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Tracking the Mole Inside Silk Road 2.0

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 9:21am
derekmead writes: The arrest of the Silk Road 2.0 leader and subsequent seizure of the site was partially due to the presence of an undercover U.S. Department of Homeland Security agent, who "successfully infiltrated the support staff involved in running the Silk Road 2.0 website," according to the FBI. Referencing multiple interviews, publicly available information, and parts of the moderator forum shared with me, it appears likely that the suspicions of many involved in Silk Road 2.0 are true: the undercover agent that infiltrated the site was a relatively quiet staff member known as Cirrus.

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Computer Error Grounds Flights In the UK

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 8:40am
Rambo Tribble writes: Reuters reports that flights from Heathrow, Gatwick, and many other airports have been shut down "due to a computer failure." The information comes from European air traffic control body Eurocontrol. No official word as yet as to the nature of the failure. "One source told the BBC the problem was caused by a computer glitch that co-ordinates the flights coming into London and puts the flights in sequence as they come into land or take off. He described it as a 'flight planning tool problem.'" Incoming flights are still being accommodated.

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Time To Remove 'Philosophical' Exemption From Vaccine Requirements?

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 7:57am
An anonymous reader writes: Michigan has a problem. Over the past decade, the number of unvaccinated kindergartners has spiked. "Nearly half of the state's population lives in counties with kindergarten vaccination rates below the level needed for "herd immunity," the public health concept that when at least 93 percent of people are vaccinated, their immunity protects the vulnerable and prevents the most contagious diseases from spreading." Surprise, surprise, the state is now in the midst of a whooping cough outbreak. How do these kids get into public schools without being vaccinated? Well, Michigan is among the 19 U.S. states that allow "philosophical" objections to the vaccine requirements for schoolchildren. (And one of the 46 states allowing religious exemption.) A new editorial is now calling for an end to the "philosophical" exemption. The article says, "Those who choose not to be vaccinated and who choose not to vaccinate their children allow a breeding ground for diseases to grow and spread to others. They put healthy, vaccinated adults at risk because no vaccine is 100 percent effective. They especially put the most vulnerable at risk — infants too young to be vaccinated, the elderly, people with medical conditions that prevent vaccination, and those undergoing cancer treatments or whose immune systems have been weakened." They also encourage tightening the restrictions on religious and medical waivers so that people don't just check a different box on the exemption form to get the same result. "They are free to continue believing vaccines are harmful, even as the entire medical and scientific communities try in vain to tell them otherwise. But they should not be free to endanger the lives of everyone else with their views."

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Ford Ditches Microsoft Partnership On Sync, Goes With QNX

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 7:15am
Freshly Exhumed writes: Ford's in-car infotainment system known as Sync will soon evolve to add a capacitive touch screen, better integration with smartphone apps and, eventually, support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in version 3, thanks to a switch of operating systems. After years of teaming with Microsoft, the automobile giant has switched to BlackBerry's QNX, a real time operating system renowned for stability.

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U.S. Passenger Vehicle Fleet Dirtier After 2008 Recession

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 12:33pm
MTorrice writes The 2008 recession hammered the U.S. auto industry, driving down sales of 2009 models to levels 35% lower than those before the economic slump. A new study has found that because sales of new vehicles slowed, the average age of the U.S. fleet climbed more than expected, increasing the rate of air pollutants released by the fleet. In 2013, the researchers studied the emissions of more than 68,000 vehicles on the roads in three cities—Los Angeles, Denver, and Tulsa. They calculated the amount of pollution released per kilogram of fuel burned for the 2013 fleet and compared the rates to those that would have occurred if the 2013 fleet had the same age distribution as the prerecession fleet. For the three cities, carbon monoxide emissions were greater by 17 to 29%, hydrocarbons by 9 to 14%, nitrogen oxide emissions by 27 to 30%, and ammonia by 7 to 16%.

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Keurig 2.0 Genuine K-Cup Spoofing Vulnerability

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 11:48am
An anonymous reader writes A security researcher has released a humorous vulnerability description for the Keurig 2.0 coffee maker, which includes DRM designed to only brew Keurig brand coffe pods (K-Cups): "Keurig 2.0 Coffee Maker contains a vulnerability in which the authenticity of coffee pods, known as K-Cups, uses weak verification methods, which are subject to a spoofing attack through re-use of a previously verified K-Cup." The vulnerability description even includes mitigating controls, such as keeping the Keurig in a locked cabinet when not in use. Also at Hackaday.

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In Iowa, a Phone App Could Serve As Driver's License

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 11:01am
New submitter dubner writes Simply hand the law enforcement officer your mobile phone. That's what you can do in Iowa rather than "digging through clutter in your glove compartment for an insurance card." And soon your driver's license will be available on your phone too, according to a story in the (Des Moines Register). Iowans will soon be able to use a mobile app on their smartphones as their official driver's license issued by the Iowa Department of Transportation. Some marvelous quotes in TFA: "The new app should be highly secure ... People will use a pin number for verification." And "Branstad (Iowa governor)... noted that even Iowa children are now working on digital development projects." A raft of excuses ("battery's dead") and security problems come to mind; how would you implement such a system?

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MIT Removes Online Physics Lectures and Courses By Walter Lewin

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 10:32am
jIyajbe writes MIT is indefinitely removing retired physics faculty member Walter Lewin's online lectures from MIT OpenCourseWare and online MITx courses from edX, the online learning platform co-founded by MIT, following a determination that Dr. Lewin engaged in online sexual harassment in violation of MIT policies. For an example of Lewin's colorful style, see this YouTube video. MIT has also revoked Lewin's title as professor emeritus, after the school determined that he "had sexually harassed at least one student online."

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Canadian Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Warrantless Cellphone Searches

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 9:41am
An anonymous reader writes In a surprising decision, a split Supreme Court of Canada ruled this morning that police can search cellphones without a warrant incident to an arrest. The majority established some conditions, but ultimately ruled that it could navigate the privacy balance by establishing some safeguards with the practice. Michael Geist notes that a strongly worded dissent disagreed, emphasizing the privacy implications of access to cellphones and the need for judicial pre-authorization as the best method of addressing the privacy implications. The U.S. Supreme Court's June 2014 decision in Riley addressed similar issues and ruled that a warrant is needed to search a phone.

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Study of Massive Preprint Archive Hints At the Geography of Plagiarism

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 8:51am
sciencehabit writes with this excerpt from Science Insider: New analyses of the hundreds of thousands of technical manuscripts submitted to arXiv, the repository of digital preprint articles, are offering some intriguing insights into the consequences — and geography — of scientific plagiarism. It appears that copying text from other papers is more common in some nations than others, but the outcome is generally the same for authors who copy extensively: Their papers don't get cited much. The system attempts to rule out certain kinds of innocent copying: "It's a fairly sophisticated machine learning logistic classifier," says arXiv founder Paul Ginsparg, a physicist at Cornell University. "It has special ways of detecting block quotes, italicized text, text in quotation marks, as well statements of mathematical theorems, to avoid false positives."

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The Case For Flipping Your Monitor From Landscape to Portrait

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 8:10am
Molly McHugh writes The vast majority of computer-related tasks see no benefit from a screen that is longer than it is tall. Sure, video playback and gaming are some key exceptions, but if you watch Netflix on your TV instead of your computer monitor and you're not into PC gaming, that long, wide display is doing nothing but hampering your experience. Let's flip it. No, seriously. Let's flip it sideways.

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Army Building an Airport Just For Drones

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 7:16am
schwit1 writes The Army's ever-growing use of unmanned aerial systems has gotten to the point where two of the most commonly used UAS are getting their own airport. The service's Corps of Engineers at Fort Worth, Texas, has awarded a $33 million contract to SGS to build a 150-acre unmanned aircraft launch and recovery complex at Fort Bliss for Grey Eagle and Shadow UAS. In related news, the FAA has just cleared 4 companies (Trimble Navigation Limited, VDOS Global, Clayco Inc. and Woolpert Inc.) to use drones commercially, for purposes such as site inspection and aerial surveys. (A lot of drones are already in use, of course, but the FAA doesn't like it.)

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Microsoft Quietly Starts Accepting Bitcoin As Payment Method

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 6:28am
An anonymous reader writes A new page in the help guide in the payment information of Microsoft's website reveals that the Redmond giant is now accepting Bitcoin as a payment method for products and services on Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox. Currently the payments must go through to credit a Microsoft Wallet account, and the service is initially only available to U.S. users. But the wording of the new page combines with an expansive year for Microsoft and a number of positive statements about Bitcoin from Bill Gates to indicate that this first step is more than just an experiment. Microsoft is now the largest commercial entity accepting the Bitcoin currency, which it processes via the BitPay system, thus protecting the company from fluctuations in the value of Bitcoin. Also at CNN Money.

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Google News To Shut Down In Spain On December 16th

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 5:47am
An anonymous reader writes The news aggregation services offered by Google is set to be no longer available for Spain, starting December 16th, 2014. The decision of Google comes as response to new Spanish legislation that gives publishers the right to claim compensation for republishing any part of their content. This follows news of services of startup Uber being forbidden in countries like Spain as well as Germany and some city councils worldwide like Delhi, or other services like AirBnb being put under pressure to cope with local laws in other jurisdictions.

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Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy: The Science of Misheard Song Lyrics

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 5:06am
HughPickens.com writes Maria Konnikova writes in The New Yorker that mondegreens are funny but they also give us insight into the underlying nature of linguistic processing, how our minds make meaning out of sound, and how in fractions of seconds, we translate a boundless blur of sound into sense. One of the reasons we often mishear song lyrics is that there's a lot of noise to get through, and we usually can't see the musicians' faces. Other times, the misperceptions come from the nature of the speech itself, for example when someone speaks in an unfamiliar accent or when the usual structure of stresses and inflections changes, as it does in a poem or a song. Another common cause of mondegreens is the oronym: word strings in which the sounds can be logically divided multiple ways. One version that Steven Pinker describes goes like this: Eugene O'Neill won a Pullet Surprise. The string of phonetic sounds can be plausibly broken up in multiple ways—and if you're not familiar with the requisite proper noun, you may find yourself making an error. Other times, the culprit is the perception of the sound itself: some letters and letter combinations sound remarkably alike, and we need further cues, whether visual or contextual, to help us out. In a phenomenon known as the McGurk effect, people can be made to hear one consonant when a similar one is being spoken. "There's a bathroom on the right" standing in for "there's a bad moon on the rise" is a succession of such similarities adding up to two equally coherent alternatives. Finally along with knowledge, we're governed by familiarity: we are more likely to select a word or phrase that we're familiar with, a phenomenon known as Zipf's law. One of the reasons that "Excuse me while I kiss this guy" substituted for Jimi Hendrix's "Excuse me while I kiss the sky" remains one of the most widely reported mondegreens of all time can be explained in part by frequency. It's much more common to hear of people kissing guys than skies.

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FreeNAS 9.3 Released

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 3:04am
An anonymous reader writes This FreeNAS update is a significant evolutionary step from previous FreeNAS releases featuring: a simplified and reorganized Web User Interface, support for Microsoft ODX and Windows 2012 clustering, better VMWare integration, including VAAI support, a new and more secure update system with roll-back functionality, and hundreds of other technology enhancements. You can get it here and the list of changes are here. Existing 9.2.x users and 9.3 beta testers are encouraged to upgrade.

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California Sues Uber Over Practices

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 2:35am
mpicpp writes with news that California is the latest government to file a lawsuit against Uber. "California prosecutors on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Uber over the ridesharing company's background checks and other allegations, adding to the popular startup's worldwide legal woes. San Francisco County District Attorney George Gascon, meanwhile, said Uber competitor Lyft agreed to pay $500,000 and change some of its business practices to settle its own lawsuit. Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey partnered with Gascon in a probe of the nascent ridesharing industry. A third company — Sidecar — is still under investigation and could face a lawsuit of its own if it can't reach an agreement with prosecutors. Uber faces similar legal issues elsewhere as it tries to expand in cities, states and countries around the world. The companies have popular smartphone apps that allow passengers to order rides in privately driven cars instead of taxis."

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Rosetta Results: Comets "Did Not Bring Water To Earth"

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 12:05am
An anonymous reader writes with findings from the Rosetta mission which suggests water on Earth probably came from asteroids, and not comets."Scientists have dealt a blow to the theory that most water on Earth came from comets. Results from Europe's Rosetta mission, which made history by landing on Comet 67P in November, shows the water on the icy mass is unlike that on our planet. The results are published in the journal Science. The authors conclude it is more likely that the water came from asteroids, but other scientists say more data is needed before comets can be ruled out."

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Bellard Creates New Image Format To Replace JPEG

Wed, 12/10/2014 - 10:34pm
An anonymous reader writes Fabrice Bellard (creator of FFMPEG, QEMU, JSLinux...) proposes a new image format that could replace JPEG : BPG. For the same quality, files are about half the size of their JPEG equivalents. He released libbpg (with source) as well as a JS decompressor, and set up a demo including the famous Lena image.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Bellard Creates New Image Format To Replace JPEG

Wed, 12/10/2014 - 10:34pm
An anonymous reader writes Fabrice Bellard (creator of FFMPEG, QEMU, JSLinux...) proposes a new image format that could replace JPEG : BPG. For the same quality, files are about half the size of their JPEG equivalents. He released libbpg (with source) as well as a JS decompressor, and set up a demo including the famous Lena image.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.