coondoggie writes "NASA today said it was looking into developing two new Centennial Challenge competitions that would let the public design, build and deliver small satellites known as Cubesats capable of operations and experiments near the moon and beyond. The first challenge will focus on finding innovative ways to allow deep space communications with small spacecraft, while the second focuses on primary propulsion for small spacecraft."
An anonymous reader writes "Economic espionage is nothing new but one of the biggest areas being targeted now is agriculture. Here's a story about a FBI investigation to track down theft of seeds from research farms. 'The case of the missing corn seeds first broke in May 2011 when a manager at a DuPont research farm in east-central Iowa noticed a man on his knees, digging up the field. When confronted, the man, Mo Hailong, who was with his colleague Wang Lei, appeared flushed. Mr. Mo told the manager that he worked for the University of Iowa and was traveling to a conference nearby. When the manager paused to answered his cellphone, the two men sped off in a car, racing through a ditch to get away, federal authorities said.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "The author of the Patriot Act has warned that the legal justification for the NSA's wholesale domestic surveillance program will disappear next summer if the White House doesn't restrict the way the NSA uses its power. Section 215 of the Patriot Act will expire during the summer of 2015 and will not be renewed unless the White House changes the shocking scale of the surveillance programs for which the National Security Administration uses the authorization, according to James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), an original author of the Patriot Act and its two reauthorizations, stated Washington insider-news source The Hill. 'Unless Section 215 gets fixed, you, Mr. Cole, and the intelligence community will get absolutely nothing, because I am confident there are not the votes in this Congress to reauthorize it,' Sensenbrenner warned Deputy Attorney General James Cole during the Feb. 4 hearing. Provisions of Section 215, which allows the NSA to collect metadata about phone calls made within the U.S., give the government a 'very useful tool' to track connections among Americans that might be relevant to counterterrorism investigations, Cole told the House Judiciary Committee. The scale of the surveillance and lengths to which the NSA has pushed its limits was a "shock" according to Sensenbrenner, who also wrote the USA Freedom Act, a bill to restrict the scope of both Section 215 and the NSA programs, which has attracted 130 co-sponsors. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has sponsored a similar bill in the Senate."
symbolset writes "On the heels of the smackdown received by cable lobbyists in Kansas, Ars reports out of Utah that the cable companies aren't giving up hopes of preventing competition through legislation. The bill, called Interlocal Entity Service Prohibition, would prevent a regional fiber consortium from building infrastructure outside the boundaries of its member cities and towns — a direct attack on Google's work in Provo and the UTOPIA network. Utah is the third state to be involved in the Google Fiber rollout of gigabit fiber to the home."
New submitter kalman5 writes "Dennis Aabo Sørensen is the first amputee in the world to feel sensory rich information — in real-time — with a prosthetic hand wired to nerves in his upper arm. Sørensen could grasp objects intuitively and identify what he was touching while blindfolded. The surgical team 'attached electrodes from a robotic hand to a 36-year-old volunteer's median and ulnar nerves. Those nerves carry sensations that correspond with the volunteer's index finger and thumb, and with his pinky finger and the edge of his hand, respectively. The volunteer controlled the prosthetic with small muscle movements detected by sEMG, a method that dates to the 1970s and measures electrical signals through the skin—unlike the electrodes attached to his nerves, sEMG is not invasive.' The results? 'The volunteer was able to complete the requested tasks with his prosthetic thumb and index finger 67 percent of the time the first day and 93 percent of the time by the seventh day of the experiment, Micera and colleagues report. He found the pinky finger harder to control: he was only able to accomplish the requested grip 83 percent of the time by the end of the experiment.'"
CambodiaSam sends the latest on "Red Star OS," North Korea's attempt at a home-grown operating system. Previously, it had closely resembled Microsoft Windows, but a new update now strongly mimics Apple's OS X. "Despite living in a country very much shut off from the outside world, many people in North Korea do have access to technology - including mobile phones. However, devices are heavily restricted. Internet access, for instance, is locked down, with most users able to visit only a handful of sites mostly serving up state-sponsored news. The Red Star OS is peppered with North Korean propaganda, and its calendar tells users it is not 2014, but 103 — the number of years since the birth of former North Korean leader Kim Il-sung. An earlier version of Red Star OS was made available worldwide in 2010 after a Russian student posted it online. The latest version is believed to have been released some time in 2013."
cagraham writes "A fire at Iron Mountain's data warehouse in Buenos Aires left the facility 'ruined' and killed nine first-responders, according to the Washington Post. The origin of the fire is unknown. The facility was supposedly equipped with sprinkler systems, fire control systems, and had a private emergency team on standby. Among the records destroyed are Argentina's bank archives, the loss of which could have some surprisingly far-reaching implications."
cartechboy writes "Speeding is against the law, and yes, even going 5 mph over the speed limit is breaking the law. But everyone does it, right? What about when you see a cop? Some cops are ticketing people for notifying fellow motorists about speed traps. In Florida, Ryan Kintner simply flashed his high-beams to warning oncoming cars that there was a cop ahead. He was given a ticket for doing so. He went to court to fight the ticket, and a judge ruled that flashing lights are the equivalent of free speech, thus he had every right to flash his lights to warn oncoming cars."
hondo77 points out a blog post by Dave Raphael, who noticed some odd discrepancies between two different Verizon broadband connections he has access to. His personal residential plan and his company's business plan both went through the same Verizon routers, but his residential plan is getting unusably slow speeds to places like AWS. He suggests that Verizon is already waging a war on high-bandwidth services like Netflix after the recent court decision against net neutrality. His discussion with a Verizon service representative seems to confirm this, though it's uncertain whether such an employee would have access to that information.
Do you remember the worries about getting different health care software systems to work with each other as health care providers starting moving away from paper? It's still a problem, but Joanne Rohde's company, Axial Exchange, is working to cure that problem not only as an entrepreneur but also because she has personal reasons to see health care providers communicate better with each other. In a 2012 interview for Huffington Post, she said, "While I was working for Red Hat, I got very sick... I ultimately had to go to 10 doctors to be diagnosed. Going from doctor to doctor, I could not believe I had to start over each time. No one actually talks to each other I became convinced that if I had had all the information, I probably would have been able to figure it out faster." In fact, Joanne got so sick that she quit her job as Red Hat COO after four years with the company. Once she started getting decent treatment for her Fybromyalgia and started getting better, she decided to apply open source principles to health care IT -- and to start a new company to do it. Opensource.com talked with Joanne in September 2013, and in January 2014 she talked with Health Care Finance News for an article titled Patients key to reducing readmissions. A phrase Joanne seems to be using a lot lately is "patient engagement," which has become a major part of Axial Exchange's work to improve communications not only between different health care providers but also between those providers and their patients. Update: 02/05 20:16 GMT by T : If you're seeing this post on beta.slashdot.org, note that we're still ironing out the details of video display here. You can view the video on tv.slashdot.org, instead. Please pardon our dust.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Google, Yahoo, and other tech firms are offering some updated statistics about government requests for data. There's just one problem: under revised guidelines issued by the federal government, those companies can still only report a range, rather than a definitive number, for those requests. If that wasn't fuzzy enough, the range can only be reported after a six-month lag. Between January and June 2013, Google received between 0-999 FISA 'non-content' requests on 0-999 user accounts; it also fielded between 0-999 'content' requests for between 9000 and 9999 user accounts.Yahoo actually received a larger number of FISA queries than Google: for the first six months of 2013, the federal government made between 0-999 requests on between 30,000 and 30,999 user accounts hosted by the company. ... These companies have little choice but to advocate this new information release as a huge step forward for transparency. Unfortunately, restricting government data requests to a broad range isn't very helpful: for example, a range (rather than a single numerical value) makes it difficult to determine trends, such as whether government requests are gradually increasing over the long term."
astroengine writes "We care about how asteroids are made, in large part because if one were aiming to smash into us, we'd like to know what we can do about it. The structure of asteroids is also a matter of scientific curiosity, as it tells us a bit about the formation and evolution in our solar system. ... 25143 Itokawa is a relatively small near-Earth asteroid that was visited by the Japanese Habayusa spacecraft in 2005. It has also been monitored by Stephen Lowry of the University of Kent and his colleagues over a twelve year span with the 3.58 meter New Technology Telescope in La Silla, Chile. In that time span, Itokawa has made five near approaches to Earth. And what did they find? The asteroid is composed of two lobes of different densities, suggesting that Itokawa is in fact a merged binary." ESO is hosting a preprint of the paper.
AmiMoJo writes "Google has agreed to display competing site's results along side those from its own products in search results. The agreement comes as part of an EU investigation into Google's domination of the search market and its promotion of Google products at the top of each page. The EU has published screenshots (scroll down) showing how the changes will look once rolled out." Part of the deal includes Google avoiding any fines. The appearance changes to search results are minor; Google services in the results are more strongly highlighted as such, and links to alternative services are provided (e.g. Yelp for Google Local results). Less visible are the major changes: third parties will be able to opt-out of having their data used for specialized Google searches, and "Google proposes no longer to include in its agreements with publishers any written or unwritten obligations that would require them to source online search advertisements exclusively from Google ... [or] to impose obligations that would prevent advertisers from porting or managing search advertising campaigns across competing advertising platforms."
Lasrick writes "A debate is happening in the pages of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that started with their publication of 'Nuclear vs. Renewables: Divided They Fall,' an article by Dawn Stover that chides nuclear energy advocates and advocates of renewable energy for bickering over the deck chairs while climate change sinks the ship, and while the fossil fuel industry reaps the rewards of the clean energy camp's refusal to work together. Many of the clean energy folks took umbrage at the description of nuclear power as 'clean energy,' so the Civil Society Institute has responded with a detailed look at exactly why they believe nuclear power will not be needed as the world transitions to clean energy."
sfcrazy writes "Gnome developers are planning to delay the release of Gnome 3.12 by approximately a week. It's a deliberate delay to sync the release with the availability of Wayland 1.5. Matthias Clasen (Fedora and Gnome developer) explains that 'the GNOME release team is pondering moving the date for 3.12.0 out by approximately a week, to align the schedule with the Wayland release plans (a 1.4.91 release including all the xdg-shell API we need is planned for April 1). The latter 3.11.x milestones would be shifted as well, to avoid lengthening the freeze period unnecessarily.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Adobe has released an emergency patch for a critical vulnerability affecting Flash Player for Windows, Linux, and OS X, the exploitation of which can result in an attacker gaining remote control of the victims' systems. The flaw is being actively exploited in the wild, but apart from crediting its discovery to researchers Alexander Polyakov and Anton Ivanov of Kaspersky Labs, no details about the ongoing attack has been shared." They even updated the explicitly unsupported NPAPI GNU/Linux version.
snydeq writes "Companies are doggedly pursuing the next big thing in technology, but nothing seems to be pointing to the right way these days, claims the legendary Steve Wozniak. The reason? 'You tend to deal with the past,' replicating what you know in a new form. Consider the notion of computing eyeware like Google Glass: 'People have been marrying eyewear with TV inputs for 20 years,' Wozniak says. True innovation, Wozniak claims, becomes more human, more personal. People use technology more the less it feels like technology. 'The software gets more accepted when it works in human ways — meaning in noncomputer ways.' Here, Wozniak says, is the key to technology's role in the education system." And no amount of technology can save the American education system: "We put the technology into a system that damages creative thinking — the kids give up, and at a very early age."
An anonymous reader writes "NBC News reports that, during a 2012 NSA conference called SIGDEV, GCHQ's Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group bragged about using Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against members of Anonymous during an operation called Rolling Thunder in 2011 (there is evidence that says it was a SYN flood, so technically it was a simple DoS attack). Regular citizens would face 10 years in prison and enormous fines for committing a DoS / DDoS attack. The same applies if they encouraged or assisted in one. But if you work in the government, it seems like you're an exception to the rule."
An anonymous reader sends this news from The Verge: "The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, sponsors a lot of technology through grants to universities and private labs, with projects running the gamut from robots to electroencephalography caps, to software and new programming languages. A lot of that knowledge is open source, but it hasn't always been easy to access. Today, DARPA has responded to requests from the research and development community by publishing the DARPA Open Catalog, a website that aggregates source code and other data for all public DARPA-funded projects." Chris White, DARPA program manager, said, "Making our open source catalog available increases the number of experts who can help quickly develop relevant software for the government. Our hope is that the computer science community will test and evaluate elements of our software and afterward adopt them as either standalone offerings or as components of their products."
schnell writes "The increasing prevalence of online news paywalls and 'nag walls' (e.g. you can only read so many articles per month) has forced me to divide those websites into two categories: those that offer content that is unique or good enough to pay for vs. those that don't. Examples of the former for me included The Economist and Foreign Policy, while other previous favorite sites The New York Times and even my hometown Seattle Times have lost my online readership entirely. I also have a secret third category — sites that don't currently pay/nag wall, but I would pay for if I had to — Ars Technica and Long Form come to mind. What news/aggregation sites are other Slashdotters out there willing to pay for, and why? What sites that don't charge today would you pay for if you had to? Or, knowing this crowd, are the majority just opposed to paying for any web news content on principle?"
New submitter josh itnc writes "In a move that is sure to put a wedge between HP and their customers, today, HP has issued an email informing all existing Enterprise Server customers that they would no longer be able to access or download service packs, firmware patches and bug-fixes for their server hardware without a valid support agreement in place. They said, 'HP has made significant investments in its intellectual capital to provide the best value and experience for our customers. We continue to offer a differentiated customer experience with our comprehensive support portfolio. ... Only HP customers and authorized channel partners may download and use support materials. In line with this commitment, starting in February 2014, Hewlett-Packard Company will change the way firmware updates and Service Pack for ProLiant (SPP) on HP ProLiant server products are accessed. Select server firmware and SPP on these products will only be accessed through the HP Support Center to customers with an active support agreement, HP CarePack, or warranty linked to their HP Support Center User ID and for the specific products being updated.' If a manufacturer ships hardware with exploitable defects and takes more than three years to identify them, should the consumer have to pay for the vendor to fix the these defects?"
Peter Eckersley writes "Over at EFF, we just released a version of our HTTPS Everywhere extension for Firefox for Android. HTTPS Everywhere upgrades your insecure web requests to HTTPS on many thousands of sites, and this means that Firefox on Android with HTTPS Everywhere is now by far the most secure browser against dragnet surveillance attacks like those performed by the NSA, GCHQ, and other intelligence agencies. Android users should install the Firefox app and then add HTTPS Everywhere to it. iPhone and iPad users will unfortunately have to switch to Android to get this level of security because Apple has locked Mozilla Firefox out of their platforms."