posted 5 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes As expected, YouTube today launched YouTube Kids for Android and iOS, described as a "family-friendly destination" and "the first Google product built from the ground up with little ones in mind." You can download the new app for free, available only in the U.S., directly from Google Play and Apple's App Store. The app's main selling point is that it only has content deemed appropriate for kids. In other words, the pitch to parents is very simple: This app will ensure that your kids can watch videos posted online without stumbling on clips you wouldn't want them to see.

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posted 5 days ago on slashdot
First time accepted submitter BlacKSacrificE writes Australian carriers are bracing for a mass recall after it was revealed that a Dutch SIM card manufacturer Gemalto was penetrated by the GCHQ and the NSA in an alleged theft of encryption keys, allowing unfettered access to voice and text communications. The incident is suspected to have happened in 2010 and 2011 and seems to be a result of social engineering against employees, and was revealed by yet another Snowden document. Telstra, Vodafone and Optus have all stated they are waiting for further information from Gemalto before deciding a course of action. Gemalto said in a press release that they "cannot at this early stage verify the findings of the publication" and are continuing internal investigations, but considering Gemalto provides around 2 billion SIM cards to some 450 carriers across the globe (all of which use the same GSM encryption standard) the impact and fallout for Gemalto, and the affected carriers, could be huge.

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posted 5 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "Anna North writes in the NYT that a report released last week by the National Research Council calls for research into reversing climate change through a process called albedo modification: reflecting sunlight away from earth by, for instance, spraying aerosols into the atmosphere. But such a process could, some say, change the appearance of the sky — and that in turn could affect everything from our physical health to the way we see ourselves. "You'd get whiter skies. People wouldn't have blue skies anymore." says Alan Robock."Astronomers wouldn't be happy, because you'd have a cloud up there permanently. It'd be hard to see the Milky Way anymore." According to Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at the University of California, losing the night sky would have big consequences. "When you go outside, and you walk in a beautiful setting, and you just feel not only uplifted but you just feel stronger. There's clearly a neurophysiological basis for that," says Keltner adding that looking up at a starry sky provides "almost a prototypical awe experience," an opportunity to feel "that you are small and modest and part of something vast." If we lose the night sky "we lose something precious and sacred." "We're finding in our lab that the experience of awe gets you to feel connected to something larger than yourself, see the humanity in other people," says Paul K. Piff. "In many ways it's kind of an antidote to narcissism." And the sky is one of the few sources of that experience that's available to almost everybody: "Not everyone has access to the ocean or giant trees, or the Grand Canyon, but we certainly all live beneath the night sky." Alan Robock says one possible upside of adding aerosols could be beautiful red and yellow sunsets as "the yellow and red colors reflect off the bottom of this cloud." Robock recommends more research into albedo modification: "If people ever are tempted to do this, I want them to have a lot of information about what the potential benefits and risks would be so they can make an informed decision. Dr. Abdalati says that deploying something like albedo modification is a last-ditch effort adding that "we've gotten ourselves into a climate mess. The fact that we're even talking about these kinds of things is indicative of that.""

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
conoviator writes Bill Nye, one of the foremost science educators in the United States states that only the upper crust members of American science and technology (with degrees from top tier schools) understand science, particularly climate change. He opines that "regular software writers" dwell in the realm of the semi-science-literate. Nye rates science education in the U.S. an F. ("But if it makes you feel any better, you can say a B-minus.")

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
The Guardian has a long, thought-provoking piece (it's an excerpt from an upcoming book) on the way that online PR works, when individuals or organizations pay online spin doctors to change the way they're perceived online. Embarrassing photos, ill-considered social media posts, even quips that have ended up geting the speaker into hot water, can all be crowded out, even if not actually expunged, by injecting lots of innocuous information, photos, and other bits of information. That crowding out seems to be the reputation managers' prime tactic. Besides a brush of his own with identity theft (or at least unwanted borrowing), the author spoke at length with both Adria Richards and "Hank"; both of whom ended up losing their jobs in the aftermath of what became known as Donglegate, after Richards tweeted about jokes that she overheard Hank and another developer share at PyCon 2013.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
braindrainbahrain writes Mars One is, of course, the highly speculative, low credibility project to land humans on Mars after a one-way trip. In 2013 they had announced that two contracts had been awarded to the aerospace industry to develop a Mars orbiter and a Mars lander to carry a science experiment payload to the surface. Both contracts have been completed, but so far, Mars One has no immediate plans to renew the contracts and pursue further development of the crafts.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
The Register reports that the crowdfunded Exploding Kittens card game from Oatmeal (and Tesla museum fund-raiser) Matthew Inman, along with X-box veterans Elan Lee and Shane Small, has become the highest-grossing game project yet on Kickstarter. After an intensive fundraising campaign, the trio collected $8.78m from 219,382 backers to launch the game. This breaks the record for the largest ever Kickstarter game project, previously held by hackable Android gaming console Ouya. According to the blurb on Exploding Kittens' (now closed) Kickstarter page, players "take turns drawing cards until someone draws an exploding kitten and loses the game."

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
New submitter Patrick O'Neill writes with this excerpt from The Daily Dot: Anti-censorship technology is de jure illegal in Iran, but many VPNs are sold openly, allowing Iranians to bounce around censorship and seemingly render it ineffective. Nearly 7 in 10 young Iranians are using VPNs, according to the country's government, and a Google search for "buy VPN" in Persian returns 2 million results. Iran's Cyber Police (FATA) have waged a high-volume open war against the VPNs, but it's still very easy to find, buy, and use the software. It's so easy, in fact, that you can use Iran's government-sanctioned payment gateways (Pardakht Net, Sharj Iran, Jahan Pay & Baz Pardakht) to buy the tools that'll beat the censors. To use these gateways, however, customers have to submit their Iranian bank account and identity, all but foregoing hopes of privacy or protection from authorities."

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes Rachel Nuwer writes in the NYT that Dr. Sameer Chaudhry's online dating persona was garnering no response from the women he reached out to so he synthesized 86 literature studies on the subject of online dating in the fields of psychology, sociology, and computer, behavioral, and neurocognitive sciences.in hopes of improving his odds. As it turns out, success begins with picking a user name. While men are drawn to names linked to physical traits (e.g., Cutie), the researchers found, women prefer ones that indicate intelligence (e.g., Cultured). Both sexes respond well to playful names (e.g. Fun2bwith) and shy away from ones with negative connotations (e.g., Bugg). User names that begin with letters from the first half of the alphabet do better than those from the latter half. "As human beings, we have a tendency to give things at the top of a pile more value," says Khan. As for your profile photo, pick a photo with a genuine smile, one that crinkles the eyes, and with a slight head tilt (it's linked to attractiveness). And if you're looking for a male partner, go for that photo of you in siren red—a color that enhances men's attraction to women. "For those attracted to browse into the profile, a description of personal traits increased likeability when it: showed who the dater was and what they were looking for in a 70:30 ratio; stayed close to reality; and employed simple language with humor added. Invitations were most successful in obtaining a response from the potential date when they: were short personalized messages addressing a trait in their profile; rhymed with their screen name or headline message; and extended genuine compliments." And finally, don't wait too long before arranging a face to face meeting.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
m.alessandrini writes Children grow up, and inevitably they will start using internet and social networks, both for educational and recreational purposes. And it won't take long to them to learn to be autonomous, especially with all the smartphones and tablets around and your limited time. Unlike the years of my youth, when internet started to enter our lives gradually, now I'm afraid of the amount of inappropriate contents a child can be exposed to unprepared: porn, scammers, cyberbullies or worse, are just a click away. For Windows many solutions claim to exist, usually in form of massive antivirus suites. What about GNU/Linux? Or Android? Several solutions rely on setting up a proxy with a whitelist of sites, or similar, but I'm afraid this approach can make internet unusable, or otherwise be easy to bypass. Have you any experiences or suggestions? Do you think software solutions are only a part of the solution, provided children can learn hacking tricks better than us, and if so, what other 'human' techniques are most effective?

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
A new study (abstract) described in the L.A. Times suggests that "just 10 differences on one particular strand of human DNA lying near a brain-development gene could have been instrumental in the explosive growth in the human neocortex." The DNA region, containing just 1,200 base pairs, is not a gene. But it lies near one that is known to affect early development of the human neocortex, according to the study, published online Thursday in Current Biology. Researchers showed that the region, known as HARE5, acts as an enhancer of the gene FZD8. Embryos of mice altered with human HARE5 developed significantly larger brains and more neurons compared with embryos carrying the chimp version, according to the study.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
According to Newsweek, "A strain of drug-resistant malaria that was discovered last summer along the Thailand-Cambodia border has been been spreading throughout Southeast Asia, to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar." Specifically, the samples are resistant to anti-malarial artemisinin. The study analyzed more than 900 blood samples from malaria patients at over 55 different sites in Myanmar. The results showed that the drug-resistant bug was widespread, and dangerously close to the Indian border in the country’s Sagaing region. "Our study shows that artemisinin resistance extends over more of southeast Asia than had previously been known, and is now present close to the border with India,” wrote the researchers in the study abstract.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
According to this story at PC World, Nvidia was hit with a class action lawsuit Thursday that claims it misled customers about the capabilities of the GTX 970, which was released in September. Nvidia markets the chip as having 4GB of performance-boosting video RAM, but some users have complained the chip falters after using 3.5GB of that allocation. The lawsuit says the remaining half gigabyte runs 80 percent slower than it's supposed to. That can cause images to stutter on a high resolution screen and some games to perform poorly, the suit says. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern California and names as defendants Nvidia and Giga-Byte Technology, which sells the GTX 970 in graphics cards. Nvidia declined to comment on the lawsuit Friday and Giga-Byte couldn't immediately be reached.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
In an announcement yesterday reported on by Ars Technica, [Los Angeles school superintendent] Ramon C. Cortines said that the city can't afford to buy a computer for every student. The statement comes after intense controversy over a $1.3 billion initiative launched by Cortines' predecessor, former superintendent John Deasy, in which every student was supposed to be given an iPad loaded with content from educational publisher Pearson. (That controversy is worth reading about, and sparked an FBI investigation as well.)

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
Mark Wilson (3799011) writes "Just a few days ago Google was threatened with legal action for anti-competitive behavior in Russia. While we don't yet know if that will amount to anything, there has been some better news for the search giant in the US. A San Francisco judge dismissed a case brought against the firm by two men who thought the inclusion of Google services in Android pushed up the prices of their handsets."

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes One of the cornerstones of any democracy is its judicial system. Fortunately, most of us never have to deal with it. On the other hand, the fact that we so seldom interact with it also means that most of us are not constantly thinking about it. It is possible our judicial system would be much better if most of us had to spend more time thinking about it. I myself had not put much thought into it until I watched a documentary about Aaron Swartz. It is frightening to think that someone could have been left in a position like that. I also hear about so many cases were people end up pleading guilty because they do not have enough money to fight a case in court. Is this really the best we can do? The Marshal Project is also an interesting source of information regarding the shortfalls of our current system. What do you think about it? How can we improve our judicial system? Is there any interesting way that technology could be used to improve the system?

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes Citing a report from the Gartner Group estimating $100 billion in intellectual property losses within five years, Joshua Greenbaum warns of "the threat of a major surge in counterfeiting" as cheap 3-D printers get more sophisticated materials. Writing for Wired, Greenbaum argues that preventing counterfeiting "promises to be a growth market," and suggests that besides updating IP laws, possible solutions include nanomaterials for "watermarking" authentic copies or even the regulation of 3-D printing materials. Major retailers like Amazon are already offering 3-D print-on-demand products — though right now their selection is mostly limited to novelties like customized bobbleheads and Christmas ornaments shaped like cannabis leaves. Apropos: Smithonian Magazine has an article that makes a good companion piece to this one on the long political history of the copy machine, which raised many of the same issues being rediscovered in the context of 3-D printing.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
reifman (786887) writes "Last June, my post "Yes, You Can Spend $750 in International Data Roaming in One Minute on AT&T" was slashdotted and this led to T-Mobile CEO John Legere tweeting 'how crappy @ATT is' and welcoming me to the fold. Unfortunately, now it's TMobile that's having trouble tracking data; it seems to be related to the rollout of their new DataStash promotion. Just like AT&T, they're blaming the customer. Here are the ten lies T-Mobile told me about my data usage today."

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "Reuters reports that the US Department of Homeland Security has advised Lenovo customers to remove "Superfish" software from their computers. According to an alert released through its National Cyber Awareness System the software makes users vulnerable to SSL spoofing and could allow a remote attacker to read encrypted web browser traffic, spoof websites and perform other attacks on Lenovo PCs with the software installed. Lenovo inititally said it stopped shipping the software because of complaints about features, not a security vulnerability. "We have thoroughly investigated this technology and do not find any evidence to substantiate security concerns," the company said in a statement to Reuters early on Thursday. On Friday, Lenovo spokesman Brion Tingler said the company's initial findings were flawed and that it was now advising customers to remove the software and providing instructions for uninstalling "Superfish". "We should have known about this sooner," Tingler said in an email. "And if we could go back, we never would have installed this software on our machines. But we can't, so we are dealing with this head on.""

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
sciencehabit writes For those tired of winter, you're not alone. Electric cars hate the cold, too. Researchers have conducted the first investigation into how electric vehicles fare in different U.S. climates. The verdict: Electric car buyers in the chilly Midwest and sizzling Southwest get less bang for their buck, where poor energy efficiency and coal power plants unite to turn electric vehicles into bigger polluters.

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
snydeq writes Researchers warn that a glut of code is coming that will depress wages and turn coders into Uber drivers, InfoWorld reports. "The researchers — Boston University's Seth Benzell, Laurence Kotlikoff, and Guillermo LaGarda, and Columbia University's Jeffrey Sachs — aren't predicting some silly, Terminator-like robot apocalypse. What they are saying is that our economy is entering a new type of boom-and-bust cycle that accelerates the production of new products and new code so rapidly that supply outstrips demand. The solution to that shortage will be to figure out how not to need those hard-to-find human experts. In fact, it's already happening in some areas."

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
ErichTheRed writes I saw this on the Money page of CNN today. Apparently, various stock analysts have declared that this run-up in stock prices is different than the 1999 version. OK, we don't have the pets.com sock puppet, Webvan or theglobe.com anymore, but when Uber is given a valuation of $40 billion, can a crash be far behind?

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: A couple weeks ago, we were surprised by news that Sony was spinning off its game development studio. More recently, the company has been thinking about exiting both the mobile phone market and the TV market. An opinion piece suggests Sony shouldn't stop there, focusing more on the its PlayStation division and a few other areas — and giving up on the rest. "Continuing to concentrate on phones and other products actually makes the PlayStation experience worse for most people. Take the PS4's ability to stream games to mobile devices — a killer feature needlessly limited to the PS Vita and Sony's Xperia Android line. Why can't I play Destiny on my iPad when the TV's occupied? The iOS PlayStation app, meanwhile, is a confusing mess that hasn't even been updated for the iPhone 6. These sound like minor points, but imagine what Sony could do if everyone at the company were focused on making its most important product as good as possible. As Microsoft is learning with its recent iOS and Android experiments, you have to serve the customers where they already are."

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader sends this quote from a Wall Street Journal report: Three months after the State Department confirmed hackers breached its unclassified email system, the government still hasn't been able to evict them from the network, say three people familiar with the investigation. Government officials, assisted by outside contractors and the National Security Agency, have repeatedly scanned the network and taken some systems offline. But investigators still see signs of the hackers on State Department computers, the people familiar with the matter said. Each time investigators find a hacker tool and block it, these people said, the intruders tweak it slightly to attempt to sneak past defenses. It isn't clear how much data the hackers have taken, the people said. They reaffirmed what the State Department said in November: that the hackers appear to have access only to unclassified email. Still, unclassified material can contain sensitive intelligence.

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
PLAR writes It turns out LaserWash automatic car washes can be easily hacked via the Internet to get a free wash or to manipulate the machines that clean the cars, a security researcher has found. Billy Rios says these car washes have web interfaces with weak/default passwords which, if obtained, could allow an attacker to telnet in and use an HTTP GET request to control the machines. Rios adds that this probably isn't the only car wash brand that's vulnerable.

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