Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

Space

+ - 229 California Professors Unveil Proposal to Attack Asteroids With Lasers

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Yesterday's twin events with invading rocks from outer space — the close encounter with asteroid 2012 DA14, and the killer meteorite over Russia that was more than close — have brought the topic of defending mankind against killer asteroids back into the news. The Economist summarizes some of the ideas that have been bandied about, in a story that suggests Paul Simon's seventies hit "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover": Just push it aside, Clyde. Show it the nuke, Luke. Gravity tug, Doug. The new proposal is an earth orbiting, solar-powered array of laser guns called DE-STAR (Directed Energy Solar Targeting of AsteRoids) from two California-based professors, physicist Philip Lubin (UCSB) and industrial statistician Gary Hughes (Cal Polytechnic State). Lubin and Hughes say their system could be developed and deployed in a range of sizes depending on the size of the target: DE-STAR 2, about the size of the International Space Station (100 meters) could nudge comets and asteroids from their orbits, while DE-STAR 4 (100 times larger than ISS) could evaporate an asteroid 500 meters in diameter (10 times larger than 2012 DA14) in a year. Of course, this assumes that the critters could be spotted early enough for the lasers to do their work."
Windows

+ - 172 Windows 7 RTM Support Ending Soon->

Submitted by jones_supa
jones_supa (887896) writes "Windows 7 users will have install Service Pack 1 if they want to continue to receive security fixes and other support beyond April 9th. With the release of a Service Pack, Microsoft's policy is to support the old version for two years. Windows 7 Service Pack 1 was released on 22nd February, 2011, so the phasing out of support is happening more or less on schedule. In spite of a growing number of post-Service Pack 1 fixes and updates, Microsoft has shown no signs of shipping a second Service Pack. Should Service Pack 1 be the sole major update for Windows 7, it will continue to receive mainstream support — which encompasses both security updates, non-security bugfixes, and free phone support — until 13th January 2015. Extended support — security fixes and paid incidents only — will continue until 14th January 2020."
Link to Original Source
Sony

+ - 212 Sony Exercising Its Acquisition of GaiKai, Plans To Stream Games To PS4->

Submitted by dmfinn
dmfinn (2840625) writes "With less than 5 days until the reported PS4 launch event, new details are emerging regarding some of the console's next-gen capabilities. Since last june, Sony has been quietly sitting on its $380 million dollar acqusition of Gaikai, a cloud based gaming company. The Wall Street Journal, among other sources, is now reporting that the PS4 will have GaiKai's cloud-based gaming technology directly integrated, thought it is unclear exactly what types of games will be available for streaming. Back in June, a rumor circulated that Sony was planning to use the technology to support backwards compatibility with PS2 and PS1 games, though no further details have arisen regarding whether or not the new console will be able to play previous generation games. It appears that Sony will most likely be using the service to stream PS3 and indie games to the console, as the current technology only supports 720p, not high enough quality for blockbuster games.

Constantly streaming interactive graphics, even if only at 720p, will still require a fast internet connection. Services like OnLive have struggled in the past due to the large amount of bandwidth they require, and many consumers complained of laggy connections and horrendous graphics. There is no word yet regarding the features of the games being streamed, including whether or not they will support online or local multiplayer."

Link to Original Source
Graphics

+ - 187 Unigine's Newest Benchmark Features Huge, Open-Space Expanses

Submitted by jones_supa
jones_supa (887896) writes "Unigine announced a new GPU benchmark known as Valley Benchmark. From the same developers who created Heaven Benchmark, the Valley Benchmark is a non-synthetic benchmark that is powered by the Unigine Engine, a real-time 3D engine that supports the latest rendering features. The Valley Benchmark includes massive area of 64 square kilometers of very detailed terrain that includes forest, mountains, green expanses, rocky slopes and flowers. The area can be freely explored by means of walking or flying. All major operating systems are supported."
Your Rights Online

+ - 193 Police unsure which twin to charge in sexual assaults

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "In a real life Prisoner's Dilemma taking place in the French city of Marseille, twin brothers have been arrested for a string of sexual assaults. While say they are sure that one of them committed the crimes (corroborated by a standard DNA test), police were told that it would cost upwards of €1m euros (£850,000, $1.3m USD) to distinguish between them using DNA evidence."
Facebook

+ - 188 Facebook Says Employee Laptops Compromised in 'Sophisticated' Attack->

Submitted by Trailrunner7
Trailrunner7 (1100399) writes "Laptops belonging to several Facebook employees were compromised recently and infected with malware that the company said was installed through the use of a Java zero-day exploit that bypassed the software's sandbox. Facebook claims that no user data was affected by the attack and says that it has been working with law enforcement to investigate the attack, which also affected other unnamed companies.

Facebook officials did not identify the specific kind of malware that the attackers installed on the compromised laptops, but said that the employee's machines were infected when they visited a mobile developer Web site that was hosting the Java exploit. When the employees visited the site, the exploit attacked a zero-day vulnerability in Java that was able to bypass the software's sandbox and enable the attackers to install malware. The company said it reported the vulnerability to Oracle, which then patched the Java bug on Feb. 1."

Link to Original Source
Government

+ - 232 Yet another costly government software upgrade failure->

Submitted by g01d4
g01d4 (888748) writes ""California's computer problems, which have already cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, have mounted as state officials cut short work on a $208-million DMV technology overhaul that is only half done. Last week, the controller's office fired the contractor responsible for a $371-million upgrade to the state's payroll system, citing a trial run filled with mishaps. More than $254 million has already been spent." It's hard not to feel like the Tokyo man in the street watching the latest round of Godzilla the state vs. Rodan the big contractor."
Link to Original Source
Ubuntu

+ - 126 Ubuntu for phones to arrive next week on Nexus 4 ->

Submitted by
nk497
nk497 writes "Canonical has revealed that a developer preview of Ubuntu for phones will arrive next week, on the 21st of February. The touch preview will initially only be available for the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 smartphones, but Canonical plans to support more devices. The release is designed to let developers create apps — and to give "enthusiasts" a sneak peek — ahead of the smartphone side of Ubuntu arriving in version 13.10 in October. Canonical suggested that the OS will initially only support low-end smartphones, the group plans to also support higher-end models, too, and the OS will work across mobile devices, PCs and TVs."
Link to Original Source

+ - 214 Ask Slashdot: I just need... marketing?

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Over the years, Slashdot has had many stories of non-technical entrepreneuring people in need of programmers. Now I found myself in an almost opposite situation: I am a programmer with a fledgling mass-market product that needs marketing.

I know slashdot's general sentiment towards marketing. Without being judgmental one way or the other, I must say that for a product to reach the widest possible audience in a given time period, marketing is a necessity. Short of doing everything myself, I see a couple of options: 1. Hire marketing people, or an outside marketing firm; 2. Take in willing partners who are good at marketing (currently there are no shortage of people who want in).

With these options, my major concerns are how to quantify performance, as well as how to avoid getting trapped in a partnership with non-performing partners — I already have a tangible product with a huge amount of time, money, and effort invested. Budget is also limited. Budget is always limited unless you are a fortune 500 business, but for now that's more of a secondary concern. So here is my question to Slashdot: how do you address these concerns, and in a more general sense, how would you handle the situation: technical people with a product in need of marketing?"
AI

+ - 122 How does modularity evolve?-> 1

Submitted by
JimmyQS
JimmyQS writes "As programmers know, modularity is critical to making reusable, adaptable software. However, modularity is not instinctive for beginners and must be learned via painful training. Biology faces a similar problem: modularity is useful to make species more adaptable, but how did it evolve in the first place? Surprisingly, computational simulations of 25,000 generations of evolution reveal that modularity does not evolve because it makes organisms more adaptable. Instead, modularity evolves as a by-product for selection to reduce the "wiring costs" of a network. The discovery greatly advances research into evolving artificially intelligent robots, a field where the inability to evolve modular designs has long been thought to be a key roadblock to evolving truly complex, intelligent neural networks.

The paper was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. You can also watch modularity evolve in this video."

Link to Original Source
Science

+ - 284 Russian meteor largest in a century->

Submitted by
gbrumfiel
gbrumfiel writes "A meteor that exploded over Russia's Chelyabinsk region this morning was the largest recorded object to strike the earth in more than a century, Nature reports. Infrasound data collected by a network designed to watch for nuclear weapons testing suggests that today's blast released hundreds of kilotonnes of energy. That would make it far more powerful than the nuclear weapon tested by North Korea just days ago, and the largest rock to strike the earth since a meteor broke up over Siberia's Tunguska river in 1908. Despite its incredible power, the rock evaded detection by astronomers. Estimates show it was likely only 15 meters across—too small to be seen by networks searching for near earth asteroids."
Link to Original Source
Encryption

+ - 148 Cryptographers Aim to Find New Password Hashing Algorithm->

Submitted by Trailrunner7
Trailrunner7 (1100399) writes "Passwords are the keys to our online identities, and as a result, they're also near the top of the target list for attackers. There have been countless breaches in the last few years in which unencrypted passwords have been stolen from a database and leaked online, and security experts often shake their heads at the lack of use of encryption or even hashing for passwords. Now, a group of cryptographers is sponsoring a competition to come up with a new password hash algorithm to help improve the state of the art.

Hashing algorithms are used to secure passwords by taking the plaintext password, passing it through the cryptographic hash algorithm, and then storing the resulting digest, rather than the plaintext password itself. That way, if attackers are able to compromise the database of passwords, what they get are the hashes and not the actual passwords.

However, the algorithms used to hash passwords in most cases are functions such as SHA-1 and MD5, which have known weaknesses that open them up to brute-force attacks. So if an attacker is able to access a database of hashed passwords, he may be able to crack them, given enough time and compute power. When these algorithms were designed years ago, the hardware needed to crack a hash produced by one of them was not commonly available. But now, powerful GPUs and FPGAs are widely available and can be used by an attacker to crack hashes relatively quickly.

"Password hashing is important because it's where we have a problem. NIST has given us some great standard hashing algorithms. The problem is that these hashes aren't necessarily designed for the specific problem of password hashing — where you need something that's fast enough to hash on a server at login time, but slow enough that a GPU can't crack ten million of them," Green said."

Link to Original Source
Medicine

+ - 249 Alcoholism Vaccine Makes Alcohol Intolerable to Drinkers

Submitted by
Hugh Pickens writes
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Ariel Schwartz reports that researchers are working on an alcoholism vaccine that makes alcohol intolerable to anyone who drinks it. The vaccine builds on what happens naturally in certain people--about 20% of the Japanese, Chinese, and Korean population--with an alcohol intolerance mutation. Normally, the liver breaks down alcohol into an enzyme that’s transformed into the compound acetaldehyde (responsible for that nasty hangover feeling), which in turn is degraded into another enzyme. The acetaldehyde doesn’t usually have time to build up before it’s broken down. But people with the alcohol intolerance mutation lack the ability to produce that second enzyme; acetaldehyde accumulates, and they feel terrible. Dr. Juan Asenjo and his colleagues have come up with a way to stop the synthesis of that second enzyme via a vaccine, mimicking the mutation that sometimes happens naturally. "People have this mutation all over the world. It’s like how some people can’t drink milk," says Asenjo. Addressing the physiological part of alcohol addiction is just one piece of the battle. Addictive tendencies could very well manifest in other ways; instead of alcohol, perhaps former addicts will move on to cigarettes. Asenjo admits as much: "Addiction is a psychological disease, a social disease. Obviously this is only the biological part of it.""
Google

+ - 144 Microsoft Could Earn Billions from Office for iOS: Analyst->

Submitted by
Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster writes "Microsoft is leaving billions of dollars on the table by not porting Office to the iPad, according to a new analyst report. That analyst, Morgan Stanley’s Adam Holt, believes that Office for iOS would sell to approximately 30 percent of all iPad users; priced at $60 per copy, that comes to a grand total of $2.5 billion per year—minus Apple’s cut of the revenues, of course. But does Microsoft actually want Office for iOS out there? It’s not necessarily in the company’s best interest to rush such a platform to market, even if billions of dollars potentially hang in the balance—it’s too busy pushing Office as a cloud-based, OS-agnostic platform. And Microsoft has another reason, aside from pushing the cloud version of Office, to de-emphasize the prospect of its productivity software on iOS: In a bid to draw more customers to its new hardware, Microsoft preloaded its Surface RT tablets with Office; offering the software on a rival touch-screen would take a major selling point off the table."
Link to Original Source
United Kingdom

+ - 101 Transport for London ticketing chief dubious about mobile NFC-> 1

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The head of business development at Transport for London (TfL), whose Oyster card system is one of the most successful contactless ticketing programmes in the world, claims he is “not convinced” about mobile payments using NFC because there are too many stakeholders – with banks, retailers, mobile network operators, device manufacturers and advertisers all fighting for a share of the revenues. “It's taken ages. How much money is there to make with all these parties trying to get a piece of it?” said Hudson, speaking at a Westminster eForum on the future of digital payments. “We've just sat back and said we're not interested. When you've worked it out come back to us and we'll engage.”"
Link to Original Source
BSD

+ - 190 Meanwhile: BSD at the Start of 2013->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "NetBSD developer Julian Djamil Fagir provides a nice briefing on what the big three BSD projects have been working on, and explains/reminds us of their cultural differences. Stick a fork in them? Yes, Djamil Fagir mentions a couple of those, too. The recent releases from FreeBSD and NetBSD were covered by Slashdot."
Link to Original Source
Medicine

+ - 123 Proteins behind mad-cow disease help brain to develop->

Submitted by
ananyo
ananyo writes "Prions are best known as the infectious agents that cause ‘mad cow’ disease and the human versions of it, such as variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob Disease. But as slashdot noted in 2010, the proteins also have at least one known useful function, in the cells that insulate nerves, and are suspected to have more. Now researchers have provided the first direct evidence that the proteins play an important role in neurons themselves.
The team reports that prions are involved in developmental plasticity, the process by which the structure and function of neurons in the growing brain is shaped by experience, and also crucial for learning and memory."

Link to Original Source

Everyone has a purpose in life. Perhaps yours is watching television. - David Letterman

Working...