darthcamaro writes "At the first ever Fedora Flock conference this past weekend, a proposal was put forward by developer Mat Miller to re-architect Fedora with a core distribution, surrounded by layers of additional functionality for desktop, server and cloud. It's a proposal that Fedora Project Leader Robyn Bergeron is interested in too. 'How can we make Fedora be something that is modular enough to fit into all those different environments (device, desktop, server & cloud) , while still acknowledging that a one-size-fits-all approach isn't something that draws people into the project?' Bergeron said. 'People want something that is specifically for them.'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
kdryer39 writes "U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lou Robinson said she will sign an order requiring the American Quarter Horse Association to begin allowing cloned animals to be placed on its registry, according to the organization. A jury last month ruled that the horse association violated anti-monopoly laws by banning cloned animals. The quarter horse association issues and maintains a pedigree registry of American quarter horses, a popular breed associated with cowboys riding on the range in the 19th and early 20th centuries."
nbauman writes "Don't get cancer until 2015. The Obama health reform is supposed to limit out-of-pocket costs to $12,700. But the Obama Administration has delayed its implementation until 2015. The insurance companies told them that their computers weren't able to add up all their customers' out-of-pocket costs to see whether they had reached the limit. For some common diseases, such as cancer or heart failure, treatment can cost over $100,000, and patients will be responsible for the balance. Tell me, Slashdot, how difficult would it be to rewrite an insurance billing system to aggregate a policyholder's out-of-pocket costs? 'A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said: "We knew this was an important issue. We had to balance the interests of consumers with the concerns of health plan sponsors and carriers, which told us that their computer systems were not set up to aggregate all of a person's out-of-pocket costs. They asked for more time to comply."'"
MojoKid writes "Anyone who has tried to host their own website from home likely knows all-too-well the hassles that ISPs can cause. Simply put, ISPs generally don't want you to do that, preferring you to move up to a business package (aka: more expensive). Not surprisingly, the EFF doesn't like these rules, which seem to exist only to upsell you a product. The problem, though, is that all ISPs are deliberately vague about what qualifies as a 'server.' Admittedly, when I hear the word 'server,' I think of a Web server, one that delivers a webpage when accessed. The issue is that servers exist in many different forms, so to target specific servers 'just because' is ridiculous (and really, it is). Torrent clients, for example, act as servers (and clients), sometimes resulting in a hundred or more connections being established between you and available peers. With a large number of connections like that being allowed, why would a Web server be classified any different? Those who torrent a lot are very likely to be using more ISP resources than those running websites from their home — yet for some reason, ISPs force you into a bigger package when that's the kind of server you want to run. We'll have to wait and see if EFF's movement will cause any ISP to change. Of all of them, you'd think it would have been Google to finally shake things up."
schwit1 sends this quote from an AP report: "The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered the [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] to complete the licensing process and approve or reject the Energy Department's application for a never-completed waste storage site at Nevada's Yucca Mountain. In a sharply worded opinion, the court said the nuclear agency was 'simply flouting the law' when it allowed the Obama administration to continue plans to close the proposed waste site 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The action goes against a federal law designating Yucca Mountain as the nation's nuclear waste repository. 'The president may not decline to follow a statutory mandate or prohibition simply because of policy objections,' Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote in a majority opinion (PDF), which was joined Judge A. Raymond Randolph. Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland dissented. The appeals court said the case has important implications for the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government. 'It is no overstatement to say that our constitutional system of separation of powers would be significantly altered if we were to allow executive and independent agencies to disregard federal law in the manner asserted in this case by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,' Kavanaugh wrote. 'The commission is simply defying a law enacted by Congress ... without any legal basis.'"
Daniel_Stuckey writes "This week, New Zealand-based company Martin Aircraft became certified to take what it calls 'the world's first practical jetpack' out for a series of manned test flights. If all goes well, the company plans to start selling a consumer version of the jetpack in 2015, starting at $150,000 to $200,000 and eventually dropping to $100,000. 'For us it's a very important step because it moves it out of what I call a dream into something which I believe we're now in a position to commercialize and take forward very quickly,' CEO Peter Coker told the AFP."
Wired has the story of a plan enacted in the early 1960s by the U.S. Air Force and the Department of Defense that had the goal of safeguarding the country's long-range communications from Russian interference. The solution they came up with wasn't easy, but it was straightforward: launch hundreds of millions of thin copper wires into orbit in the hopes of forming an artificial ring around the planet. From the article: "Project Needles, as it was originally known, was Walter E. Morrow’s idea. He suggested that if Earth possessed a permanent radio reflector in the form of an orbiting ring of copper threads, America’s long-range communications would be immune from solar disturbances and out of reach of nefarious Soviet plots. Each copper wire was about 1.8 centimeters in length. This was half the wavelength of the 8 GHz transmission signal beamed from Earth, effectively turning each filament into what is known as a dipole antenna. The antennas would boost long-range radio broadcasts without depending on the fickle ionosphere. ... On May 9, 1963, a second West Ford launch successfully dispersed its spindly cargo approximately 3,500 kilometers above the Earth, along an orbit that crossed the North and South Pole. Voice transmissions were successfully relayed between California and Massachusetts, and the technical aspects of the experiment were declared a success. As the dipole needles continued to disperse, the transmissions fell off considerably, although the experiment proved the strategy could work in principle."
New submitter Lemeowski writes "Critics have been pounding GitHub recently, claiming it is hosting tons of code with no explicit software license. The debate was thrust into the limelight last year when James Governor of RedMonk issued an acclaimed tweet about young developers being 'about POSS — post open source software,' meaning they disliked or avoided licensing and governance. Red Hat's IP attorney Richard Fontana explores the complaint saying there is a positive aspect of the POSS and GitHub phenomenon: Developers are, for the first time in the history of free software, helping inform each other about licensing and aiding in the selection process. The result is that it's becoming easier to suggest legal improvements to GitHub-hosted repositories."
Trailrunner7 writes "Google's bug bounty program has been one of the more successful reward systems of its kind, and the company has regularly modified and expanded the program over the years to keep pace with what's going on in the industry. Google also has increased the rewards it offers for certain kinds of vulnerabilities several times, and the company is doing it again, raising the lower reward level from $1,000 to $5,000. This is the second major reward increase in the last couple of months. In June the company jacked up the amount of money it pays for cross-site scripting vulnerabilities in Google web properties to $7,500, and also raised the reward for authentication bypasses to that same level. Now, Google is giving researchers more incentive to find significant vulnerabilities in its Chrome browser."
Bruce Berger is an IT guy, but he's also an amateur astronomer who takes at least one aspect of astronomy more seriously than most sky-watchers. Not content with what he could buy when he first wanted a telescope of his own, Berger set out to make one -- it turned out so well, he says he'll never part with it, and he's made several others since, and taught many other people to do the same. In this pursuit, he's also been a long-time member of the Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston, including a stint as the group's president. (Berger's custom license plate reads "SCPMKR.") In the video below, though, I caught up with him in Maine between evenings watching this year's spectacular Perseid showers (and without any of his home-built scopes to hand), to give some insight about what would-be skywatchers should consider in looking at scopes. It's surprising just how good today's telescopes are for the money, but it's easy to be ripped off, too, or at least disappointed. (And besides avoiding department store junk, building your own is still Bruce's strongest advice.) Ed note: This Video is Part 1 of 2. Part 2 will run tomorrow.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Mainstream science has long considered the brain to be inactive during the period known to doctors as clinical death. However, survivors regularly report having powerful experiences when they come close to dying, often saying they had an overwhelming feeling of peace and serenity. Frequently they describe being in a dark tunnel with a bright light at the end, and many report meeting long-lost loved ones. 'Many of them think it's evidence they actually went to heaven — perhaps even spoke with God,' says Jimo Borjigin. Now scientists at the University of Michigan have found that the brain keeps on working for up to 30 seconds after blood flow stops, possibly providing a scientific explanation for the vivid near-death experiences that some people report after surviving a heart attack. In the study, lab rats were anesthetized, then subjected to induced cardiac arrest as part of the experiment while researchers analyzed changes in power density, coherence, directed connectivity, and cross-frequency coupling. In the first 30 seconds after their hearts were stopped, they all showed a surge of brain activity, observed in electroencephalograms (EEGs) that indicated highly aroused mental states. 'We were surprised by the high levels of activity,' says George Mashour. 'In fact, at near-death, many known electrical signatures of consciousness exceeded levels found in the waking state, suggesting that the brain is capable of well-organized electrical activity during the early stage of clinical death.' Borjigan thinks the phenomenon is really just the brain going on hyperalert to survive while at the same time trying to make sense of all those neurons firing and it's like a more intense version of dreaming. 'The near-death experience is perhaps really the byproduct of the brain's attempt to save itself,' says Borjigan" While interesting, it's important to remind ourselves that this research is not conclusive: "Borjigin and Mashour hesitate to state a direct connection between their findings and near-death experiences. The links are merely speculative at this point and provide a framework for a human study, Borjigin said."
dryriver sends in a story at Der Spiegel Online about news network Russia Today, and how it is becoming a powerful propaganda tool for Vladimir Putin to use against Western audiences. Quoting: "Since 2005, the Russian government has increased the channel's annual budget more than tenfold, from $30 million (€22.6 million) to over $300 million. Russia Today's budget covers the salaries of 2,500 employees and contractors worldwide, 100 in Washington alone. And the channel has no budget cuts to fear now that Putin has issued a decree forbidding his finance minister from taking any such steps. The Moscow leadership views the funds going to the channel as money 'well invested,' says Natalya Timakova, the press attaché to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. 'In addition, Russia Today is — and I hope the Germans will forgive me for this remark — significantly more modern than Deutsche Welle, for example, and it also has more money.' ... Russia Today sees itself as a champion of a global audience critical of the West. But it is also meant to amplify the self-doubts of Europeans and Americans who have been forced by recent events to wonder if their own countries — like Russia and China — are corrupt and in the grip of a pervasive intelligence apparatus. In any case, the station has a rare knack for propaganda. ... To spice up the news, directors sometimes use Hollywood-like special effects, such as a computer-animated tank that looks like it is rolling over the newscaster's feet or Israeli fighter jets that fly a virtual loop through the studio before dropping their bombs over a map of Syria."
UnknowingFool writes "Microsoft has reversed course on another aspect of the Xbox One. Though Xbox One will come bundled with a Kinect sensor, the console will work without it. Critics were had suggested that an always-on video and audio sensor could be used to spy on users. Microsoft's Marc Whitten said, 'Games use Kinect in a variety of amazing ways from adding voice to control your squad mates to adding lean and other simple controls beyond the controller to full immersive gameplay. That said, like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn't plugged in, although you won't be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor.' This is the latest reversal from Microsoft since they killed the phone-home DRM and made it region-free."
New submitter DancesWithWolves writes "The BBC reports on Alfredo Moser, who came up with a way of illuminating his house during the day without electricity — using nothing more than plastic bottles filled with water and a tiny bit of bleach. In the last two years his idea has spread throughout the world. It is expected to be in one million homes by early next year.'"
First time accepted submitter spencj writes "I'm just starting year two of medical school, and I've been rethinking the way I make and create notes/study guides. One of the problems I've considered is that we learn about the same topic in several arenas. For example, if I consider some disease like coronary artery disease, I will likely learn about this topic in cardiology, radiology, pharmacology, and then in outside study resources such as Kaplan guides, online resources, etc.. Further, it will come up in August, October, March, April, etc.. My dream app is some combination of Excel, Visio, Word, and a blog where I could tag selections of text. If I then 'filtered' by certain parameters, it would collapse all the information I'd collected from different resources. For example, say I create a flowchart in Visio, take some notes in Word, create a table in Excel, and save from text from a web resource. I tag each item with 'coronary artery disease,' then I want to quickly query for all of my items with this tag. Is there any kind of app or resource that can pull this off? Medical students everywhere would be grateful."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Oracle CEO Larry Ellison thinks that Apple will collapse without Steve Jobs at the helm. In a televised interview with CBS News, scheduled to air August 13, Ellison called the deceased Jobs 'brilliant' and compared him to iconic creators such as Thomas Edison and Pablo Picasso. When asked about Apple's future now that Jobs is dead, Ellison didn't hold back: 'We already know, we saw — we conducted the experiment, it's been done.' Raising his hand above his head, presumably to indicate the rise of Apple's fortunes during Jobs' initial reign, Ellison said: 'We saw Apple with Steve Jobs.' Then he lowered his hand: "We saw Apple without Steve Jobs." In other words, the period following Jobs' ouster, when the company's revenues declined and it launched whole portfolios of consumer products that failed. 'We saw Apple with Steve Jobs,' Ellison continued, raising his hand above his head again — this time, to suggest that incandescent period following Jobs' return to the company, when it released the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and a variety of bestselling PCs. 'And now, we're going to see Apple without Steve Jobs,' he finished, and his hand fell."
FuzzNugget writes "No, you didn't just stumble upon The Onion by mistake. Ars Technica reports that Obama's 'reform' panel will report directly to James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence who arguably lied to Congress about whether the NSA conducted dragnet surveillance of Americans' communications. But is anyone really surprised?"
An anonymous reader writes "Researcher Nitesh Dhanjani just published an evaluation of the Philips Hue wireless lighting system that is available at Apple stores (and online). These lightbulbs come with a wireless bridge that you can control from your iPhone. Dhanjani has published a video demonstrating a vulnerability he found that can be exploited by malware to cause a sustained blackout. The video shows how the malware script can continuously turn the light bulbs off. Dhanjani also discusses other scenarios such as the systems' tie in with IFTTT (If This Then That) to cause a blackout by tagging a Facebook user on a completely black photo. Lots of interesting ideas on security vulnerabilities targeting future malware and smart devices. The paper can be downloaded here (PDF)."
hypnosec writes "In its latest attempt to stop Mozilla from going ahead with its proposed default blocking of third-party cookies in Firefox, the Interactive Advertising Bureau took out a full page ad urging users to stop 'Mozilla from hijacking the Internet.' Through the advert, IAB has claimed that the Firefox maker wants to be the 'judge and jury' when it comes to business models on the web. According to the IAB, Mozilla wants to eliminate the cookies which enable online advertisers to reach the right audience. IAB notes that 'If cookies are eliminated, it is clear to us that consumers will get a less relevant and diverse Internet experience.'"
An anonymous reader writes "An Australian public servant who criticised the government on Twitter has been sacked even though she did not reveal her name or her job to her readers. Federal Judge Warwick Neville told her Australians had no 'unfettered implied right (or freedom) of political expression.' Unlike Americans, Australians have only limited rights to Free Speech. The new ruling makes means public servants cannot criticize the government on social media, even privately and in their own time."
An anonymous reader writes "Simple DirectMedia Layer 2.0 has finally been released. The cross-platform multimedia layer used by hundreds of cross-platform games has seen its first major release in years. The SDL 2.0 release has many new features including GL3 and OpenGL ES rendering support, a new 2D rendering API, better full-screen / multi-window support, multiple input support, Android and iOS support, power management, and other new functionality. SDL 2.0 can be downloaded from libsdl.org."
cervesaebraciator writes with an excerpt from an analysis of a kind we're likely to see more of as ubiquitous sensors and cheap storage continue to proliferate: "'The Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns are unique in that they were the first wars to be documented electronically. The use of computers to track stabilization efforts produced enormous datasets in which important indicators were tracked, including daily electricity-production rates, georeferenced insurgent attacks, factory employment numbers, military spending on locally sourced goods and services and public opinion. [...] Army Secretary John McHugh recently admitted to members of Congress that thousands of records from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are missing. [...] The problem is that much of the existing data were collected in an ad hoc manner that reflects the lack of planning for stability operations following both invasions. While certain data types were methodically maintained, others were kept by single individuals in more arbitrary ways—in some cases, on a single computer's hard drive, in a personal computer or within an e-mail account. As flash drives are lost, computers reformatted, files erased, and human and magnetic memory degrades, various data types have been and will continue to be destroyed." With apologies to Santayana, those who do not backup data sets of the past are condemned to repeat them."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Conor Friedersdorf has a good (and humorous) read in the Atlantic about the analogy that President Obama has settled on to explain his theory of the NSA surveillance controversy to reporters. 'The question is how do we make the American people more comfortable?' Obama said. 'If I tell Michelle that I did the dishes ... and she's a little skeptical, well, I'd like her to trust me, but maybe I need to bring her back and show her the dishes and not just have her take my word for it.' The analogy has been widely panned, and for good reason. Friedersdorf writes that he has come up with a much better analogy. What if 'Barack snuck into Michelle's closet one day, dug through her belongings until he found her diary, and photocopied it. Then he replaced the original, locked the copy in his desk, and didn't think about it much until she found out months later and furiously confronted him.' Admittedly, it isn't a perfect analogy either says Friedersdorf, 'but it comes a lot closer than Obama did to capturing the actual stakes in this debate, and the reason so many Americans are angry at him.'" In related news, Snowden's father disagrees that his son isn't a patriot: "My son has spoken the truth, and he has sacrificed more than either the president of the United States or Peter King have ever in their political careers or their American lives. So how they choose to characterize him really doesn't carry that much weight with me."
borgheron writes "A maintainer of GNUstep has launched a Kickstarter campaign to get the resources needed to make GNUstep more complete and bring the implementation to API compatibility with Mac OS X 10.6's Cocoa. This will allow applications for Mac OS X to run on GNU/Linux with a simple recompile using new tools developed by the GNUstep team to directly build from xcodeproj project files. If the Kickstarter project is funded beyond its $50,000 goal, it's possible that WebKit and Darling might also be completed allowing applications built on Mac OS X to run without the need for a recompile... think WINE-like functionality for Mac OS X applications on other platforms... including Windows, Linux, BSD, etc." GNUStep is pretty useful now, but increased coverage of newer Cocoa APIs would be nice, and Darling in particular is interesting by providing a portable Mach-O binary loader.
Despite attempts by MIT and JSTOR to block the release of files pertaining the Aaron Swartz investigation, the court has ordered the release of documents not referencing MIT or JSTOR. There are approximately 14,500 pages of documents that will be released over the coming six months, after having information that could lead to harm against MIT or JSTOR employees redacted. Wired has the full story, and the author uploaded the first hundred pages of files. The first batch reveals that the Feds had indeed been looking into Swartz since the publication of his 2008 'Guerilla Open Access Manifesto,' several years before being indicted for copying documents from JSTOR.
tlhIngan writes "One reason that many people pirate TV shows is 'it's not available in my country until months after it airs.' Which is why the second episode of Breaking Bad's final season was aired globally within a few hours of each other yesterday evening. Despite this, many users still decided to download it than watch it when it aired locally. Australia users we the top, perhaps because it was on FoxTel. This was followed by U.S. and Canada (who obviously got to see it when it aired), and the UK where Netflix had it within hours of the U.S. premier. Fifth on the list was the Netherlands, where it had aired hours before the U.S. premier on a public channel. It's obvious that despite the global release, the show was headed to top its previous highs in number of downloads. Could this spell the doom to future global releases, since the evidence is people just pirate them anyways?"
Zothecula writes "Despite recent demonstrations by the US Navy, we still think of laser weapons as being things of the future. However, previously-classified British documents prove that not only were the major powers working on laser weapons in the 1970s and 80s, but that they were already being deployed with combat units in war zones. A letter from the Ministry of Defence released under the 30-year rule reveals that laser weapons were deployed on Royal Navy ships during the Falklands War in 1982, and that the British government was concerned about similar weapons being developed behind the Iron Curtain."