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[#] Fri Mar 27 2009 14:24:00 EDT from rss

Subject: The Underappreciated Risks of Severe Space Weather

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circletimessquare notes a New Scientist piece calling attention to a recent study by the National Academy of Sciences, which attempts to raise awareness of the dangers of severe solar electromagnetic storms. "In 1859, amateur astronomer Richard Carrington noticed 'two patches of intensely bright and white light' near some sunspots. At the same time, Victorian era magnetometers went off the charts, stunning auroras were being viewed at the equator, and telegraph networks were disrupted — sparks flew from terminals and ignited telegraph paper on fire. It became known as the Carrington event, and the National Academy of Sciences worries about the impact of another such event today and the lack of awareness among officials. It would induce un-designed-for voltages in all high-voltage, long-distance power lines, and destroy transformers, as Quebec learned in 1989. Without electricity, water would stop flowing from the tap, gasoline would stop being pumped, and health care would cease after the emergency generators gave up the ghost after 72 hours. Replacing all of the transformers would take months, if not years. The paradox would be that underdeveloped countries would fare better than developed ones. Our only warning system is a satellite called the Advanced Composition Explorer, in solar orbit between the Sun and the Earth. It is 11 years old and past its planned lifespan. It might give us as much as 15 minutes of warning, and transformers might be able to be disconnected in time. But currently no country has such a contingency plan."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/9j6kOnJdtG0/article.pl

[#] Fri Mar 27 2009 15:06:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Circuit Board Design For a Small Startup?

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Patrick Bowman writes "I'm with a small (okay, it's just me) startup planning a camera-related USB device for the mass market. It's probably patentable so I can't give details. I can handle the software but have no hardware design or manufacturing experience. Does anyone have any recommendations for a company to handle the PCB design and manufacture? Instead of starting from scratch I've also considered approaching one of the companies (mostly in China) that make similar devices and asking them to modify their hardware for my requirements, and to provide their source for me to modify. Has anyone taken this route before? How did it work for you?"

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/0VvYUjy0ev0/article.pl

[#] Fri Mar 27 2009 15:46:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Going Deep Inside Xserve Apple Drive Modules

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adamengst writes "If you've had an Xserve drive fail, you may have considered saving some money by putting a replacement drive inside its Apple Drive Module. That may be a false economy, though. TidBITS explains why, while pinning Apple down on exactly what goes into Apple Drive Modules and why they cost so much more than bare retail drives."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/1NzPt5bdYOw/article.pl

[#] Fri Mar 27 2009 16:27:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Pirate Bay To Offer VPN For $7 a Month

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Death Metal sends along an Ars Technica piece about The Pirate Bay's plans for a virtual private network service to help ensure its users' privacy. "The Pirate Bay is planning to launch a paid VPN service for users looking to cover their tracks when torrenting. The new service will be called IPREDator, named after the Swedish Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) that will go into effect in April. IPREDator is currently in private beta and is expected to go public next week for €5 per month. ... IPREDator's website says that it won't store any traffic data, as its entire goal is to help people stay anonymous on the web. Without any data to hand over, copyright owners won't be able to find individuals to target. ... The question remains, however, if any significant portion of The Pirate Bay's users will decide to fork over 5 per month solely to remain anonymous. It seems more likely that the majority either won't care, or will simply start looking for lesser-known torrent trackers to use."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/p0x6vixVX9Y/article.pl

[#] Fri Mar 27 2009 17:07:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Senator Proposes Nonprofit Status For Newspapers

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The AP is reporting that a senator has introduced legislation that would allow struggling newspapers to operate as nonprofits, similar to the way public broadcasting works. "[Sen. Benjamin] Cardin [D-Md.] introduced a bill that would allow newspapers to choose tax-exempt status. They would no longer be able to make political endorsements, but could report on all issues including political campaigns. Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax-exempt, and contributions to support coverage could be tax deductible. Cardin said in a statement that the bill is aimed at preserving local newspapers, not large newspaper conglomerates. ... The head of the newspaper industry's trade group called the bill a positive step."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/q_NjYE7mu3c/article.pl

[#] Fri Mar 27 2009 17:47:00 EDT from rss

Subject: iPhone 3G Finally Available In US Contract-Free

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Engadget is reporting that the iPhone 3G is finally available contract-free if you are willing to pay a much higher premium. Without a contract consumers are looking at $599 for an 8GB model and $699 for the 16GB. AT&T has the added restriction that you must be an existing AT&T customer, but Apple (retail stores only, sorry) will sell one to anyone willing to pay the premium. This change brings the model much closer to the prevailing European model where phones are sold as hardware and the plans are handled completely separately.

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/KPbRWBJ3cS4/article.pl

[#] Fri Mar 27 2009 18:31:00 EDT from rss

Subject: FTC Warns Against Deceptive DRM

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Jane Q. Public writes "At the Federal Trade Commission's Seattle conference on DRM, FTC Director Mary Engle started off by referencing the Sony rootkit debacle, and said that companies are going to have to get serious about disclosing DRM that may affect the usability of products. She also said that disclosure via the fine print in a EULA is not good enough, and 'If your advertising giveth and your EULA taketh away, don't be surprised if the FTC comes calling.' Transcripts and webcasts are available from the FTC website."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/jZIgiOUvvrc/article.pl

[#] Fri Mar 27 2009 19:14:00 EDT from rss

Subject: ACLU Sues Penn Prosecutor For Empty Threat of Child Porn

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TechDirt is reporting that the ACLU has stepped in on behalf of several teens facing the threat of child pornography in Pennsylvania for sharing of nude pics of themselves. Unfortunately for a girl in New Jersey she is facing much more than just a threat as she was arrested yesterday for posting almost 30 explicit pictures of herself on MySpace for her boyfriend to see. "the ACLU has sued the prosecutor on the girls' behalf, saying he shouldn't have threatened them with baseless charges -- which haven't yet been filed -- if they wouldn't agree to probation and a counseling program. The prosecutor says he was being "proactive" in offering them a choice, but the ACLU says he shouldn't be using "heavy artillery" to make the threats. As its attorney points out, teaching kids that this sort of behavior can bring all sorts of unwanted and unforeseen ramifications is a good idea, but threatening them with child-porn charges isn't the best way to do it."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/aHCuIz9p2aA/article.pl

[#] Fri Mar 27 2009 20:03:00 EDT from rss

Subject: More IT Pros Could Turn To E-Crime In Poor Economy

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snydeq writes to mention that a recent survey by KPMG shows that many people feel that out-of-work IT workers will be much more tempted to turn to criminal activities due to the down economy. This, coupled with an E-crime survey that shows fraud committed by managers, employees, and customers tripled between 2007 and 2008 paints an interesting picture. "In other survey results, 45 percent of respondents who handle critical national infrastructure said they are seeing an increase in the number of attacks on their systems. Fifty-one percent of respondents from the same category said the technical sophistication of those attacks is getting better. Sixty-eight percent said that of all kinds of malicious code they felt Trojan horse programs -- ones that are designed to look harmless but can steal data along with other functions -- had the most impact on their businesses. Rootkits are the next highest concern, followed by spyware, worms, viruses, mobile malicious code and, finally, adware."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/zRkmotpS80w/article.pl

[#] Fri Mar 27 2009 20:45:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Android Scans DVD Bar Codes, Downloads Movies

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cars writes "Remember how you can scan any bar code with an android phone and it will tell you where to find that product for cheaper? A new Android application called BarTor (formerly ScanTorrent) can scan any DVD bar code and then signals either uTorrent or Vuze on your PC to download the movie from BitTorrent. How long do you think this will last?" Other features include purchase opportunities on barcode lookup, Google base product lookup, site-level filtering, and several others.

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/C4HzSEBPy_Y/article.pl

[#] Fri Mar 27 2009 21:29:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Project Aims For 5x Increase In Python Performance

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cocoanaut writes "A new project launched by Google's Python engineers could make the popular programming language five times faster. The project, which is called Unladen Swallow, seeks to replace the Python interpreter's virtual machine with a new just-in-time (JIT) compilation engine that is built on LLVM. The first milestone release, which was announced at PyCon, already offers a 15-25% performance increase over the standard CPython implementation. The source code is available from the Google Code web site."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/uPQu7aGhxvI/article.pl

[#] Fri Mar 27 2009 22:14:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Australian ISP Argues For BitTorrent Users

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taucross writes "Australian ISP iiNet is making a very bold move. They are asking the court to accept that essentially, BitTorrent cannot be used to distribute pirated content because a packet does not represent a substantial portion of the infringing material. They are also hedging their bets purely on the strength of the movie studios 'forensic' evidence. This ruling will go straight to the heart of Australia's copyright law. At last, an ISP willing to stand up for its customers! Let's hope we have a technically-informed judge."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/PxJxq-DGAqQ/article.pl

[#] Fri Mar 27 2009 17:22:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope Now In Beta

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An anonymous reader writes "To little fanfare and not much news coverage, Canonical released the beta of Ubuntu 9.04 'Jaunty Jackalope.' I tried it on a Dell Mini 9 using the Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) and it's fabulous! Much better than the sad 'Dell Desktop' that it shipped with. Finally, someone has broken the 25+ year old too-many-open-windows-and-chaos desktop paradigm with UNR's task oriented layout, which is perfect for small netbook screen sizes."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/nk53dzOsrQU/article.pl

[#] Fri Mar 27 2009 21:47:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Study Suggests Crabs Can Feel Pain

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tritonman writes "A new scientific study suggests that crabs can feel and remember pain. From the article: '"More research is needed in this area where a potentially very large problem is being ignored," said Elwood. Legislation to protect crustaceans has been proposed but it is likely to cover only scientific research. Millions of crustacean are caught or reared in aquaculture for the food industry. There is no protection for these animals (with the possible exception of certain states in Australia) as the presumption is that they cannot experience pain.' Perhaps soon there will be a study to determine that vegetables feel pain as well, then all of the vegans will only be allowed to eat rocks."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/A_toGpj5BJc/article.pl

[#] Fri Mar 27 2009 23:02:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Are Long URLs Wasting Bandwidth?

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Ryan McAdams writes "Popular websites, such as Facebook, are wasting as much as 75MBit/sec of bandwidth due to excessively long URLs. According to a recent article over at O3 Magazine, they took a typical Facebook home page, looked at the traffic statistics from compete.com, and figured out the bandwidth savings if Facebook switched from using URL paths which, in some cases, run over 150 characters in length, to shorter ones. It looks at the impact on service providers, with the wasted bandwidth used by the subsequent GET requests for these excessively long URLs. Facebook is just one example; many other sites have similar problems, as well as CMS products such as Word Press. It's an interesting approach to web optimization for high traffic sites."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/pQRjLRPHX2U/article.pl

[#] Fri Mar 27 2009 23:44:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Data Preservation and How Ancient Egypt Got It Right

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storagedude writes to tell us that a storage geek has an interesting article on why ancient Egyptians were better than us at data preservation — and what we need to do to get caught up. "After rocks, the human race moved on to writing on animal skins and papyrus, which were faster at recording but didn't last nearly as long. Paper and printing presses were even faster, but also deteriorated more quickly. Starting to see a pattern? And now we have digital records, which might last a decade before becoming obsolete. Recording and handing down history thus becomes an increasingly daunting task, as each generation of media must be migrated to the next at a faster and faster rate, or we risk losing vital records."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/_tpl7ekflhk/article.pl

[#] Sat Mar 28 2009 00:29:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Microsoft, Amazon Oppose Cloud Computing Interoperability Plan

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thefickler writes "Microsoft is opposing an industry plan, the Open Cloud Manifesto, to promote cloud computing interoperability. Officially, Microsoft says the plan is unnecessarily secretive and that cloud computing is still in an early stage of development, but there are allegations that Microsoft feels threatened by the plan because it could boost Linux-based systems. The goal of the group behind the manifesto, the Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum (CCIF), is to minimize the barriers between different technologies used in cloud computing. And this is where the problem seems to lie, with the group stating that 'whenever possible the CCIF will emphasize the use of open, patent-free and/or vendor-neutral technical solutions.' Some speculate that Microsoft is actually worried that this will allow open source systems, such as Linux, to flourish, at the expense of Microsoft technology." Amazon is also declining to support the plan, saying, "the best way to illustrate openness and customer flexibility is by what you actually provide and deliver for them." Reader smack.addict contributes a link to an O'Reilly piece asking what openness really means for cloud computing.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/xjK5u0-ZntQ/article.pl

[#] Sat Mar 28 2009 02:16:00 EDT from rss

Subject: 3D-Based CAPTCHAs Become a Reality

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mateuscb writes "A new way of creating a CAPTCHA using 3D objects has become a reality. The idea was thought up independently by blogger Taylor Hayward and by the folks at YUNiTi.com. 'Similar to Hayward's idea, this new technology relies on our ability to identify objects in 3D instead of using alphanumeric characters. YUNiti's 3D Captcha, however, has three objects in the challenge and extends the list of images to any object, not limiting it to animals as in Hayward's idea. This increases the challenge's level of complication to prevent computers from successfully making the correct guesses.' I, for one, welcome the thought of not having to read more and more complex CAPTCHA. Lately, I've been having a hard time getting CAPTCHA to work the first time."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/z8TZ8iqXRn0/article.pl

[#] Sat Mar 28 2009 04:47:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Red Hat --- Stand Alone Or Get Bought?

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head_dunce writes "It seems that this economy has inspired a lot of businesses to move to Linux, with Red Hat posting profits that beat everyone's expectations. There's a dark side to being a highly profitable company in a down economy, though — now there are talks of Citigroup and Oracle wanting to buy Red Hat. For a while now, we've been watching Yahoo fend off Carl Icahn and Steve Ballmer so that they could stay independent, but the fight seems to be a huge distraction for Yahoo, with lots of energy (and money) invested. Will Red Hat stay independent? What potential buyer would make for a good parent company?"

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/67xV64cf8-M/article.pl

[#] Sat Mar 28 2009 07:10:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Growing Plants In Lunar Gravity

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smooth wombat writes "If everything goes according to plan, an experiment designed to test whether plants can grow in the limited lunar gravity will hitch a ride with a competitor for the Google Lunar X Prize. 'The current prototype for the greenhouse is a 15-inch-high (37.5-centimeter-high) reinforced glass cylinder that's about 7 inches (18 centimeters) wide on the bottom. Seeds for a rapid-cycle type of Brassica plant — basically, mustard seeds — would be planted in Earth soil within the container.' The press release from Paragon Space Development Corporation outlines its partnership with Odyssey Moon to be the first to grow a plant on another world. In addition to the experiment, Paragon will be helping Odyssey with the thermal control system and lander design. To win the prize, Odyssey must land its craft on the lunar surface by the end of 2014."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/66lxxju8YRw/article.pl

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