TrueSatan writes in with the latest in the ongoing Aaron Swartz tragedy. "Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday said the suicide death of internet activist Aaron Swartz was a 'tragedy,' but the hacking case against the 26-year-old was 'a good use of prosecutorial discretion.' The attorney general was testifying at a Justice Department oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary committee and was facing terse questioning from Sen. John Cornyn (D-Texas). ...Holder stated: 'I think that's a good use of prosecutorial discretion to look at the conduct, regardless of what the statutory maximums were and to fashion a sentence that was consistent with what the nature of the conduct was. And I think what those prosecutors did in offering 3, 4, zero to 6 was consistent with that conduct.' Notwithstanding Holder's testimony, Massachusetts federal prosecutors twice indicted Swartz for the alleged hacking, once in 2011 on four felonies and again last year on 13 felonies. The case included hacking charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that was passed in 1984 to enhance the government's ability to prosecute hackers who accessed computers to steal information or to disrupt or destroy computer functionality."
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sciencehabit writes "In 1592, a British ship sank near the island of Alderney in the English Channel carrying an odd piece of cargo: a small, angular crystal. Once it was brought back to land, a few European scientists began to suspect the mysterious object might be a calcite crystal, a powerful 'sunstone' referred to in Norse legends which they believe Vikings and other European seafarers used to navigate before the introduction of the magnetic compass. Now, after subjecting the object to a battery of mechanical and chemical tests, the team has determined that the Alderman crystal is indeed a calcite and, therefore, could have been the ship's optical compass. Today, similar calcite crystals are used by astronomers to analyze the atmospheres of exoplanets—perhaps setting the stage for a whole new age of exploration."
cylonlover writes "After a handful of days of furtive suggestion, spring made its presence felt in London today, where the second Technology Frontiers conference got underway. The Economist-organized event sees leading technologists and cultural figures take to the podium in front of some 250 ideas-thirsty business persons. Among them was Raspberry Pi Foundation founder Eben Upton, who extolled the benefits of learning to program for all professions. He went into some detail as to the inception of the Raspberry Pi and the need for more computer programmers."
coondoggie writes "As of April 25th the Transportation Security Administration will let a bunch of previously prohibited items such as small pocket knives and what it calls 'novelty' or toy bats to be taken on aircraft as carry-ons. The idea the agency said was to let Transportation Security Officers better focus their efforts on spotting higher-threat items such as explosives and guns."
First time accepted submitter tookul03 writes "I'm a graduating senior from a small New England liberal arts college, and have secured a spot in a Biological Science Ph.D. program for the next five years. I realize this coming summer will be my last out of the lab for a long time and am not sure If I am interested in doing something related to my research interests or use it as an opportunity to find some new hobbies/interests. I figured the Slashdot community had a number of individuals who were/are in a similar position (albeit different fields) and could shed some light on things they (or others) had done. Thanks."
New submitter abuelos84 writes "Just a few hours after the Kickstarter project was opened to the public, Torment: Tides of Numenera, successor of the legendary Planescape:Torment, had been funded. In the dev's own words: 'Our heads are still spinning at the incredible response we have had from today's support of our Kickstarter campaign. We had plans to roll out our stretch goals and to write our Kickstarter updates but never in our wildest dreams did we think we would fund this quickly!!! We are joyfully scrambling right now to get a longer update and some stretch goals in front of you as soon as we can. We should have more to say later today.'"
tcd004 writes "An article at PBS begins, 'Imagine this crazy scenario: A space vehicle we've sent to a distant planet to search for life touches down in an icy area. The heat from the spacecraft's internal power system warms the ice, and water forms below the landing gear of the craft. And on the landing gear is something found on every surface on planet Earth... bacteria. Lots of them. If those spore-forming bacteria found themselves in a moist environment with a temperature range they could tolerate, they might just make themselves at home and thrive and then, well... the extraterrestrial life that we'd been searching for might just turn out to be Earth life we introduced.' The article goes on to talk about NASA's efforts to prevent situations like this. It's a job for the Office of Planetary Protection. They give some examples, including the procedure for sterilizing the Curiosity Rover: 'Pieces of equipment that could tolerate high heat were subjected to temperatures of 230 to 295 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 144 hours. And surfaces were wiped down with alcohol and tested regularly.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that at about 11:45 am today, Kentucky Republican Rand Paul took the floor of the Senate to launch one of the chamber's rarest spectacles: a genuine filibuster. Paul says he is 'alarmed' at the lack of definition over who can be targeted by drone strikes. He called Attorney General Eric Holder's refusal to rule out drone strikes to kill an American on U.S. soil 'more than frightening,' adding, 'When I asked the president, can you kill an American on American soil, it should have been an easy answer. It's an easy question. It should have been a resounding, an unequivocal, "No." The president's response? He hasn't killed anyone yet. We're supposed to be comforted by that.' Any senator can opt to hold the floor to speak on any matter, but the practice of speaking for hours on end is rare, especially in the modern-day Senate, where the chamber's rules are used more often to block legislation or to hold show votes on trivial matters. Paul has since been joined in his symbolic effort by Republicans Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Ted Cruz (Tex.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Saxby Chambliss (Ga.). He has also gotten some bipartisan support from Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.). Paul suggested that many college campuses in the 1960s were full of people who might have been considered enemies of the state. 'Are you going to drop a Hellfire missile on Jane Fonda?'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Facebook's Graph Search, its new and powerful way of searching the social network for all manner of information, has drawn a lot of attention since its January unveiling. Some have praised its innovation; others have wondered openly whether its search abilities will end up threatening Google and LinkedIn. Still more have questioned what it all means for users' privacy—always a touchy subject in conjunction with Facebook. The social network previously revealed how it's adjusting its hardware infrastructure to deal with the spike in traffic that will come from interactions with Graph Search (short answer: the Disaggregated Rack, which will break up hardware resources and scale them independently of one another). Now, in a new blog posting, it's offering a bit more with regard to the software side of things, and how the company repurposed an existing system to solve Graph Search's enormous engineering challenge. Bottom line: Facebook's engineers and executives finally decided on Unicorn, an inverted-index system they'd had in development for quite some time."
ananyo writes "The incidence of autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes, has spiked in developed countries in recent decades. In three studies published today, researchers describe the molecular pathways that can lead to autoimmune disease and identify one possible culprit that has been right under our noses — and on our tables — the entire time: salt. Some forms of autoimmunity have been linked to overproduction of TH17 cells, a type of helper T cell that produces an inflammatory protein called interleukin-17. Now scientists have found sodium chloride turns on the production of these cells (abstract). They also showed that in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis, a high-salt diet accelerated the disease's progression (abstract)."
adeelarshad82 writes "Earlier today FreedomPop, a telecom company headquartered in Los Angeles, announced its plans to launch a very low cost home broadband plan for extremely low-intensity users, with 1GB monthly for free. Clearly this is much lower than an average U.S. home broadband usage, which is between 24 and 28 gigs per month. The 1GB of free Internet is basically a teaser; the company aims to disrupt the cable and DSL business with its 10GB for $10 plan which is extendable by paying $5 for each additional GB beyond 10."
Spearphishing. The deluxe (but easy) way to get unwary employees to put malware on your network. It's basically the same as phishing, except more targeted. That is, a plain phishing scam might offer an unwary web-browsing employee a chance to see a famous starlet naked, while a spearphishing attack might purport to be an urgent request from your Bizzaro County office for 200 Kg of Unobtainium Oxide. Open that email, and... ZAP! So this is social hacking (cracking for the old-timers), and cannot necessarily be fought entirely by technical means. So how about setting up fake spearphishing attempts and immediately sending employees who fall for them to an IT security class with an emphasis on how to avoid phishing scams? You can do this yourself, possibly with help from a bright person or two from a nearby University. Or you can contact PhishMe or another anti-phish training company and have them help you teach spearphishing awareness to your people. Either way, every computer-using person in your company should know about phishing -- and should know how to avoid getting hooked by phishers.
New submitter gewalker writes "Bowing to significant unfriendly customer feedback regarding its new 'no transfer' license for Office 2013, Microsoft has reconsidered and will now allow Office 2013 licenses to be transferred between computers. Actual license language will not be reflected for a few months for shipped products, but Microsoft will allow transfer of license effective immediately. Calls to customer support will be necessary, as the activation servers won't be updated for a few months."
judgecorp writes "The Pirate Bay's announcement that it was moving to North Korea was a prank, making fun of gullible readers. Admitting the hoax, the site said 'You can't seriously cheer the 'fact' that we moved our servers to bloody North Korea. Applauds to you who told us to f*** off. Always stay critical. Towards everyone!'" The essence of a good troll: so absurd it could just be true.
hypnosec writes "Linux KVM has been ported to ARM64 just ahead of the release of the architecture, it has been revealed. Just last year ARM KVM virtualization support for Cortex-A15 32bit ARM processor was published. Marc Zyngier of ARM released a set of 29 patches that contained the implementation of KVM for ARM that depends on the pre-arm64 rework as well as tiny perf patch published earlier. Some of the newly released port are support for 4k and 64k pages and 32-bit as well as 64-bit guests."
Deathspawner writes with a view on Six Strikes we don't normally see around here: "It's been well-established all over the Web that the just-implemented 'Six Strikes' system is bad... horrible, worthy of death to those who created it. But let's take a deep breath for a moment. Can Six Strikes actually be a good thing for consumers? While the scheme isn't perfect (far from it), one of the biggest benefits from this system is that it introduces a proxy, and any persecution you might have easily faced prior to Six Strikes is delayed under the new program. Wouldn't you rather receive a warning from your ISP than be sent a bill or legal threat by the RIAA/MPAA?" A couple of days ago, someone sent Torrentfreak an actual alert they received from Comcast (the alert itself is a few screens down). Noteworthy is that there is zero mention of the appeals process.
New submitter emilcho writes with news for anyone looking for a Free alternative to Skype "Among the most prominent new features people will find quality multi-party video conferences for XMPP, audio device hot-plugging, support for Outlook presence and calls, an overhauled user interface and support for the Opus and VP8 audio/video codec. Jitsi has lately shaped into one of the more viable open Skype Alternatives with features such as end-to-end ZRTP encryption for audio and video calls. The 2.0 version has been in the works for almost a year now, so this is an important step for the project." There are prebuilt packages for Debian, Ubuntu, Arch, Fedora, Windows, and OS X.
It seems that the requirement to be online and save games on a remote server even in single player mode is leading to a less than ideal launch for SimCity 5. choke writes "Players attempting to play EA/Maxis' new SimCity game are finding that their save games are tied to a particular server, are facing problems with disconnects, inability to track friends or search for specific coop games online and failures to load game, and wait times of 20 minutes per login attempt. The question is, why the online restriction? Does this possibly indicate future micro-transactions in game?"
Barence writes "A German company called Dermalog is showing off a wall-sized transparent display that can tell a person's age, mood and criminal intent simply by scanning their face. The system displays data about the user next to their face, and is a demonstration of a fraud-prevention system that matches criminal intent to certain characteristics. PC Pro's tester wasn't overly impressed. 'If the face was a good enough indicator of mood then it should have tagged me as "freaked out on business technological ennui," not simply "happy", and no police force would accept a description of someone as "aged between 45 and 75 — that's the gap between Daniel Craig and Jack Nicholson.'"
eldavojohn writes "One of China's main microblogging services used by 30% of all Chinese internet users is called Sina Weibo (weibo is the Chinese word for 'microblog') and something that is quite different from the West's twitter is, of course, the enforced censorship. Researchers at Rice University in Houston have estimated numbers for how censorship works and identifies the 'velocity of censorship' in China's microblogging censorship. Most of the posts are marked as 'permission denied' between the five minute and ten minute marks after posting. Their research shows that 'If an average censor can scan around 50 posts a minute, that would require some 1400 censors at any instant to handle the 70,000 posts pouring in. And if they work 8 hour shifts, that's a total of 4200 censors on the payroll each day.' The research indicates you would need a small army to meet stringent censorship policies when servicing China and to avoid being shutdown like Fanfou (another weibo). Keep in mind that this is not simply identifying keywords and blocking the post based on those words. The researchers noted that a phrase like 'Secretary of the Political and Legislative Committee' will result in you being unable to submit your post to Sina Weibo. So the research examines the speed of ex post facto censorship which presumably requires an employee or perhaps government employee to identify 'non-harmonious' posts based on their intrinsic content."
Seeteufel writes "Microsoft's failure to comply with an antitrust settlement about browser choice has severe consequences. The European Commissioner for Competition Almunia set a fine of €561 million (~$732 million) for the unprecedented break of agreement. Microsoft admitted its mistakes and offered further concessions." A pretty costly bug it seems. From the EC press release: "This is the first time that the Commission has had to fine a company for non-compliance with a commitments decision. In the calculation of the fine the Commission took into account the gravity and duration of the infringement, the need to ensure a deterrent effect of the fine and, as a mitigating circumstance, the fact that Microsoft has cooperated with the Commission and provided information which helped the Commission to investigate the matter efficiently."
An anonymous reader writes "According to Wired, 'National Security Letters allow the government to get detailed information on Americans' finances and communications without oversight from a judge. The FBI has issued hundreds of thousands of NSLs and has even been reprimanded for abusing them.' It's significant, then, that Google has released data about how many NSLs they've received annually since 2009. The numbers are fuzzed — the FBI apparently worries that if we know how often they're spying on us, we can figure out who. But Google is able to say they've received from 0-999 letters each year for the past four years. And we know it's likely near the upper end of that range because they list the number of accounts affected, as well: always over a thousand."
beerdini writes "There is a debate going on within my IT department about how our continued training offerings compare to others in the industry. I'm hoping other Slashdotters can help to provide comparisons. Currently, if we are implementing a new technology or updated software we will send someone from IT for training to become a specialist; in other words, they go to formal training as a part of their job where they learn their new skills. Alternatively, for someone pursuing an industry certification, employees usually take the training on their own time and dime. On passing the certification exam, they can submit the exam fee for reimbursement. This is the most common practice that I've seen in the various places that I've worked, but I have one co-worker who insists that it is our company's responsibility to pay for the materials, allow them to study and practice while on the job, and that all attempts to take the test should be paid by the company because it should be a company investment in the employee. So, my questions to the Slashdot community: what are the ongoing training practices in your organization? Are there any places that pay for someone to get an industry certificate? Are there any rules associated with it?"
crookedvulture writes "Seagate's has revealed its next-generation hybrid drives, and for the first time, there's a 3.5" desktop model in the mix. The new family of so-called SSHDs includes standard and slim notebook variants with 500GB and 1TB capacities, plus 1TB and 2TB desktop versions. All of them combine mechanical platters with 8GB of NAND in a dual-mode SLC/MLC configuration. The SLC component is largely reserved to cache host writes, while the MLC portion is filled with frequently accessed data to speed read performance. Despite MLC NAND's lower write endurance, Seagate claims the SSHDs have more than enough headroom to last at least five years with typical client workloads. More impressively, the mobile SSHDs are supposed to be faster than the old Momentus XT hybrid even though they have slower 5,400-RPM spindle speeds. The mobile models are slated to start selling shortly at $79 for 500GB and $99 for 1TB, while the 1TB and 2TB desktop flavors are due in late April for $99 and $149, respectively. Unlike other NAND caching solutions, Seagate's tech requires no software or drivers, making it compatible with any OS."
New submitter FoolishBluntman sends this quote from CNN: "An unmanned drone came within 200 feet of a commercial jet over New York, triggering an FBI appeal to the public for any information about the unusual and potentially dangerous incident. The crew of Alitalia Flight 608 approaching John F. Kennedy airport on Monday reported the sighting. 'We saw a drone, a drone aircraft,' the pilot can be heard telling air traffic controllers on radio calls captured by the website LiveATC.net. ... The unmanned aircraft, described by the FBI as black and no more than three feet wide with four propellers, came within 200 feet of the Boeing jetliner. The FBI said it was looking to identify and locate the aircraft and its operator. A source with knowledge of the incident says investigators interviewed the pilot and others on the Alitalia plane."
Trapezium Artist writes "The European Space Agency's far-infrared space observatory, Herschel, will soon run out of its liquid helium coolant, ending observations after more than three years of highly successful scientific operations. Predictions by ESA engineers are that Herschel will run out of helium later in March, at which point its instruments will warm up, rendering them effectively blind. Herschel was launched in 2009 along with ESA's Planck satellite to the Sun-Earth L2 point, roughly 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. At that location, the Sun and Earth remain along a more or less constant vector with respect to a spacecraft, meaning that it can cool to very low temperatures behind a sunshield. At such a large distance from Earth, however, there is no way of replenishing the coolant, and Herschel will be pushed off the L2 point to spend its retirement in a normal heliocentric orbit. With the largest monolithic mirror ever flown in space at 3.5 meters diameter and three powerful scientific instruments, Herschel has made exciting discoveries about the cool Universe, ranging from dusty starburst galaxies at high redshifts to star-forming regions spread throughout the Milky Way and proto-planetary disks of gas and dust swirling around nearby young stars. And with an archive full of data, much of it already public, Herschel is set to produce new results for years to come."
Kittenman writes "The BBC magazine has an article on human trust of robots. 'As manufacturers get ready to market robots for the home it has become essential for them to overcome the public's suspicion of them. But designing a robot that is fun to be with — as well as useful and safe — is quite difficult.' The article cites a poll done on Facebook over the 'best face' design for a robot that would be trusted. But we still distrust them in general. 'Eighty-eight per cent of respondents [to a different survey] agreed with the statement that robots are "necessary as they can do jobs that are too hard or dangerous for people," such as space exploration, warfare and manufacturing. But 60% thought that robots had no place in the care of children, elderly people and those with disabilities.' We distrust the robots because of the uncanny valley — or, as the article puts it, that they look unwell (or like corpses) and do not behave as expected. So, at what point will you trust robots for more personal tasks? How about one with the 'trusting face'?" It seems much more likely that a company will figure out sneaky ways to make us trust robots than make robots that much more trustworthy.