Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
MojoKid writes "It's been a long time since many have seen a dreaded 'blue screen of death' (BSoD), but it's back and in the most unlikeliest of places. Oddly enough, some Apple iPhone 5S owners are reporting BSoD errors, though they're a little different from the ones you may remember seeing on Windows desktops. Rather than spit out an obscure error code with a generic description, some iPhone 5S devices are suddenly turning blue before automatically restarting. The Numbers app in Apple's iWork suite, a free program with new iPhones, seems to be the primary cause, though BSoD behavior has also been observed in other applications, according to complaints in Apple's support forum."
elashish14 writes "The Nobel Prize Committee has chosen to award the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon (OPCW) with this year's Peace Prize. The OPCW conducts inspections and oversees the destruction of chemical weapon arsenals. They were established in 1997 and 190 nations have agreed to the treaty. The Nobel Committee's decision was a surprise to many however, who expected Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai to receive the award."
cartechboy writes "Ahh Twitter. Sometimes when you combine lightning fast information distribution and humans, minor (or not-so-minor) chaos can ensue. Yesterday, the Israeli military tweeted a commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur war, which took place in 1973. But the tweet referenced the bombing of Syrian airports by Soviets, and oil traders, already an antsy group, assumed the tweet referred to an attack occurring that very moment. As you can imagine, this had some impact. Within an hour, the global price of oil jumped more than $1, from $110.40 to $111.50 as trading volumes soared. In the end, the traders missed a few things that would identify the tweet as historical vs imminent: Yom Kippur was weeks ago, the Soviet Union is no more, and most important, #checkthehashtag."
wjcofkc writes "In an ironic but welcome twist, the author of the Patriot Act, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), is introducing the USA FREEDOM Act, a bill specifically aimed at countering the portions of the Patriot Act that were interpreted to let the NSA collect telephone metadata in bulk. The congressman has been a vocal opponent of the NSA's interpretation and misuse of the Patriot Act since Edward Snowden first leaked evidence of the program in June. On Wednesday, he wrote (PDF) to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that the 'collection of a wide array of data on innocent Americans has led to serious questions about how government will use — or misuse — such information.'"
An anonymous reader writes "According to Wired, 'Today's big data is noisy, unstructured, and dynamic rather than static. It may also be corrupted or incomplete. ... researchers need new mathematical tools in order to glean useful information from the data sets. "Either you need a more sophisticated way to translate it into vectors, or you need to come up with a more generalized way of analyzing it," [Mathematician Jesse Johnson] said. One such new math tool is described later: "... a mathematician at Stanford University, and his then-postdoc ... were fiddling with a badly mangled image on his computer ... They were trying to find a method for improving fuzzy images, such as the ones generated by MRIs when there is insufficient time to complete a scan. On a hunch, Candes applied an algorithm designed to clean up fuzzy images, expecting to see a slight improvement. What appeared on his computer screen instead was a perfectly rendered image. Candes compares the unlikeliness of the result to being given just the first three digits of a 10-digit bank account number, and correctly guessing the remaining seven digits. But it wasn't a fluke. The same thing happened when he applied the same technique to other incomplete images. The key to the technique's success is a concept known as sparsity, which usually denotes an image's complexity, or lack thereof. It's a mathematical version of Occam's razor: While there may be millions of possible reconstructions for a fuzzy, ill-defined image, the simplest (sparsest) version is probably the best fit. Out of this serendipitous discovery, compressed sensing was born.'"
jfruh writes "Techno-enthusiasts have been predicting for years that cell phones will become one of the main means that we use to pay for items — but most Americans stubbornly cling to cash and credit cards, mostly because cash and credit cards are infinitely more convenient. In order to woo people into buying things electronically, merchants need to make phone purchases better than traditional payment systems, not just another option. The fast food industry is leading the way with a plethora of apps that make ordering remotely a snap."
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Ville Tapio runs a private psychiatry center in Helsinki, and psychiatrists had told him they were reluctant in particular to hand out drugs for patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD drugs are psychostimulants, they are frequently abused, and kids can be prescribed them young and kept on a regimen for years. Tapio had an idea to do it better. His alternative? Getting people with mental health concerns to play video games. They're special video games, of course — ones that can change how your brain works, with a technique loosely termed gameified neuroplasticity therapy."
An anonymous reader writes "Mesa and its open-source Intel graphics driver now are in compliance with the OpenGL 3.2 specification (PDF). It took four years for Mesa to get up to GL 3.2 / GLSL 1.50 compliance, and support for the other Mesa drivers isn't too far behind, but they're still years behind in supporting OpenGL 4. Supporting a major new OpenGL API has resulted in Mesa 10.0 being called the next release. It has many other features, like performance improvements and new Gallium3D features. OpenGL 3.3 support might also be completed prior to the Mesa 10.0 release in November."
museumpeace writes "From its own EmTech conference, Technology Review reports on a privacy strategy from Microsoft's Craig Mundie: When sharing music online took off in the 1990s, many companies turned to digital rights management (DRM) software as a way to restrict what could be done with MP3s and other music files — only to give up after the approach proved ineffective and widely unpopular. Today Craig Mundie, senior advisor to the CEO at Microsoft, resurrected the idea, proposing that a form of DRM could be used to prevent personal data from being misused." Mundie also thinks it should be a felony to misuse that data. He thinks larger penalties would help deter shady organizations from harvesting data the user isn't even aware of. "More and more, the data that you should be worried about, you don’t even know about."
KentuckyFC writes "One of the frustrating problems with microelectromechanical (MEM) devices is that the machinery can sometimes stick fast, causing them to stop working. One of the culprits is the Casimir effect — an exotic force that pushes metallic sheets together when they are separated by tiny distances. Now physicists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico have worked out and demonstrated how to suppress the Casimir force. The trick is to create a set of deep grooves and ridges in the surface of one sheet so that the other only comes close to the tips of the ridges. These tips have a much smaller surface area than the flat sheet and so generate much less force. That could help prevent stiction in future MEMs devices. But why would a nuclear weapons lab be interested? MEM devices are invulnerable to electromagnetic pulse weapons that fry transistor-based switches, and so could be used as on-off switches for nuclear devices."
Nick Kolakowski writes "Here are the lessons imparted by Dave Eggers' The Circle, his new novel about the rise of a fictional technology company clearly modeled on Google or Facebook: 1) Sharing content with people online is a poor substitute for having real-life experiences with, like, kayaking and family gatherings and drinking and stuff. 2) Unless stopped, companies that build social-networking tools will create increasingly intrusive software. 3) The only sure way to stay sane in our increasingly interconnected (Eggers would say over-connected) world is to drive at high speed off a bridge." Read below for the rest of Nick's review.
The Bad Astronomer writes "It sounds like a scene from Gravity: Astronauts aboard the International Space Station Thursday saw a weird, glowing cloud of light in the distance, most likely caused by a fuel dump or leaking fuel from a Russian missile launch. The extended life of a Topol missile was being tested in a ballistic launch to a test target in Kazakhstan, and the astronauts were able to take pictures of both the launch vapor trail and the glowing cloud. This event is similar to the eerie spiral lights seen over Norway in 2009 caused by a Russian missile launch as well."
msm1267 writes "Metasploit's HD Moore says hackers sent a spoofed DNS change request via fax to Register.com that the registrar accepted, leading to a DNS hijacking attack against the Metasploit and Rapid7 websites. The two respective homepages were defaced with a message left by the same hacker collective that claimed responsibility for a similar DNS attack against Network Solutions. Rapid7 said the two sites' DNS records have been locked down and they are investigating."
pacopico writes "A series of robberies in Silicon Valley have start-ups feeling nervous. According to this report in Businessweek, a couple of networking companies were burgled recently with attempts made to steal their source code. The fear is that virtual attacks have now turned physical and that espionage in the area is on the rise. As a result, companies are now doing more physical penetration testing, including one case in which a guy was mailed in a FedEx box in a bid to try and break into a start-up."