posted 6 days ago on slashdot
stephendavion writes You might be super happy to toil away on your phone or tablet the entire time you're on a plane, but not everyone is pleased to see your face buried in your device during takeoff and landing. The Federal Aviation Administration's new, more relaxed rules on gadget use aren't sitting well with one group — flight attendants. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the nation's largest flight attendant union is now suing the FAA to have the ban on gadget use during takeoff and landing reinstated. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA argues that the change has caused many passengers to ignore flight attendants' emergency announcements, and that the new rules violate federal regulations requiring passengers to stow all items during takeoff and landing.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
gurps_npc (621217) writes "CNN has a very interesting article about an unpowered exoskeleton system called Fortis. Unlike the more famous TALOS system, this exoskeleton uses zero electricity, so it does not need batteries or an extension cord. Power requirements have always been the problem with powered exoskeletons, as batteries are heavy. The system is made out of lightweight aluminum and heavy tools connect directly to it. The weight of the tools is supported by the exoskeleton, so your arms, back and legs don't have to carry it. You only need to use muscle to move the tool, not simply carry it. The exoskeleton does not make you stronger. Instead it effectively increases your stamina by relieving fatigue caused by carrying the heavy tool.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
gurps_npc (621217) writes "A very interesting article about an unpowered exoskeleton system called Fortis. Unlike the more famous TALOS system, this exoskeleton uses zero electricity, so it does not need batteries or an extension cord. Power requirements have always been the problem with powered exoskeletons, as batteries are heavy. The system consists of lightweight aluminum and heavy tools connect directly to it. The weight of the tools is supported by the exoskeleton, so your arms, back and legs don't have to carry it. You only need to use muscle to move the tool, not simply carry it. The exoskeletong does not make you stronger. Instead it effectively increases your stamina by relieving fatigue caused by carry the heavy tool.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Developer Paul Chiusano thinks much of programming culture has been infected by a "worse is better" mindset, where trade-offs to preserve compatibility and interoperability cripple the functionality of vital languages and architectures. He says, "[W]e do not merely calculate in earnest to what extent tradeoffs are necessary or desirable, keeping in mind our goals and values -- there is a culture around making such compromises that actively discourages people from even considering more radical, principled approaches." Chiusano takes C++ as an example, explaining how Stroustrup's insistence that it retain full compatibility with C has led to decades of problems and hacks. He says this isn't necessarily the wrong approach, but the culture of software development prevents us from having a reasoned discussion about it. "Developing software is a form of investment management. When a company or an individual develops a new feature, inserts a hack, hires too quickly without sufficient onboarding or training, or works on better infrastructure for software development (including new languages, tools, and the like), these are investments or the taking on of debt. ... The outcome of everyone solving their own narrow short-term problems and never really revisiting the solutions is the sea of accidental complexity we now operate in, and which we all recognize is a problem."

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Reuters reports that a cybersecurity firm has found evidence that a bug in Microsoft's Windows operating system has allowed hackers located in Russia to spy on computers used by NATO, Ukraine, the European Union, and others for the past five years. Before disclosing the flaw, the firm alerted Microsoft, who plans to roll out a fix on Tuesday. "While technical indicators do not indicate whether the hackers have ties to the Russian government, Hulquist said he believed they were supported by a nation state because they were engaging in espionage, not cyber crime. For example, in December 2013, NATO was targeted with a malicious document on European diplomacy. Several regional governments in the Ukraine and an academic working on Russian issues in the United States were sent tainted emails that claimed to contain a list of pro-Russian extremist activities, according to iSight."

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
Lucas123 writes: The Anonabox router project, currently being funded through a Kickstarter campaign, has surpassed its original $7,000 crowdfunding goal by more than 10 times in just one day. The open source router device connects via Wi-Fi or an Ethernet cable making it harder for your IP address to be seen. While there have been other Tor-enabled routers in the past, they aren't small enough to fit in a shirt pocket like the Anonabox and they haven't offered data encryption on top of the routing network. The device, which is being pitched as a way for consumers to securely surf the web and share content (or allow businesses to do the same), is also being directed at journalists who may want to share stories in places where they might otherwise be censored.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
Lasrick writes: Epidemics test the leadership skills of politicians and medical infrastructures, which is clear as this article goes through the different ways West African countries have dealt with the Ebola crisis. Now that fears are spreading about a U.S. outbreak (highly unlikely, as this article points out), it may be time to look at the U.S. medical infrastructure, which, of course, in many ways is far superior to those West African countries where the virus has spread. But there is an interesting twist to how disease outbreaks are handled in the U.S.: "The U.S. Constitution—written approximately 100 years before the germ theory of disease was proven by French chemist Louis Pasteur and German physician Robert Koch — places responsibility for public health squarely on the shoulders of local and state political leaders ... one could argue that the United States is hobbled by an outdated constitution in responding to epidemics. State and local jurisdictions vary tremendously in their public health capabilities."

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
merbs writes: A leaked report shows wind is the cheapest energy source in Europe, beating the presumably dirt-cheap coal and gas by a mile. Conventional wisdom holds that clean energy is more expensive than its fossil-fueled counterparts. Yet cost comparisons show that renewable energy sources are often cheaper than their carbon-heavy competition. The report (PDF) demonstrates that if you were to take into account mining, pollution, and adverse health impacts of coal and gas, wind power would be the cheapest source of energy.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: In response to a district judge ruling that declared the Department of Homeland Security's Traveler Redress Inquiry Program unconstitutional, the federal government has annouced its removal of seven Americans from its no-fly list (PDF). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is representing a total of 13 people suing to get off that list, and the government has until January of this year to deal with remaining six in that group. "Federal agencies have nominated more than 1.5 million names to terrorist watch lists over the past five years alone. Yet being a terrorist isn't a condition of getting on a roster that, until now, has been virtually impossible to be removed from..." One of the seven removed from the list is Marine Corps veteran and dog trainer Ibraheim Mashal of Illinois. The others had similarly Middle-Eastern-sounding names.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
New submitter poseur writes: If you're looking for an alternative to TrueCrypt, you could do worse than VeraCrypt, which adds iterations and corrects weaknesses in TrueCrypt's API, drivers and parameter checking. According to the article, "In technical terms, when a system partition is encrypted, TrueCrypt uses PBKDF2-RIPEMD160 with 1,000 iterations. For standard containers and other (i.e. non system) partitions, TrueCrypt uses at most 2,000 iterations. What Idrassi did was beef up the transformation process. VeraCrypt uses 327,661 iterations of the PBKDF2-RIPEMD160 algorithm for system partitions, and for standard containers and other partitions it uses 655,331 iterations of RIPEMD160 and 500,000 iterations of SHA-2 and Whirlpool, he said. While this makes VeraCrypt slightly slower at opening encrypted partitions, it makes the software a minimum of 10 and a maximum of about 300 times harder to brute force."

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
Mr D from 63 points out that watching Netflix in Ultra high-definition is going to cost you a little extra per month. A higher-resolution, 4K stream from Netflix will cost more. The company has boosted its monthly price for streaming ultrahigh-definition television and movies to $11.99 per month, citing the higher expenses associated with that content. In May, Netflix announced that its original series, such as House of Cards, would be available to stream in the 4K format, which offers roughly four times the resolution of current high-def TVs.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
First time accepted submitter Dadoo writes By now, everyone who reads Slashdot regularly has seen the XKCD comic discussing how to choose a more secure password, but at least one security researcher rejects that theory, asserting that password managers are the most important technology people can use to keep their accounts safe. He says, "In this post, I'm going to make the following arguments: 1) Choosing a password should be something you do very infrequently. 2) Our focus should be on protecting passwords against informed statistical attacks and not brute-force attacks. 3) When you do have to choose a password, one of the most important selection criteria should be how many other people have also chosen that same password. 4) One of the most impactful things that we can do as a security community is to change password strength meters and disallow the use of common passwords."

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
schwit1 writes After twenty-two months in orbit, on its second space mission, the Air Force plans to bring the X-37B back to Earth this coming Tuesday. From the article: "The exact time and date will depend on weather and technical factors, the Air Force said in a statement released on Friday. The X-37B space plane, also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle, blasted off for its second mission aboard an unmanned Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Dec. 11, 2012. The 29-foot-long (9-meter) robotic spaceship, which resembles a miniature space shuttle, is an experimental vehicle that first flew in April 2010. It returned after eight months. A second vehicle blasted off in March 2011 and stayed in orbit for 15 months."

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
gurps_npc writes CNN Money has a short, interesting piece on the results of Google's implementing Europe's "Right to be Forgotten". They are denying most requests, particularly those made by convicted criminals, but are honoring the requests to remove salacious information — such as when a rape victim requested the article mentioning her by name be removed from searches for her name. "In evaluating a request, we will look at whether the results include outdated or inaccurate information about the person," Google said. "We'll also weigh whether or not there's a public interest in the information remaining in our search results -- for example, if it relates to financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions or your public conduct as a government official."

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
First time accepted submitter sobczakt writes We live in a world flooded by data and information and all realize that if we can't find what we're looking for (e.g. a specific document), there's no benefit from all these data stores. When your data sets become enormous or your systems need to process thousands of messages a second, you need to an environment that is efficient, tunable and ready for scaling. We all need well-designed search technology. A few days ago, a book called Scaling Apache Solr landed on my desk. The author, Hrishikesh Vijay Karambelkar, has written an extremely useful guide to one of the most popular open-source search platforms, Apache Solr. Solr is a full-text, standalone, Java search engine based on Lucene, another successful Apache project. For people working with Solr, like myself, this book should be on their Christmas shopping list. It's one of the best on this subject. Read below for the rest of sobczakt's review.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
sciencehabit writes Material scientists have found a clever way to alert users of damaged batteries before any hazard occurs. A typical lithium-ion cell consists of a lithium oxide cathode and a graphite anode, separated by a thin, porous polymer sheet that allows ions to travel between the electrodes. When the cell is overcharged, microscopic chains of lithium, called "dendrites," sprout from the anode and pierce through the polymer separator until they touch the cathode. An electrical current passing through the dendrites to the cathode can short-circuit the cell, which causes overheating and, in some cases, fire. Attempts to stop dendrite formation have met with limited success, so the researchers tried something different. They built a "smart" separator by sandwiching a 50-nanometer thin copper layer between two polymer sheets and connecting the copper layer to a third electrode for voltage measurement. When the dendrites reach the separator, the voltage between the anode and the copper layer drops to zero, alerting users that they should change the damaged battery while it is still operating safely—disaster averted.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes Every day my gmail account receives 30-50 spam emails. Some of it is UCE, partially due to a couple dingbats with similar names who apparently think my gmail account belongs to them. The remainder looks to be spambot or Nigerian 419 email. I also run my own MX for my own domain, where I also receive a lot of spam. But with a combination of a couple DNSBL in my sendmail config, SpamAssassin, and procmail, almost none of it gets through to my inbox. In both cases there are rare false positives where a legit email ends up in my spam folder, or in the case of my MX, a spam email gets through to my Inbox, but these are rare occurrences. I'd think with all the Oompa Loompas at the Chocolate Factory that they could do a better job rejecting the obvious spam emails. If they did it would make checking for the occasional false positives in my spam folder a teeny bit easier. For anyone who's responsible for shunting Web-scale spam toward the fate it deserves, what factors go into the decision tree that might lead to so much spam getting through?

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
Bennett Haselton writes As commenters continue to blame Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities for allowing their nude photos to be stolen, there is only one rebuttal to the victim-blaming which actually makes sense: that for the celebrities taking their nude selfies, the probable benefits of their actions outweighed the probable negatives. Most of the other rebuttals being offered, are logically incoherent, and, as such, are not likely to change the minds of the victim-blamers. Read below to see what Bennett has to say.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
Eben Upton's reboot of the spirit of the BBC Micro in the form of the Raspberry Pi would have been an interesting project even if it had only been useful in the world of education. Upton wanted, after all, to give the kind of hands-on, low-level interaction with computing devices that he saw had gone missing in schools. Plenty of rPis are now in that educational, inspirational role, but it turns out that the world was waiting (or at least ready) for a readily usable, cheap, all-in-one computer, and the Raspberry Pi arrived near the front of a wave that now includes many other options. Sales boomed, and we've mentioned a few of the interesting milestones, like the millionth unit made in the UK and the two-millionth unit overall. Now, according to TechCrunch the Raspberry Pi is getting close to 4 million units sold, having just passed 3.8 million, as reported in a tweet. If you have a Raspberry Pi, what are you using it for now, and what would you like to see tweaked in future versions?

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
BarbaraHudson writes Experimental research has shown that small amounts of estrogen in waste water can lead to rapid large-scale changes in fish populations. From the article: "The lead researcher of a new study is calling for improvements to some of Canada's waste water treatment facilities after finding that introducing the birth control pill in waterways created a chain reaction in a lake ecosystem that nearly wiped out a freshwater fish. 'Right away, the male fish started to respond to the estrogen exposure by producing egg yolk proteins and shortly after that they started to develop eggs,' she said in an interview from Saint John, N.B. 'They were being feminized.' Kidd said shortly after introducing the estrogen, the number of fathead minnow crashed, reducing numbers to just one per cent of the population. 'It was really unexpected that they would react so quickly and so dramatically,' she said. 'The crash in the population was very evident and very dramatic and very rapid and related directly to the estrogen addition.'" Estrogen pollution in waterways has been an issue for over a decade now.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
Annanag writes *Nothing* escapes a black hole, right? Except 40 years ago Stephen Hawking threw a spanner in the works by suggesting that, courtesy of quantum mechanics, some light particles can actually break free of a black hole's massive pull. Then you have the tantalizing question of whether information can also escape, encoded in that so-called 'Hawking radiation'. The only problem being that no one has ever been able to detect Hawking radiation being emitted from a black hole. BUT a physicist has now come closer than ever before to creating an imitation of a black hole event horizon in the lab, opening up a potential avenue for investigating Hawking radiation and exploring how quantum mechanics and general relativity might be brought together.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
garymortimer writes with news about a project that hopes to create an open source code platform for drones. "The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux and collaborative development, today announced the founding of the Dronecode Project. The Project will bring together existing open source drone projects and assets under a nonprofit structure governed by The Linux Foundation. The result will be a common, shared open source platform for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Founding members include 3D Robotics, Baidu, Box, DroneDeploy, Intel, jDrones, Laser Navigation, Qualcomm, SkyWard, Squadrone System, Walkera and Yuneec. Dronecode includes the APM UAV software platform and associated code, which until now has been hosted by 3D Robotics, a world leader in advanced UAV autopilot and autonomous vehicle control. The company was co-founded by Chris Anderson, formerly editor-in-chief of Wired"

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes Randy Olson, a Computer Science grad student who works with data visualizations, writes about seven of the biggest factors that predict what makes for a long term stable marriage in America. Olson took the results of a study that polled thousands of recently married and divorced Americans and and asked them dozens of questions about their marriage (PDF): How long they were dating, how long they were engaged, etc. After running this data through a multivariate model, the authors were able to calculate the factors that best predicted whether a marriage would end in divorce. "What struck me about this study is that it basically laid out what makes for a stable marriage in the US," writes Olson. Here are some of the biggest factors: How long you were dating (Couples who dated 1-2 years before their engagement were 20% less likely to end up divorced than couples who dated less than a year before getting engaged. Couples who dated 3 years or more are 39% less likely to get divorced.); How much money you make (The more money you and your partner make, the less likely you are to ultimately file for divorce. Couples who earn $125K per year are 51% less likely to divorce than couples making 0 — 25k); How often you go to church (Couples who never go to church are 2x more likely to divorce than regular churchgoers.); Your attitude toward your partner (Men are 1.5x more likely to end up divorced when they care more about their partner's looks, and women are 1.6x more likely to end up divorced when they care more about their partner's wealth.); How many people attended the wedding ("Crazy enough, your wedding ceremony has a huge impact on the long-term stability of your marriage. Perhaps the biggest factor is how many people attend your wedding: Couples who elope are 12.5x more likely to end up divorced than couples who get married at a wedding with 200+ people."); How much you spent on the wedding (The more you spend on your wedding, the more likely you'll end up divorced.); Whether you had a honeymoon (Couples who had a honeymoon are 41% less likely to divorce than those who had no honeymoon). Of course correlation is not causation. For example, expensive weddings may simply attract the kind of immature and narcissistic people who are less likely to sustain a successful marriage and such people might end up getting divorced even if they married cheaply. But "the particularly scary part here is that the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is well over $30,000," says Olson, "which doesn't bode well for the future of American marriages."

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
The Register describes an advance in wireless speed announced by Samsung, which could make possible Wi-Fi speeds of up to 4.6Gbps in any device equipped with the new technology. By using “wide-coverage beam-forming antenna” and “eliminating co-channel interference, regardless of the number of devices using the same network” Samsung says it has cracked the problem and that products using its 802.11 ab standard could go on sale next year. Early products to use the technology will include “audio visual and medical devices, as well as telecommunications equipment.” Samsung also says the technology will be “integral to developments relevant to the Samsung Smart Home and other initiatives related to the Internet of Things.”

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes that WhatsApp is adding a feature that may elevate it for many users' purposes: VoIP. "Apps like Viber, Skype, Tango and Google Hangout already support VoIP, which allows you to make voice calls over a broadband connection. Beyond WhatsApp's huge pool of over 600 million active users, which will undoubtedly disrupt cell service providers' payment model, what is even more intriguing is the VoIP recording feature. With the exception of third-party add-ons available for Skype, no other VoIP app includes this feature."

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