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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 11 declined, 10 accepted (21 total, 47.62% accepted)

+ - Checking the positional invariance of Planck's Consant using GPS-> 1

Submitted by gzipped_tar
gzipped_tar (1151931) writes "Whether the fundamental constants really stay the same is always a question worth asking. In particular, the constancy of Planck's Constant is something that cannot be simply ignored owing to its universal importance in linking the quantum and classical pictures of our world. Using publicly available GPS data and terrestrial clocks, researchers form the California State University were able to verify that the value of h indeed stays the same across different positions in the vicinity of our Earth. Their result says the local position invariance of h is satisfied within a limit of 0.007. The paper is published in the journal Physical Review Letters (paywalled), and a free-to-read preprint is available on arXiv. tl;dr version for slashdotters: by the well-known formula E = h * f, a hypothetical variation on h induces changes in f, the transition frequency that keeps the time in atomic clocks, both on earth and aboard the satellites. When taking account of other time variations such as general relativistic time dilation, and assuming the invariance of E (atomic transition energy) on physical grounds, we can figure out an upper bound on the variation of h reflected in the measured variation in f."
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Security

+ - Chinese developer web forum stores and leaks 6 mil->

Submitted by gzipped_tar
gzipped_tar (1151931) writes "The "Chinese Software Developer Network" (CSDN), operated by Bailian Midami Digital Technology Co., Ltd., is one of the largest networks of software developers in China. A text file with 6 million CSDN user credentials including user names, password, emails, all in clear text, got leaked to the Internet.

The CSDN has issued a letter of apology to its users. In the letter, it is explained that passwords created before April 2009 had been stored in plain text, while later passwords were encrypted. Users created between September 2010 and January 2011 may still suffer from email address leaks.

A summary of the most frequent passwords without the corresponding usernames is available at GitHub. Somewhat surprisingly, the cryptic sounding password "dearbook" ranks 4th with 46053 accounts using it."

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United States

+ - US defunds UNESCO after Palestine vote, what's nex-> 2

Submitted by gzipped_tar
gzipped_tar (1151931) writes "The US withdrew funding after UNESCO's Palestine membership vote yesterday. The decision was triggered by a 1994 US law that requires financial ties to be cut with any UN agency that accords the Palestinians full membership. As Palestine actively pursues entrance to other UN agencies, the defunding list could grow. Interestingly, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) could also be among Palestine's next target, and US is the big supported of WIPO. A much more disturbing scenario is Palestine joining the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), cutting American funding to the organization that monitors nuclear proliferation in states like Iran."
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Security

+ - XML Encryption Broken, Need to Fix W3C Standard->

Submitted by gzipped_tar
gzipped_tar (1151931) writes "Researchers from Ruhr University Bochum demonstrated the insecurity of XML encryption standard at ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security in Chicago this week. "Everything is insecure", is the uncomfortable message from Bochum.

As pointed out by the Ars Technica article, XML Encryption is used widely as part of server-to-server Web services connections to transmit secure information mixed with non-sensitive data, based on cipher-block chaining. But it is apparently too weak, as demonstrated by Juraj Somorovsky and Tibor Jager. They were able to decrypt data by sending modified ciphertexts to the serve by gathering information from the received error messages. The attack was tested against a popular open source implementation of XML Encrytion, and against the implementations of companies that responded to the responsible disclosure — in all cases the result was the same: the attack worked.

Fixing the vulnerability will require a revision of the W3C XML encryption standard, Somorovsky said. The researchers informed all possibly affected companies through the mailing list of W3C, following a clear responsible disclosure process."

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Security

+ - London Conference on Cyberspace to be held on Nov ->

Submitted by gzipped_tar
gzipped_tar (1151931) writes "British Foreign Secretary William Hague has invited representatives from governments, civil society and business to the London Conference on Cyberspace on Nov. 1-2. The aim of the conference is "[to] launch a focused and inclusive dialogue to help guide the behaviour of all in cyberspace. " In a guest editorial for the German paper Spiegel, Hague says that "The Internet has fostered transparency and allowed individuals to hold their governments to account", citing recent examples of the Arab Spring. However, he identifies three major threats to the future cyberspace: criminals who use the Net to rip off the society, terrorists who use the Net for planning and propaganda, and oppressive governments that try to control the Net, to violate citizens' rights and to launch cyberattacks. "Nobody controls the Internet; and we can't leave its future to chance," says Hague."
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Privacy

+ - German Justice Minister speaks of government spywa->

Submitted by gzipped_tar
gzipped_tar (1151931) writes "In an interview by Severin Weiland of Spiegel Online, German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger talks about the spyware from the German government recently dissected by the Chaos Computer Club. Having met with the CCC, she admits that the affair is "a very real possibility of a significant disaster." Apparently, the spyware scandal has brought new political impetus for her Free Democratic Party, self-labeled as "an energetic guardian of the private sphere", but she is careful in the choice of words not to offend the governing coalition. On the Pirate Party, she says "[they] has certainly enlivened things", referring to the civil right issues."
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Education

+ - Teacher Cannot Be Sued For Denying Creationism->

Submitted by gzipped_tar
gzipped_tar (1151931) writes "A federal appeals court ruled on Friday that a public high school teacher in Mission Viejo, California may not be sued for making hostile remarks about religion in his classroom. The decision stems from a lawsuit filed by a student charging that the teacher’s hostile remarks about creationism and religious faith violated a First Amendment mandate that the government remain neutral in matters of religion. A three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the lawsuit against an advanced placement history teacher must be thrown out of court because the teacher was entitled to immunity."
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Idle

+ - Right-Wing Extremists Tricked by Trojan Shirts->

Submitted by gzipped_tar
gzipped_tar (1151931) writes "Fans at a recent right-wing extremist rock festival in Germany thought they were getting free T-shirts that reflected their nationalistic worldview. But after the garment's first wash they discovered otherwise. The original image rinsed away to reveal a hidden message from an activist group. It reads: "If your T-shirt can do it, so can you. We'll help to free you from right-wing extremism.""
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First Person Shooters (Games)

+ - 'Death Strip' Game Sparks Controversy in Germany->

Submitted by gzipped_tar
gzipped_tar (1151931) writes "A new computer game where players assume the roles of border guards and shoot people trying to escape from communist East Germany has unleashed a storm of controversy in Germany. The game's creator says he wanted to teach young people about history, but he has been accused of glorifying violence.

The name of the multi-player FPS game, "1,378 (kilometers)", was inspired by the length of the border between East and West Germany. Players choose between the roles of the border guards or would-be escapees: the escapee only has one goal — to get over the wall, but the border guard has more options, and can shoot or capture the escapee. He can also swap sides and try to clamber over the border defenses himself. By choosing to play the boarder guard and kill the escapee, the player would won an in-game medal from the government of East Germany. But then the guard would time-travel forward to the year 2000, where he would have to stand trial.

Jens Stober, 23, designed the game as a media art student at the University of Design, Media and Arts in Karlsruhe. He said that his intention was to teach young people about German history. "In the game, you ask yourself: 'What would I do?'" explained Stober. "You may come to the conclusion that you would not shoot at your fellow countrymen and women." But others disagree. "Basically you are just picking off people, as if you were shooting rabbits," said Axel Klausmeier, director of the Berlin Wall Foundation. Hubertus Knabe, head of the Berlin-Hohenschoenhausen Memorial to the victims of the Stasi secret police, has even filed criminal charges. He wants the Berlin public prosecutor to investigate whether the game glorifies violence. Rainer Wagner, from former East Germany, said it was like a punch in the face. "It feels like I'm being shot at again, emotionally," said Wagner, who was arrested by border guards during his escape attempt.

Initially, Stober's university and Professor Michael Bielicky, who had supervised Stober's work, defended the student. However, on Thursday a university spokesman said that the game will not be released on Sunday, the anniversary of German reunification, after all. Instead, the release is being postponed until December."

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Privacy

+ - EFF Sues US Govt Over Social Network Tapping-> 1

Submitted by gzipped_tar
gzipped_tar (1151931) writes "Has the federal government overreached in tapping social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to investigate possible criminal activity? The non-profit civil liberties' group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) doesn't know, but it has filed suit to find out the scope of the government's investigations.

The lawsuit, filed at the Northern District of California's San Francisco division court, seeks information from a number of federal agencies under the Freedom of Information Act who are listed as defendants in the case. These agencies include EFF the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury, the CIA, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

"An agency normally has 20 working days, about a month, to respond to a request for documents but that rarely happens," said Marcia Hoffman, staff attorney for the EFF, in an interview by InternetNews.com. "Considering these agencies have violated the law by not responding by the deadline, we want to get the courts involved. Once we get the information we'll make it available to the public on our Web site."

"Internet users deserve to know what information is collected, under what circumstances, and who has access to it," said Shane Witnov, a law student also working on the case. "These agencies need to abide by the law and release their records on social networking surveillance.""

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Music

+ - Artists Attack RIAA after Thomas-Rasset Verdict->

Submitted by gzipped_tar
gzipped_tar (1151931) writes "Last week a judge ruled that Jammie Thomas-Rasset owes the RIAA a $1.92 million fine for illegally downloading 24 songs. Richard Marx — one of the artists whose music Thomas-Rasset downloaded via P2P network Kazaa — spoke out against the court's verdict, saying he's "ashamed" to be associated with the massive fine.

"As a long-time professional songwriter, I have always objected to the practice of illegal downloading of music. I have also always, however, been sympathetic to the average music fan, who has been consistently financially abused by the greedy actions of major labels," Marx said in a statement. "These labels, until recently, were responsible for the distribution of the majority of recorded music, and instead of nurturing the industry and doing their best to provide the highest quality of music to the fans, they predominantly chose to ream the consumer and fill their pockets."

He continued, "So now we have a 'judgement' in a case of illegal downloading, and it seems to me, especially in these extremely volatile economic times, that holding Ms. Thomas-Rasset accountable for the continuing daily actions of hundreds of thousands of people is, at best, misguided and at worst, farcical. Her accountability itself is not in question, but this show of force posing as judicial come-uppance is clearly abusive. Ms. Thomas Rasset, I think you got a raw deal, and I'm ashamed to have my name associated with this issue."

Marx isn't the only artist to take umbrage with the ruling against Thomas-Rasset. Writing on his official Website, Moby said, "What utter nonsense. This is how the record companies want to protect themselves? Suing suburban moms for listening to music? Charging $80,000 per song? Punishing people for listening to music is exactly the wrong way to protect the music business."

In related news, Nate Anderson on ArsTechnica noted that "In the wake of the RIAA win, the organization's legendarily poor public image somehow got even worse". He quoted the words from a music critic Jim DeRogatis: "[the Thomas-Rasset ruling is] infamous as one of the most wrong-headed in the history of the American judicial system--not to mention that it will forever stand as the best evidence of the contempt of the old-school music industry toward the music lovers who once were its customers."

On the other side of the story, an RIAA spokesperson recently commented about their victory: "This group of 12 Minnesotans showed us that, despite the protestations of some pundits who suggest that the digital world should resemble some kind of new wild west, the majority understands and believes that the same laws and rules we follow every day apply online. Not just in theory, but in practice. Another group of 12 people presented with similar questions said the same thing two years ago. That makes a sample size of only 24, but it's certainly enough to learn from.""

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Portables

+ - Google Android May Run Asus Netbook->

Submitted by gzipped_tar
gzipped_tar (1151931) writes "Tim Culpan writes for Bloomberg:

Asustek Computer Inc., which pioneered the market for sub-$500 laptops, may install Google Inc.'s free Android operating system on its low-cost notebooks, challenging the dominance of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows software.

Asustek has allocated engineers to develop an Android-based netbook by as early as the year end, Samson Hu, head of the Taipei-based company's Eee PC business, said in an interview on [Feb 20]. Asustek hasn't decided whether to proceed with a final product because the project is still under development, he said.

On the other hand, Microsoft remains confident on the netbook market. "We remain confident that people will keep on buying Windows, as we've seen strong growth in Windows on these small notebook PCs," Ben Rudolph, senior manager for Windows, said in an e-mail."

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The Almighty Buck

+ - SCO Proposes Sale of Assets to Continue Litigation->

Submitted by gzipped_tar
gzipped_tar (1151931) writes "From Tom Harvey of The Salt Lake Tribune:

The embattled SCO Group Inc. is proposing to auction off its core products and use proceeds to continue its controversial lawsuits over the alleged violations of its copyrights in Linux open-source software.

The Lindon company has filed a new reorganization plan with the federal court in Delaware where it sought bankruptcy protection from creditors after an adverse ruling in the Linux litigation.

If approved by a bankruptcy judge, the plan could mean SCO's server software and mobile products lines are owned by other parties while SCO itself remained largely to pursue the lawsuits under the leadership of CEO Darl McBride.

"One goal of this approach is to separate the legal defence of its intellectual property from its core product business," McBride said in a letter to customers, partners and shareholders.

Jeff Hunsaker, president and COO of The SCO Group, said the litigation had been distracting to the company's efforts to market its products.

"We believe there's value in these assets and in order for the business to move forward it's imperative we separate it from our legal claims and we allow our products business to move forward," he said Friday.

"

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Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984

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