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

Databases

+ - 180 New MinuteSort Record Set by Microsoft Research ->

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk (1801200) writes "A team from Microsoft Research has taken the lead in the MinuteSort data sorting test using a specially-devised technology, Flat DataCenter Storage. The figures are impressive — 1401 gigabytes in the 60 seconds, using 1033 disks across 250 machines. This is not only three times as much as the previous record, but also, uses only one sixth of the hardware resources, according to a blog post about the test from Microsoft. One thing that’s interesting about the success is the technology used. While solutions such as Hadoop and MapReduce are traditionally used for working with large data sets, Microsoft Research created its own technology called the “Flat Datacenter Storage,” or FDS for short. This isn’t just academic research, of course. The team from Microsoft Research has already been working with the Bing team to help Bing accelerate its search results, and there are plans to use it in other Microsoft technologies."
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Biotech

+ - 174 Scientists Turn Skin Cells Into Beating Heart Muscle->

Submitted by
redletterdave
redletterdave writes "Scientists have for the first time succeeded in taking skin cells from patients with heart failure and transforming them into healthy, beating heart tissue that could one day be used to treat the condition. The researchers based in Haifa, Israel, had their study published in the European Heart Journal on Wednesday, and said clinical trials of the technique could begin within 10 years. But even with more testing to go, the results meant they might eventually be able to reprogram patients' cells to repair their own damaged hearts."
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IBM

+ - 198 IBM bans iPhone's Siri citing corporate esponiage concerns->

Submitted by squiggleslash
squiggleslash (241428) writes "CNN reports that IBM CEO Jeanette Horan has banned Siri, the iPhone voice recognition system. Why? According or Horan "(IBM) worries that the spoken queries might be stored somewhere." Siri's backend is a set of Apple-owned servers in North Carolina, and all spoken queries are sent to those servers to be converted to text, parsed, and interpreted. While Siri wouldn't work unless that processing was done, the centralization and cloud based nature of Siri makes it an obvious security hole."
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Google

+ - 114 Google to Warn of DNSChanger Infections->

Submitted by tsu doh nimh
tsu doh nimh (609154) writes "Google plans today to begin warning Internet users if their computers show telltale signs of being infected with the DNSChanger Trojan. The company estimates that more than 500,000 systems remain infected with the malware, despite a looming deadline that threatens to quarantine the sick computers from the rest of the Internet. The company said the warning will appear only when a user with an infected system visits a Google search results property (google.com, google.co.uk, etc.), and will include the message, “Your computer appears to be infected.” Google security engineer Damian Menscher said the company expects to notify approximately a half-million users in the first week of the notices."
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Space

+ - 210 SETI pioneer Jill Tarter retires->

Submitted by ananyo
ananyo (2519492) writes "After 35 years, astronomer Jill Tarter is retiring from the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) — a field she helped pioneer and popularize, most recently at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. Tarter, who inspired the late Carl Sagan to create the fictional character Ellie Arroway, heroine of the book and movie ‘Contact’, says she will instead focus her efforts on what she calls “the search for intelligent funding.”"
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Your Rights Online

+ - 156 Oil Company Neste Tries to Shut Down Parody Site->

Submitted by
emakinen
emakinen writes "Environmental NGO Greenpeace has been campaiging against Finnish oil company Neste Oil. Recently, they published a parody site www.nestespoil.com about Neste biofuel impact on rain forests. Neste is now trying to shut the parody site down using a trademark complaint to WIPO. Furthermore, the Swedish ISP for Greenpeace, Loopia, has today shut down the original site, according to a newspaper Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). In a game of cat and mouse, Greenpeace has already opened a mirror site."
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Moon

+ - 195 Russia to establish bases on the Moon->

Submitted by ananyo
ananyo (2519492) writes "Vladimir Popovkin, the head of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, has said that Russia will pursue extensive, long-lived operations at the Moon’s surface. "We’re not talking about repeating what mankind achieved 40 years ago,” Popovkin said, through a translator at the Global Space Exploration Conference in Washington DC. “We’re talking about establishing permanent bases.”
The heads of the space agencies for Europe, Canada and Russia, along with senior representatives from the space agencies of India and Japan were in Washington DC talking about the benefits of international collaboration. JAXA, the Japanese Space Agency, also issued a clear pronouncement about targeting the Moon."

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Science

+ - 131 Everything you know about electrostatics is wrong->

Submitted by scibri
scibri (2544842) writes "Bring two positively charged spheres together and what happens? They repel, right? Wrong.

Physicist John Lekner, has proven mathematically that they will attract when they get close enough together (paper's not live yet, but the link where it will eventually live is here). A region of positive charge on one sphere can cause the positive charge on the other to retreat, piling up further away and leaving a patch of negative charge behind.

English scientist William Snow Harris, who invented lightning conductors for ships, saw something like this in 1836 with charged disks. So now all that remains is for someone to prove Lekner's math experimentally today."

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Technology

+ - 108 Listen Here lets tourists eavesdrop on the city->

Submitted by cylonlover
cylonlover (1921924) writes "Tourists want to experience the "sights and sounds" of everywhere they travel, but usually viewing the sights is much easier than hearing the sounds. It's one thing to look at the Statue of Liberty; it's quite another to be able to listen to the sounds around it. The UK designer behind the Listen Here concept would like to redress the balance by giving tourists a chance to hear audio from all over a town without having to actually go to each place. With microphones at different locations transmitting data to a central map, tourists would be able to simply point at a different and hear live ambient sound from all around a city."
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Science

+ - 111 'Gaydar' Abilities in Humans Validated->

Submitted by
horselight
horselight writes "Recent behavioral studies indicate humans do indeed possess 'gaydar' and can differentiate sexual orientation by facial features to a high degree of accuracy. These studies were conducted by flashing images for only a few seconds and asking the test subjects to determine the sexual orientation of the face they saw seconds before."
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Businesses

+ - 101 Springhill Group: DPRK jams GPS of ROK Airlines->

Submitted by
springmed
springmed writes "http://recentnews.springhillmedgroup.com/2012/05/springhill-group-dprk-jams-gps-of-rok-airlines/

GPS jamming signals coming from North Korea has forced South Korea to order its military and civilian air transports to switch on alternative navigational devices to avoid disruption.

A statement from the ministry has confirmed that they were able to warn airlines and pilots of the 241 affected South Korean flights along with the 11 foreign airlines like Thai Airways, AirPhil, FedEx, Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways. But even as the GPS jamming signals continued, South Korea sees no serious threat to navigational safety.

Korea Communications Commission confirmed that the GPS jamming signals have been coming from a city on North Korea side of the border. “We’ve traced the jamming signals to the direction of Kaesong,” a commission deputy director told Springhill Group.

According to the transport agency, planes that suffered from GPS signal jamming were instructed to use the alternative navigation systems and were not delayed in their schedules. The signal jamming appears to be focused on air traffic at Gimpo and Incheon airports, both of which are around 30 miles from the border.

Despite the GPS disruption, Springhill Group reports that there was no serious threat to flight safety as airplanes are capable of using other navigation devices like inertial navigation system and very-high-frequency omni-directional range (VOR). Meanwhile, military communications and transportation were not greatly affected as they do not primarily depend on the GPS system.

North Korea did not admit anything so the reason for the GPS jamming remains unclear as fears that another nuclear test might follow is escalating.

Likewise, it is not known for just how long the jamming will continue as during last year’s South Korea-US military drill, the radio signal jamming from Pyongyang has lasted for ten days. At any rate, South Korea is always on the lookout for any provocation from its neighbor, especially as a nuclear specialist has said that North Korea appears to be finishing its preparations for a nuclear test and might just be waiting for a government green light.

Last year, the defense minister of South Korea has warned that jamming devices could potentially disrupt guided weapons, posing a threat to security. The devices are effective for approximately 150 miles when put on structures like a TV transmission antenna and it is widely believed that Pyongyang got the devices from Russian firms as they were already encountered previously during the Operation Iraqi Freedom where GPS-guided weapons missed their targets.

North Korea has long been known for its provocative actions attempting to get the world’s attention. The most notable of the threats was issued through news agencies last month and have raised great concern:

“The special actions of our revolutionary armed forces will start soon to meet the reckless challenge of the group of traitors. They will reduce all the rat-like groups and the bases for provocations to ashes in three or four minutes, in much shorter time, by unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style.”"

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Microsoft

+ - 165 ITC judge calls for US XBox ban in Motorola patent battle->

Submitted by symbolset
symbolset (646467) writes "In the long running complaint between Motorola and Microsoft, Judge David Shaw of the ITC recommended Monday a ban on XBox consoles, as they are found to infringe Motorola's patents. The judge also ordered Microsoft post a bond of 7 percent of the retail price of all unsold US XBox inventory. The decision will go to the ITC’s board of commissioners who will either uphold the recommendation or overturn it."
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The Internet

+ - 159 FCC boss wants to meter the internet->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "FCC Commissioner Julius Genachowski has publicly backed usage-based pricing for wired Internet access at the cable industry's annual NCTA Show. He makes the claim that it would drive network efficiency. Currently most Internet service providers charge a flat fee and price their packages based on the speed of the service, while Cellphone providers are reaping record profits by charging based on usage, similar to the way utilities charge for electricity. By switching to this model the Cable companies can increase their profitibility while at the same time blocking consumers from cutting the cord and getting their TV services online. A petition has been created calling for his resignation"
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Microsoft

+ - 182 Nortel patents are being used to arm a patent troll

Submitted by wannabgeek
wannabgeek (323414) writes "Microsoft, Apple, RIM and a few other companies formed a consortium to bid for patents of the dying telecom company Nortel and won. Now, these patents are being used to feed a patent troll called Rockstar and it has employees dedicated to investigate and find infringements and pursue litigation. Is anyone surprised?"
Businesses

+ - 219 SEC calls for review of Facebook IPO->

Submitted by beaverdownunder
beaverdownunder (1822050) writes "After losing another 8.9% of it's IPO value in its third day of trading, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro has called for a review of the circumstances surrounding Facebook's IPO on the NASDAQ late last week.

Unable to sell Facebook short, investors have instead taken to short-selling funds that owned pre-IPO shares as revelations come out that the underwriters involved revised their Facebook profit forecasts downward in the days before the offering without similarly revising the opening share price.

Meanwhile, Thomson Reuters Starmine has come out with a post-party Facebook estimate of a meagre 10.8 per cent annual growth rate, valuing the stock at a paltry $US9.59 a share, a 72 per cent discount on its IPO price, signalling that the battered stock may not have found the bottom yet."

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+ - 93 The older we get, the less we know (cosmologically)->

Submitted by dsinc
dsinc (319470) writes "The universe is a marvelously complex place, filled with galaxies and larger-scale structures that have evolved over its 13.7-billion-year history. Those began as small perturbations of matter that grew over time, like ripples in a pond, as the universe expanded. By observing the large-scale cosmic wrinkles now, we can learn about the initial conditions of the universe. But is now really the best time to look, or would we get better information billions of years into the future — or the past? New calculations by Harvard theorist Avi Loeb show that the ideal time to study the cosmos was more than 13 billion years ago, just about 500 million years after the Big Bang. The farther into the future you go from that time, the more information you lose about the early universe."
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Privacy

+ - 256 New York Proposing Legislation To Ban Anonymous Speech Websites-> 2

Submitted by
Fluffeh
Fluffeh writes "Republican Assemblyman Jim Conte "[this] turns the spotlight on cyberbullies by forcing them to reveal their identity." and Republican Sen. Thomas O’Mara "[this will] help lend some accountability to the Internet age." are sponsoring a bill that would ban any New York-based websites from allowing comments (or well, anything) to be posted unless the person posting it attaches their name to it. But it goes further to say New York-based websites, such as blogs and newspapers, to “remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post.”"
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Thus spake the master programmer: "After three days without programming, life becomes meaningless." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

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