The Washington Post (among many others) reports on a development from Facebook that may excite many more users than does the much-hyped announcement about richer search capabilities: after launching a Canadian trial balloon not long ago, Facebook is expanding the reach of its free in-app VoiP communications with free voice comms via the company's smartphone app. "Excite" for some people will also mean "infuriate": to get the free candy, the recipient will need to have shared his or her number with Facebook, which many people will understandably be loath to do. From the WaPo article: "To use the feature, Facebook users must hit the 'i' info icon in the corner or a conversation or contact information page. That panel has a 'Free Call' button that you can use if your friend has shared a mobile number with Facebook and is available for a call. The company slowly has been building out the features available in chat — most notably with the 2011 Skype partnership that put video calling on the Web version of its site. When it released Facebook Messenger last fall, it became even clearer that messaging and mobile applications were priorities for the company."
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kthreadd writes "The Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 derivative CentOS version 5.9 has been released just 10 days after its upstream provider. According to the release notes a number of changes have been made. New packages available in CentOS 5.9 includes for example OpenJDK 7 and Rsyslog 5. Several drivers have also been updated in the kernel which has been updated to version 2.6.18-348, including support for Microsoft's virtualization environment Hyper-V." CentOS has been plugging away now for nearly 10 years.
First time accepted submitter singinho writes "In times of political turmoil, operators are caught in the middle, between the wishes of the regime and the communications needs of the public. Orange exec Marc Rennard explains how he is forced to risk the lives of his employees." Companies operating with the blessing of any particular regime end up in some interesting predicaments; trying to keep communications open in a place like Mali (one of the places Rennard oversees) must make for some exciting work days for the guys in the field.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Software developer Jeff Cogswell writes: 'Let's compare Java and C#, two programming languages with large numbers of ardent fans and equally virulent detractors. I'm not interested in yet another test that grindingly calculates a million digits' worth of Pi. I want to know about real-world performance: How does each language measure up when asked to dish out millions of Web pages a day? How do they compare when having to grab data from a database to construct those pages dynamically? The results were quite interesting.' Having worked as a professional C# programmer for many years, Cogswell found some long-held assumptions challenged."
mask.of.sanity writes "The Department of Homeland Security has taken charge of pushing medical device manufacturers to fix vulnerable medical software and devices after researchers popped yet another piece of hospital hardware. It comes after the agency pushed Philips to move to fix critical vulnerabilities found in its popular medical management platform that is used in a host of services including assisting surgeries and generating patient reports. To date, no agency has taken point on forcing the medical manufacturers to improve the information security profile of their products, with the FDA even dubbing such a risk unrealistic (PDF)."
YokimaSun writes to point out a Kickstarter project that may warm the cockles of your heart: "Fans of emulation and homebrew have not had much to cheer about over the years; the recent generation of consoles has pretty much killed off any hacking by constant firmware updates. The days of PSP homebrew have died a death and consoles like the Caanoo, GP2x and even the mighty Openpandora never really lived up to the massive expectation. There is a glimmer of hope from a team of homebrew developers who have developed a new console called the GCW-Zero, a new open source handheld system which uses the OpenDingux Linux OS. The specs are impressive, with a Ingenic JZ4770 1 GHz MIPS processor, Vivante GC860, capable of OpenGL ES 2.0, 3.5 inch LCD with 320x240 pixels; 4:3 aspect ratio, 512 MB DDR2 and 16GB of internal memory which can via external memory card be extended by another 32GB. N64 and PS1 emulation and everything below should be at full speed in time."
Nerdolicious writes "Ars Technica reports that the ACLU has received a response from the FBI after a formal legal complaint was filed to release documents related to warrantless GPS tracking data. But, as you can see from the two memos the ACLU posted to its website, they have unsurprisingly been redacted to uselessness, consisting almost entirely of large black blocks covering full pages."
angry tapir writes "Intel is taking the first steps to implement thin fiber optics that will use lasers and light as a faster way to move data inside computers, replacing the older and slower electrical wiring technology found in most computers today. Intel's silicon photonics technology will be implemented at the motherboard and rack levels and use light to move data between storage, networking and computing resources. The new rack architecture with silicon photonics is a result of more than a decade of research in Intel's laboratories, Intel CTO Justin Rattner said. It could enable communication at speeds of 100Gbps and transfer data at high speeds while using less power than copper cables. The technology could also consolidate power supplies and fans in a data center, reducing component costs."
fiannaFailMan writes "Teams of scientists from across the continent are vying for a funding bonanza that could see two of them receive up to $1.33 billion over 10 years to keep Europe at the cutting edge of technology. The contest began with 26 proposals that were whittled down to six last year. Just four have made it to the final round. They include a plan to develop digital guardian angels that would keep people safe from harm; a massive data-crunching machine to simulate social, economic and technological change on our planet; an effort to craft the most accurate computer model of the human brain to date; and a team working to find better ways to produce and employ graphene — an ultra-thin material that could revolutionize manufacturing of everything from airplanes to computer chips."
chicksdaddy writes "Researchers at RSA say that a new phishing toolkit allows attackers to put a velvet rope around scam web pages – bouncing all but the intended victims. The new toolkit, dubbed 'Bouncer,' was discovered in an analysis of attacks on financial institutions in South Africa, Australia and Malaysia in recent weeks. It allows attackers to generate a unique ID for each intended victim, then embed that in a URL that is sent to the victim. Outsiders attempting to access the phishing page are redirected to a '404 page not found' error message. Other phishing kits have used IP address blacklists to block anti malware companies from viewing their malicious pages, but this is the first known use of whitelisting, RSA said. The phishing attacks that RSA technicians discovered that used the Bouncer kit were designed to harvest login credentials from financial services firms. The whitelisting feature may well work, especially given the volume of potential phishing pages that security companies review each day. Getting a 404 message may be enough to get a forensic investigator or security researcher to move on to the next phishing site, rather than investigating."
destinyland writes "California scientists have just created a new biofuel using plants that burns just as well as a petroleum-based fuel. 'The discovery, published in the journal Nature, means corn, sugar cane, grasses and other fast-growing plants or trees, like eucalyptus, could be used to make the propellant, replacing oil,' writes the San Francisco Chronicle, and the researchers predict mass marketing of their product within 5 to 10 years. They created their fuel using a fermentation process that was first discovered in 1914, but which was then discontinued in 1965 when petroleum became the dominant source of fuel. The new fuel actually contains more energy per gallon than is currently contained in ethanol, and its potency can even be adjusted for summer or winter driving."
sciencehabit writes "To humans, all fire ants may look alike. But the tiny, red, stinging bugs known as Solenopsis invicta have two types of social organization, and these factions are as recognizable to the ants as rival football teams are to us. Researchers once thought that the groups' distinct physiological and behavioral profiles stemmed from a variant in a single gene. Now, a new study (abstract) provides the first evidence that the gene in question is bound up in a bundle of some 600 other genes, versions of which are all inherited together. This 'supergene' takes up a large chunk of what may be the first known social chromosome, analogous to the chromosomes that determine sex in humans."
fangmcgee writes "Rethink Robotics invented a $22,000 humanoid robot named "Baxter" that could give cheap offshore labor a run for its money and return manufacturing jobs to U.S. soil. Artificial intelligence expert Rodney Brooks is the brain behind Baxter. From the article: 'Brooks’s company, Rethink Robotics, says the robot will spark a “renaissance” in American manufacturing by helping small companies compete against low-wage offshore labor. Baxter will do that by accelerating a trend of factory efficiency that’s eliminated more jobs in the U.S. than overseas competition has. Of the approximately 5.8 million manufacturing jobs the U.S. lost between 2000 and 2010, according to McKinsey Global Institute, two-thirds were lost because of higher productivity and only 20 percent moved to places like China, Mexico, or Thailand.'"
redletterdave writes "Dell is reportedly working on a project codenamed 'Ophelia,' a USB stick-sized self-contained computer that provides access to virtually every major operating system — from the Mac OS, to Windows, to Google's Chrome OS, to cloud-based solutions from Citrix and Dell — all via the cloud. Powered by Android, Ophelia works just like a USB stick: Just plug it into any flat panel monitor or TV, and boom, you have a computer. Ophelia connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi, and can connect to keyboards and other peripherals over Bluetooth. Not only is the computer portable and power-efficient, but to make it truly accessible, Dell plans to sell the device for just $50."
Marcion writes "Journalists and commentators are now questioning the role of Massachusetts prosecutors Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann in the suicide of Aaron Swartz and whether they levied disproportionate charges in order to boost their own political profiles, despite being warned he was a suicide risk. Meanwhile White House petitions to remove Ortiz and Heymann have already received tens of thousands of signatures. Should these prosecutors be investigated for their actions regarding Swartz?"