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Scientist Quits Effort To Live-Blog Stem Cell Generation
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '14 at 05:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hard-to-perform-for-an-audience department:
According to reader sciencehabit (1205606), Kenneth Ka-Ho Lee, the embryologist who has been live-blogging his attempt to reproduce a new kind of stem cells, has given up, writing on this Research Gate page, "I don't think STAP cells exist and it will be a waste of manpower and research funding to carry on with this experiment any further." From the linked article: "Though he is giving up, he hopes others will continue to investigate whether the new approach – which has dogged by controversy and claims of research misconduct — can really lead to stem cells."

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It's Time To Bring Pseudoscience Into the Science Classroom
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '14 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's for-a-few-object-lessons department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes " Roughly one in three American adults believes in telepathy, ghosts, and extrasensory perception," wrote a trio of scientists in a 2012 issue of the Astronomy Education Review. "Roughly one in five believes in witches, astrology, clairvoyance, and communication with the dead (PDF). Three quarters hold at least one of these beliefs, and a third has four distinct pseudoscientific beliefs." Now Steven Ross Pomeroy writes in Forbes Magazine that it's time to bring pseudoscience into public schools and universities. "By incorporating examples of pseudoscience into lectures, instructors can provide students with the tools needed to understand the difference between scientific and pseudoscientific or paranormal claims," say Rodney Schmaltz and Scott Lilienfeld." (Read more, below.)

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Mystery MLB Team Moves To Supercomputing For Their Moneyball Analysis
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '14 at 02:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's stats-nerds-with-bats department:
An anonymous reader writes "A mystery [Major League Baseball] team has made a sizable investment in Cray's latest effort at bringing graph analytics at extreme scale to bat. Nicole Hemsoth writes that what the team is looking for is a "hypothesis machine" that will allow them to integrate multiple, deep data wells and pose several questions against the same data. They are looking for platforms that allow users to look at facets of a given dataset, adding new cuts to see how certain conditions affect the reflection of a hypothesized reality."

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UK Government Pays Microsoft £5.5M For Extended Support of Windows XP
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '14 at 11:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's ok-but-only-if-you-pay-nicely department:
whoever57 (658626) writes "The UK Government has signed a contract worth £5.5M (almost $9M) for extended support and security updates for Windows XP for 12 months after April 8. The deal covers XP, Exchange 2003 and Office 2003 for users in central and local government, schools and the National Health Service. The NHS is in need of this deal because it was estimated last September that 85% of the NHS's 800,000 computers were running XP."

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Bugs In SCADA Software Leave 7,600 Factories Vulnerable
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '14 at 09:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's about-that-skeleton-key department:
mspohr (589790) writes with this news from the BBC: "The discovery of bugs in software used to run oil rigs, refineries and power plants has prompted a global push to patch the widely used control system. The bugs were found by security researchers and, if exploited, could give attackers remote access to control systems for the installations. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said an attacker with 'low skill' would be able to exploit the bugs. About 7,600 plants around the world are using the vulnerable software. 'We went from zero to total compromise,' said Juan Vazquez, a researcher at security firm Rapid7 who, with colleague Julian Diaz, found several holes in Yokogawa's Centum CS 3000 software which was first released to run on Windows 98 to monitor and control machinery in many large industrial installations. The researchers also explored other SCADA software: 'We ended up finding over 1,000 bugs in 100 days.'" The vulnerabilities reported are in Yokogawa's Centum CS 300 industrial control software.

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Most Expensive Aviation Search: $53 Million To Find Flight MH370
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '14 at 06:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's what's-the-right-amount-to-spend? department:
mdsolar (1045926) writes "The search and investigation into missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is already the most expensive in aviation history, figures released to Fairfax Media suggest. The snippets of costings provide only a small snapshot but the $US50 million ($54 million) spent on the two-year probe into Air France Flight 447 — the previous record — appears to have been easily surpassed after just four weeks.... The biggest expense in the search has involved ships, satellites, planes and submarines deployed first in the South China Sea and the Malacca Straits, and then in the remote reaches of the southern Indian Ocean."

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Federal Bill Would Criminalize Revenge Porn Websites
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '14 at 04:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's drawing-lines department:
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from a thought-provoking article at TechDirt: "My own representative in Congress, Jackie Speier, has apparently decided to introduce a federal 'revenge porn' bill, which is being drafted, in part, by Prof. Mary Anne Franks, who has flat out admitted that her goal is to undermine Section 230 protections for websites (protecting them from liability of actions by third parties) to make them liable for others' actions. Now, I've never written about Franks before, but the last time I linked to a story about her in a different post, she went ballistic on Twitter, attacking me in all sorts of misleading ways. So, let me just be very clear about this. Here's what she has said: '"The impact [of a federal law] for victims would be immediate," Franks said. "If it became a federal criminal law that you can't engage in this type of behavior, potentially Google, any website, Verizon, any of these entities might have to face liability for violations.' That makes it clear her intent is to undermine Section 230 and make third parties — like 'Google, any website, Verizon... face liability.'"

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Tesla Model S Has Hidden Ethernet Port, User Runs Firefox On the 17" Screen
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '14 at 03:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's wardriving-in-style department:
New submitter FikseGTS (3604833) writes "A Tesla Model S owner located a 4 pin connector on the left side of the Tesla Model S dashboard that turns out to be a disguised ethernet networking port. After crafting his owns patch cable to connect with the Tesla's port, a networking connection was established between the Tesla Model S and a laptop computer. The Model S is running a 100 Mbps, full duplex ethernet network and 3 devices were found with assigned IP addresses in the 192.168.90.0 subnet. Some ports and services that were open on the devices were 22 (SSH), 23 (telnet),53 (open domain), 80 (HTTP), 111 (rpcbind), 2049 (NFS), 6000 (X11). Port 80 was serving up a web page with the image or media of the current song being played. The operating system is modified version of Ubuntu using an ext3 filesystem. Using X11 it also appears that someone was able to somewhat run Firefox on both of the Model S screens. Is a jailbroken Tesla Model S on the way?"

Some more details on this front would be appreciated, for anyone who has a Tesla they'd like to explore.

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Illustrating the Socioeconomic Divide With iOS and Android
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '14 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's your-phone-is-your-class-marker department:
An anonymous reader writes: "Android has a huge market share advantage over iOS these days, but it hasn't had as much success at following the money. iOS continues to win over many app developers and businesses who want to maximize their earnings. Now, an article at Slate goes over some of the statistics demonstrating this trend. A map of geo-located Tweets show that in Manhattan, a generally affluent area, most of the Tweets come from iPhones. Meanwhile, in nearby Newark, which is a poorer area, most Tweets come from Android devices. In other tests, traffic data shows 87% of visits to e-commerce websites from tablets come from iPads, and the average value of an order from an iPad is $155, compared to $110 from Android tablets. (Android fairs a bit better on phones). Android shows a huge market share advantage in poorer countries, as well. Not all devs and business are just chasing the money, though. Twitter developer Cennydd Bowles said, 'I do hope, given tech's rhetoric about changing the world and disrupting outdated hierarchies, that we don't really think only those with revenue potential are worth our attention. A designer has a duty to be empathetic; to understand and embrace people not like him/herself. A group owning different devices to the design elite is not a valid reason to neglect their needs.'"

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The Amazon Fire TV Is Kind of a Mess
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '14 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's why-is-streaming-tv/movies-still-so-terrible-in-2014 department:
redletterdave writes: "At the Fire TV unveiling, Amazon officials sounded like they perfectly understood how frustrating TV streaming devices are for their owners. Amazon focused on three main problems: Search is hard, especially for anything not on a bestseller list; streaming devices often provide slow or laggy performance; and TV set-top boxes tend to be closed ecosystems. The Fire TV is Amazon's attempt to solve these three problems—the key word here being 'attempt.' Perhaps Amazon's homegrown solution was a bit premature and its ambitions too lofty, because while Fire TV can do almost everything, little of it is done right."
An example given by the review is how the touted Voice Search works — it doesn't interact at all with supported apps, instead bringing up Amazon search results. Thus, even if you have access to a movie for free through Netflix, using the Voice Search for that movie will only bring up Amazon's paid options.

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Nest Halts Sales of Smart Fire Alarm After Discovering Dangerous Flaw
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '14 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's out-of-the-frying-pan department:
fructose writes: "The Nest Protect has a flaw in its software that, under the right circumstances, could disable the alarm and not notify the owners of a fire. To remedy this flaw, they are disabling the Nest Wave feature through automatic updates. Owners who don't have their Nest Protects connected to their WiFi net or don't have a Nest account are suggested to either update the device manually or return it to Nest for a full refund. While they work out the problem, all sales are being halted to prevent unsafe units from being sold. There have been no reported incidents resulting from this flaw, but they aren't taking any chances."

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Google Project Ara Design Will Use Electro-Permanent Magnets To Lock In Modules
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '14 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's magnets-how-the-heck-to-they-work department:
MojoKid writes: "Google's Project Ara, an effort to develop a modular smartphone platform, sounded at first as much like vaporware, but Google is actually making it happen. In an upbeat video, Dave Hakkens (the guy who created the Phonebloks design that appears to be the conceptual basis for Project Ara) visited the Google campus to see what progress is being made on the project. The teams working on Project Ara have figured out a key solution to one of the first problems they encountered, which was how to keep all the modules stuck together. They decided to use electro-permanent magnets. In terms of design, they've decided not to cover up the modules, instead making their very modularity part of the aesthetic appeal. 3D Systems is involved on campus, as they're delivering the 3D printing technology to make covers for the modules."

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TCP/IP Might Have Been Secure From the Start If Not For the NSA
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '14 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's another-lash-for-the-whipping-boy department:
chicksdaddy writes: "The pervasiveness of the NSA's spying operation has turned it into a kind of bugaboo — the monster lurking behind every locked networking closet and the invisible hand behind every flawed crypto implementation. Those inclined to don the tinfoil cap won't be reassured by Vint Cerf's offhand observation in a Google Hangout on Wednesday that, back in the mid 1970s, the world's favorite intelligence agency may have also stood in the way of stronger network layer security being a part of the original specification for TCP/IP. (Video with time code.) Researchers at the time were working on just such a lightweight cryptosystem. On Stanford's campus, Cerf noted that Whit Diffie and Martin Hellman had researched and published a paper that described the functioning of a public key cryptography system. But they didn't yet have the algorithms to make it practical. (Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir and Leonard Adleman published the RSA algorithm in 1977). As it turns out, however, Cerf did have access to some really bleeding edge cryptographic technology back then that might have been used to implement strong, protocol-level security into the earliest specifications of TCP/IP. Why weren't they used? The crypto tools were part of a classified NSA project he was working on at Stanford in the mid 1970s to build a secure, classified Internet. 'At the time I couldn't share that with my friends,' Cerf said."

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Five-Year-Old Uncovers Xbox One Login Flaw
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '14 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's kids-input-the-darnedest-credentials department:
New submitter Smiffa2001 writes: "The BBC reports that five-year-old Kristoffer Von Hassel from San Diego has uncovered a (frankly embarrassing) security flaw within the Xbox One login screen. Apparently by entering an incorrect password in the first prompt and then filling the second field with spaces, a user can log in without knowing a password to an account. Young Kristoffer's dad submitted the flaw to Microsoft — who have patched the flaw — and have generously provided four free games, $50, a year-long subscription to Xbox Live and an entry on their list of Security Researcher Acknowledgments."

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How Many People Does It Take To Colonize Another Star System?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '14 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'll-volunteer-everyone-in-california department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "The nearest star systems — such as our nearest neighbor, Proxima Centauri, which is 4.2 light-years from home — are so far away, reaching them would require a generational starship. Entire generations of people would be born, live, and die before the ship reached its destination. This brings up the question of how many people you need to send on a hypothetical interstellar mission to sustain sufficient genetic diversity. Anthropologist Cameron Smith has calculated how many people would be required to maintain genetic diversity and secure the success of the endeavor. William Gardner-O'Kearney helped Smith build the MATLAB simulations to calculate how many different scenarios would play out during interstellar travel and ran some simulations specially to show why the success of an interstellar mission depends crucially on the starting population size. Gardner-O'Kearny calculated each population's possible trajectory over 300 years, or 30 generations. Because there are a lot of random variables to consider, he calculated the trajectory of each population 10 times, then averaged the results.

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Ask Slashdot: the State of Open CS, IT, and DBA Courseware in 2014?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '14 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's education-is-cheap,-it's-that-one-piece-of-paper-that's-expensive department:
xyourfacekillerx writes "Not long ago, Slashdot readers answered a question for someone seeking to finish a BS in CS online. I am in a similar situation with a different question. I have spent five years frivolously studying philosophy at a very expensive university, and now I want to start towards an Associate's in CS, and then perhaps a Bachelor's (I want to program for a living; I write code daily anyways). After four hours of combing through Google results, I still don't have much useful information. Problem 1: I am out of money and I have an 8 to 5 job, so on-campus enrollment is not an option. Problem 2: and I have very little to transfer due to the specificity of my prior studies: I don't even have my core English/Language or even math cores to transfer. My questions are: 1) Just where are the open CS courses? Who offers it in a way that's more than just lecture notes posts online? 2) Can any of it help or hinder me getting a degree (i.e. does any of it transfer, potentially? Is it a waste of time? Additionally, any tips about accredited online universities (preferably self-paced) where I can start to get my associates and/or bachelor's in CS at low cost would be useful. I intend to be enrolled online somewhere by Fall, and I am starting my own search among local (Colorado) junior colleges who don't demand on-campus presence like most four-years schools do."

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Microsoft To Allow Code Contributions To F#
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '14 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's also-debating-renaming-it-to-hashtag-F department:
An anonymous reader writes "The F# programming language team has been providing source code releases for years, but all contributions to the core implementation were internal. Microsoft is now changing that. They've announced that they'll be accepting code contributions from the community for the core F# language, the compiler, library, and Visual F# tools. They praised the quality of work currently being done by the F# community: 'The F# community is already doing high-quality, cross-platform open engineering using modern tools, testing methodology and build processes. Some particularly active projects include the Visual F# Power Tools, FSharp.Data, F# Editing Support for Open Editors, the Deedle DataFrame library and a host of testing tools, web tools, templates, type providers and other tools.' Microsoft is actively solicited bug fixes, optimizations, and library improvements."

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P vs. NP Problem Linked To the Quantum Nature of the Universe
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '14 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's schrodingers-cat-is-both-alive-and-equal-to-NP department:
KentuckyFC writes: "One of the greatest mysteries in science is why we don't see quantum effects on the macroscopic scale; why Schrodinger's famous cat cannot be both alive and dead at the same time. Now one theorist says the answer is because P is NOT equal to NP. Here's the thinking: The equation that describes the state of any quantum object is called Schrodinger's equation. Physicists have always thought it can be used to describe everything in the universe, even large objects, and perhaps the universe itself. But the new idea is that this requires an additional assumption — that an efficient algorithm exists to solve the equation for complex macroscopic systems. But is this true? The new approach involves showing that the problem of solving Schrodinger's equation is NP-hard. So if macroscopic superpositions exist, there must be an algorithm that can solve this NP-hard problem quickly and efficiently. And because all NP-hard problems are mathematically equivalent, this algorithm must also be capable of solving all other NP-hard problems too, such as the traveling salesman problem. In other words, NP-hard problems are equivalent to the class of much easier problems called P. Or P=NP. But here's the thing: computational complexity theorists have good reason to think that P is not equal to NP (although they haven't yet proven it). If they're right, then macroscopic superpositions cannot exist, which explains why we do not (and cannot) observe them in the real world. Voila!"

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Linus Torvalds Suspends Key Linux Developer
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '14 at 08:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's arguing-about-penguins department:
alphadogg writes: "An argument between developers of some of the most basic parts of Linux turned heated this week, resulting in a prominent Red Hat employee and code contributor being banned from working on the Linux kernel. Kay Sievers, a well-known open-source software engineer, is a key developer of systemd, a system management framework for Linux-based operating systems. Systemd is currently used by several prominent Linux distributions, including two of the most prominent enterprise distros, Red Hat and SUSE. It was recently announced that Ubuntu would adopt systemd in future versions as well. Sievers was banned by kernel maintainer Linus Torvalds on Wednesday for failing to address an issue that caused systemd to interact with the Linux kernel in negative ways."

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Algorithm Challenge: Burning Man Vehicle Exodus
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '14 at 07:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's in-the-name-of-efficiency department:
Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes:
"A year ago, getting ready for Burning Man, I read that the cars in the exit line sometimes have to wait in the sun for hours to get out. I came up with an algorithm that I thought would alleviate the problem. Do you think it would work? If not, why not? Or can you think of a better one?"
Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.

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