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+ - NSA spyware infecting hard-drives around the world-> 1

Submitted by smi.james.th
smi.james.th (1706780) writes "The Register has a scoop today reporting on some work from the researchers at Kaspersky Labs: "America's National Security Agency (NSA) has infected hard disk firmware with spyware in a campaign valued as highly as Stuxnet and dating back at least 14 years, and possibly up to two decades." This hardware- (firmware-?) level attack conceptually allows the NSA access to basically any computer on the planet."
Link to Original Source

+ - C++Now 2015 Student/Volunteer Program Accepting Applications

Submitted by jones_supa
jones_supa (887896) writes "Are you a student and passionate C++ programmer? The C++Now 2015 Student/Volunteer program is now accepting applications. The program was started in 2013 in an effort to encourage student involvement in the C++Now conference and the C++ community. Each year, the conference helps a small group of young whipper snappers to attend the event. In exchange, the students help the C++Now staff in running the conference. Volunteers assist with various on-site tasks, such as recording sessions, escorting keynote speakers and setting up the conference picnic. They are able to attend most sessions. Volunteers receive a waiver of their registration fees and stipends for travel-related expenses may be provided. Applications will be accepted from February 5th to March 5th, 2015. Application decisions will be sent out on March 18th, 2015."

+ - Game Theory Calls Cooperation Into Question->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The physicist Freeman Dyson and the computer scientist William Press, both highly accomplished in their fields, had found a new solution to a famous, decades-old game theory scenario called the prisoner’s dilemma, in which players must decide whether to cheat or cooperate with a partner. The prisoner’s dilemma has long been used to help explain how cooperation might endure in nature. After all, natural selection is ruled by the survival of the fittest, so one might expect that selfish strategies benefiting the individual would be most likely to persist. But careful study of the prisoner’s dilemma revealed that organisms could act entirely in their own self-interest and still create a cooperative community.

Press and Dyson’s new solution to the problem, however, threw that rosy perspective into question. It suggested the best strategies were selfish ones that led to extortion, not cooperation.

Plotkin found the duo’s math remarkable in its elegance. But the outcome troubled him. Nature includes numerous examples of cooperative behavior. For example, vampire bats donate some of their blood meal to community members that fail to find prey. Some species of birds and social insects routinely help raise another’s brood. Even bacteria can cooperate, sticking to each other so that some may survive poison. If extortion reigns, what drives these and other acts of selflessness?"

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Dobsonian (Score 1) 187

by smi.james.th (#47740305) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?
I second everything in parent comment. Unfortunately, it will be difficult to get good views of the planets with anything cheap, and anything that will give you good views of the moon / planets won't give you good views of anything else (deep-sky objects).

Something worth considering is a Celestron Firstscope though. It's pretty cheap and gives nice views of the moon. You'll be able to see Jupiter's moons and just-just make out Saturn's rings with the provided eyepieces. Many of the slightly brighter star-clusters will be within view as well. Some models of it come with finder-scopes, if it doesn't a simple red-dot is cheap enough. I have one and I was quite impressed, I thought it was going to be rubbish bit I was pleasantly surprised. It's nowhere near as good as my 4.5" Orion reflector, but it's not bad.

I'm currently in the process of grinding a mirror for an 8" reflector, similar to a friend's. The endeavour is costing me the equivalent of around $150 (spread over whenever I need bits and pieces) but I'll end up with a scope of similar quality to what you can buy from $350 - $500.

+ - South African research team creates world's first digital laser->

Submitted by smi.james.th
smi.james.th (1706780) writes "From the article:

In a traditional laser, the laser beam is shaped inside a box with two mirrors – the curvature of these mirrors determines the size and shape of the beam. If a researcher, company or manufacturer requires a different beam, they either have to replace one of the mirrors in the laser or manipulate the beam once it comes out of the laser using a spatial light modulator. Lasers [are expensive], and altering them is a lengthy and costly exercise.
The CSIR team, which is part of the National Laser Centre, has shown it is possible to alter the beam from inside the laser by replacing one of the mirrors with a computer interface. The research was published in scientific journal Nature Communications last month.


Link to Original Source

+ - Is there a secure email option for the privacy-conscious? 1

Submitted by smi.james.th
smi.james.th (1706780) writes "Towards the end of last week I found out about Tormail, and it seemed like just the thing I wanted — I'm a long-time GMail user (since before it was open to the public) but the recent exploits of Google (shutting down Google Reader, their pushing of Google+ everywhere, etc.) and the facts revealed by Snowden suggested to me that it was time to stop trusting cloud providers and take a bit more of an interest in privacy and anonymity. So I signed up and emailed many of my contacts to say that @tormail.org was my new address... only to have the site go down almost before I could read any responses. Today on /. I read about the operation by the FBI affecting many Tor sites, Tormail one of them. Just my luck.
Is there a reliable, secure alternative for email for a person like me? I'd prefer not to have to host it myself, I don't really think I have the skills, but if there's a package that's simple and reliable then that would be first prize. Basically anything to get my life out of Google's (and the FBI's) hands..."

+ - Scientists grow rat kidney->

Submitted by smi.james.th
smi.james.th (1706780) writes "A laboratory grown kidney has successfully been transplanted into rats by scientists at Massachusets General Hospital, and is producing urine. Prof. Martin Birchall is quoted by the article as saying that "being able to do this for people needing an organ transplant could revolutionise medicine.""
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Year of the Linux Desktop? (Score 1) 310

by smi.james.th (#43345035) Attached to: Valve Starts Publishing Packages For Its Own Linux Distribution
More pain. I can't be bothered with that, I prefer Linux to Windows, but I don't have a desperate need to use it. Most of what I need (Firefox, etc) runs natively on Windows, so there's no need to waste resources and virtualise a Linux box...

It's a pity you don't like it I guess. I think it was a bold move by Microsoft but most of the people I know who have been using it now actually like it. There are a couple that don't, and those that don't are computer literate enough to remove the things they don't like. Changes will never be universally liked I guess.

Comment: Re:Year of the Linux Desktop? (Score 1) 310

by smi.james.th (#43344935) Attached to: Valve Starts Publishing Packages For Its Own Linux Distribution
Ja, the new task manager is pretty cool :)

As I mentioned though, if I had a choice I'm a Linux man, to me it just feels more comfortable, but since I need to use certain software for work and I don't like dual-booting, I stick with Windows. It's not as bad as it was historically. Each to their own though, it's a matter of opinion. And as I said, once you work around the start screen the Metro GUI almost disappears.

Comment: Re:Year of the Linux Desktop? (Score 1) 310

by smi.james.th (#43344887) Attached to: Valve Starts Publishing Packages For Its Own Linux Distribution
What I did first thing was uninstall all the Metro-style apps, Mail, Music, etc. Stupid things insist on being full-screen. Goodbye to them. I installed all my own things, Firefox, Songbird, etc. They work like normal desktop apps. From there it looks exactly like a slightly slicker Win7 interface, except without a Start button. To get around that, as soon as I press the start button on the keyboard I just start typing the name of whatever I want and the search function takes away all the irrelevant stuff, so I can either press enter or click on it. My frequently used applications though I just pin to the taskbar exactly as I did with Win7,

Some features of Win8 I actually really like, for example the new, more informative copy dialog, and the ribbon at the top of Windows Explorer (I was one of those who liked the ribbon in Office). The start screen is a bit annoying but not enough to make my life miserable since I can exploit its features to get places faster. So all in all a positive experience.

To err is human -- to blame it on a computer is even more so.