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Updated: 19 hours 18 min ago

Not Just Netflix: Google Challenges Canada's Power To Regulate Online Video

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 1:42pm
An anonymous reader writes Yesterday's report on the regulatory battle between Netflix and Canada's broadcast regulator has now grown as Google has jumped into the fight. Faced with similar demands from the CRTC, Google has refused to provide it with requested information, arguing that it is not part of the Canadian broadcast system and not subject to CRTC regulation. "The Google position is notable because it is presumably not based on the question of presence within Canada, since Google maintains a significant Canadian presence. Rather, the core challenge will likely focus on whether a service such as Youtube (which once went by the slogan “Broadcast Yourself”) can properly be characterized as broadcasting for the purposes of current Canadian law."

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US Asks Universities To Flag Risky Pathogen Experiments

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 12:55pm
sciencehabit writes 'Academic scientists with federal funding who work with any of 15 dangerous microbes or toxins will soon have to flag specific studies that could potentially be used to cause harm and work with their institutions to reduce risks, according to new U.S. government rules released today. The long-awaited final rule is similar to a February 2013 draft and is "about what we expected," says Carrie Wolinetz, a deputy director of federal relations at the Association of American Universities (AAU) in Washington, D.C., which represents more than 60 major research universities. Those schools see the rules as replicating other federal security and safety rules, Wolinetz says, but will adjust to them. But some observers have concerns, such as that the rules do not apply to other risky biological agents. In a conference call with reporters today, a White House official said the government is open to a "broader discussion" about whether it should expand the list of 15 regulated agents.

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Irish Girls Win Google Science Fair With Astonishing Crop Yield Breakthrough

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 12:11pm
An anonymous reader writes Irish teenagers Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow, all 16, have won the Google Science Fair 2014. Their project, Combating the Global Food Crisis, aims to provide a solution to low crop yields by pairing a nitrogen-fixing bacteria that naturally occurs in the soil with cereal crops it does not normally associate with, such as barley and oats. The results were incredible: the girls found their test crops germinated in half the time and had a drymass yield up to 74 percent greater than usual.

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Apple Yanks iOS 8 Update

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 11:27am
alphadogg writes Within hours of releasing an iOS 8 update to address assorted bugs in the new iPhone and iPad operating system Apple has been forced to pull the patch, which itself was causing iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users grief. Reports filled Apple support forums that the iOS 8 update was cutting off users' cell service and making Touch ID inoperable. The Wall Street Journal received this statement from Apple: "We have received reports of an issue with the iOS 8.0.1 update. We are actively investigating these reports and will provide information as quickly as we can. In the meantime we have pulled back the iOS 8.0.1 update."

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Seattle Passes Laws To Keep Residents From Wasting Food

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 10:42am
schwit1 writes The new rules would allow garbage collectors to inspect trash cans and ticket offending parties if food and compostable material makes up 10 percent or more of the trash. The fines will begin at $1 for residents and $50 for businesses and apartment buildings. "SPU doesn’t expect to collect many fines, says Tim Croll, the agency’s solid-waste director. The city outlawed recyclable items from the trash nine years ago, but SPU has collected less than $2,000 in fines since then, Croll says. 'The point isn’t to raise revenue,' he said. 'We care more about reminding people to separate their materials.'"

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Stanford Promises Not To Use Google Money For Privacy Research

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 9:57am
An anonymous reader writes Stanford University has pledged not to use money from Google to fund privacy research at its Center for Internet and Society — a move that critics claim poses a threat to academic freedom. The center has long been generously funded by Google but its privacy research has proved damaging to the search giant as of late. Just two years ago, a researcher at the center helped uncover Google privacy violations that led to the company paying a record $22.5 million fine. In 2011-2012, the center's privacy director helped lead a project to create a "Do Not Track" standard. The effort, not supported by Google, would have made it harder for advertisers to track what people do online, and likely would have cut into Google's ad revenue. Both Stanford and Google say the change in funding was unrelated to the previous research.

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Remote Exploit Vulnerability Found In Bash

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 9:12am
kdryer39 sends this news from CSO: A remotely exploitable vulnerability has been discovered by Stephane Chazelas in bash on Linux, and it is unpleasant. The vulnerability has the CVE identifier CVE-2014-6271. This affects Debian as well as other Linux distributions. The major attack vectors that have been identified in this case are HTTP requests and CGI scripts. Another attack surface is OpenSSH through the use of AcceptEnv variables. Also through TERM and SSH_ORIGINAL_COMMAND. An environmental variable with an arbitrary name can carry a nefarious function which can enable network exploitation.

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BlackBerry Launches Square-Screened Passport Phone

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 8:30am
New submitter Andrewkov writes: BlackBerry released its new Passport phone today. It has a square 4.5" screen and a physical keyboard, and it's aimed at corporate users. The company hopes the larger size, Siri-like voice recognition, 30-hour battery life, and improved security will buoy its market share. Early reviews are not terribly favorable — the Wall Street Journal says BlackBerry is still behind on the software, and "The bulky, awkward design and the unfamiliar keyboard make it hard to justify finding space for it in a pocket or bag." The Verge said, "[T]he Passport got in the way of getting work done more than it helped." Re/code calls it a phone only a BlackBerry user will love.

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Physicist Claims Black Holes Mathematically Don't Exist

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 7:47am
Koreantoast writes: Black holes, the stellar phenomena that continue to capture the imagination of scientists and science fiction authors, may not actually exist. According to a paper published by physics professor Laura Mersini-Houghton at the University of North Carolina and Mathematics Professor Harald Pfeiffer of the University of Toronto, as a collapsing star emits Hawking radiation, it also sheds mass at a rate that suggests it no longer has the density necessary to become a black hole — the singularity and event horizon never form. While the arXiv paper with the exact solution has not yet been peer reviewed, the preceding paper by Mersini-Houghton with the approximate solutions was published in Physics Letters B. "I'm still not over the shock," said Mersini-Houghton. "We've been studying this problem for a more than 50 years and this solution gives us a lot to think about... Physicists have been trying to merge these two theories – Einstein's theory of gravity and quantum mechanics – for decades, but this scenario brings these two theories together, into harmony."

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Emma Watson Leaked Photo Threat Was a Plot To Attack 4chan

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 7:05am
ideonexus writes: After Emma Watson gave a speech on the need for feminism (video) to the United Nations, 4chan users threatened to release nude photos of the Harry Potter star in retaliation, setting up the emmayouarenext.com website with a countdown clock. Now it has been revealed that the site was an elaborate hoax intended publicize a movement to shut down 4chan.

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Rosetta Code Study Weighs In On the Programming Language Debate

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 6:20am
An anonymous reader writes: Rosetta Code is a popular resource for programming language enthusiasts to learn from each other, thanks to its vast collection of idiomatic solutions to clearly defined tasks in many different programming languages. The Rosetta Code wiki is now linking to a new study that compares programming language features based on the programs available in Rosetta Code. The study targets the languages C, C#, F#, Go, Haskell, Java, Python, and Ruby on features such as succinctness and performance. It reveals, among other things, that: "functional and scripting languages are more concise than procedural and object-oriented languages; C is hard to beat when it comes to raw speed on large inputs, but performance differences over inputs of moderate size are less pronounced; compiled strongly-typed languages, where more defects can be caught at compile time, are less prone to runtime failures than interpreted or weakly-typed languages."

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Russia Pledges To Go To the Moon

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 5:37am
An anonymous reader writes: Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, has announced it intends to bring humans to the Moon by roughly 2030. Russia plans a full-scale exploration of the Moon's surface. Agency head Oleg Ostapenko said that by the end of the next decade, "based on the results of lunar surface exploration by unmanned space probes, we will designate [the] most promising places for lunar expeditions and lunar bases.

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Octopus-Inspired Robot Matches Real Octopus For Speed

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 4:55am
KentuckyFC writes: Underwater vehicles have never matched the extraordinary agility of marine creatures. While many types of fish can travel at speeds of up to 10 body lengths per second, a nuclear sub can manage a less than half a body length per second. Now a team of researchers has copied a trick used by octopuses to build an underwater robot capable of matching the agility of marine creatures. This trick is the way an octopus expands the size of its head as it fills with water and then squirts it out to generate propulsion. The team copied this by building a robot with a flexible membrane that also expands as it fills with water. The fluid then squirts out through a rear-facing nozzle as the membrane contracts. To the team's surprise, the robot reached speeds of 10 body lengths per second with a peak acceleration of 14 body lengths per second squared. That's unprecedented in an underwater vehicle of this kind. What's more, the peak force experienced by the robot was 30 per cent greater than the thrust generated by the jet. The team think they know why and say the new technique could be used to design bigger subs capable of even more impressive octopus-like feats.

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Users Report Warping of Apple's iPhone 6 Plus

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 4:14am
MojoKid writes: Apple's iPhone 6 Plus weighs six ounces, and it's a scant 7.1mm thick. As an added bonus, according to a number of users, it has a hidden feature — it bends! And no, we don't mean it bends in a "Hey, what an awesome feature!" sort of way. More like a "Hey, the entire phone is near to snapping" kind of way. What's even more troubling is that many of the users who are reporting bent devices also claim that they were carrying it in front pockets or in a normal fashion as opposed to sitting on it directly. Either some of the iPhone 6 Plus hardware is defective (the vastly preferable option) or it's because the tests run by other venues are putting different kinds of stress on the chassis. It's not clear what the story is. Hopefully Apple will clarify it soon.

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Obama Presses China On Global Warming

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 1:17am
HughPickens.com writes: The NY Times reports that President Obama spoke at the United Nations Climate Change Summit and challenged China to make the same effort to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions and join a worldwide campaign to curb global warming. Obama's words were directly focused on putting the onus on China, an essential partner of the U.S. if a global climate treaty is to be negotiated by 2015. The U.S. and China bear a "special responsibility to lead," said Obama. "That's what big nations have to do." The U.S., Obama said, would meet a pledge to reduce its carbon emissions by 17 percent, from 2005 levels, by 2020 — a goal that is in large part expected to be met through proposed EPA regulation. There were indications that China might be ready with its own plan, although many experts say they will be skeptical until Chinese officials reveal the details. A senior Chinese official said his country would try to reach a peak level of carbon emissions "as early as possible." This suggests the Chinese government, struggling with air pollution so extreme that it has threatened economic growth, regularly kept millions of children indoors and ignited street protests, was determined to show faster progress in curbing emissions. In recent years, the Chinese government has sent other signals about addressing carbon pollution, some of them encouraging to environmental experts. "Five years ago, it was almost unimaginable to discuss China putting a cap on carbon, but now that is happening," said Lo Sze Ping, chief executive officer of the World Wildlife Fund's office in Beijing. "Chinese leaders have seen that it is imperative to move toward a low-carbon economy."

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South Australia Hits 33% Renewal Energy Target 6 Years Early

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 11:14pm
ferrisoxide.com writes: South Australia has hit its target of 33% renewable energy by 2020, 6 years earlier than expected, delivering clean power to the state through investment in wind, solar and geothermal energy — mothballing one coal-fired power station in the process. Not content to rest on their laurels, the SA government has now announced a new "stretch" target of 50% by 2025. South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill declared that despite initial upfront costs to renewable energy generators such as wind farms, the 50 per cent target will not add one extra dollar to energy prices.

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Mangalyaan Successfully Put Into Mars Orbit

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 9:00pm
knwny writes: India's Mars satellite Mangalyaan was successfully placed into orbit around Mars early on Wednesday following a 10-month journey from Earth. India thus joins the U.S., the European Space Agency and the former Soviet Union in having successfully completed a Mars mission. It is, however, the only one to have done so on the first attempt. Headed by the Indian space agency ISRO, Mangalyaan was made in 15 months at a cost of just around 74 million USD — the cheapest inter-planetary mission ever to be undertaken.

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Popular Wi-Fi Thermostat Full of Security Holes

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 8:20pm
Threatpost reports: Heatmiser, a U.K.-based manufacturer of digital thermostats, is contacting its customers today about a series of security issues that could expose a Wi-Fi-connected version of its product to takeover. Andrew Tierney, a "reverse-engineer by night," whose specialty is digging up bugs in embedded systems wrote on his blog, that he initially read about vulnerabilities in another one of the company's products, NetMonitor, and decided to poke around its product line further. This led him to discover a slew of issues in the company's Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats running firmware version 1.2. The issues range from simple security missteps to critical oversights.For example, when users go to connect the thermostat via a Windows utility, it uses default web credentials and PINs. ...Elsewhere, the thermostat leaks Wi-Fi credentials, like its password, username, Service Set Identifier (SSID) and so on, when its logged in. Related: O'Reilly Radar has an interesting conversation about what companies will vie for control of the internet-of-things ecosystem.

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Fukushima Radiation Still Poisoning Insects

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 6:10pm
sciencehabit writes: Eating food contaminated with radioactive particles may be more perilous than previously thought — at least for insects. Butterfly larvae fed even slightly tainted leaves collected near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station were more likely to suffer physical abnormalities and low survival rates than those fed uncontaminated foliage, a new study finds. The research suggests that the environment in the Fukushima region, particularly in areas off-limits to humans because of safety concerns, will remain dangerous for wildlife for some time. In other lingering radiation news, reader Rambo Tribble writes: Forest detritus, contaminated in the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster (abstract), is decaying at a much slower rate than normal, building up and creating a significant fire risk. This, in turn, is creating a real potential for the residual radioactive material to be distributed, through smoke, over a broad area of Europe and Russia. Looking at different possible fire intensities, researchers speculate, "20 to 240 people would likely develop cancer, of which 10 to 170 cases may be fatal." These figures are similar to those hypothesized for Fukushima.

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Debian Switching Back To GNOME As the Default Desktop

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 4:03pm
An anonymous reader writes: Debian will switch back to using GNOME as the default desktop environment for the upcoming Debian 8.0 Jessie release, due out in 2015. The decision is based on accessibility and systemd integration, along with a host of other reasons. Debian switched away from GNOME back in 2012 .

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