sciencehabit writes "If carrion flies have one enviable talent, it's finding animal carcasses in the wilderness, something they surpass even the most systematic and intrepid field biologists at doing. Now, researchers may be able to capitalize on the insects' gruesome gift to survey biodiversity. Capture the flies, a new study shows, and DNA from their last meals will tell you which animals live in the area. In addition to scanning an area's biodiversity, the technique has the potential to reveal species that are new to science."
adeelarshad82 writes "Valve's presence at CES this year isn't to show off some new games, it's all about meeting with hardware manufacturers behind closed doors to talk about Steam Box. In an interview at CES which highlights Valve's plans for the console, Gabe Newell describes Steam Box as two projects. The first, codenamed Bigfoot, focuses on the hardware for use in the home with a TV. The second, codenamed Littlefoot, is investigating mobile gaming. Gabe goes on to discuss Valve plans on having three levels of Steam Box described as 'Good, Better, or Best' and expectations for the controller where the company wants something that's more high precision than anything else out there at the moment." The interview at the Verge is pretty extensive.
vikingpower writes "As a previous Slashdot story already reported, Ruby on Rails was recently reported to suffer from a major SQL injection flaw. This has prompted the Dutch government to take the one and only national site for citizens' digital identification offline (link in Dutch, Google translation to English). Here is the English-language placeholder page for the now-offline site. This means that 16 million Dutch citizens cannot authenticate themselves anymore with government instances, and that those same government instances can not communicate anything to those same citizens anymore." Fixes were released, so it looks like it's on their sysadmin team now.
hypnosec writes "The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced that it could have sold over a million units of its credit-card-sized computer, the Raspberry Pi. Announcing the achievement, the foundation wrote that one of its distributors, Element14, has sold over half a million units of the Raspberry Pi, and even though the foundation doesn't have up-to-date figures from its other distributor, RS Components, it is expecting to have sold its millionth unit of the computer."
Jeremy Lee writes "Temperatures in Australia this week hit the point where the Bureau of Meteorology had to invent a new color. And with heat and winds come Bushfires. So it's probably good that I made a real-time bushfire map with every known source of public data directly relating to fires in Australia, mostly because fire doesn't respect state borders." From space.
An anonymous reader writes with news that Microsoft is killing Messenger in favor of Skype. From the article: "Microsoft on Tuesday mass emailed its 100 million+ Messenger users to let them know that the service is officially being retired on March 15, 2013. On that date, all users will be migrated to Skype, which Microsoft acquired back in May 2011 for $8.5 billion. This means Messenger will be shut down in just 66 days. It will only keep working afterwards in mainland China, mainly because Skype is operated there by a local provider called TOM." Relatedly, an anonymous reader asks: "I am looking to build a Skype replacement for me and some friends and was wondering which languages you would use server side to handle all of the encrypted data streaming? I am thinking to use SIP on a centralized server (as NAT can be a pain to get through). The clients will use end-to-end encryption. Thoughts?" There are some alternatives already, for variable definitions of working.
judgecorp writes "British Members of Parliament have warned that the UK's cyber warfare strategy is getting it wrong. According to a defense committee report, the country's IT security forces are inadequately prepared for a cyber attack, rely too heavily on inadequately protected systems, and do not sufficiently appreciate the difficulty of attributing the source of an attack."
Chris453 writes "Earlier today, a Texas High School student named Andrea Hernandez and her family lost the first round of the lawsuit filed to prevent her school district from forcing its students to wear RFID badges for tracking purposes. The judge in the case declared that the district's compromise for the student (a badge without the battery) was sufficient and dismissed any First Amendment issues. The badges are RFIDs powered by built-in batteries and one of the concerns was that the badges would be used to track students off-campus. Interestingly enough, the school district claims in court documents that 'The badges do not work off campus (PDF).' However, on their website, the school district confirms that it is conceivable that an off-campus RFID reader could access badge serial numbers, but tries to downplay the significance: 'Therefore, an intruder or "hacker" can only learn that the tag serial number is, for example, #69872331, but that does not provide any useful information. Has the district committed perjury by claiming that the active RFIDs magically deactivate themselves when off school property?"
New submitter Oxide writes "A Kuwaiti court sentenced a man to two years in prison on Monday for insulting the country's ruler on Twitter, his lawyer said, the second person to be jailed for the offense in as many days. The Gulf state has clamped down in recent months on political activists who have been using social media websites to criticize the government and the ruling family. What's interesting is that the tweets in question did not mention the ruler directly but just indicated it might be him it is referring to."
waderoush writes "Adam Wiggins, co-founder of Heroku, agrees with anthropologist Bonnie Nardi that programming isn't just for geeks. The problem, he says, is that today's tools for teaching programming are woefully inadequate. In a commentary, Wiggins argues that there are two major gaps preventing programming tools from being accessible to beginners: 1) they're too fussy, requiring extensive setup, and 2) they're focused on the technology rather than everyday tasks. A good tool for learning programming, Wiggins argues, would emulate an Excel or Google Docs spreadsheet – beginners would be able to fire it up instantly, and would be able to get useful things done right away. (He's dismissive, though, of visual programming tools that 'attempt to hide logic behind a point-and-click interface.') 'Broad programming literacy is crucial in a world increasingly made of computers,' Wiggins says. 'Despite common stereotypes, programming is not out of reach for the average person,' as long as the tools are easy to set up and specialized on the programmer's task."
New submitter redhat_redneck writes "The U.S. and Canada has been experiencing a shortage of barium sulfate, which is used as contrast for upper and lower GI studies. It has reached the point where doctors are being asked not to order these exams except in emergencies, and some exams are being cancelled. Here's the letter that's been put out by the manufacturer. The longer this drags on, the more serious this issue becomes, eventually impacting patients and healthcare providers in both cost and quality of care. Some sources point to a dramatic drop in Chinese production. In their defense, it seems China is changing safety regulations. Medical use only make a fraction of the uses of barium sulfate, but it's going to be disproportionately affected by this shortage. We can't go back to our old contrast Thorotrast; it causes cancer. Does anyone know of alternatives to barium?"
mask.of.sanity writes "Researchers have examined writing styles to identify previously anonymous carders and hackers operating on underground forums. Up to 80 percent of users who wrote at least 5000 words across their posts could be identified using linguistic techniques. Techniques such as stylometric analysis were used to track users who posted across different forums, and could even be used to unveil authors of thesis papers or blogs who had taken to underground networks."
mrbluze writes "The standard kilogram weights used by countries around the world for calibration have variably increased in mass by tens of micrograms. This poses a threat to the precision and comparability of measurements in science, engineering and trade. The problem is due to surface contamination, but a safe method of cleaning the weights has only recently been devised by the use of ozone and ultraviolet light (abstract). 'The ultraviolet light-ozone treatment removes hydrocarbon contamination that has built up on the metal surface, gunk that comes from the emissions of an industrial society. Cumpson suspects that because the kilos living in national labs have been retrieved and handled more frequently than the international kilo, more carbon-containing contaminants have built up on them over time. Incubating the kilograms with a set amount of ozone and ultraviolet light "gently breaks up the carbonaceous contamination at the surface."'"
iComp sends word of a Chinese businessman who pleaded guilty to selling pirated software the retail value of which totaled more than $100 million. The software came from over 200 different companies, and was sold to buyers in 61 different countries over a 3-year period. The man was arrested by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on the island of Saipan in 2011, after undercover agents had been working on the case for 18 months (PDF). "Li trolled black market Internet forums in search of hacked software, and people with the know-how to crack the passwords needed to run the program. Then he advertised them for sale on his websites. Li transferred the pirated programs to customers by sending compressed files via Gmail, or sent them hyperlinks to download servers, officials said. ... Agents lured Li from China to the U.S. territory of Saipan under the premise of discussing a joint illicit business venture. At an island hotel, Li delivered counterfeit packaging and, prosecutors said, "Twenty gigabytes of proprietary data obtained unlawfully from an American software company." Officials did not identify the company in court documents."
An anonymous reader writes "As the next generation of consoles looms, we've seen a growing trend towards low price, compact alternatives such as the Ouya and GameStick, many of which run on the Android mobile platform. But this article on the trend raises a very good point: through the use of cloud computing and game streaming technology, it's entirely possible these machines will be able to keep pace with the powerhouse technology inside the Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox 720, and perhaps even overtake them. After all, if these little boxes can simply stream from powerful servers, how can the stalwarts of gaming keep up?"