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China

Submission + - China's Attempt at Creating a Master Race? (vice.com)

Titan1080 writes: It’s not exactly news that China is setting itself up as a new global superpower, is it? While Western civilization chokes on its own gluttony like a latter-day Marlon Brando, China continues to buy up American debt and lock away the world’s natural resources. But now, not content to simply laugh and make jerk-off signs as they pass us on the geopolitical highway, they’ve also developed a state-endorsed genetic-engineering project.
Businesses

Submission + - Silicon Valley presses Obama, Congress on immigration reform (latimes.com)

walterbyrd writes: "In a rare show of unity, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer were among a coalition of high-profile executives and venture capitalists to send a letter on Thursday to President Obama and congressional leaders pressing for a fix to restrictive immigration laws by year's end."
The Internet

Submission + - This Story Stinks: Researchers Explain Why Trolls Win With Toxic Comments 2

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "The Web is a place for unlimited exchange of ideas but NPR reports that researchers have found that rude comments on articles can change the way we interpret the news. "It's a little bit like the Wild West. The trolls are winning," says Dominique Brossard, co-author of the study on the so-called "Nasty Effect." Researchers worked with a science writer to construct a balanced news story on the pros and cons of nanotechnology, a topic chosen so that readers would have to make sense of a complicated issue with low familiarity then asked 1,183 subjects to review the blog post from a Canadian newspaper that discussed the water contamination risks of nanosilver particles and the antibacterial benefits. Half saw the story with polite comments, and the other half saw rude comments like, "If you don't see the benefits of using nanotechnology in these products, you're an idiot." People that were exposed to the polite comments didn't change their views really about the issue covering the story, while the people that did see the rude comments became polarized — they became more against the technology that was covered in the story. We need to have an anchor to make sense of complicated issues says Brossard. "And it seems that rudeness and incivility is used as a mental shortcut to make sense of those complicated issues." Brossard says there's no quick fix for this issue (PDF) and while she thinks it's important to foster conversation through comments sections, every media organization has to figure out where to draw the line when comments get out of control. "It’s possible that the social norms in this brave new domain will change once more — with users shunning meanspirited attacks from posters hiding behind pseudonyms and cultivating civil debate instead," writes Broussard. "Until then, beware the nasty effect.""
China

Submission + - If You're a Foreigner Using GPS in China, You Could Be a Spy (vice.com)

tedlistens writes: China has accused Coca Cola of espionage for its "illegal mapping," allegedly with the use of GPS "devices with ultra high sensitivity." On its face the case looks like yet another example of China's aggressive sensitivity about its maps, no doubt heightened by its ongoing fracas with the US over cyberwar. Li Pengde, deputy director of the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation, said during a radio interview on Tuesday that the Coca Cola case was only one of 21 similar cases involving companies using GPS devices in Yunnan to "illegally obtain classified information." According to Chinese authorities, geographical data can be used by guided missiles to strike key military facilities—a concern that one GPS expert says is overblown at a time when the US government already has high-precision satellite maps of China. Nevertheless, Chinese law dictates that foreigners, be they companies or individuals, are prohibited from using highly-sensitive GPS equipment in China.

Submission + - Lowell Observatory crowd-sources refurbishment of 24" Clark telescope

NikeHerc writes: On March 13, the 158th birthday of Percival Lowell, Lowell Observatory [http://www.lowell.edu/] in Flagstaff, Arizona, announced a crowd-sourced campaign to raise $256,718.50 to refurbish the 117-year old 24" Clark telescope and its dome.

For much of its history, the Clark telescope was involved with research, beginning with Percival Lowell's perception of Martian canals and oases. V.M. Slipher's spectrographic observations through the Clark telescope in the early 20th century contributed to the discovery of the expansion of the universe.

As the "Restore The Clark" Campaign Launch [http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/restore-the-clark] notes, "In the 1960s, a team of scientists and artists used the Clark Telescope to create detailed maps of the moon in support of America's manned voyages to the moon."

Help restore the Clark!
Crime

Submission + - Brian Krebs gets "SWATted" (arstechnica.com)

RedLeg writes: ArsTechnica reports that Brian Krebs, of KrebsOnSecurity.com, formerly of the Washington Post, recently got SWATted. For those not familiar with the term, SWATting is the practice of spoofing a call to emergency responders (911 in the US) to induce an overwhelming and potentially devastating response from law enforcement and/or other first responders to the home or residence of the victim. Brian's first person account of the incident and what he believes to be related events are chronicled here.

Krebs has been prominent in the takedown of several cyber-criminal groups in the past, and has been subject to retaliation. I guess this time he poked the wrong bear.

Submission + - 'Zorro' Rights Challenged as Invalid and Fraudulent (hollywoodreporter.com)

silentbrad writes: The Hollywood Reporter has a story about a playwright who has filed a lawsuit claiming that Zorro is in the public domain: "For nearly a century, the masked outlaw Zorro has been a popular character who in books and films has been featured defending against tyrannical villains who seek to oppress the masses. Zorro has been played by Douglas Fairbanks, Antonio Banderas and others. ... But now comes a big attempt to free Zorro from any intellectual property grip. On Wednesday, a lawsuit was filed that asserts that Zorro is in the public domain, that trademarks on the character should be canceled and that the company currently professing rights on Zorro has perpetrated a fraud and that the masses should be able to exploit Zorro as they wish. According to complaint, "Defendants have built a licensing empire out of smoke and mirrors." The lawsuit, filed in Washington federal court, comes from Robert Cabell, who says that in 1996, he published a musical entitled "Z — The Musical of Zorro," that's based upon author Johnston McCulley's first Zorro story published in 1919 and the Fairbanks film that was released the following year. Cabell now says that he has been threatened with litigation after licensing his musical so that it can be performed in Germany this summer. The threats allegedly come from John Gertz, who owns Zorro Productions Inc. As a result of the reported threats, Cabell has gone to court with a complaint that's similar to the one that was recently filed in an attempt to declare "Sherlock Holmes" in the public domain. Except this one goes even further by alleging fraud on Gertz' part. "Specifically," says the lawsuit, "Defendants have fraudulently obtained federal trademark registrations for various 'Zorro' marks and falsely assert those registrations to impermissibly extend intellectual property protection over material for which all copyrights have expired. Defendants also fraudulently assert that copyrights for later-published material provide defendants with exclusive rights in the elements of the 1919 story and the 1920 film." In a 2001 decision, in a footnote, a federal judge said, "It is undisputed that Zorro appears in works whose copyrights have already expired, such as McCulley's story 'The Curse of Capistrano' and Fairbanks's movie, 'The Mark of Zorro.'" Cabell says that despite the ruling, Gertz and his company have fraudulently obtained multiple trademark registrations on "Zorro" and after allegedly duping the Trademark Office, have been using the registrations to prevent others like him from exploiting expired Zorro intellectual property. Cabell now seeks a declaration of non-infringement, permanent injunctive relief and cancellation of trademarks. He's also seeking damages for tortious interference, fraud and violation of the Consumer Protection Act. ... Read the entire lawsuit here.
Education

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Emergent complexity for Physicist 2

Dirac_my_friend writes: I'm studying as a Theoretical Physicist and I'm very close to start working on the thesis. I'm fascinated by emergent complexity, such as: the Conway's game of life, bees organization, neural network, complexity economics . I'm asking you either where to read something interesting about or some cool topics you consider useful for a future job/interesting to work on. Any ideas?
(sorry I made a mistake in the previous story)

Submission + - Patent troll Virnetx loses court battle to Cisco over VPN patent (arstechnica.com)

schneidafunk writes: VirnetX, a patent-licensing firm with 14 employees, has seen its stock price fall precipitously over the last 24 hours or so after it lost a major patent trial in Texas on Thursday. A jury there ruled that Cisco did not infringe VirnetX’s patents on virtual private networks (VPNs), and that the networking giant didn't have to pay $258 million in damages.
Education

Submission + - Educators will come to regret relying on video games in the classroom (nytimes.com)

stern writes: Per the New York Times, there's a role for play in the classroom, and there's a role for computers in the classroom, but there is little if any evidence that computer games help teach. Rather, they hurt attention spans and set expectations that may discourage students from learning things that, however important, can't be turned into a game.
Google

Submission + - Google begins blocking 3rd party Jabber invites supposedly to combat spam (fsf.org) 1

kxra writes: Do you have a federated jabber instant messaging account that never gets responses from Google accounts anymore? Or do you have a Gmail account that a friend has been unable to invite from their 3rd party Jabber account? The Free Software Foundation reports, "Google users can still send subscription requests to contacts whose accounts are hosted elsewhere. But they cannot accept incoming requests. This change is akin to Google no longer accepting incoming e-mail for @gmail.com addresses from non-Google domains." This sounds like something Facebook would try in order to gain even tighter control over the network, but they never even federated their Jabber service to begin with. According to a public mailing list conversation, Google is doing this as a lazy way to handle a spam problem.
Security

Submission + - Hacker Targets Clinton Confidant In New Attack (thesmokinggun.com)

helix2301 writes: "The hacker who has spent the past several months breaking into the e-mail accounts of family, friends, and political allies of the Bush family has crossed party lines and illegally accessed the AOL account of a former senior White House adviser to President Bill Clinton. The intrusion into Sidney Blumenthal’s e-mail account apparently occurred this week, days after the hacker--who uses the alias “Guccifer”--defaced Colin Powell’s Facebook page and breached the former Secretary of State’s AOL account."
Security

Submission + - 3G and 4G USB modems are security threat, Black Hat presenter says (networkworld.com)

alphadogg writes: The vast majority of 3G and 4G USB modems handed out by mobile operators to their customers are manufactured by a handful of companies and run insecure software, according to two security researchers from Russia. Researchers Nikita Tarakanov and Oleg Kupreev analyzed the security of 3G/4G USB modems obtained from Russian operators for the past several months. Their findings were presented this week at the Black Hat Europe 2013 security conference in Amsterdam. Most 3G/4G modems used in Russia, Europe, and probably elsewhere in the world, are made by Chinese hardware manufacturers Huawei and ZTE, and are branded with the mobile operators' logos and trademarks, Tarakanov said. Because of this, even if the research was done primarily on Huawei modems from Russian operators, the results should be relevant in other parts of the world as well, he said.
Google

Submission + - By the numbers: How Google Compute Engine stacks up to Amazon EC2 (gigaom.com)

vu1986 writes: "Google launched its EC2 rival, Google Compute Engine, last June, it set some high expectations. Sebastian Standil’s team at Scalr put the cloud infrastructure service through its paces — and were pleasantly surprised at what they found.

A note about our data: The benchmarks run to collect the data presented here were taken twice a day, over four days, then averaged. When a high variance was observed, we took note of it and present it here as intervals for which 80 percent of observed data points fall into."

Space

Submission + - Quarter of Sun-Like Stars Host Earth-Size Worlds (discovery.com)

astroengine writes: "Although there appears to be a mysterious dearth of exoplanets smaller than Earth, astronomers using data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope have estimated that nearly a quarter of all sun-like stars in our galaxy play host to worlds 1-3 times the size of our planet. These astonishing results were discussed by Geoff Marcy, professor of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, during a talk the W. M. Keck Observatory 20th Anniversary Science Meeting at The Fairmont Orchid, Kohala Coast, Hawai’i, on Thursday. “23 percent of sun-like stars have a planet within (1-2.8 Earth radii) just within Mercury’s orbit,” said Marcy. “I’ll say that again, because that number really surprised me: 23 percent of sun-like stars have a nearly-Earth-sized planet orbiting in tight orbits within 0.25 AU of the host stars.”"
Technology

Submission + - Where Have All the Gadgets Gone? (xconomy.com)

waderoush writes: "How many electronic gadgets did you own in 2005? How many do you own today? The answer is almost certainly a lot fewer. Counter to the dominant trend in consumer technology since the 1920s — and despite predictions of a coming ‘Internet of things’ — there may actually be *less* electronic stuff in our homes and offices today than ever before. That’s thanks largely to the rise of multipurpose wireless devices like smartphones and tablets, which are now powerful enough to replace many older, dedicated devices like point-and-shoot cameras, music players, digital voice recorders — even whole home entertainment systems. To prove the point, here are before-and-after photos from one San Francisco household (mine) where the herd of digital devices has been thinned from about three dozen, eight years ago, to just 15 today."

Submission + - Smartest Light Bulbs Ever, Dumbest Idea Ever? (cepro.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A spate of smart LED bulbs and light sockets are coming to market and seeking crowdfunding, following the (apparent) success of Philips Hue. But do they really make sense for lighting control? Here’s a comprehensive roundup of 13 products and the pros and cons of the category.
Games

Submission + - Saints Row IV Announced (kotaku.com)

jones_supa writes: The cartoon heroes are back, with even stronger superpowers. Set to be released this autumn, the next open-world installment of Saints Row, Deep Silver Volition continues the story of the Third Street Saints by elevating their status to the highest level – the leaders of the free world. In Saints Row IV, the head honcho of the Saints has been elected to the Presidency of the United States. Saints Row IV lets players delve into an arsenal of alien weaponry and technology that will turn each Saint into an ultimate entity of destruction. The player utilizes out-of-this-world superpowers to fight all the way to the top. With intensified action and enhanced customization, the protagonists can use their newfound superpowers and leap over buildings, outrun the fastest sports cars, or send enemies flying with telekinesis in the most insane installment of Saints Row yet.

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