MatthewVD writes "Pluto may have been downgraded to a dwarf planet, but researchers modeling its wisp of an atmosphere continue to find that it is a surprisingly complex world, particularly when it comes to weather patterns. Howling winds that sweep clockwise around the planet at up to 225 mph — though the atmosphere is so thin, it would only feel like 1 mph on Earth. The algorithms used to model the atmosphere will be helpful in studying far more complex atmospheres, like Earth's."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
According to CNN, which credits Hamburg-based newspaper Die Zeit, German investigators have uncovered a trove of more than 100 Al Qaeda documents recovered from a "digital storage device" (and memory cards) which were found hidden in the underpants of Austrian citizen Maqsood Lodin, who had recently traveled to Pakistan. The documents "included an inside track on some of the terror group's most audacious plots and a road map for future operations." Among these future plots: "[S]eizing cruise ships and carrying out attacks in Europe similar to the gun attacks by Pakistani militants that paralyzed the Indian city of Mumbai in November 2008." The documents were reportedly neither in plain view nor simply encrypted, but instead steganographically embedded in a pornographic video.
judgecorp writes "Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has praised the user interface of Microsoft's Windows Phone, saying that aspects of its user interface are more 'beautiful' than comparable sides to the iPhone. The comments, in a New Domain, follow on from a comment by Forrester boss George Colony who blogged that Apple would decline in the post-Jobs era. Both pieces have kicked off the kind of online argument you would expect."
darthcamaro writes "A strange thing happened at the end of 2011. For the first time in years, global broadband adoption and speeds dropped. According to Akamai, broadband adoption declined by 4.6 percent and average speeds declined by 14 percent. In a somewhat strange twist, New Jersey now also dominates the top 5 list of fastest broadband cities in the U.S, though Boston is the fastest overall at 8.4 Mbps."
theodp writes "Meet Engineer Doe. A NY Times report has identified Marius Milner as the software engineer at the center of the uproar over a Google project that used Wi-Fi sniffing Google Street View cars to collect e-mail and other personal data from potentially millions of unsuspecting people. Milner, creator of the wardriving software NetStumbler, referred questions to his lawyer. Google declined to comment. A patent search shows the USPTO awarded Google and Milner a patent in June 2011 for protecting Internet users from 'hackers and other ne'er-do-wells [who] may seek to tap into communications on a network.'"
By now you’ve noticed that Slashdot is growing. We recently introduced Slashdot TV, which offers up everything from “amateur” rocket launches to the return of Leisure Suit Larry. We revamped our newsletters. Now we’re launching some new sites devoted to very specific corners of tech. Our first one, SlashBI, focuses on the fast-changing world of business intelligence, and features articles and opinion pieces on everything from how Big Data and analytics could make salespeople extinct, to B.I. apps for your iOS device, to choosing the right database for a business. No matter what your background, chances are good you’ll find something of interest here. Swing on over, give it a look-see, and let us know what you think.
New submitter Curseyoukhan writes "The phrase 'cyber war' is being used to scare us into coughing up money and liberties, just like 'anarchist' once was, and 'terror' still is. To quote H.L. Mencken, 'The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that a new exhibition has opened at the Montreal Science Center that explores human identity through the Star Wars saga and its quirky characters combining the latest scientific research in areas of psychology, neuropsychology, and genetics with some 200 costumes, props, models, and artwork from the Lucasfilm archives to ask the fundamental questions: who we are and how do we become who we are? Visitors to the exhibition will rediscover their favorite Star Wars characters 'in a whole new light' while also developing a better understanding of their own complex identity. 'Since Star Wars takes place in a fantasy world, the characters need to be identifiable so that the audience can connect to them,' says Star Wars creator George Lucas. 'These larger-than-life characters come complete with friends, enemies, values, and beliefs. This exhibition examines how the Star Wars characters are like us, what we may have in common, and what makes up our individual identities.' Each visitor is given a bracelet, which records the decisions they make during the tour and each visitor's decisions combine to create an avatar, which is revealed at the end of the tour. 'When I finally took the tour with the audio guide and bracelet, it was thrilling,' says LucasFilm exhibits manager Kyra Bowling. 'When I saw my hero (avatar) at the end, I felt like a kid again. After I was done I immediately went through a second time and made different decisions so I could end up with a different hero.'"
1sockchuck writes "Apple's North Carolina data center will tap landfills for biogas, which will then be converted into electricity using fuel cells from Bloom Energy. The 24 'Bloom boxes' will have a capacity of 4.8 megawatts of power, and along with a large solar array, will provide Apple with a significant on-site generation of sustainable energy. Microsoft is also developing biogas-powered data plants where modular data centers will be housed near water treatment plants and landfills. GigaOm has a useful primer on biogas in data centers, as well as video of the new higher capacity Bloom boxes that will support Apple's server farm."
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "Tor developers Arturo Filasto and Jacob Appelbaum have released OONI-probe, an open-source software tool designed to be installed on any PC and run to collect data about local meddling with the computer's network connections, whether it be website blocking, surveillance or selective bandwidth slowdowns. Unlike other censorship tracking projects like HerdictWeb or the Open Net Initiative, OONI will allow anyone to run the testing application and share their results publicly. The tool has already been used to expose censorship by T-Mobile of its prepaid phones' browser and also by the Palestinian Authority, which was found to be blocking opposition websites. The minister responsible for the Palestinian censorship was forced to resign last week."
mikejuk writes, quoting I Programmer: "If you are looking for an exciting hardware project, KegDroid deserves a look. It is a sophisticated system that involves Android, Arduino, NFC, plumbing and — beer. Perhaps the final stroke of genius is to package the whole thing in a Droid body. Some how the little green fella looks at home on the bar. You have heard of desktop and laptop apps now we have bartop apps to add to the list" Details are fuzzy currently, but from all appearances this is a repackaged KegBot in a very fancy shell. (Video for those without Flash.)
An anonymous reader writes "While the celebs are already charging big money for their Tweets, an Aussie startup is ranking everyday people and turning them into product salespeople. After a successful start Down Under they have now hit Silicon Valley, but will Americans embrace selling to their friends?" From the article: "In a nutshell, individuals sign up to the Social Loot website and are assigned companies to promote to their circle of online friends. They are then paid on a sliding scale based on the amount of traffic their posts generate, and the quality of referrals and number of resulting sales. This is tracked by a code embedded in the links promoted by Social Loot’s spruikers."
jawtheshark writes "I'm building a house, and obviously I want a modest network built-in. Nothing fancy, two RJ-45 per room, four in the living room, and that's basically it. I already got myself a rack mountable Cisco Small Business switch and I have a self-built 4U server (low-power, won't make much heat) which can be rack mounted (505mm deep). Now, the construction company suggests a wall mounted rack (6U: 340mm x 600mm x 480mm — 6U definitely won't be enough, but a 12U model exists). It's not expensive, but I have never worked on a rack where the backside is unreachable. (For work, I get to work in a data center with huge racks that are accessible from both sides). Now obviously, I don't need a data center-grade rack, but these wall-mounted racks scream 'switch-only' racks to me. What are your experiences? Is it possible to put servers in racks like these, or should I find a 'both-side-accessible' rack instead?"
Harperdog writes "Noah Schactman has a great piece on the Airborne Laser, the ray gun-equipped 747 that became a symbol of wasteful Pentagon weaponeering. Despite sixteen years and billions of dollars in development, the jet could never reliably blast a missile in trials. Now the House Armed Services Committee's Strategic Forces wants the Airborne Laser to be used to defend us against the threat of North Korea's failed missiles."
New submitter carmendrahl writes "Diamonds might get most of the media's attention, but they're not the only minerals being sold to underwrite militias. Two chemistry teams are developing portable instruments that can detect an elemental fingerprint in mineral ores, to verify that the samples don't come from militia-controlled mines. One technique uses laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (PDF), which vaporizes a small amount of an ore sample with a high-energy laser pulse, and detects elements in the sample by their characteristic light emission. The other technique couples the laser ablation to a mass measurement and a scanning electron microscope."