department:
HughPickens.com writes Ernesto reports at TorrentFreak that despite its massive presence the Pirate Bay doesn't have a giant server park but operates from the cloud, on virtual machines that can be quickly moved if needed. The site uses 21 "virtual machines" (VMs) hosted at different providers, up four machines from two years ago, in part due to the steady increase in traffic. Eight of the VM's are used for serving the web pages, searches take up another six machines, and the site's database currently runs on two VMs. The remaining five virtual machines are used for load balancing, statistics, the proxy site on port 80, torrent storage and for the controller. In total the VMs use 182 GB of RAM and 94 CPU cores. The total storage capacity is 620 GB. One interesting aspect of The Pirate Bay is that all virtual machines are hosted with commercial cloud hosting providers, who have no clue that The Pirate Bay is among their customers. "Moving to the cloud lets TPB move from country to country, crossing borders seamlessly without downtime. All the servers don't even have to be hosted with the same provider, or even on the same continent." All traffic goes through the load balancer, which masks what the other VMs are doing. This also means that none of the IP-addresses of the cloud hosting providers are publicly linked to TPB. For now, the most vulnerable spot appears to be the site's domain. Just last year TPB burnt through five separate domain names due to takedown threats from registrars. But then again, this doesn't appear to be much of a concern for TPB as the operators have dozens of alternative domain names standing by.

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Vrvana's Totem HMD Puts a Camera Over Each Eye
Posted by News Fetcher on September 22 '14 at 02:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's translucency-=-50-for-walking department:
The Verge reports that Montreal startup Vrvana has produced a prototype of its promised (and crowd-funded) VR Totem headset. One interesting aspect of the Totem is the inclusion of front-facing cameras, one over each eye, the output of which can be fed to the displays.

Reviewer Mike Futter has worn a prototype, and seems to be generally impressed, writing at Game Informer:

Vrvana’s device offers 1080p resolution and features 90-degree field of view (the same as the Project Morpheus, but less than the Oculus Rift's 100-degree FOV), an OLED display, and adjustable lenses that can compensate for lens prescription. The HMD is usable by glasses wearers, but the tuning provides an option for those that don't want to wear corrective lenses while in VR. The system connects via HDMI to any source, and can model 3D (side-by-side) from game consoles as virtual reality right now. The Totem is currently compatible with all Oculus developer kit 1 applications, and Vrvana is working on getting DK2 experiences working. The prototype I wore was a good proof of concept, but didn't yet feature the OLED screen. This led to increased persistence due to the LCD. The head tracking also wasn't perfect, requiring some software tuning to prevent drift (something easily surmountable down the road). The clarity was impressive, rivaling some of the best experiences I've had with a Rift or Morpheus.

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Researchers Propose a Revocable Identity-Based Encryption Scheme
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '14 at 10:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's now-who-was-I? department:
jd writes Identity-based public key encryption works on the idea of using something well-known (like an e-mail address) as the public key and having a private key generator do some wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff to generate a secure private key out if it. A private key I can understand, secure is another matter. In fact, the paper notes that security has been a big hassle in IBE-type encryption, as has revocation of keys. The authors claim, however, that they have accomplished both. Which implies the public key can't be an arbitrary string like an e-mail, since presumably you would still want messages going to said e-mail address, otherwise why bother revoking when you could just change address?

Anyways, this is not the only cool new crypto concept in town, but it is certainly one of the most intriguing as it would be a very simple platform for building mostly-transparent encryption into typical consumer apps. If it works as advertised. I present it to Slashdot readers to engender discussion on the method, RIBE in general and whether (in light of what's known) default strong encryption for everything is something users should just get whether they like it or not.


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Small Restaurant Out-Maneuvers Yelp In Reviews War
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '14 at 08:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's slumming-with-the-stars department:
An anonymous reader writes Yelp has, for the past year or so, garnered a reputation for extorting businesses into paying for advertising on their site. Allegations include incessant calls for advertising contracts, automatic listing of a business, and suppressing good reviews should a business decide to opt out of paying Yelp for listing them. One small Italian trattoria, however, may have succeeded in flipping Yelp's legally sanctioned business practices in its favor. The owners of Botto Bistro in Redmond, CA, initially agreed to pay for advertising on Yelp one year ago apparently because they were tired of getting calls from Yelp's sales team. But even after buying advertising, the owners claim that they kept receiving calls. So they started a campaign to get as many one-star reviews as they could, even offering 25% discounts to customers. As of this writing they have 866, and a casual perusal of them reveals enthusiastic tongue-in-cheek support for the restaurant. One-star reviews, once Yelp's best scare tactic, is now this particular business's badge of quality. And they didn't even have to pay Yelp for it.

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2 Mars Missions Set For Arrival, Both Prepare for Orbital Maneuvers
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '14 at 04:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-can-collude-but-don't-collide department:
As reported by the BBC, NASA's Maven Mars orbiter has nearly reached the red planet, and will undergo a 33-minute rocket burn to slow its course.

Monday's big manoeuvre on Maven's engines will place the satellite in a high, elliptical, 35-hour orbit around the planet. Confirmation of capture should be received on Earth shortly after 0220 GMT (2220 EDT Sunday; 0320 BST). "We should have a preliminary answer within just a few minutes after the end of the burn," said [principal investigator professor Bruce] Jakosky. In the coming weeks, engineers will then work to bring Maven into a regular 4.5-hour, operational orbit that takes the probe as close as 150km to Mars but also sends it out to 6,200km.

India's first mission to Mars faces a critical test as it does a similar maneuver -- firing of a rocket to slow its travel as it approaches Mars orbit.

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New MRI Studies Show SSRIs Bring Rapid Changes to Brain Function
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '14 at 03:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's depressing-thought-or-perhaps-not department:
A story at the Los Angeles Times reports that researchers at the Max Planck Institute have found that Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, various of which are widely used in anti-depressant medications, cause changes in healthy subjects' brain architecture just hours after ingestion. As the article mentions, one reason that this rapid change is surprising is that patients taking SSRIs to treat depression typically take considerably longer (weeks) to perceive a change in mood. A slice from the story:

When more serotonin was available, this resting state functional connectivity decreased on a broad scale, the study found. This finding was not particularly surprising -- other studies have shown a similar effect in brain regions strongly associated with mood regulation. But there was a two-fold shock: Some areas of the brain appeared to buck the trend and become more interdependent. And all the changes were evident only three hours after the single dosage. ... The rapid connectivity shifts noted by the study might therefore be precursors to longer-term changes, perhaps starting with remodeling of synapses, the microscopic gaps where chemical neurotransmitters such as serotonin flood across to an adjacent brain cell, the study suggests. But this type of brain scanning can’t pick up changes at such a scale, so the hypothesis will have to be tested other ways[.] ... Study subjects did not have diagnoses of depression, so researchers will need to generate similar maps among those diagnosed with depression, and re-map them during and after depressive episodes, as well as after treatment, Sacher said. Comparisons might then show whether a certain initial architecture predicts treatment success.

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Trouble In Branson-Land, As Would-Be Space Tourists Get Antsy Over Delays
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '14 at 01:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's that's-only-a-few-months department:
schwit1 (797399) writes "Rumors are flying that some of the individuals who gave Virgin Galactic deposits for space tourism flights on SpaceShipTwo are demanding their money back. It appears that the most recent delay, revealed by Branson on David Letterman, is the cause." How much would you pay to go to space, if the ticket was only good starting 10 years from now? How about 20? How about, as Branson claims, if it was early next year?

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Mark Zuckerberg Throws Pal Joe Green Under the Tech Immigration Bus
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '14 at 11:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's sorry-pal department:
theodp (442580) writes "A month after he argued that Executive Action by President Obama on tech immigration was needed lest his billionaire bosses at Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC have to hire 'just sort of OK' U.S. workers, Re/code reports that Joe Green — Zuckerberg's close friend and college roommate — has been pushed out of his role as President of FWD.us for failing to Git-R-Done on an issue critical to the tech community. "Today, we wanted to share an important change with you," begins 'Leadership Change', the announcement from the FWD.us Board that Todd Schulte is the new Green. So what sold FWD.us on Schulte? "His [Schulte's] prior experience as Chief-of-Staff at Priorities USA, the Super PAC supporting President Obama's re-election," assured Zuckerberg in a letter to FWD.us contributors, "will ensure FWD.us continues its momentum for reform." Facebook, reported the Washington Post in 2013, became legally "dependent" on H-1B visas and subject to stricter regulations shortly before Zuckerberg launched FWD.us with Green at the helm."

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Ask Slashdot: Is iOS 8 a Pig?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '14 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-intended-to-denigrate-pigs department:
kyjellyfish writes I've been using iOS 8 for several days and aside from a few gimmicks and add-ons that attempt to achieve parity with Android, my experience has been overwhelmingly unsatisfactory. My chief complaint is that the vast majority of my apps are slow to boot and noticeably sluggish in operation. I want to point out that all of these apps have been "upgraded" specifically for iOS 8 compatibility. Previous operating system upgrades have been relatively seamless, so I'm asking whether other slashdotters have experienced this degraded performance.

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Wired Profiles John Brooks, the Programmer Behind Ricochet
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '14 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's bouncy-bouncy department:
wabrandsma writes with this excerpt from Wired: John Brooks, who is just 22 and a self-taught coder who dropped out of school at 13, was always concerned about privacy and civil liberties. Four years ago he began work on a program for encrypted instant messaging that uses Tor hidden services for the protected transmission of communications. The program, which he dubbed Ricochet, began as a hobby. But by the time he finished, he had a full-fledged desktop client that was easy to use, offered anonymity and encryption, and even resolved the issue of metadata—the "to" and "from" headers and IP addresses spy agencies use to identify and track communications—long before the public was aware that the NSA was routinely collecting metadata in bulk for its spy programs. The only problem Brooks had with the program was that few people were interested in using it. Although he'd made Ricochet's code open source, Brooks never had it formally audited for security and did nothing to promote it, so few people even knew about it.

Then the Snowden leaks happened and metadata made headlines. Brooks realized he already had a solution that resolved a problem everyone else was suddenly scrambling to fix. Though ordinary encrypted email and instant messaging protect the contents of communications, metadata allows authorities to map relationships between communicants and subpoena service providers for subscriber information that can help unmask whistleblowers, journalists's sources and others.


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Wired Profiles John Brooks, the Programmer Behind Richochet
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '14 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's bouncy-bouncy department:
wabrandsma writes with this excerpt from Wired: John Brooks, who is just 22 and a self-taught coder who dropped out of school at 13, was always concerned about privacy and civil liberties. Four years ago he began work on a program for encrypted instant messaging that uses Tor hidden services for the protected transmission of communications. The program, which he dubbed Ricochet, began as a hobby. But by the time he finished, he had a full-fledged desktop client that was easy to use, offered anonymity and encryption, and even resolved the issue of metadata—the "to" and "from" headers and IP addresses spy agencies use to identify and track communications—long before the public was aware that the NSA was routinely collecting metadata in bulk for its spy programs. The only problem Brooks had with the program was that few people were interested in using it. Although he'd made Ricochet's code open source, Brooks never had it formally audited for security and did nothing to promote it, so few people even knew about it.

Then the Snowden leaks happened and metadata made headlines. Brooks realized he already had a solution that resolved a problem everyone else was suddenly scrambling to fix. Though ordinary encrypted email and instant messaging protect the contents of communications, metadata allows authorities to map relationships between communicants and subpoena service providers for subscriber information that can help unmask whistleblowers, journalists's sources and others.


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SpaceX Launches Supplies to ISS, Including Its First 3D Printer
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '14 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's from-fantasy-to-routine department:
A "flawless" launch early Sunday from Cape Canaveral has sent a load of supplies on its way to the International Space Station aboard a Falcon 9-lofted SpaceX Dragon capsule. Food, care packages and provisions for NASA's astronauts make up more than a third of the cargo onboard Dragon. But the spacecraft also has experiments and equipment that will eventually help scientists complete 255 research projects in total, according to NASA. In Dragon's trunk, there's an instrument dubbed RapidScat, which will be installed outside the space station to measure the speed and direction of ocean winds on Earth. Among the commercially funded experiments onboard Dragon is a materials-science test from the sports company Cobra Puma Golf designed to build a stronger golf club.

Dragon is also hauling the first space-grade 3D printer, built by Made in Space, which will test whether the on-the-spot manufacturing technology is viable without gravity.


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Fork of Systemd Leads To Lightweight Uselessd
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '14 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-big-and-fancy department:
An anonymous reader writes A boycott of systemd and other backlash around systemd's feature-creep has led to the creation of Uselessd, a new init daemon. Uselessd is a fork of systemd 208 that strips away functionality considered irrelevant to an init system like the systemd journal and udev. Uselessd also adds in functionality not accepted in upstream systemd like support for alternative C libraries (namely uClibc and musl) and it's even being ported to BSD.

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Wanxiang May Give 2012's Fisker Karma a Relaunch
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '14 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's cool-cars-hot-fires department:
New submitter sumit sinha notes recent reports that Tesla may soon be joined again by Fisker in the world of high-end, all-electric car makers. According to a Reuters story, the Fisker Karma in something very close to its previously available form may be offered for sale again sometime soon. Says the article:

The "new" Karma that California-based Fisker, acquired by Wanxiang earlier this year, is rushing to finish is based largely on the 2012 model, said the people, who asked not to be identified. Wanxiang's top U.S. executive said in February the Karma would be reintroduced within a year. "It will have to be nearly identical to the 2012 model, or it would need to go through (safety) testing and certification again," a person close to Fisker's suppliers said. "I don’t think they want to put a lot of engineering into it either, as well as probably use up some of the old parts that are in inventory."

Close, but not exact,: Fisker does not plan to simply reintroduce the 2012 Karma, a source close to Fisker said. “Not 100 percent identical," the person said. "The new Karma will be different in many key areas. It will have noticeable upgrades." He declined to provide details. Using the 2012 Karma design could present problems given it has older features and technologies. "You're not buying something that's considered 'state of the art' necessarily," the supplier source said. "It's a big hurdle to overcome."

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Secret Service Critics Pounce After White House Breach
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '14 at 04:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's owen-wilson-has-the-president-well-protected department:
HughPickens.com writes On Friday evening, a man jumped the White House fence, sprinted across the North Lawn toward the residence, and was eventually tackled by agents, but not before he managed to actually enter the building. Now CBS reports that the security breach at the White House is prompting a new round of criticism for the Secret Service, with lawmakers and outside voices saying the incident highlights glaring deficiencies in the agency's protection of the president and the first family. "Because of corner-cutting and an ingrained cultural attitude by management of 'we make do with less,' the Secret Service is not protecting the White House with adequate agents and uniformed officers and is not keeping up to date with the latest devices for detecting intruders and weapons of mass destruction," says Ronald Kessler. "The fact that the Secret Service does not even provide a lock for the front door of the White House demonstrates its arrogance." But the Secret Service must also consider the consequences of overreaction says White House correspondent Major Garrett. "If you have a jumper and he is unarmed and has no bags or backpacks or briefcase, do you unleash a dog and risk having cell phone video shot from Pennsylvania Avenue of an unarmed, mentally ill person being bitten or menaced by an attack dog?" But Kessler says Julia Pierson, the first woman to head the Secret Service, has some explaining to do. "If the intruder were carrying chemical, biological or radiological weapons and President Obama and his family had been in, we would have had a dead president as well as a dead first family."

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NY Magistrate: Legal Papers Can Be Served Via Facebook
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '14 at 02:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's never-friend-a-process-server department:
New submitter Wylde Stile writes with an interesting case that shows just how pervasive social networking connections have become, including in the eyes of the law. A Staten Island, NY family court support magistrate allowed a Noel Biscoch to serve his ex-wife legal papers via Facebook. Biscoch tried to serve his ex-wife Anna Maria Antigua the old-fashioned way — in person and via postal mai — but his ex-wife had moved with no forwarding address. Antigua maintains an active Facebook account, though, and had even liked some photos on the Biscoch's present wife's Facebook page days before the ruling. The magistrate concluded that the ex-wife could be served through Facebook. If this catches on, I bet a lot of people will end up with legally binding notices caught by spam filters or in their Facebook accounts' "Other" folders.

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'Reactive' Development Turns 2.0
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '14 at 11:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's off-with-their-oh-wait-that's-reactionary department:
electronic convict writes First there was "agile" development. Now there's a new software movement—called 'reactive' development—that sets out principles for building resilient and failure-tolerant applications for cloud, mobile, multicore and Web-scale systems. ReadWrite's Matt Asay sat down with Jonas Bonér, the author of the Reactive Manifesto (just released in version 2.0), for a discussion of what, exactly, the reactive movement aims to fix in software development and how we get there from here.

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Is Alibaba Comparable To a US Company?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '14 at 07:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's well-the-name-is-magical-to-start department:
lpress writes Alibaba is this weeks hot news — they have had a lengthy PR campaign (preceded by a documentary film) followed by a record-setting stock offering. After a day of trading Alibaba's market capitalization was comparable to that of established tech giants. But, there are cultural and structural differences between Alibaba and U.S. companies. Alibaba is tightly woven into a complex fabric of personal, corporate and government organization relationships. The same can be said of information technology companies in Singapore. Is owning a share of, say, Apple, conceptually the same as owning a share of Alibaba?

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Emails Cast Unflattering Light On Internal Politics of Healthcare.gov Rollout
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '14 at 07:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's wanna-be-absolutely-clear department:
An anonymous reader writes with this report from The Verge linking to and excerpting from a newly released report created for a committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, including portions of eight "damning emails" that offer an unflattering look at the rollout of the Obamacare website.

The Government Office of Accountability released a report earlier this week detailing the security flaws in the site, but a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released yesterday is even more damning. Titled, "Behind the Curtain of the HealthCare.gov Rollout," the report fingers the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversaw the development of the site, and its parent Department of Health and Human Services. "Officials at CMS and HHS refused to admit to the public that the website was not on track to launch without significant functionality problems and substantial security risks," the report says. "There is also evidence that the Administration, to this day, is continuing its efforts to shield ongoing problems with the website from public view."

Writes the submitter: "The evidence includes emails that show Obamacare officials more interested in keeping their problems from leaking to the press than working to fix them. This is both both a coverup and incompetence."


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Researchers Report Largest DNA Origami To Date
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '14 at 04:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's never-date-origami-it-won't-respect-you department:
MTorrice (2611475) writes Bioengineers can harness DNA's remarkable ability to self-assemble to build two- and three-dimensional nanostructures through DNA origami. Until now, researchers using this approach have been limited to building structures that are tens of square nanometers in size. Now a team reports the largest individual DNA origami structures to date, which reach sizes of hundreds of square nanometers. What's more, they have developed a less expensive way to synthesize the DNA strands needed, overcoming a tremendous obstacle to scaling up the technology.

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