posted 7 days ago on slashdot
New submitter catchblue22 writes MIT Technology Review has an excellent article summarizing the current state of quantum computing. It focuses on the efforts of Microsoft and Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs to build stable qubits over the past few years. "In 2012, physicists in the Netherlands announced a discovery in particle physics that started chatter about a Nobel Prize. Inside a tiny rod of semiconductor crystal chilled cooler than outer space, they had caught the first glimpse of a strange particle called the Majorana fermion, finally confirming a prediction made in 1937. It was an advance seemingly unrelated to the challenges of selling office productivity software or competing with Amazon in cloud computing, but Craig Mundie, then heading Microsoft's technology and research strategy, was delighted. The abstruse discovery — partly underwritten by Microsoft — was crucial to a project at the company aimed at making it possible to build immensely powerful computers that crunch data using quantum physics. "It was a pivotal moment," says Mundie. "This research was guiding us toward a way of realizing one of these systems."

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes with news that authorities in the Netherlands have arrested four drivers sharing their car for money through the Uberpop app. The drivers where then released with a fine of EUR 4200 (USD 5300) each and further threatened with additional fines of EUR 10000 (USD 12600) for each time they might be caught doing it again. While similar bullying applied to short rentals of private rooms through sites like Airbnb hasn't had the same success so far the thoughts go to the fined drivers, hoping they won't ever be caught carrying their grandmother to the supermarket then have to explain how they dared.The Uber company says it will "fully support" the affected drivers."

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
sciencehabit writes Clostridium difficile infections kill approximately 14,000 Americans every year, often because the diarrhea-causing bacteria are highly resistant to standard antibiotics. Now, scientists have found an unusual way to combat the bugs: human feces in pill form. In the new study, researchers show that frozen fecal matter encapsulated in clear, 1.6 g synthetic pills was just as safe and effective as traditional fecal transplant techniques at treating C. difficile. Within 8 weeks or less, 18 out of 20 participants saw a complete resolution of diarrhea after consuming 30 or 60 of the feces-filled capsules. "It's probably not the best experience of your life," says team leader Ilan Youngster, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at Harvard University. "But it beats getting a tube stuck down your throat or a colonoscopy or having C. diff."

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to have been diagnosed in the U.S. with Ebola, and who subsequently died of the disease, was treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Now, in a second diagnosis for the U.S, an unidentified health-care worker from the hospital has tested positive for Ebola as well. According to the linked Reuters story, Texas officials did not identify the worker or give any details about the person, but CNN said it was a woman nurse. The worker was wearing full protective gear when in contact with Duncan, Texas Health Resources chief clinical officer Dan Varga told a news conference. "We are very concerned," Varga said. "We don't have a full analysis of all of the care. We are going through that right now." ... The worker was self-monitoring and has not worked during the last two days, Varga said. The worker was taking their own temperature twice a day and, as a result of the monitoring, the worker informed the hospital of a fever and was isolated immediately upon their arrival, the hospital said in a statement. (Also covered by the Associated Press, as carried by the Boston Globe, which notes that "If the preliminary diagnosis is confirmed, it would be the first known case of the disease being contracted or transmitted in the U.S.")

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes Alan Boyle writes that over the years, Elon Musk's showmanship, straight-ahead smarts and far-out ideas have earned him a following that spans the geek spectrum — to the point that some observers see glimmers of the aura that once surrounded Apple's Steve Jobs. "To me, it feels like he's the most obvious inheritor of Steve Jobs' mantle," says Ashlee Vance who's writing a biography of Musk that at one time had the working title "The Iron Man." "Obviously, Steve Jobs' products changed the world ... [But] if Elon's right about all these things that he's after, his products should ultimately be more meaningful than what Jobs came up with. He's the guy doing the most concrete stuff about global warming." So what is Musk's vision? What motivates Musk at the deepest level? "It's his Mars thing," says Vance. Inspired in part by the novels of Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, Musk has come around to the view that humanity's long-term future depends on extending its reach beyond Earth, starting with colonies on Mars. Other notables like physicist Stephen Hawking have laid out similar scenarios — but Musk is actually doing something to turn those interplanetary dreams into a reality. Vance thinks that Musk is on the verge of breaking out from geek guru status to a level of mass-market recognition that's truly on a par with the late Steve Jobs. Additions to the Tesla automotive line, plus the multibillion-dollar promise of Tesla's battery-producing "gigafactory" in Nevada, could push Musk over the edge. "Tesla, as a brand, really does seem to have captured the public's imagination. ... All of a sudden he's got a hip product that looks great, and it's creating jobs. The next level feels like it's got to be that third-generation, blockbuster mainstream product. The story is not done."

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
hackingbear writes The Supreme People's Court, China's top court, has outlined the liabilities of network service providers in a document on the handling of online personal rights violation cases. "Rights violators usually hide in the dark online. They post harmful information out of the blue, and victims just can't be certain whom they should accuse when they want to bring the case to court," said Yao Hui, a senior SPC judge specializing in civil cases. Those re-posting content that violates others' rights and interests will also answer for their actions, and their liability will be determined based on the consequences of their posts, the online influence of re-posters, and whether they make untruthful changes to content that mislead. This essentially tries to ban the so-called human flesh searching. Though this does not stop others from using the chance to highlight the country's censorship problems even though the rulings seem to focus on personal privacy protection.

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
hackingbear writes The Supreme People's Court, China's top court, has outlined the liabilities of network service providers in a document on the handling of online personal rights violation cases. "Rights violators usually hide in the dark online. They post harmful information out of the blue, and victims just can't be certain whom they should accuse when they want to bring the case to court," said Yao Hui, a senior SPC judge specializing in civil cases. Those re-posting content that violates others' rights and interests will also answer for their actions, and their liability will be determined based on the consequences of their posts, the online influence of re-posters, and whether they make untruthful changes to content that mislead. This essentially tries to ban the so-called human flesh searching. Though this does not stop others from using the chance to highlight the country's censorship problems even though the rulings seem to focus on personal privacy protection.

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
While urging policy reform as more important than per-person safeguards, Edward Snowden had a few pieces of advice on maintaining online privacy for attendees at Saturday's New Yorker Festival. As reported by TechCrunch, Snowden's ideas for avoiding online intrusions (delivered via video link) sound simple enough, but may not be easy for anyone who relies on Google, Facebook, or DropBox, since those are three companies he names as ones to drop. A small slice: He also suggested that while Facebook and Google have improved their security, they remain “dangerous services” that people should avoid. (Somewhat amusingly, anyone watching the interview via Google Hangout or YouTube saw a Google logo above Snowden’s face as he said this.) His final piece of advice on this front: Don’t send unencrypted text messages, but instead use services like RedPhone and Silent Circle. Earlier in the interview, Snowden dismissed claims that increased encryption on iOS will hurt crime-fighting efforts. Even with that encryption, he said law enforcement officials can still ask for warrants that will give them complete access to a suspect’s phone, which will include the key to the encrypted data. Plus, companies like Apple, AT&T, and Verizon can be subpoenaed for their data.

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
Chipmunk100 writes In a research article in the journal Cell scientists report that there is a subset of neurons that are vital in social interest of female mice for males during estrus, the sexually receptive phase of their cycle. They say that these neurons are responsive to oxytocin. The level of oxytocin rise when we hug or kiss a loved one. The BBC has an article on the findings as well, and reports that Without [oxytocin], female mice were no more attracted to a mate than to a block of Lego ... [The affected] neurons are situated in the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain important for personality, learning and social behaviour. Both when the hormone was withheld and when the cells were silenced, the females lost interest in mating during oestrous, which is when female mice are sexually active.

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
sciencehabit writes Scientists are reporting a significant advance in the quest to develop an alternative approach to nuclear fusion. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, using the lab's Z machine, a colossal electric pulse generator capable of producing currents of tens of millions of amperes, say they have detected significant numbers of neutrons — byproducts of fusion reactions — coming from the experiment. This, they say, demonstrates the viability of their approach and marks progress toward the ultimate goal of producing more energy than the fusion device takes in.

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes with a report at Ars Technica about how a small bug can lead to a security problem. In this case, the problem is that quotation marks — or the lack of them — can be significant. From the Ars article: "The scenario... requires a 'standard' user with access rights to create a directory to a fileserver and an administrator executing a vulnerable script," Frank Lycops and Raf Cox, security researchers with The Security Factory, said in an e-mail interview. "This allows the attacker to gain the privileges of the user running the script, thus becoming an administrator." While the attack falls short of the severity of the Shellshock family of Linux shell vulnerabilities, the two researchers stressed that it's a good example of how untrusted input can be used to execute commands on a system. The researchers identified at least one popular script with the vulnerability. When the script attempts to set the starting directory for system administration work, it inadvertently runs the command appended to the malicious directory's name as well. ... The solution is to use proper coding practices—in this case, the judicious use of quotation marks. Quotation marks are used in the shell environment to make sure that the data inside the quotes is not interpreted by the program as a command.

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
mrspoonsi writes There are only "around 100" cybercriminal kingpins behind global cybercrime, according to the head of Europol's Cybercrime Centre. Speaking to the BBC, Troels Oerting said that law enforcers needed to target the "rather limited group of good programmers". "We roughly know who they are. If we can take them out of the equation then the rest will fall down," he said. "This is not a static number, it will increase unfortunately," he said. "We can still cope but the criminals have more resources and they do not have obstacles. They are driven by greed and profit and they produce malware at a speed that we have difficulties catching up with." The biggest issue facing cybercrime fighters at the moment was the fact that it was borderless. "Criminals no longer come to our countries, they commit their crimes from a distance and because of this I cannot use the normal tools to catch them. "I have to work with countries I am not used to working with and that scares me a bit," he said The majority of the cybercrime "kingpins" were located in the Russian-speaking world, he said.

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
Advocatus Diaboli writes with this snippet from The Intercept: The National Security Agency has had agents in China, Germany, and South Korea working on programs that use "physical subversion" to infiltrate and compromise networks and devices, according to documents obtained by The Intercept. The documents, leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, also indicate that the agency has used under cover operatives to gain access to sensitive data and systems in the global communications industry, and that these secret agents may have even dealt with American firms. The documents describe a range of clandestine field activities that are among the agency's "core secrets" when it comes to computer network attacks, details of which are apparently shared with only a small number of officials outside the NSA.

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes Alex Hutchinson writes at Runner's World that runners have cut the distance to the sub-two marathon in half since 1998, but it will get progressively harder to trim the remaining seconds. Still, the physiologists tell us that it's not impossible, meaning it is possible. Hutchinson says it will take several things: a cold day in March or November; a straight, flat course that is mind-numbingly boring; pacemakers who will shepherd leaders around the course cutting the wind and setting the pace; and a runner with a frame of about 5'6", weight of about 120 pounds, and towering self-confidence.The road is so flat and straight, you can see them coming from a mile away. Six runners flow in arrowhead formation around the Canadian city of Saskatoon. The early November air is still and dry, the sky overcast, and the temperature hovers a bit above freezing, just as predicted. All in their early 20s, they've been training together for this moment for years; only in the last month did their coach select which three will go for the record. The remaining three form the front of the arrowhead, blocking the wind and enduring the mental effort of controlling the pace. Should one of them cross the finish line in two hours—or faster—all six will share equally in the $50 million jackpot promised by the heirs to the Hoka One One fortune. The pot of money is up for grabs, for any runner, anywhere in the world. The chase is on. So, will they make it? And what year is this? I'm saying the year is...2075—and they make it.

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
wiredmikey writes Kmart is the latest large U.S. retailer to experience a breach of its payment systems, joining a fast growing club dealing successful hack attacks. The company said that on Thursday, Oct. 9, its IT team detected that its payment data systems had been breached, and that debit and credit card numbers appear to have been compromised. A company spokesperson told SecurityWeek that they are not able to provide a figure on the number of customers impacted. The spokesperson said that based on the forensic investigation to date, no personal information, no debit card PIN numbers, no email addresses and no social security numbers were obtained by the attackers.

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
MTorrice writes: Environmental scientists monitor particulate matter pollution because it poses risks to human health and can affect the climate. Ultrafine particles, up to 100 nm in diameter, are produced by vehicle exhaust and other combustion processes. They also form when volatile chemicals from other sources condense in the atmosphere, often through reactions triggered by sunlight. Now atmospheric scientists propose that personal care products, such as antiperspirants, could be a potential source of ultrafine particulate matter. On the basis of data from the U.S. and Finland, they find that airborne nanoparticles in highly populated areas often contain silicon. They hypothesize that organic silicon compounds found in cosmetics waft into the air, get oxidized, and contribute to the growth of nanoparticles.

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
Chris Gordon works for a high-technology company, but he likes analog meters better than digital readouts. In this video, he shows off a bank of old-fashioned meters that display data acquired from digital sources. He says he's no Luddite; that he just prefers getting his data in analog form -- which gets a little harder every year because hardly any new analog meters are being manufactured. (Alternate Video Link)

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: AMD recently presented plans to unify their open-source and Catalyst Linux drivers at the open source XDC2014 conference in France. NVIDIA's rebuttal presentation focused on support Mir and Wayland on Linux. The next-generation display stacks are competing to succeed the X.Org Server. NVIDIA is partially refactoring their Linux graphics driver to support EGL outside of X11, to propose new EGL extensions for better driver interoperability with Wayland/Mir, and to support the KMS APIs by their driver. NVIDIA's binary driver will support the KMS APIs/ioctls but will be using their own implementation of kernel mode-setting. The EGL improvements are said to land in their closed-source driver this autumn while the other changes probably won't be seen until next year.

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
rastos1 writes: In a recent blog, software developer Bruce Dawson pointed out some issues with the way the FSIN instruction is described in the "Intel® 64 and IA-32 Architectures Software Developer's Manual," noting that the result of FSIN can be very inaccurate in some cases, if compared to the exact mathematical value of the sine function. Dawson says, "I was shocked when I discovered this. Both the fsin instruction and Intel's documentation are hugely inaccurate, and the inaccurate documentation has led to poor decisions being made. ... Intel has known for years that these instructions are not as accurate as promised. They are now making updates to their documentation. Updating the instruction is not a realistic option." Intel processors have had a problem with math in the past, too.

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Computer hardware site AnandTech has posted a detailed introduction to semiconductor technology. It's deep enough to be insightful for understanding the chips that run your devices and the industry that built them, but also short enough that your eyes won't start bleeding in the process. The article starts by explaining why silicon is so important, and how a board is set up, structurally. Then it walks through transistor design and construction, and the underpinnings of CMOS logic. Finally, the article describes the manufacturing steps, including wafer creation, photolithography, and how metal is added/shaped at the end. They then go into the physics behind improving these components. It's a geeky and informative read.

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
Zothecula writes: A new prosthetic system allows amputees to feel familiar sensations and also, somewhat unexpectedly, reduces their phantom pain. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University and the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center developed the system to reactivate areas of the brain that produce the sense of touch, but recipients of prosthetic hands reported their phantom pain subsiding almost completely after being hooked up to the system.

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: On 10 October 1994, Opera CTO Hakon Lie posted a proposal for Cascading HTML style sheets. Now, two decades on, CSS has become one of the modern web's most important building blocks. The Opera dev blog just posted an interview with Lie about how CSS came to be, and what he thinks of it now. He says that if these standards were not made, "the web would have become a giant fax machine where pictures of text would be passed along." He also talks about competing proposals around the same time period, and mentions his biggest mistake: not producing a test suite along with the CSS1 spec. He thinks this would have gotten the early browsers to support it more quickly and more accurately. Lie also thinks CSS has a strong future: "New ideas will come along, but they will extend CSS rather than replace it. I believe that the CSS code we write today will be readable by computers 500 years from now."

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
michaelcole writes: Its name is BitHammer. It searches out and bans BitTorrent users your local sub-net. I'm a digital nomad. That means I travel and work, often using shared Wi-Fi. Over the last year, I've been plagued by rogue BitTorrent users who've crept onto these public hostpots either with a stolen/cracked password, or who lie right to my face (and the Wi-Fi owners) about it. These users clog up the residential routers' connection tables, and make it impossible to use tools like SSH, or sometimes even web browsing. Stuck for a day, bullied from the Wi-Fi, I wrote BitHammer as a research project. It worked rather well. It's my first Python program. I hope you find it useful.

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
skegg writes: Frustrated journalist Ben Grubb has documented his attempts at gaining access to his own metadata from his carrier. "After more than a year of phone calls and emails and a private mediation session, it still hasn't released the information or answered my one key question satisfactorily: the government can access my Telstra metadata, so why can't I?" Later, he says, "Telstra's one and only valid argument to date has been that identifying who calls me would be in breach of that person's privacy if they called from an unlisted number. I've agreed and said that in providing me with my metadata they should remove unlisted numbers. They argue this would be too difficult to do, which I think is baloney."

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
maynard writes: Kathy Sierra spent a tech career developing videogames and teaching Java programming in Sun Microsystems masterclasses. Up until 2007, she'd been a well regarded tech specialist who happened to be female. Until the day she opined on her private blog that given the crap-flood of bad comments, maybe forum moderation wasn't a bad idea. This opinion made her a target. A sustained trolling and harassment campaign followed, comprised of death and rape threats, threats against her family, fabricated claims of prostitution, and a false claim that she had issued a DMCA takedown to stifle criticism. All of this culminated in the public release of her private address and Social Security Number, a technique known as Doxxing. And so she fled from the public, her career, and even her home. It turned out that a man named Andrew Auernheimer was responsible for having harassed Sierra. Known as 'Weev', he admitted it in a 2008 New York Times story on Internet Trolls. There, he spoke to the lengths which he and his cohorts went to discredit and destroy the woman. "Over a candlelit dinner of tuna sashimi, Weev asked if I would attribute his comments to Memphis Two, the handle he used to troll Kathy Sierra, a blogger. Inspired by her touchy response to online commenters, Weev said he "dropped docs" on Sierra, posting a fabricated narrative of her career alongside her real Social Security number and address. This was part of a larger trolling campaign against Sierra, one that culminated in death threats." Now, seven years later, Kathy Sierra has returned to explain why she left and what recent spates of online harassment against women portend for the future if decent people don't organize. The situation has grown much more serious since she went into hiding all those years ago. It's more than just the threat of Doxxing to incite physical violence by random crazies with a screw loose. Read on for the rest of maynard's thoughts.

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