posted 6 days ago on slashdot
PC Magazine reports (citing a blog post from project manager Andrew Nartker) that Google's Cardboard -- first introduced to some laughter -- is growing up, with a small but growing collection of compatible apps and a recently announced SDK. And while Cardboard itself is pretty low-tech (cardboard, rubber band, a magnet) and consequently cheap, the resulting VR experience is pretty good, which explains why more than 500,000 of them have now shipped.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes The NYT reports that Peruvian authorities say Greenpeace activists have damaged the fragile, and restricted, landscape near the Nazca lines, ancient man-made designs etched in the Peruvian desert when they placed a large sign that promoted renewable energy near a set of lines that form the shape of a giant hummingbird. The sign was meant to draw the attention of world leaders, reporters and others who were in Lima, the Peruvian capital, for a United Nations summit meeting aimed at reaching an agreement to address climate change. Greenpeace issued a statement apologizing for the stunt at the archaeological site and its international executive director, Kumi Naidoo, flew to Lima to apologize for scarring one of Peru's most treasured national symbols. "We are not ready to accept apologies from anybody," says Luis Jaime Castillo, the vice minister for cultural heritage. "Let them apologize after they repair the damage."

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes Google [on Friday] announced it plans to retire the Google Earth API on December 12, 2015. The reason is simple: Both Chrome and Firefox are removing support for Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) plugins due to security reasons, so the API's death was inevitable. The timing makes sense. Last month, Google updated its plan for killing off NPAPI support in Chrome, saying that it would block all plugins by default in January and drop support completely in September. The company also revealed that the Google Earth plugin had dropped in usage from 9.1 percent of Chrome users in October 2013 to 0.1 percent in October 2014. Add dwindling cross-platform support (particularly on mobile devices), and we're frankly surprised the announcement didn't come sooner.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes Class action against Apple is set to continue after 65-year-old amateur figure skater Barbara Bennett decided she would volunteer to represent consumers in the faltering antitrust case. U.S. district judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers is reportedly satisfied that Bennett qualifies as a class member, telling attorneys that they 'were on the right track.' Bennett offered to volunteer in the case after reading an online news story which suggested that the suit was floundering due to a lack of a named plaintiff after the last plaintiff was disqualified earlier this week.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
Yesterday, we posted news that data from the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton spacecraft had been interpreted as a possible sign of dark matter; researchers noted that a spike in X-ray emissions from two different celestial objects, the Andromeda galaxy and the Perseus galaxy cluster, matched just what they "were expecting with dark matter — that is, concentrated and intense in the center of objects and weaker and diffuse on the edges." StartsWithABang writes with a skeptical rejoinder: There seems to be a formula for this very specific extraordinary claim: point your high-energy telescope at the center of a galaxy or cluster of galaxies, discover an X-ray or gamma ray signal that you can't account for through conventional, known astrophysics, and claim you've detected dark matter! Only, these results never pan out; they've turned out either to be due to conventional sources or simply non-detections every time. There's a claim going around the news based on this paper recently that we've really done it this time, and yet that's not even physically possible, as our astrophysical constraints already rule out a particle with this property as being the dark matter!

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
Nerval's Lobster writes A funny thing happened to the iPod Classic on its way to the dustbin of history: people seemed unwilling to actually give it up. Apple quietly removed the iPod Classic from its online storefront in early September, on the same day CEO Tim Cook revealed the latest iPhones and the upcoming Apple Watch. At 12 years old, the device was ancient by technology-industry standards, but its design was iconic, and a subset of diehard music fans seemed to appreciate its considerable storage capacity. At least some of those diehard fans are now paying four times the iPod Classic's original selling price for units still in the box. The blog 9to5Mac mentions Amazon selling some last-generation iPod Classics for $500 and above. Clearly, some people haven't gotten the memo that touch-screens and streaming music were supposed to be the way of the future.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader sends this quote from the Center for Public Integrity: That AT&T just won an eight-figure contract to provide the federal government's General Services Administration with new mobile devices isn't itself particularly notable. What is: Casey Coleman, an AT&T executive responsible for "delivering IT and professional services to federal government customers," oversaw the GSA's information technology division and its $600 million IT budget as recently as January. ... While there’s no evidence anything illegal took place, the public still should be aware of, and potentially worried about, Coleman’s spin through the revolving door between government and companies that profit from government, said Michael Smallberg, an investigator at the nonpartisan watchdog group Project on Government Oversight. ... Federal government employees leaving public service for lucrative private sector jobs is commonplace. The Project on Government Oversight has called on the federal government to — among other actions — ban political appointees and some senior-level staffers from seeking employment with contractors that “significantly benefited” from policies they helped formulate during their tenure in government.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
cpt kangarooski writes: Information has come to light (thanks to the recent Sony hack) that the MPAA and six major studios are pondering the legal actions available to them to compel an entity referred to as 'Goliath,' most likely Google, into taking aggressive anti-piracy action on behalf of the entertainment industry. The MPAA and member studios Universal, Sony, Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros., and Disney have had lengthy email discussions concerning how to block pirate sites at the ISP level, and how to take action at the state level to work around the failure of SOPA in 2012. Emails also indicate that they are working with Comcast (which owns Universal) on some form of traffic inspection to find copyright infringements as they happen.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: BGPMon reports on a recent route hijacking event by Syria. These events continue, despite the ability to detect and prevent improper route origination: Resource Public Key Infrastructure. RPKI is technology that allows an operator to validate the proper relationship between an IP prefix and an Autonomous System. That is, assuming you can collect the certificates. ARIN requires operators accept something called the Relying Party Agreement. But the provider community seems unhappy with the agreement, and is choosing not to implement it, just to avoid the RPA, leaving the the Internet as a whole less secure.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Torrent site isoHunt appears to have unofficially resurrected The Pirate Bay at oldpiratebay.org. At first glance, The Old Pirate Bay seems to be just a commemorative site for The Pirate Bay, which went down this week after police raided its data center in Sweden. Upon further inspection, however, it turns out the site is serving new content. This is much more than just a working archive of The Pirate Bay; it has a functioning search engine, all the old listings, and working magnet links.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
TaleSlinger sends this news from Space.com: Astronomers may finally have detected a signal of dark matter, the mysterious and elusive stuff thought to make up most of the material universe. While poring over data collected by the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton spacecraft, a team of researchers spotted an odd spike in X-ray emissions coming from two different celestial objects — the Andromeda galaxy and the Perseus galaxy cluster. "The signal's distribution within the galaxy corresponds exactly to what we were expecting with dark matter — that is, concentrated and intense in the center of objects and weaker and diffuse on the edges," [assuming that dark matter consists of sterile neutrinos] study co-author Oleg Ruchayskiy, of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, said in a statement. "With the goal of verifying our findings, we then looked at data from our own galaxy, the Milky Way, and made the same observations," added lead author Alexey Boyarsky, of EPFL and Leiden University in the Netherlands. The decay of sterile neutrinos is thought to produce X-rays, so the research team suspects these may be the dark matter particles responsible for the mysterious signal coming from Andromeda and the Perseus cluster."

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
With the holidays coming up, Bennett Haselton has updated his geek-oriented gift guide for 2014. He says: Some of my favorite gifts to give are still the ones that were listed in several different previously written posts, while a few new cool gift ideas emerged in 2014. Here are all my current best recommendations, listed in one place. Read on for the list, or to share any suggestions of your own.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
colinneagle writes: Who's old enough to remember when the best technology was found at work, while at home we got by with clunky home computers and pokey dial-up modems? Those days are gone, and they don't look like they're ever coming back. Instead, today's IT department is scrambling to deliver technology offerings that won't get laughed at — or, just as bad, ignored — by a modern workforce raised on slick smartphones and consumer services powered by data centers far more powerful than the one their company uses. And those services work better and faster than the programs they offer, partly because consumers don't have to worry about all the constraints that IT does, from security and privacy to, you know, actually being profitable. Plus, while IT still has to maintain all the old desktop apps, it also needs to make sure mobile users can do whatever they need to from anywhere at any time. And that's just the users. IT's issues with corporate peers and leaders may be even rockier. Between shadow IT and other Software-as-a-Service, estimates say that 1 in 5 technology operations dollars are now being spent outside the IT department, and many think that figure is actually much higher. New digital initiatives are increasingly being driven by marketing and other business functions, not by IT. Today's CMOs often outrank the CIO, whose role may be constrained to keeping the infrastructure running at the lowest possible cost instead of bringing strategic value to the organization. Hardly a recipe for success and influence.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
Lucas123 writes: Thousands of 3D printer owners who are part of a distributed online network were tapped for a buyer's guide, rating dozens of machines from tiny startups to major manufacturers. Surprisingly, the big-name 3D printer makers were nowhere to be found in the top picks. More obscure companies, like Makergear, a 12-person start-up in Ohio, or Zortrax, a Polish company that began as a Kickstarter project, took top spots in the reviews. The buyer's guide, put together by 3D Hubs, contains five different categories: Enthusiast Printers, Plug-n-Play Printers, Kit/DIY Printers, Budget Printers and Resin Printers. In all, 18 models made it to the top of the user communities' list, and only printers with more than 10 reviews were included in the buyer's guide. 3D Hubs also added a secondary "Printer Index" that includes 58 3D Printers that didn't make it to the top of their categories. Printers with more than five reviews are displayed in the index.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
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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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
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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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
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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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
MobyDisk writes: A lawsuit was filed yesterday over a case in which a woman was arrested for recording the police from her car while stopped in traffic. Ars Technica writes, "Police erased the 135-second recording from the woman's phone, but it was recovered from her cloud account according to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City lawsuit, which seeks $7 million." Baltimore police lost a similar case against Anthony Graber in 2010 and another against Christopher Sharp in 2014. The is happening so often in Baltimore that in 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a letter to the police reminding them that they cannot stop recordings, and most certainly cannot delete them. Local awareness of this issue is high since the the Mayor and the City Council support requiring police body cameras. The city council just passed a bill requiring them, but the mayor is delaying implementation until a task force determines how best to go about it. The country is also focused on police behavior in light of the recent cases in Ferguson and New York, the latter of which involved a citizen recording. So the mayor, city council, police department policies, courts, and federal government are all telling police officers to stop doing this. Yet it continues to happen, and in a rather violent matter. What can people do to curb this problem?

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: The Wall Street Journal reports (paywalled) that Google is closing its engineering office in Russia. This follows ever-increasing crackdowns from the Russian government over internet freedoms, and intrusive data-handling requirements on internet companies. "[A] new law that takes effect next year requires information on Russian citizens to be stored in data centers in Russia. The law will also penalize Web firms for infringing on personal data rules in the country. Another law passed earlier this year requires bloggers with 3,000 or more daily readers to register with the government and provide their home address. The ruling prevents these bloggers from using foul language and forbids them from spreading false information."

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
MojoKid writes One of the most in-your-face buzzwords of the past year has been "4K," and there's little doubt that the forthcoming CES show in early January will bring it back in full force. As it stands today, 4K really isn't that rare, or expensive. You can even get 4K PC monitors for an attractive price. There does remain one issue, however; a lack of 4K content. We're beginning to see things improve, but it's still slow going. Given that, you might imagine that display vendors would hold off on trying to push that resolution envelope further – but you just can't stop hardware vendors from pushing the envelope. Earlier this year, both Apple and Dell unveiled "5K" displays that nearly doubled the number of pixels of 4K displays. 4K already brutalizes top-end graphics cards and lacks widely available video content, and yet here we are looking at the prospect of 5K. Many jaws dropped when 4K was first announced, and likewise with 5K. Now? Well, yes, 8K is on its way. We have LG to thank for that. At CES, the company will be showing-off a 55-inch display that boasts a staggering 33 million pixels — derived from a resolution of 7680x4320. It might not be immediately clear, but that's far more pixels than 4K, which suggests this whole "K" system of measuring resolutions is a little odd. On paper, you might imagine that 8K has twice the pixels of 4K, but instead, it's 4x.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
First time accepted submitter blueshift_1 writes Remember that photo that you posted to Facebook sophmore year of college when you thought there was nothing more important than partying and letting everyone you knew how hard you partied? Well facebook is now trying to buzzkill every one of those moments. With their upcoming feature, they'll be using photo analysis algorithms to detect how intoxicated you were in the photo and suggest that you not post it. Which in the end, is probably for the best.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
msm1267 writes A researcher disclosed a problem with a loose cross-domain policy for Flash requests on Yahoo Mail that put email message content, contact information and much more at risk. The researcher said the weakness is relatively simple to exploit and puts users at high risk for data loss, identity theft, and more. Yahoo has patched one issue related to a specific .swf file hosted on Yahoo's content delivery network that contained a vulnerability that could give an attacker complete control over Yahoo Mail accounts cross origin. While the patch fixed this specific issue, the larger overall configuration issue remains, meaning that other vulnerable .swf files hosted outside the Yahoo CDN and on another Yahoo subdomain could be manipulated the same way.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
jones_supa writes US Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that Lenovo is recalling a batch of laptop AC power cords due to fire hazard. The power cords have been bundled with IdeaPad brand B-, G-, S-, U-, V- and Z-series laptop computers and Lenovo brand B-, G- and V-series laptop computers. The recalled power cords are black in color and have the "LS-15" molded mark on the base of the IEC 60320 connector. The company seems to have been bitten by the exact same problem that HP faced this summer. Lenovo has set up an info page for affected customers.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
First time accepted submitter Amanda Parker writes In July the US warned of a terrorism risk which led countries, such as France and the UK, to step up their security screening for flights to the US. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson directed the TSA to implement enhanced security measures. In his statement on 6 July, Johnson warned that passengers could also be asked to "power up some devices, including cell phones" and stated that "powerless devices will not be permitted on board the aircraft". In light of the US Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) recent tightening of airport security to include stricter screening of electronic devices, is the TSA right to be cautious or have its actions caused unnecessary hassle for passengers?

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
Zothecula writes with news that a fat burning pill may be on the horizon. "Researchers at Harvard University say they have identified two chemical compounds that could replace "bad" fat cells in the human body with healthy fat-burning cells, in what may be the first step toward the development of an effective medical treatment – which could even take the form of a pill – to help control weight gain. Not all fat is created equal. While white fat cells store energy as lipids and contribute to obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, the less common brown fat cells pack energy in iron-rich mitochondria, have been shown to lower triglyceride levels and insulin resistance in mice, and appear to be correlated with lower body weight in humans. Brown fat makes up about five percent of the body mass of healthy newborns, helping them keep warm, and is still present in lower quantities in our neck and shoulders as adults, where it helps burn the white fat cells."

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