Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Deal of the Day - Pay What You Want for the Learn to Code Bundle, includes AngularJS, Python, HTML5, Ruby, and more. ×

Submission + - Sony Demands Press Destroy Leaked Documents (

SydShamino writes: In an effort that may run afoul of the first amendment, Sony, through their lawyer David Boies (of SCO infamy), has sent a letter to major news organizations demanding that they refrain from downloading any leaked documents, and destroy those already possessed. Sony threatens legal action to news organizations that do not comply, saying that "Sony Pictures Entertainment will have no choice but to hold you responsible for any damage or loss arising from such use or dissemination by you."

Submission + - How Birds Lost Their Teeth

An anonymous reader writes: A research team from the University of California, Riverside and Montclair State University, New Jersey, have found that the lack of teeth in all living birds can be traced back to a common ancestor who lived about 116 million years ago. From the article: "To solve this puzzle, the researchers used a recently created genome database that catalogues the genetic history of nearly all living bird orders--48 species in total. They were looking for two specific types of genes: one responsible for dentin, the substance that (mostly) makes up teeth, and another for the enamel that protects them. Upon finding these genes, researchers then located the mutations that deactivate them, and combed the fossil record to figure out when those mutations developed. They concluded that the loss of teeth and the development of the beak was a two-stage process, though the steps basically happened simultaneously. The paper states: 'In the first stage, tooth loss and partial beak development began on the anterior portion of both the upper and lower jaws. The second stage involved concurrent progression of tooth loss and beak development from the anterior portion of both jaws to the back of the rostrum.'"

Submission + - The Mysterious Malware that Jumps Airgaps

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Dan Goodwin writes at Ars Technica about a rootkit that seems straight out of a science-fiction thriller. According to security consultant Dragos Ruiu one day his MacBook Air, on which he had just installed a fresh copy of OS X, spontaneously updated the firmware that helps it boot. Stranger still, when Ruiu then tried to boot the machine off a CD ROM, it refused and he also found that the machine could delete data and undo configuration changes with no prompting. Next a computer running the Open BSD operating system also began to modify its settings and delete its data without explanation or prompting and further investigation showed that multiple variants of Windows and Linux were also affected. But the story gets stranger still. Ruiu began observing encrypted data packets being sent to and from an infected laptop that had no obvious network connection with—but was in close proximity to—another badBIOS-infected computer. The packets were transmitted even when the laptop had its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth cards removed. Ruiu also disconnected the machine's power cord so it ran only on battery to rule out the possibility it was receiving signals over the electrical connection. Even then, forensic tools showed the packets continued to flow over the airgapped machine. Then, when Ruiu removed internal speaker and microphone connected to the airgapped machine, the packets suddenly stopped. With the speakers and mic intact, Ruiu said, the isolated computer seemed to be using the high-frequency connection to maintain the integrity of the badBIOS infection as he worked to dismantle software components the malware relied on. It's too early to say with confidence that what Ruiu has been observing is a USB-transmitted rootkit that can burrow into a computer's lowest levels and use it as a jumping off point to infect a variety of operating systems with malware that can't be detected. It's even harder to know for sure that infected systems are using high-frequency sounds to communicate with isolated machines. But after almost two weeks of online discussion, no one has been able to rule out these troubling scenarios, either. "It looks like the state of the art in intrusion stuff is a lot more advanced than we assumed it was," says Ruiu. "The take-away from this is a lot of our forensic procedures are weak when faced with challenges like this. A lot of companies have to take a lot more care when they use forensic data if they're faced with sophisticated attackers."

Submission + - Canada Post Files Copyright Lawsuit Over Crowdsourced Postal Code Database (

An anonymous reader writes: Canada Post has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Geolytica, which operates, a website that provides several geocoding services including free access to a crowdsourced compiled database of Canadian postal codes. Canada Post argues that it is the exclusive copyright holder of all Canadian postal codes and claims that GeoCoder appropriated the database and made unauthorized reproductions. GeoCoder compiled the postal code database by using crowdsource techniques without any reliance on Canada Post's database and argues that no copyright in postal codes and no infringement.

Submission + - Major Networks Suing to Stop Free Streaming ( 1

AstroPhilosopher writes: In a move similar to Hollywood's attempt to have the Supreme Court ban VCRs back in the 80's. ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and Univision are set to appear in court next month to urge a New York federal judge to block Aereo. Aereo opened last month allowing you to stream everything you can already view for free over the 'airwaves' straight to your iPad.

Submission + - RIAA Suing User for Copying CDs to Hard Drive 2

tigerhawkvok writes: "Everyone has some gripe about the the RIAA. Well, here's one that we can all partake in, more than usual: The RIAA has officially started suing people for copying CDs to their hard drive. Yes. You read that right. They want you to fill up your PMPs with just content downloaded from their label websites, Microsoft's marketplace, iTunes, or what have you. No CDs allowed.
No, this is not just the famous side-comment of "when an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Copying a song you bought is "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy' " as said by the Sony/BMG chick. This is an actual lawsuit.

This disgusting trend brought to your attention courtesy Engadget."

Submission + - House Passes Patent Overhaul Bill (

narramissic writes: "ITworld reports that the House of Representatives has passed a 'bill to overhaul the nation's patent system, overcoming objections by many Republicans, small inventors and some labor unions.' From the article:

The Patent Reform Act, supported by several large tech vendors including Microsoft Corp. and IBM Corp., would allow courts to change they way they assess damages in patent infringement cases. Currently, courts generally consider the value of the entire product when a small piece of the product infringes a patent; the bill would allow, but not require, courts to base damages only on the value of the infringing piece.


Submission + - Toddlers are smarter than chimps (

Lucas123 writes: "The journal Science just posted the findings of a study today that showed two-year-old children are naturally more intelligent than chimps of vastly greater age. In one experiment, chimps tasked with opening a plastic tube to retrieve food or a toy inside bit it and tried to break it, while the children watched an example and copied it. "Children and chimpanzees had very similar cognitive skills for dealing with the physical world but ... the children had more sophisticated cognitive skills than either of the ape species for dealing with the social world.""
The Media

Submission + - Microwave Popcorn Responsible for Illness (

EE_Philosopher writes: "The New York Times is reporting on a man who suffered respiratory issues allegedly resulting from eating microwave popcorn up to twice a day. They believe the condition arose from the heated diacetyl used in creating the artificial butter flavoring. The condition is common among workers in popcorn plants.

From the article:
"'I said to him, 'This is a very weird question, but bear with me. But are you around a lot of popcorn?' " Dr. Rose asked. "His jaw dropped and he said, 'How could you possibly know that about me? I am Mr. Popcorn. I love popcorn.' "

The man told Dr. Rose that he had eaten microwave popcorn at least twice a day for more than 10 years.

"When he broke open the bags, after the steam came out, he would often inhale the fragrance because he liked it so much," Dr. Rose said. "That's heated diacetyl, which we know from the workers' studies is the highest risk."

Dr. Rose measured levels of diacetyl in the man's home after he made popcorn and found levels of the chemical were similar to those in microwave popcorn plants. She asked the man to stop eating microwave popcorn."

After he stopped eating the popcorn, his respiratory problems stabilized and eventually improved slightly.

Also from the article:

"The case will most likely accelerate calls on Capitol Hill for the Bush administration to crack down on the use of diacetyl. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been criticized as doing little to protect workers in popcorn plants despite years of studying the issue.""

"Free markets select for winning solutions." -- Eric S. Raymond