posted 10 days ago on slashdot
gthuang88 writes: Spider silk is touted for its strength and potential to be used in body armor, sports gear, and even artificial tendons and implants. Now several companies including EntoGenetics, Kraig Labs, and Araknitek have developed genetic approaches to producing commercial quantities of the stuff. One method is to implant spider genes into silkworms, which then act as spider-silk factories. Another is to place the gene that encodes spider web production into the DNA of goats; these "spidergoats" then produce milk containing spider-silk proteins that can be extracted. There's still a long way to go, however, and big companies like DuPont and BASF have tried and failed to commercialize similar materials.

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Milen Dzhumerov, a software developer for OS X and iOS, has posted a concise breakdown of the problems with the Mac App Store. He says the lack of support for trial software and upgrades drives developers away by preventing them from making a living. Forced sandboxing kills many applications before they get started, and the review system isn't helpful to anyone. Dzhumerov says all of these factors, and Apple's unwillingness to address them, are leading to the slow but steady erosion of quality software in the Mac App Store. "The relationship between consumers and developers is symbiotic, one cannot exist without the other. If the Mac App Store is a hostile environment for developers, we are going to end up in a situation where, either software will not be supported anymore or even worse, won't be made at all. And the result is the same the other way around – if there are no consumers, businesses would go bankrupt and no software will be made. The Mac App Store can be work in ways that's beneficial to both developers and consumers alike, it doesn't have to be one or the other. If the MAS is harmful to either developers or consumers, in the long term, it will be inevitably harmful to both."

Read More...
posted 11 days ago on slashdot
iONiUM writes: According to a few news articles, the general public has taken notice of all the recent security breaches in open source software. From the article: "Hackers have shaken the free-software movement that once symbolized the Web's idealism. Several high-profile attacks in recent months exploited security flaws found in the "open-source" software created by volunteers collaborating online, building off each other's work." While it's true that open source means you can review the actual code to ensure there's no data-theft, loggers, or glaring security holes, that idealism doesn't really help out most people who simply don't have time, or the knowledge, to do it. As such, the trust is left to the open source community, and is that really so different than leaving it to a corporation with closed source?"

Read More...
posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today officially launched Firefox 33 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Additions include OpenH264 support as well as the ability to send video content from webpages to a second screen. Firefox 33 for the desktop is available for download now on Firefox.com, and all existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically. As always, the Android version is trickling out slowly on Google Play. Full changelogs are available here: desktop and Android."

Read More...
posted 11 days ago on slashdot
Dupple writes One of the most frequent refrains from the big broadband players and their friends who are fighting against net neutrality rules is that there's no evidence that ISPs have been abusing a lack of net neutrality rules in the past, so why would they start now? That does ignore multiple instances of violations in the past, but in combing through the comments submitted to the FCC concerning net neutrality, we came across one very interesting one that actually makes some rather stunning revelations about the ways in which ISPs are currently violating net neutrality/open internet principles in a way designed to block encryption and thus make everyone a lot less secure.

Read More...
posted 11 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes German was the dominant scientific language in 1900. Today if a scientist is going to coin a new term, it's most likely in English. And if they are going to publish a new discovery, it is most definitely in English. Look no further than the Nobel Prize awarded for physiology and medicine to Norwegian couple May-Britt and Edvard Moser. Their research was written and published in English. How did English come to dominate German in the realm of science? BBC reports that the major shock to the system was World War One, which had two major impacts. According to Gordin, after World War One, Belgian, French and British scientists organized a boycott of scientists from Germany and Austria. They were blocked from conferences and weren't able to publish in Western European journals. "Increasingly, you have two scientific communities, one German, which functions in the defeated [Central Powers] of Germany and Austria, and another that functions in Western Europe, which is mostly English and French," says Gordin. The second effect of World War One took place in the US. Starting in 1917 when the US entered the war, there was a wave of anti-German hysteria that swept the country. In Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota there were many, many German speakers. World War One changed all that. "German is criminalized in 23 states. You're not allowed to speak it in public, you're not allowed to use it in the radio, you're not allowed to teach it to a child under the age of 10," says Gordin. The Supreme Court overturned those anti-German laws in 1923, but for years they were the law of the land. What that effectively did, according to Gordin, was decimate foreign language learning in the US resulting in a generation of future scientists who come of age with limited exposure to foreign languages. That was also the moment, according to Gordin, when the American scientific establishment started to take over dominance in the world. "The story of the 20th Century is not so much the rise of English as the serial collapse of German as the up-and-coming language of scientific communication," concludes Gordin.

Read More...
posted 11 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.

Read More...
posted 11 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.

Read More...
posted 11 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.

Read More...
posted 11 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."

Read More...
posted 11 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."

Read More...
posted 11 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.

Read More...
posted 11 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."

Read More...
posted 11 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.

Read More...
posted 11 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.

Read More...
posted 11 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."

Read More...
posted 11 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.

Read More...
posted 11 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."

Read More...
posted 11 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."

Read More...
posted 12 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."

Read More...
posted 12 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.

Read More...
posted 12 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.

Read More...
posted 12 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?

Read More...
posted 12 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.

Read More...
posted 12 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?

Read More...