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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Science

Researchers Discover Way To Spot Crappy Coffee 184

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other dept.
sciencehabit writes "People who enjoy the most expensive coffee in the world can soon sip without worry: Researchers have come up with a way to tell if their cuppa joe is real or faux. The luxury drink in question—Kopi Luwak—is produced from coffee beans pooped out by the palm civet, a time-consuming process that helps contribute to the beverage's price tag of between $330 to $500 per kilogram. In a new study, researchers chemically analyzed four different blends of coffee—authentic Kopi Luwak, regular coffee, a 50/50 mix of the two, and a brew of coffee beans that producers had chemically treated in an attempt to simulate mammalian digestion. Of the hundreds of organic substances naturally present in coffee, a handful enabled the team to distinguish Kopi Luwak from the other brews. The technique may even be sensitive enough to distinguish pure Kopi Luwak from versions adulterated with varying percentages of other coffees—which offers some degree of reassurance when your morning mud costs about $15 a cup."
Linux

Misinterpretation of Standard Causing USB Disconnects On Resume In Linux 280

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-to-blame dept.
hypnosec writes "According to a new revelation by Sarah Sharp, misinterpretation of the USB 2.0 standard may have been the culprit behind USB disconnects on resume in Linux all along rather than cheap and buggy devices. According to Sharp the USB core is to blame for the disconnections rather than the devices themselves as the core doesn't wait long enough for the devices to transition from a 'resume state to U0.' The USB 2.0 standard states that system software that handles USB must provide for 10ms resume recovery time (TRSMRCY) during which it shouldn't attempt a connection to the device connected to that particular bus segment."
Privacy

Report: Britain Has a Secret Middle East Web Surveillance Base 237

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-do-you-got-there dept.
wiredmikey writes "Britain is running a secret Internet surveillance station in the Middle East, according to a recent report citing the latest leaked documents obtained by fugitive US security contractor Edward Snowden. The Independent newspaper said it was not disclosing the country where the base is located, but said the facility can intercept emails, telephone calls and web traffic for the United States and other intelligence agencies and taps into underwater fibre-optic cables in the region, the newspaper said. The Independent did not disclose how it obtained the details from the Snowden files."
United States

The CIA Is Closing the Office That Declassifies Historical Documents 67

Posted by samzenpus
from the box-it-up dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "As a result of the sequester-induced budget cuts, the CIA is closing the Historical Collections Division office, which declassifies historical documents, and transferring the divisions responsibilities to the office that handles FOIA requests. The Historical Collections Division is described on its website as 'an important part of CIA's ongoing effort to be more open and to provide for more public accountability.' It is a 'voluntary declassification program that focuses on records of historical value,' including information on the Vietnam War, spy satellites, the Bay of Pigs and other historical scandals and operations."
United States

Obama Seeks New System For Rating Colleges 302

Posted by samzenpus
from the good-bad-and-party dept.
PolygamousRanchKid writes "Targeting the soaring cost of higher education, President Barack Obama on Thursday unveiled a broad new government rating system for colleges that would judge schools on their affordability and perhaps be used to allocate federal financial aid. But the proposed overhaul faced immediate skepticism from college leaders who worry the rankings could cost their institutions millions of dollars, as well as from congressional Republicans wary of deepening the government's role in higher education. The new rating system does not require congressional approval, and the White House is aiming to have it set up before the 2015 school year. But Obama does need support from Congress in order to use the ratings as a basis for parceling out federal financial aid. In addition to tuition, schools will also be rated on average student loan debt, graduation rates and the average earnings of graduates. Under Obama's proposal, students attending highly rated schools could receive larger grants and more affordable loans."
Social Networks

Canadian Hotel Sues Guest For $95K Over Bad Review, Bed Bugs 432

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-let-the-connoisseurs-bite dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A guest at at Quebec hotel was bitten by bed bugs, brought some down to the front desk and asked for new room. While the fully booked hotel offers to get him another room in a different hotel, he stays out the night then leaves — telling people at the hotel — some of whom also check out. When he wrote about it on Trip Advisor, the hotel demanded he take it down and when he did they sued him for $95,000."
Government

For Overstated Claims, Gore, Tesla Upbraided By NWS, NHTSA Respectively 195

Posted by timothy
from the my-hubris-meter-goes-to-12 dept.
barlevg writes "In a recent interview, former Vice President and environmental activist Al Gore made a bold claim, that man-made global warming was causing hurricanes to be formed of such severity that 'they're adding a 6' to the hurricane scale, going on to say that 'The fingerprint of man-made global warming is all over these storms and extreme weather events.' In response, the National Weather Service has responded that they have no plans to add a 'doomsday Category 6' to their rating scale: 'No, we're not pursuing any such change. I'm also not sure who VP Gore means by "they,"' also noting that 'Category 5 has no ceiling: it includes hurricanes with top sustained winds of 157 mph and higher.' Furthermore, a recently leaked United Nations climate assessment claims only 'low confidence' of a link between human activity and increased hurricane severity and that this is likely due to increased human settlement in coastal areas and other regions vulnerable to natural disasters." Along similar lines, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that Tesla's Model S, no matter how safe it is, doesn't get any special grade inflation: there's no "5.4" score (as the company did in a press release this week), because that's just not how the NHTSA keeps score. (Hat tip to reader cartechboy.)
AI

Concern Mounts Over Self-Driving Cars Taking Away Freedom 662

Posted by timothy
from the shattering-your-illusions-at-high-speed dept.
Lucas123 writes "Opinions in the blogosphere are building and run the gamut on self-driving automobile technology, but a survey supports the trend that most don't want their driving independence usurped by cameras, sensors and an onboard computer. The survey of British drivers last year commissioned by Bosch, a Germany-based supplier of automotive components, found that most would not buy a self-driving car. Only 29% of respondents said thay would consider buying a driverless car and only 21% said they would feel safe as a passenger in a self-driving car. David Alexander, an analyst at Navigant Research, pointed out that while driving yourself is often preferable, there's a lot of "grunt" driving that would be better handled by a computer. Navigant recently released a report stating that by 2035, 95 million autonomous cars will be sold every year."
Cellphones

Motorola Uses NFC To Enable Touch-to-Unlock For Smartphones 87

Posted by timothy
from the press-here-to-continue dept.
colinneagle writes "A lot of people don't password-protect their smartphones, and even those who do employ a simple four-digit passcode to at least keep it a little convenient. Their phones aren't really protected, as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommends a 12-character random password. Those who check smartphones 50 times a day would probably get tired of that. So Motorola developed the Skip, an NFC-based unlocking tool smartphone users can clip to their clothes. Tapping an NFC-enabled phone to the Skip unlocks it. The Skip also comes in sticker form, so users can install one in their cars or at their desks." That's why the muggers want your jacket, too.
Input Devices

Makerbot Desktop 3D Scanner Goes On Sale 89

Posted by timothy
from the get-those-figurines-prepped dept.
dryriver writes with this excerpt from the BBC about the latest device from Makerbot: "A desktop device that can quickly scan objects so they can be replicated using a 3D printer has gone on sale. The Makerbot Digitizer, which costs $1,400 (£900), will be shipped to the first buyers in October. Demand for the machine appeared to overload the company's store when it went on sale on Thursday evening. The Digitizer is the latest product looking to bring 3D printing to mainstream technology users — but experts are sceptical. The machine is designed to allow the replication of objects without any need for the user to learn any 3D modelling software or have any other special expertise. The time it takes to scan an object varies, but one demonstration involving a small gnome was said to take around 12 minutes. "The MakerBot Digitizer is for early adopters, experimenters, and visionaries who want to be pioneers in Desktop 3D Scanning," the company says. "This includes, but is not limited to, architects, designers, creative hobbyists, educators, and artists.""
Open Source

Open Source Mapping Software Shows Every Traffic Death On Earth 322

Posted by timothy
from the dashed-line-shows-leaper's-path dept.
cartechboy writes "Traffic deaths are set to outpace AIDS/HIV and malaria in the developing world, so the UN is trying to change that perception. This shocking open source, interactive map of crash data from the Pulitzer Center ought to help. It's grisly, but very informative. The mapping was produced by Pulitzer Center journalists using open source mapping technology from Mapbox. Compare the U.S. fatality rate of 11.4 per 100,000 to that of other nations, like the Dominican Republic, Iran, and Thailand and see how people were traveling when when killed (car, bicycle, etc)."
The Internet

Internet.org's Slave and Helicopter-Powered Internet 64

Posted by timothy
from the long-memory dept.
theodp writes "As reported earlier on Slashdot, Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday announced the launch of Internet.org, 'a global partnership with the goal of making internet access available to the next 5 billion people,' including 'those who cannot currently afford it.' So it's especially bizarre that just a few days ago, Internet.org carried a FAQ which joked that slaves were used to create an Internet for the Pharaohs. And until recently, Internet.org's home page sported a photo purporting to show that freighters are used to rush Internet porn to affluent residents of the 16th arrondissement of Paris, and an illustration showing how helicopters deliver Internet data to actor George Clooney's magnificent Lake Como Villa. So keep an eye on how your domain is used, kids, especially if you plan to use it soon to position yourself and your partners as saints who champion the right of the world's poor to Internet access."
Japan

Fukushima Actually "Much Worse" Than So Far Disclosed, Say Experts 274

Posted by timothy
from the don't-drink-the-water-and-don't-breathe-the-air dept.
PuceBaboon writes "The BBC is reporting that experts are casting doubt on the veracity of statements from both the Tokyo Electric Power Company and the Japanese government regarding the seriousness of the problems at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Not only are the constant leaks releasing radioactivity into the ocean (and thus into the food chain), but now there are also worries that the spent fuel rod storage pools may be even more unstable than first thought. An external consultant warns, 'The Japanese have a problem asking for help. It is a big mistake; they badly need it.'"
AT&T

A New Spate of Deaths In the Wireless Industry 247

Posted by timothy
from the tough-line-of-work dept.
onehitwonder writes "The race to build out advanced cellphone networks in the U.S. has contributed to a spike in deaths among tower workers, making this one of the industry's deadliest years and drawing fresh scrutiny from federal regulators, according to The Wall Street Journal. At least 10 workers have died in falls from communication towers so far this year, and three more were seriously injured. The accidents, nine of which were related to cellphone network work, come during one of the biggest building booms in years, as Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US Inc. ramp up major network upgrades in an attempt to catch up with Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc."
Cellphones

Ubuntu Edge Draws Nearly $13M, But Falls Short of Indiegogo Goal 125

Posted by timothy
from the but-it's-still-a-good-idea dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "The crowdfunding campaign to build an Ubuntu-powered smartphone has fallen short of its ambitious goal. Canonical, which works with the open-source community to support Ubuntu worldwide, decided to fund its Ubuntu Edge smartphone via crowdfunding Website Indiegogo. The funding goal was set at $32 million, and at first it looked as if the project had enough momentum to actually succeed: within the first 24 hours of the project's July 22 launch, some $3.45 million had poured in. But that torrent of cash soon slowed to a trickle. In the end, the campaign managed to amass $12,809,906 by its August 21 closing. Nonetheless, Canonical did its best to put a brave face on the situation. 'While we passionately wanted to build the Edge to showcase Ubuntu on phones, the support and attention it received will still be a huge boost as other Ubuntu phones start to arrive in 2014,' the organization wrote in a posting. 'Thousands of you clearly want to own an Ubuntu phone and believe in our vision of convergence, and rest assured you won't have much longer to wait.'" Update: 08/22 16:14 GMT by T : Oops -- headline edited to reflect that the Edge was an Indiegogo project, rather than Kickstarter.
The Military

Bradley Manning Wants To Live As a Woman 784

Posted by timothy
from the symbolic-of-our-struggle-against-oppression dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Reuters reports that Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier sentenced to 35 years in military prison for the biggest breach of classified documents in the nation's history, says he is female and wants to live as a woman named Chelsea. 'As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning, I am a female,' Manning, 25, said in the statement read by anchorwoman Savannah Guthrie on NBC News' "Today" show. 'Given the way that I feel and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible,' Manning said. 'I also request that starting today you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun.' A psychiatrist, Navy Reserve Captain David Moulton, testified during Manning's trial that Manning suffered from gender dysphoria, or wanting to be the opposite sex, as well as narcissism and obsessive-compulsive disorder."
Government

Valencia Region Government Completes Switch To LibreOffice 93

Posted by timothy
from the latin-roots dept.
jrepin writes "The administration of the Spanish autonomous region of Valencia has completed its switch to LibreOffice, a free and open source suite of office productivity applications. Last week Friday the region's ICT department announced that the office suite is installed on all of the 120,000 desktop PCs of the administration, including schools and courts. The migration will save the government some 1.5 million euro per year on proprietary software licenses."
Space

Magellan II's Adaptive Optics Top Hubble's Resolution 136

Posted by timothy
from the no-longer-a-whole-lot-of-shakin'-goin'-on dept.
muon-catalyzed writes "The incredible 'first light' images captured by the new adaptive optics system called Magellan|AO for "Magellan Adaptive Optics" in the Magellan II 6.5-meter telescope are at least twice as sharp in the visible light spectrum as those from the NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. 'We can, for the first time, make long-exposure images that resolve objects just 0.02 arcseconds across — the equivalent of a dime viewed from more than a hundred miles away,' said Laird Close (University of Arizona), the project's principal scientist. The 6.5-meter Magellan telescopes in the high desert of Chile were widely considered to be the best natural imaging telescopes in the world and this new technology upgraded them to the whole new level. With its 21-foot diameter mirror, the Magellan telescope is much larger than Hubble with its 8-foot mirror. Until now, Hubble always produced the best visible light images, since even large ground-based telescope with complex adaptive optics imaging cameras could only make blurry images in visible light. The core of the new optics system, the so-called Adaptive Secondary Mirror (ASM) that can change its shape at 585 points on its surface 1,000 times each second, counteracts the blurring effects of the atmosphere."
Windows

German Government Warns Windows 8 Is an Unacceptable Security Risk 373

Posted by timothy
from the nicht-ganz-recht dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Die Zeit has access to leaked documents from the German government warning that Windows 8 is an unacceptable security risk for sensitive workloads. The story is written in German here, but automatic translators (such as Google Translate) do a readable job. Particularly of concern is the inability to opt out of TPM 2.0 usage."
Technology

How Oakland Is Turning Into an Art and Maker Mecca 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the maker-space-with-an-oakland-duty dept.
First time accepted submitter Kevin Lee writes "The maker scene is taking off in Oakland with towering industrial art, that at times stands 70 feet high, and DIY business that made locally created goods by hand. But while this is a flourishing creative environment is popping off with new ideas, there's a battle in Oakland that could pave over this rich community with new residential housing. The Oakland Makers is a new initiative by artists and makers that hopes revitalize Oakland as a new advanced manufacturing hub and city that thrives on the making culture."
Biotech

Dentist Wants To Clone John Lennon Using DNA Extracted From Lennon's Tooth 224

Posted by samzenpus
from the with-a-little-help-from-my-molar dept.
dryriver writes "People fantasizing about a Beatles comeback tour might yet see their dream come true, all thanks to Dr. Michael Zuk. This dentist is the proud owner of one of John Lennon's teeth, and hopes to use it to clone the musician. By the looks of it, Dr. Michael Zuk came in possession of the tooth in 2011. At that time, he purchased the molar at an auction organized in the United Kingdom, and paid about $30,000 (€22,424) for it. According to The Inquisitr, the dentist is now working alongside scientists in the United States, who are helping him figure out a way to extract DNA from the tooth without damaging it in the process. This DNA would serve to bring back John Lennon. Apparently, Dr. Michael Zuk hopes that his project will snowball into a scientific and pop-cultural revolution. 'To potentially say I had a small part in bringing back one of Rock's greatest stars would be mind-blowing. I am nervous and excited at the possibility that we will be able to fully sequence John Lennon's DNA, very soon I hope,' the dentist reportedly commented on the importance of his work."
Science

Ancient Egyptians Made Iron Jewelry From Pieces of Meteorite, Archaeologists Say 47

Posted by samzenpus
from the star-metal dept.
fangmcgee writes "Researchers at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology at University College London have found that a collection of ancient jewelry is out of this world. The 5,000-year-old Egyptian beads, previously thought to be made from iron from Earth have been found to be made from hammered pieces of meteorite. Strung together with gold, gemstones, and other minerals, the beads pre-date iron smelting, showcasing the metalworking mastery of fourth millennium B.C. Egyptians."
AI

Can a Japanese AI Get Into University? 91

Posted by samzenpus
from the I'm-afraid-I-don't-like-my-schedule-dave dept.
the_newsbeagle writes "Japanese researchers are trying to develop an artificial intelligence program that can pass the standardized test required of all college-bound high school students. Interestingly, the AI is showing good progress in the history portion of the exam, because it's fairly adept at looking up answers in a vast textual database. But the so-called Todai Robot is having trouble with math, 'because the questions are presented as word problems, which the Todai Robot must translate into equations that it can solve,' as well as with physics, which 'presumes that the robot understands the rules of the universe.' If the AI does succeed in mastering the general university exam, researchers will next tackle the notoriously difficult University of Tokyo entrance exam, which will require the bot to write essays."
Privacy

Public Facial Recognition Is Making Gains In Surveillance 128

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-see-you dept.
dryriver writes in with a link to a Times story about the U.S. government's capabilities when it comes to facial recognition. "The federal government is making progress on developing a surveillance system that would pair computers with video cameras to scan crowds and automatically identify people by their faces, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with researchers working on the project. The Department of Homeland Security tested a crowd-scanning project called the Biometric Optical Surveillance System — or BOSS — last fall after two years of government-financed development. Although the system is not ready for use, researchers say they are making significant advances. That alarms privacy advocates, who say that now is the time for the government to establish oversight rules and limits on how it will someday be used. There have been stabs for over a decade at building a system that would help match faces in a crowd with names on a watch list — whether in searching for terrorism suspects at high-profile events like a presidential inaugural parade, looking for criminal fugitives in places like Times Square or identifying card cheats in crowded casinos."

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