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Updated: 36 weeks 4 days ago

CIA Accused: Sen. Feinstein Sees Torture Probe Meddling

Tue, 2014-03-11 20:11
SternisheFan writes with this news from the Washington Post: "In an extraordinary public accusation, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee declared on Tuesday that the CIA interfered with and then tried to intimidate a congressional investigation into the agency's possible use of torture in terror probes during the Bush administration. The CIA clandestinely removed documents and searched a computer network set up for lawmakers, said Sen. Dianne Feinstein in a long and biting speech on the Senate floor. In an escalating dispute with an agency she has long supported, she said the CIA may well have violated criminal laws and the U.S. Constitution."

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Apple Demands $40 Per Samsung Phone For 5 Software Patents

Tue, 2014-03-11 17:19
An anonymous reader writes "Apple and Samsung couldn't agree on a patent cross-license even though their CEOs met recently. What could be the reason (or one of the reasons) is that Apple is asking for obscenely high patent royalties. At the March 31 trial an Apple-hired expert will present to a California jury (already the third jury trial in this dispute) a damages claim of $40 per device (phone or tablet) for just a handful of software patents. The patents are related to, but don't cover all aspects and elements of, functionalities like slide-to-unlock, autocorrect, data synchronization, unified search and the famous tap-on-phone-number-to-dial feature. Google says there are 250,000 patentable inventions in a smartphone. On average, Apple wants $8 per patent per device. That would add a patent licensing bill of $2 million to each gadget. So Apple and Samsung will be back to court again later this month."

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The $100,000 Device That Could Have Solved Missing Plane Mystery

Tue, 2014-03-11 16:23
First time accepted submitter evidencebase writes "How can an airliner simply disappear, leaving no clues? And why do we have to wait until the black boxes are found to learn what happened to Flight MH370? As this article explains, there's no good reason that flight data needs to go down with the plane, because the technology to stream it to ground, from the moment things start to go wrong, is already on the market. It can be fitted to a commercial airliner for less than $100,000. But the industry has decided that it's not worth the expense. Tell that the the families of passengers on Flight MH370."

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New Jersey Auto Dealers Don't Want to Face Tesla

Tue, 2014-03-11 15:40
cartechboy writes "It feels like this story is becoming repetitive: X state is trying to ban Tesla stores, or the ability for an automaker to sell directly to a consumer. Either way, it's all aimed at Tesla. Now it's New Jersey's turn as a hearing today could end up banning Tesla stores in the state. Naturally Tesla's displeased with this and is crying foul. A rule change that is expected to be approved today would require all new-car dealers to provide a franchise agreement in order to receive a license from the state. Obviously Tesla (the manufacturer) can't provide a franchise agreement to itself (the distributor). The proposed rule would also require dealers to maintain a 1,000 square foot facility, the ability to show two cars, and service customer cars on site. Tesla doesn't meet that last requirement at any of its galleries, and most of the Tesla stores are located in shopping malls which mean they are smaller than 1,000 square feet. Tesla's arguing the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission is overstepping its bounds. Will Tesla be able to defeat this new rule in New Jersey as it has overcome issues in many other states?" (Also covered by the Wall Street Journal.)

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AT&T, Audi Announce In-Car 4G LTE Plans, Starting At $99 For 6 Months

Tue, 2014-03-11 14:59
Lucas123 writes "Audi is set to became the first car company to offer native, in-vehicle broadband in its 2015 A3 models through AT&T and it has just listed pricing for the service. Audi and AT&T will offer two data plan options: a 5GB, 6-month plan for $99 and a 30GB, 30-month plan for $499. Audi and GM first announced the upcoming availability of in-car 4G LTE during the CES show this year. GM plans to roll out 4G LTE in vehicles later this year and will eventually have more than 30 models supporting it. Audi said it plans to expand 4G LTE capability across its entire lineup as new or refreshed models come to market."

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Ask Slashdot: College Club Fundraising On the Fly?

Tue, 2014-03-11 14:20
An anonymous reader writes "As luck would have it, I was video-attending the monthly meeting of my alma mater's amateur radio club last night and learned that a local Alumnus had passed, leaving a significant amount of equipment to the club, including a 'Big Bertha' tower that the club does not have a home for. This particular 'Big Bertha,' as it is called, is a 115 foot tall, self-supporting rotatable pole that can support an enormous number of antennae. There are thought to be only a small number of them in civilian use, and this was one of them. I also happen to be a member of the local University's amateur radio club, and our local meeting was right after the Georgia Tech meeting, so upon learning of the availability I immediately informed them that this tower could be had so long as they could support the logistics of moving the tower approximately 100 miles. After discussing the logistics, and the fact that construction crews would be required on both sides, we came to the conclusion that a significant amount of money would be required, and that your typical intramural basketweaving team bake sale would not do the job. The use case for such a tower is not difficult to make with the University, or with local emergency services who would no doubt love to have space on such a tall tower in such a prime 'top of the hill' geographical location. Zoning will also not be an issue owing to the location having one other taller tower belonging to the college radio station, and a water tower on site. However, with most governments being cash-strapped and unlikely willing to contribute to the project, we need some more ideas on how to raise the needed funds. So if you're a small University club, and need to raise $30-40K in a hurry, how do you do it? They are working on some small grants from local corporations, and also contacting the manufacturer to see if there is any goodwill there. But, many more ideas are needed. Thanks in advance."

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70% of U.S. Government Spending Is Writing Checks To Individuals

Tue, 2014-03-11 13:38
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Investor's Business Daily:"Buried deep in a section of President Obama's budget, released this week, is an eye-opening fact: This year, 70% of all the money the federal government spends will be in the form of direct payments to individuals, an all-time high. In effect, the government has become primarily a massive money-transfer machine, taking $2.6 trillion from some and handing it back out to others. These government transfers now account for 15% of GDP, another all-time high. In 1991, direct payments accounted for less than half the budget and 10% of GDP. What's more, the cost of these direct payments is exploding. Even after adjusting for inflation, they've shot up 29% under Obama." It's very hard to lay blame on only one part of the U.S. government, though; as the two largest parties are often fond of pointing out when it suits them, all spending bills originate in the House.

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Volkswagen Chairman: Cars Must Not Become 'Data Monsters'

Tue, 2014-03-11 12:56
Nerval's Lobster writes "While automakers from Tokyo to Detroit rush to sprinkle their respective vehicles with all sorts of sensors and screens, the chairman of Volkswagen Group has warned about the limits of data analytics for automobiles. 'The car must not become a data monster,' Martin Winterkorn told an audience at the CeBit trade show in Germany, according to Re/code. 'I clearly say yes to Big Data, yes to greater security and convenience, but no to paternalism and Big Brother.' At the same time, Winterkorn endorsed a closer relationship between tech companies such as IBM and the auto industry, and highlighted Volkswagen's experiments with autonomous driving—both of which will necessarily infuse automakers (and his company in particular) with more data-driven processes. The question is which policies from which entities will ultimately dictate how that data is used. Winterkorn isn't the first individual to voice concerns about how automakers (and their partners) store and analyze all that vehicle data. At this January's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, a Ford executive drew considerable controversy by suggesting that Ford collects detailed information on how customers use its vehicles. 'We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you're doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you're doing. By the way, we don't supply that data to anyone,' Jim Farley, Ford's global vice president of marketing and sales, told show attendees. Farley later attempted to clarify his statement to Business Insider, but that didn't stop a fierce debate over vehicle monitoring—and certainly hasn't stopped automakers and tech companies from collaborating over more ways to integrate data-centric features to vehicles."

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Top E-commerce Sites Fail To Protect Users From Stupid Passwords

Tue, 2014-03-11 12:16
Martin S. writes "The Register reports that 'Top UK e-commerce sites including Amazon, Tesco and Virgin Atlantic are not doing enough to safeguard users from their own password-related foibles, according to a new study by Dashlane ... 66% accept notoriously weak passwords such as '123456' or 'password,' putting users in danger as these are often the first passwords hackers use when trying to breach accounts. ... 66% make no attempt to block entry after 10 incorrect password entries (including Amazon UK, Next, Tesco and New Look). This simple policy prevents hackers from using malicious software that can run thousands of passwords during log-ins to breach accounts.'" xkcd has some insight about why this is bad for users generally, not just on any sites that happen to get compromised. Rules that require ever more complexity in passwords, though, probably backfire quite a bit, too.

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Crowdsourcing Confirms: Websites Inaccessible on Comcast

Tue, 2014-03-11 11:35
Bennett Haselton writes with a bit of online detective work done with a little help from some (internet-distributed) friends: "A website that was temporarily inaccessible on my Comcast Internet connection (but accessible to my friends on other providers) led me to investigate further. Using a perl script, I found a sampling of websites that were inaccessible on Comcast (hostnames not resolving on DNS) but were working on other networks. Then I used Amazon Mechanical Turk to pay volunteers 25 cents apiece to check if they could access the website, and confirmed that (most) Comcast users were blocked from accessing it while users on other providers were not. The number of individual websites similarly inaccessible on Comcast could potentially be in the millions." Read on for the details.

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Canada & Korea Show Trade Treaties Can Skip Copyright Rule Changes

Tue, 2014-03-11 11:09
An anonymous reader writes "Canada and South Korea announced agreement on a comprehensive trade agreement earlier today. Michael Geist reports that the intellectual property chapter is significant for what it does not include. Unlike many other trade deals — particularly those involving the U.S., European Union, and Australia — the Canada-South Korea deal is content to leave domestic intellectual property rules largely untouched. Instead, the approach is to reaffirm the importance of intellectual property and ensure that both countries meet their international obligations, but not to use trade agreements as a backdoor mechanism to increase IP protections. That means no copyright term extension, no three-strikes and you're out rules, and increase to pharma patents."

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Computer Science Enrollments Rocketed Last Year, Up 22%

Tue, 2014-03-11 10:53
alphadogg writes "A sneak peek at the annual Computing Research Association's (CRA) report on computer science enrollments at colleges shows that strong demand for technically-savvy workers is luring students in a big way. The full 2013 Taulbee Report will be published in May, but the CRA revealed a few tidbits this week in its Computer Research News publication. Among the findings: Among 123 departments responding last year and the year before, there was a 22% increase in enrollment for computer science bachelor's degree programs at U.S. schools. Degrees awarded increased 0.9% and new enrollments rose 13.7%"

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Japan Marks 3rd Anniversary of Tsunami Disaster

Tue, 2014-03-11 10:12
AmiMoJo writes "Today Japan marks the third anniversary of the 11th of March 2011 disaster when the country was hit by a magnitude 9 earthquake huge tsunami and severe nuclear accident. More than 18,500 people were killed or went missing. Nearly 3,000 others died while evacuated from their homes, and over a quarter of a million people were still living in temporary housing as of February. Work to build new housing on higher ground is lagging behind schedule. Three reactors melted down at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following the quake and tsunami, but the exact cause of the accident is still unknown. How massive amounts of radioactive materials from the reactors were dispersed is also unclear. Today was also the day when hundreds of former residents announced that they were suing TEPCO, the plant operator, and the government for additional compensation." Although the nuclear accident was dwarfed by the other devastation, the effects of the meltdown will be felt for much longer. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists published an article today on the reactors that didn't meltdown, and the NRC chair has some comments on the progress at Fukishima.

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Interviews: Ask Larry Augustin What You Will

Tue, 2014-03-11 09:31
Former chairman of VA Software and venture capitalist, Larry Augustin, co-founded VA Research in 1993 and was one of the driving forces behind the creation of Sourceforge. VA bought Andover.net in 2000, acquiring a number of media sites, including Slashdot. He serves on the board of several companies and is currently the CEO of SugarCRM. Larry has agreed to take some time and answer your questions about the world of venture capital, open source software, and surviving the dotcom bubble. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post

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Senator Accuses CIA of Snooping On Intelligence Committee Computers

Tue, 2014-03-11 08:59
An anonymous reader writes "Sen. Feinstein, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, publicly accused the CIA of inappropriately searching computers used by her committee, violating presidential directives, federal laws and the Fourth Amendment. The computers in question were provided by the CIA at an undisclosed CIA location for use by the members of the intelligence committee. When the committee staff received internal documents the CIA had not officially provided, the agency examined the computers used by the committee and removed the unauthorized documents. The action has been referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution." There were rumors of such a few weeks ago, and now it's official. Read the transcript of her speech.

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Crytek Ports CRYENGINE To Linux Support Ahead of Steam Machines Launch

Tue, 2014-03-11 08:26
probain was the first to submit news that Crytek has officially announced the port of their CRYENGINE game engine to Linux and will be demoing it at the Game Developers Conference next week. Quoting: "During presentations and hands-on demos at Crytek's GDC booth, attendees can see for the first time ever full native Linux support in the new CRYENGINE. The CRYENGINE all-in-one game engine is also updated with the innovative features used to recreate the stunning Roman Empire seen in Ryse – including the brand new Physically Based Shading render pipeline, which uses real-world physics simulation to create amazingly realistic lighting and materials in CRYENGINE games."

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Intel Rolling Out 800Gbps Cables This Year

Tue, 2014-03-11 07:45
phmadore writes "10Gbps cables are what are commonly used in large server centers today, but very soon, according to Ars, 800Gbps cables will be available from Intel. From the article: 'The new cables are based on Intel's Silicon Photonics technology that pushes 25Gbps across each fiber. Last year, Intel demonstrated speeds of 100Gbps in each direction, using eight fibers. A new connector that goes by the name "MXC" holds up to 64 fibers ... The fiber technology also maintains its maximum speed over much greater distances than copper, sending 800Gbps at lengths up to 300 meters, Intel photonics technology lab director Mario Paniccia told Ars. Eventually, the industry could boost the per-line rate from 25Gbps to 50Gbps, doubling the overall throughput without adding fibers, he said.'"

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Major Wikipedia Donors Caught Editing Their Own Articles

Tue, 2014-03-11 07:05
An anonymous reader writes "As reported before on Slashdot, one of the most terrible sins on Wikipedia is to edit articles for pay, or otherwise violate the 'neutral point of view' policy, per their co-founder Jimmy Wales. And yet, the Wikipedia-criticism website Wikipediocracy recently began a study showing that dozens of the Wikimedia Foundation's largest cash donors have violated that policy. Repeatedly, and wantonly. In short, they wrote articles about themselves or their companies, then gave the WMF big donations — and were not confronted about violating the NPOV policy." Do the proposed TOS changes address this? Note that they also found that many of the donors adequately documented their conflict of interest.

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NASA Offers Bounty For Improved Asteroid Detection Algorithms

Tue, 2014-03-11 06:23
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Dara Kerr reports at CNET that NASA is launching an 'Asteroid Data Hunter' contest to inspire the creation of algorithms that identify asteroids in images captured by ground-based telescopes. ... The winning solution must increase the detection sensitivity, minimize the number of false positives, ignore imperfections in the data, and run effectively on all computer systems. 'Current asteroid detection initiatives are only tracking one percent of the estimated objects that orbit the Sun,' says Chris Lewicki. 'We are excited to partner with NASA in this contest to help increase the quantity and knowledge about asteroids that are potential threats, human destinations, or resource rich.' NASA's goal is to discover those unknown asteroids and then track and characterize them. For the contest, citizen scientists will be allowed to study images taken from ground-based telescopes to see if they can develop improved algorithms for identifying asteroids. If dangerous asteroids are found, NASA could determine if they'd be viable for a re-direction into a lunar orbit. 'For the past three years, NASA has been learning and advancing the ability to leverage distributed algorithm and coding skills through the NASA Tournament Lab to solve tough problems,' said Jason Crusan, NASA Tournament Lab director. 'We are now applying our experience with algorithm contests to helping protect the planet from asteroid threats through image analysis.'"

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Valve Open Sources Their DirectX To OpenGL Layer

Tue, 2014-03-11 05:44
jones_supa writes "A bit surprisingly, Valve Software has uploaded their Direct3D to OpenGL translation layer onto GitHub as open source. It is provided as-is and with no support, under the MIT license allowing you to do pretty much anything with it. Taken directly from the DOTA2 source tree, the translation layer supports limited subset of D3D 9.0c, bytecode-level HLSL to GLSL translator, and some SM3 support. It will require some tinkering to get it to compile, and there is some hardcoded Source-specific stuff included. The project might bring some value to developers who are planning to port their product from Windows to Linux."

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