posted 2 days ago on slashdot
sneakyimp writes: The Antares rocket operated by Orbital Sciences Corporation exploded on launch due to a "catastrophic anomaly" after a flawless countdown. No injuries are reported and all personnel are accounted for. According to the audio stream hosted by local news affiliate WTVR's website, the Cygnus spacecraft contained classified crypto technology and efforts are being made to cordon off the wreckage area. Additionally, interviews of personnel and witness reports are to be limited to appropriate government agencies so that an accident report can be generated. This accident is likely to have a detrimental effect on the stock price of Orbital Sciences Corp, traded on the NYSE. The Antares rocket's engines are based on old soviet designs from the '60s. While this is sure to be a blow to NASA due to the cost, it may well boost the fortunes of SpaceX, a chief competitor of Orbital Sciences. Both companies were recently awarded resupply contracts by NASA.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes: Ron Nixon reports in the NY Times that the United States Postal Service says it approved nearly 50,000 requests last year from law enforcement agencies and its own internal inspection unit to secretly monitor the mail of Americans for use in criminal and national security investigations, in many cases without adequately describing the reason or having proper written authorization. In addition to raising privacy concerns, the audit questioned the efficiency and accuracy of the Postal Service in handling the requests. The surveillance program, officially called mail covers, is more than a century old, but is still considered a powerful investigative tool. The Postal Service said that from 2001 through 2012, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies made more than 100,000 requests to monitor the mail of Americans. That would amount to an average of some 8,000 requests a year — far fewer than the nearly 50,000 requests in 2013 that the Postal Service reported in the audit (PDF). In Arizona in 2011, Mary Rose Wilcox, a Maricopa County supervisor, discovered that her mail was being monitored by the county's sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Wilcox had been a frequent critic of Arpaio, objecting to what she considered the targeting of Hispanics in his immigration sweeps. Wilcox sued the county, was awarded nearly $1 million in a settlement in 2011 and received the money this June when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling. Andrew Thomas, the former county attorney, was disbarred for his role in investigations into the business dealings of Ms. Wilcox and other officials and for other unprofessional conduct. "I don't blame the Postal Service," says Wilcox, "but you shouldn't be able to just use these mail covers to go on a fishing expedition. There needs to be more control."

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: The Google X research lab has unveiled a new project: developing a pill capable of detecting cancer, imminent heart attacks, and other diseases. According to the article, "the company is fashioning nanoparticles—particles about one billionth of a meter in width—that combine a magnetic material with antibodies or proteins that can attach to and detect other molecules inside the body." When a person ingests the pill, these particles interact with the particular markers for a given disease. Since they're magnetic, they can then be guided back to a particular spot where they can be scanned to determine if any interactions took place. Google X's head of life sciences, Andrew Conrad, said, "What we are trying to do is change medicine from reactive and transactional to proactive and preventative. Nanoparticles... give you the ability to explore the body at a molecular and cellular level."

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: If you've ever heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect, you'll be familiar with David Dunning, professor of psychology at Cornell. He's written an article on the "psychology of human wrongness," explaining how confidence in one's answers tends to be high for people who don't know what they're talking about. He says, "What's curious is that, in many cases, incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge." Dunning goes on: "A whole battery of studies conducted by myself and others have confirmed that people who don't know much about a given set of cognitive, technical, or social skills tend to grossly overestimate their prowess and performance, whether it's grammar, emotional intelligence, logical reasoning, firearm care and safety, debating, or financial knowledge. College students who hand in exams that will earn them Ds and Fs tend to think their efforts will be worthy of far higher grades; low-performing chess players, bridge players, and medical students, and elderly people applying for a renewed driver's license, similarly overestimate their competence by a long shot."

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
jones_supa writes: The OpenBSD developers have decided to remove support for loadable kernel modules from the BSD distribution's next release. Several commits earlier this month stripped out the loadable kernel modules support. Phoronix's Michael Larabel has not yet found an official reason for the decision to drop support. He wagers that it is due to security or code quality/openness ideals.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
Bennett Haselton writes: Social networking company Ello has converted itself to a Public Benefit Corporation, bound by a charter saying that they will not now, nor in the future, make money by running advertisements or selling user data. Ello had followed these policies from the outset, but skeptics worried that venture capitalist investors might pressure Ello to change those policies, so this binding commitment was meant to assuage those fears. But is the commitment really legally binding and enforceable down the road? Read on for the rest.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
New submitter hejman08 writes with a question probably faced by many whose parents, grandparents, and other relatives rely on them for tech support and advice, specifically one about finding an appropriate data plan for his grandmother, of whom he writes: She is on her own plan through Verizon with 1GB of data, and she literally blows through it in three days or less every month, then complains about having nothing to do. They have Wi-Fi at her senior center, but only in specific rooms, and she has bad ankles and knees so she wants to stay home. Internet service would cost 80 a month to add where she lives. What I am wondering, is if any of the genius slashdotters out there know of a plan that- regardless of cost of phone, which we could manage as a gift to her, once- would allow her to have at least 300 minutes, 250 texts, and truly unlimited data (as in none of that Unlimited* stuff that is out there where they drop you to caveman speeds within a gig of usage), all for the price of less than say, 65 a month? The big 4 carriers don't seem to have anything that would work for her. What would you recommend? (I might start with a signal repeater in a utility closet, myself, or some clandestine CAT5 from a friendly neighbor's place.)

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
itwbennett writes Working closely with VISA, Apple solved many complex security issues making in-person payments safer than ever. But it's that close relationship with the credit card companies that may be Apple Pay's downfall. A competing solution called CurrentC has recently gained a lot of press as backers of the project moved to block NFC payments (Apple Pay, Google Wallet, etc.) at their retail terminals. The merchants designing or backing CurrentC reads like a greatest hits list of retail outfits and leading the way is the biggest of them all, Walmart. The retailers have joined together to create a platform that is independent of the credit card companies and their profit-robbing transaction fees. Hooking directly to your bank account rather than a credit or debit card, CurrentC will use good old ACH to transfer money from your account to the merchant's bank account at little to no cost.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
colinneagle writes This Friday is Halloween, but if you try to buy a PC with Windows 7 pre-loaded after that, you're going to get a rock instead of a treat. Microsoft will stop selling Windows 7 licenses to OEMs after this Friday and you will only be able to buy a machine with Windows 8.1. The good news is that business/enterprise customers will still be able to order PCs 'downgraded' to Windows 7 Professional. Microsoft has not set an end date for when it will cut off Windows 7 Professional to OEMs, but it will likely be a while. This all fits in with typical Microsoft timing. Microsoft usually pulls OEM supply of an OS a year after it removes it from retail. Microsoft cut off the retail supply of Windows 7 in October of last year, although some retailers still have some remaining stock left. If the analytics from Steam are any indicator, Windows 8 is slowly working its way into the American public, but mostly as a Windows XP replacement. Windows 7, both 32-bit and 64-bit, account for 59% of their user base. Windows 8 and 8.1 account for 28%, while XP has dwindled to 4%.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
rjmarvin (3001897) writes The Worldwide Web Consortium today has elevated the HTML5 specification to 'recommendation' status , giving it the group's highest level of endorsement, which is akin to becoming a standard. The W3C also introduced Application Foundations with the announcement of the HTML5 recommendation to aid developers in writing Web applications, and said the organization is working with patents holders of the H.264 codec to agree on a baseline royalty-free interoperability level commitment.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
SmartAboutThings writes According to some reports from the industry, Microsoft is working on a version of its software for servers that run on chips based on ARM Holdings's technology. Windows Server now runs on Intel hardware, but it seems that Redmond wants to diversify its strategy. An ARM-based version of Windows Server could help challenge Intel's dominance and make a place for ARM in the server market, not only in mobile chips. According to the article, though, Microsoft "hasn’t yet decided whether to make the software commercially available."

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
linuxwrangler writes A flight from LAX to London was delayed after a passenger reported seeing "Al-Quida Free Terror Nettwork" as an available hotspot name and reported it to a flight attendant. The flight was taken to a remote part of the airport and delayed for several hours but "after further investigation, it was determined that no crime was committed and no further action will be taken." That seems an awfully low threshold for disrupting air traffic, since wireless access points can be had for just a few dollars these days.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has issued a report grading online service providers for how well they side with users over intellectual property disputes. They looked at sites like YouTube, Imgur, tumblr, and Twitter. "The services could receive a maximum of five stars, based on criteria including publicly documented procedures for responses to DMCA takedown notices and counter-notices, how the services handle trademark disputes, and if the company issued detailed transparency reports." Only two sites got a perfect rating: WordPress and Namecheap. tumblr got the worst score, and Imgur was not far behind. The rest of the sites were in between, though the EFF did give a bit of extra credit to Etsy for its educational guides and Twitter for its transparency reports.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
sciencehabit writes: If you want to figure out how many people live in a particular part of your country, you could spend years conducting home visits and mailing out questionnaires. But a new study describes a quicker way. Scientists have figured out how to map populations using cellphone records — an approach that doesn't just reveal who lives where, but also where they go every day. The researchers also compared their results to population density data gathered through remote sensing technologies, a widely-used method that relies on satellite imaging to gather detailed information on population settlement patterns and estimate population counts. They found that the two methods are comparable in accuracy when checked against actual survey-based census data, but estimates from mobile phone data can provide more timely information, down to the hours.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
SlappingOysters writes: One of the highlighted games at the PAX AUS expo starting on October 31 is Blowfish Studios' Gunscape, a game described as an FPS construction kit. As well as building and sharing FPS maps for multiplayer gaming sessions across eight different modes, the game will also be able to handle up to nine-player splitscreen on a 4K display. This includes co-op map building.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
TheRealHocusLocus writes: The Survivor Library is gathering essential knowledge that would be necessary to jump-start modern civilization, should it fail past the point where a simple 'reboot' is possible (video). Much of it (but not all) dates to the late 1800s and early 1900s: quaint, but we know these things work because they did work. In 1978, James Burke said our modern world has become a trap (video), and whether it springs shut or not, all survival starts with the plow. Could you make one, use one? Sure, even a steam engine to pull it. I rescued my copy of Henley's Formulas from a dumpster outside a library. Think of the Survivor Library as a trove of survival skills, a "100-year civilization checkpoint backup" that fits on a hard drive. If one individual from every family becomes a Librarian, gathering precious things with the means to read them, there may be many candles in the darkness. Browse at will, but if acquisition is the goal, someone has kindly made a torrent snapshot as of 14-Oct-2014 available.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes: Nicolas Niarchos has a profile of 2600 in The New Yorker that is well worth reading. Some excerpts: 2600 — named for the frequency that allowed early hackers and "phreakers" to gain control of land-line phones — is the photocopier to Snowden's microprocessor. Its articles aren't pasted up on a flashy Web site but, rather, come out in print. The magazine—which started as a three-page leaflet sent out in the mail, and became a digest-sized publication in the late nineteen-eighties — just celebrated its thirtieth anniversary. It still arrives with the turning of the seasons, in brown envelopes just a bit smaller than a 401k mailer." "There's been now, by any stretch of the imagination, three generations of hackers who have read 2600 magazine," Jason Scott, a historian and Web archivist who recently reorganized a set of 2600's legal files, said. Referring to Goldstein, whose real name is Eric Corley, he continued: "Eric really believes in the power of print, words on paper. It's obvious for him that his heart is in the paper." "2600 provides an important forum for hackers to discuss the most pressing issues of the day — whether it be surveillance, Internet freedom, or the security of the nation's nuclear weapons—while sharing new code in languages like Python and C.* For example, the most recent issue of the magazine addresses how the hacking community can approach Snowden's disclosures. After lampooning one of the leaked N.S.A. PowerPoint slides ("whoever wrote this clearly didn't know that there are no zombies in '1984' ") and discussing how U.S. government is eroding civil rights, the piece points out the contradictions that everyone in the hacking community currently faces. "Hackers are the ones who reveal the inconvenient truths, point out security holes, and offer solutions," it concludes. "And this is why hackers are the enemy in a world where surveillance and the status quo are the keys to power."

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
ControlsGeek writes Mozilla plans to build a version of its Firefox OS for use in the Raspberry Pi. Plans are afoot to build a version capable of (1) being run on the Pi hardware and (2) eventually achieving parity with Raspbian and (3) enable easy development for robotics.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
merbs writes: Hope you're not too attached to looking out the windows when you fly — the designers of tomorrow's airplanes seem intent on getting rid of them. A Paris design firm recently made waves when it released its concept for a sleek, solar paneled, windowless passenger jet. Before that, Airbus proposed eschewing windows and building its cabins out of transparent polymers. Now, the Center for Process Innovation has floated its own windowless plane concept, and it's attracting plenty of headlines, too.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
RockDoctor writes: The BBC reports that Britain's car thieves, rapidly followed by Britain's car insurance companies, have been expressing their opinions on the security of keyless car entry and/or control systems. The thieves are happy to steal them (often using equipment intended for dealer maintenance of the vehicles) and in consequence the insurance companies are refusing to insure such vehicles (or to accept new policies on such vehicles) unless they are parked overnight in underground (or otherwise secured) car parks. I guess I won't be considering buying one of those for another generation. If ever.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
sciencehabit writes "Science has announced the 12 finalists for its annual "Dance Your PhD" contest. Among the finalists are dances about nanofibers and explosions, fusion implosions at the National Ignition Facility, and the science of tornadoes. A panel of esteemed scientists, artists, and educators are judging the finalists now to choose the winners. The winners and audience favorite will be announced on 3 November.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
RoccamOccam writes A former CBS News reporter who quit the network over claims it kills stories that put President Obama in a bad light says she was spied on by a "government-related entity" that planted classified documents on her computer. In her new memoir, Sharyl Attkisson says a source who arranged to have her laptop checked for spyware in 2013 was "shocked" and "flabbergasted" at what the analysis revealed. "This is outrageous. Worse than anything Nixon ever did. I wouldn't have believed something like this could happen in the United States of America," Attkisson quotes the source saying.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
Nerval's Lobster writes Everybody knows that Apple runs a tight ship when it comes to approving iOS apps for its App Store, rejecting software because it features porn, allows gambling, installs types of executable code, etc. But Apple also denies apps for some pretty esoteric reasons, many of which are only just coming to light. Want to have an App that uses GPS to automatically control a real-world aircraft or automobile? Sorry, that's not allowed, presumably because Apple doesn't want iOS to serve as a drone controller. (Imagine the liability issues.) Also, apps that report your location to emergency services are forbidden, as well as any that misspell Apple product names ("iTunz" will never make it through, no matter how much you beg). Even if Apple's not sharing the exact reason why it just rejected your app from its store (what the heck does "Not enough lasting value" mean?), you can check out Apple's own page on the top reasons for iOS app rejections."

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes Officials say molten lava from a Hawaii volcano has been flowing steadily in an area where residents have been warned they might have to evacuate their homes. Dozens of residents in the flow path have been told to complete all necessary preparations by Tuesday for a possible evacuation. From the article: "Janet Babb, a geologist and spokeswoman for the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said methane explosions also have been going off. She said decomposing vegetation produces methane gas that can travel subsurface beyond the lava front in different directions, accumulating in pockets that can ignite. She said it was a bit unnerving to hear all the blasts on Saturday."

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes Lenovo is the latest tech company to enter the fitness tracker market with its Smartband SW-B100 device. "It can record calories burnt, steps taken and a user's heartrate, in addition to syncing with a smartphone through an app to provide more complete health data. Users can also customize notifications and reminders on the smartband, and even use it to unlock a Windows PC without typing in the password, according to the product page."

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