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Science

+ - 278 Scientist removed from EPA panel due to industry opposition->

Submitted by Beeftopia
Beeftopia (1846720) writes "The relationship between regulator and regulated is once again called into question as industry pressure leads to a scientist's removal from an EPA regulatory panel. From the article:

"In 2007, when Deborah Rice was appointed chair of an Environmental Protection Agency panel assessing the safety levels of flame retardants, she arrived as a respected Maine toxicologist with no ties to industry. Yet the EPA removed Rice from the panel after an intense push by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), an industry lobbying group that accused her of bias. Her supposed conflict of interest? She had publicly raised questions about the safety of a flame retardant under EPA review."

"

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Science

+ - 180 Oil Dispersants Used During Gulf Spill Degrade Slowly In Cold Water->

Submitted by
MTorrice
MTorrice writes "During the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, clean up crews applied millions of liters of dispersants to break up the oil. At the time, the public and some scientists worried about the environmental effects of the chemicals, in particular how long they would last in the deep sea. According to a new Environmental Protection Agency study, the key active ingredient in the dispersants degrades very rapidly under conditions similar to those found at the Gulf surface during the spill. Meanwhile, in the much colder temperatures found in the deep sea, the breakdown is quite slow. The chemicals’ persistence at deep-sea and Arctic temperatures suggests more research is needed on their toxicity, the researchers say."
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+ - 297 Computers Shown to be Better Than Docs at Diagnosing, Prescribing Treatment->

Submitted by Lucas123
Lucas123 (935744) writes "Applying the same technology used for voice recognition and credit card fraud detection to medical treatments could cut healthcare costs and improve patient outcomes by almost 50%, according to new research. The research by Indiana University found that using patient data with machine-learning algorithms can drastically improve both the cost and quality of healthcare through simulation modeling.The artificial intelligence models used for diagnosing and treating patients obtained a 30% to 35% increase in positive patient outcomes, the research found. This is not the first time AI has been used to diagnose and suggest treatments. Last year, IBM announced that its Watson supercomputer would be used in evaluating evidence-based cancer treatment options for physicians, driving the decision-making process down to a matter of seconds."
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IOS

+ - 125 What Features Belong in a "Smartwatch" Like Apple's Rumored iWatch?->

Submitted by
Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster writes "If the rumors are true, and Apple is indeed hard at work on a newfangled timepiece (dubbed the "iWatch"), what unique features could such a device offer a public already overloaded with all sorts of handheld devices? Answer that question, and you’re perhaps one step closer to figuring out why Apple—again, if the rumors are true—decided to devote millions of dollars and the precious hours of some very smart people in the effort. This article suggests voice control (via Siri), biometrics, mobile payments, and other possible features, but there must be loads of others that someone could think up."
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The Internet

+ - 151 Internet Still Under Attack by UN, FCC Comish Fears->

Submitted by Velcroman1
Velcroman1 (1667895) writes "At a United Nations conference in December, 89 countries voted in favor of international government regulation of the Internet. Specific regulations have not been agreed upon, but FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell said he fears the U.N. may seek further rulings at a 2014 conference in Busan, Korea. "You’ll have international bureaucrats making engineering and business decisions," McDowell said. The U.N. has no power to force the United States to adopt any Internet regulation, and the U.S. refused to sign the December treaty, along with 55 others countries. But if a large number of countries agree on regulations, the Internet could become fragmented, with very different rules applying in different regions of the world. "That becomes an engineering nightmare," McDowell said."
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+ - 135 Finnish anti-piracy site pirates thepiratebay content->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Finnish copyright lobby TTVK Ry, that earlier ordered the artist promotion site http://promobay.org/ to be censored as "thepiratebay subpage" and later admitted that it's legal (http://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-promos-unblocked-in-finland-with-music-industry-blessing-130206/) and got the police to confiscate 9-year-old's winnie the pooh laptop on suspicion of having illegally downloaded a single album (http://torrentfreak.com/police-raid-9-year-old-pirate-bay-girl-confiscate-winnie-the-pooh-laptop-121122/) launched an anti-piracy website http://piraattilahti.fi./ The site closely resembles thepiratebay, and if you take a closer look, you'll notice that css has been directly copied from thepiratebay.se, complete with original site name in comments (http://piraattilahti.fi/css/css.css, pastebin mirror: http://pastebin.com/pV2rjNyb)

Of course one interesting question is, how on earth did they manage to pirate thepiratebay content, considering that they managed to get court orders for major ISP's to censor access to thepiratebay? (http://torrentfreak.com/court-issues-new-blocking-order-against-the-pirate-bay-120611/)"

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Education

+ - 166 Ask Slashdot: Is the bar being lowered in Universities? 2

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "I am in my late 20s, live in the US, work in the IT industry, and am going to school to upgrade from an associate's degree to a bachelor's degree. One of my classes is a web based course that requires students to write blogs. I am not attending one of those questionable for profit schools. This is a state funded, large, public university. In this course I have noticed poor writing skills are the norm rather than the exception. It is a 3rd year course, so students should have successfully completed some sort of writing course prior to this one. Blog posts, which students are graded on, tend to be very poorly written. They are not organized into paragraphs, have multiple run-on sentences, and sometimes don't make sense. I do not know what grades they are receiving for these posts. Slashdot, is what I am seeing the exception, or the norm? Is the bar being lowered for university students, or am I just expecting too much?"
Piracy

+ - 156 Finnish anti-piracy group copies HTML, style sheet from Pirate Bay->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Finland's main anti-piracy group, TTVK, has put a fake Pirate Bay website online . All of the links direct the user to a Finnish anti-piracy message. If you check the source code of the fake BitTorrent website, you can find its largely copied outright from the Pirate Bay website, with the best example being a style sheet that starts with the comment "The main style sheet for the thepiratebay.se"."
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Android

+ - 166 Oracle to Open Source iOS, Android Ports of JavaFX->

Submitted by hypnosec
hypnosec (2231454) writes "Oracle is going to open source JavaFX ports for Android and iOS soon as a part of its efforts to open source the framework. JavaFX, destined to replace Swing GUI library as the default method to develop graphical user interfaces, is a framework used to develop cross-platform rich internet applications (RIAs). The ports for iOS and Android are based on an “unreleased version of JavaSE Embedded for iOS/Android". Oracle’s Richard Bair revealed that the "first bits and pieces" for JavaFX for iOS should probably be out sometime next week. The rest of the release will be scheduled along with the release of prism. Oracle is going to leave javafx-font as closed source but, Bair has said that developers are already working towards an open source native replacement of the component through the OpenJFX list."
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Space

+ - 105 STRaND-1 – World's First Smartphone-Based Satellite Set to Launch->

Submitted by Zothecula
Zothecula (1870348) writes "The University of Surrey’s Surrey Space Centre (SSC) and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) are set to launch the world’s first smartphone-based satellite. Built around a Google Nexus One smartphone running on the Android operating system, the STRaND-1 (Surrey Training, Research and Nanosatellite Demonstrator) satellite will also be the U.K.’s first CubeSat to go into space."
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+ - 96 Comcast buys out GE's remaining 49% stake in NBC->

Submitted by
Bob the Super Hamste
Bob the Super Hamste writes "On Tuesday Comcast announced that it would accelerated its acquisition of NBCUniversal and purchase the remaining 49% owned by GE for $16.7 billion.Previously GE and Comcast were expected to operate NBCUniversal jointly until mid 2014 with Comcast having the option to extend that out until 2018. So far there are not details on when the deal with be completed but the article indicates that Comcast's complete acquisition of NBCUniversal will be completed years earlier that initially thought."
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Security

+ - 153 ATM Skimming Ring Compromised 6,000 Bank Accounts->

Submitted by
Orome1
Orome1 writes "U.S. federal authorities have announced the filing of an indictment against two alleged leaders of an international scheme to steal customer bank account information using “skimming” technology that secretly recorded the data of customers who used ATMs at banks in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Wisconsin. The ring targeted J.P. Morgan Chase (“Chase”), and Capital One, N.A. banks. Throughout the course of the scheme, they engaged in over 50 skimming incidents that resulted in the compromise of over approximately 6,000 individual bank accounts, from which the defendants made and attempted to make over approximately $3 million in unauthorized withdrawals."
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+ - 109 Indie dev says that she can't afford to stay indie.->

Submitted by
Gallefray
Gallefray writes "Sophie houlden recently posted on her blog that she can't afford to stay indie, and released swift*stitch for free, stating that:
"Leaper, and a commissioned game (that I can’t talk about yet) may be my last games as a full time indie."
and
"I just can’t afford to keep going like this, I haven’t been able to afford the past three years really. Sales have paid for food but I’ve just racked up debt when it comes to everything else. It has gotten to the point where I try to spend time working on short projects as an attempt to make enough money to pay for the stuff I really care about making, but it doesn’t work and it’s making my games worse as a result."

Below is a link to her shop, where you can give support by buying her games:"

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Security

+ - 139 New Adobe Reader zero day used in phishing attacks-> 1

Submitted by mask.of.sanity
mask.of.sanity (1228908) writes "Zero day holes found in Adobe Reader are being exploited by attackers in phishing campaigns.

The attack drops two dll files: One opens a PDF to distract users while the other opens a backdoor.

Adobe confirmed the latest versions of Reader and Acrobat (10.1.5, and 11.0.1) are affected."

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Government

+ - 211 Obama Signs Executive Order on Cybersecurity->

Submitted by wiredmikey
wiredmikey (1824622) writes "President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Tuesday designed to better protect critical infrastructure from computer hackers.

Obama, in his annual State of the Union speech to a joint session of the US Congress, said his executive order would "strengthen our cyber defenses by increasing information sharing, and developing standards to protect our national security, our jobs and our privacy." The president also urged Congress to pass legislation "to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks." The executive order (PDF) calls for voluntary reporting of threats to US infrastructure, such as power grids, pipelines and water systems. The directive, which follows two failed attempts in Congress to pass cybersecurity legislation, allows the government to lead an information-sharing network but stops short of making mandatory the reporting of cyber threats.

House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul said he was "concerned that the order could open the door to increased regulations that would stifle innovation, burden businesses and fail to keep pace with evolving cyber threats."

Leslie Harris of the Center for Democracy & Technology welcomed the directive, arguing it "says that privacy must be built into the government's cybersecurity plans and activities, not as an afterthought but rather as part of the design."

White House officials noted that the measure would not apply to consumer-based services or information systems that do not meet the standard of "critical infrastructure." But the director of George Mason University's Technology Policy Program Jerry Brito said in a tweet that "top-down regulation is the last thing that will improve cybersecurity.""

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United Kingdom

+ - 230 Britain Could Switch Off Airport Radar And Release Spectrum->

Submitted by
judgecorp
judgecorp writes "Britain is considering switching off air traffic control radar systems and using "passive radar" instead. A two year feasibility study will consider using a network of ground stations which monitor broadcast TV signals and measure echoes from aircraft to determine their location and velocity. The system is not a new idea — early radar experiments used BBC shortwave transmitters as a signal source before antenna technology produced a transceiver suitable for radar — but could now be better than conventional radar thanks to new antenna designs and signal processing techniques. It will also save money and energy by eliminating transmitters — and release spectrum for 5G services."
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Software

+ - 260 Retail copies of Office 2013 are tied to a single computer forever -> 1

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "With the launch of Office 2013 Microsoft has seen fit to upgrade the terms of the license agreement, and it’s not in favor of the end user. It seems installing a copy of the latest version of Microsoft’s Office suite of apps ties it to a single machine. For life.

On previous versions of Office it was a different story. The suite was associated with a “Licensed Device” and could only be used on a single device. But there was nothing to stop you uninstalling Office and installing it on another machine perfectly legally. With that option removed, Office 2013 effectively becomes a much more expensive proposition for many."

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Software

+ - 147 Ancient Languages Reconstructed by Computers->

Submitted by
halls-of-valhalla
halls-of-valhalla writes "Researchers have developed a new software which can be used to reconstruct dead, ancient languages using probabilistic models of sound change.

This new software was tested by taking 637 Austronesian languages currently spoken in Asia and the Pacific, and attempting to reconstruct the ancient languages they're based on. The system was found to have provided a relatively accurate, large-scale automatic reconstruction of the protolanguages. A language believed to be roughtly seven thousand years old was reconstructed using a database of 142,000 words.

When compared to the results of linguists specializing in Austronesian languages, more 85% of the system's reconstructions were found to be within one character of the manual reconstruction. These are very promising results, however a linguist is still able to produce a higher accuracy, so this will be likely to become a tool used by linguists rather than a replacement for them."

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Biotech

+ - 136 Living cells turned into computers-> 2

Submitted by ananyo
ananyo (2519492) writes "Synthetic biologists have developed DNA modules that perform logic operations in bacteria. These ‘genetic circuits’ could, for example, be used by scientists to track key moments in a cell’s life or, in biotechnology, to turn on production of a drug at the flick of a chemical switch. The researchers have encoded 16 logic gates in modules of DNA and stored the results of logical operations. The different logic gates can be assembled into a wide variety of circuits."
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