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Idle

Submission + - Wired writer disappears, find him and make 5k. (atavistic.org) 5

carp3_noct3m writes: A freelance Wired magazine journalist has decided to see what it is like to disappear from normal life, all while staying on the grid. The catch, is that he is challenging anyone and everyone to find him, take a picture, and speak a special codeword to him. If you can do that, you can make 5000 dollars, which happens to come out of his paycheck for the article he'll be writing. Oh, and to top it all off, whoever gets him gets pictures and interviews in Wired. He has been posting to his Twitter, has been apparently using TOR for internet, and the Wired website will be posting his credit card transactions. So Slashdot, do we have what it takes to show this guy we know our stuff? Hop to it my minions.
Biotech

Submission + - DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated, Scientists Show

ewlslash writes: Scientists in Israel have demonstrated that it is possible to fabricate DNA evidence, undermining the credibility of what has been considered the gold standard of proof in criminal cases. The scientists fabricated blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor of the blood and saliva. They also showed that if they had access to a DNA profile in a database, they could construct a sample of DNA to match that profile without obtaining any tissue from that person. "You can just engineer a crime scene," said Dan Frumkin, lead author of the paper, which has been published online by the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics. "Any biology undergraduate could perform this." http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/18/science/18dna.html
Wireless Networking

Submission + - Verizon's new download throttle feature 2

fastsynaptic writes: I found out today the reason that my mifi download speed has been drastically reduced and has been no higher than 200kb/s for the past couple of weeks is that a "feature" has been added to my account by Verizon that limits my data transfer rate. The Verizon tech support person I spoke with today informed me that there is an "account investigations team" that throttles accounts that reach some secret threshold or data usage pattern that he could only vaguely explain. I have come close, but not exceeded 5Gb/month, and regardless of data usage I have an unlimited data agreement through my University with Verizon. I laughed at him when he told me it was a "feature" that had been added to my account. He kept repeating that I still had unlimited data usage, I just have a new feature...it would be funny if it wasn't so Orwellian. It's reminiscent of the word game they tried to play before, advertising "unlimited" data plans that were unlimited as long as you didn't exceed 5Gb. I thought that after they had their hand slapped over that they would be more ethical (or at least careful) next time. Apparently there is no way to know they are doing this unless you call and ask, for all I know the support person I talked to wasn't authorized to tell me (he did seem sorry and embarrassed). He told me he had no power to remove my new feature, and that I had to contact the secret team, M-F at 866 221 3979. I don't know how widespread this is and I am going to call first thing Monday.
Education

Submission + - Teaching 3rd Grader Computer Programming

OS24Ever writes: "When I was a youngster, about 30 years ago now, there was a plethora of these things called 'magazines' that you 'paid for' that people would "mail you" once a month. In them, where pages and pages of code for you to type into your computer. In fact, if you can imagine it, they had programs for different brands of computers because the same program didn't work on all of them. They had cool names like Compute! and Byte and for a person with limited math skills it still taught you language structure and lots of debugging because god knows no one types in something from a magazine perfectly. It also taught me to hack. Once I learned that POKEing in the right place changed colors I started customizing my desktop colors every time my trusty Atari 800 turned on.

Recently, I was enjoying an episode of MacBreak Dev and my oldest, who is just about to turn eight, exclaimed on how she HAD to try that. It was an episode of using Quartz Compser and a Wiimote along with some IR LEDs on a pair of glasses. So I sat there realizing that in third grade the Apple IIe at school, and later the Atari 800 (which still works thank you) appeared into my life at the age of eight. I learned how to type in programs from a few of the BASIC manuals, and then I discovered that there were magazines that had these programs in them I could type in. Sure now you have this newfangled copy & paste, and you don't have to go to the library and join the atari users club so you can 'check out' cassette tapes that had BASIC programs on them and realize you can save them to your own tape after you loaded them. Now you download random programs, you can cut/paste code snippets, but the exploration of typing something in off a sheet of paper and pushing a button to see if it works doesn't seem to exist. in fact by the late 80s it really had died out already.

So my question for those of us who have produced spawn or two and would like to encourage this type of thing but may or may not be that good of educating or not sure how to break down concepts are there any resources like that out there? Where you say 'here, type this stuff in and get it to work' and the reward is a lame little game that you finally got to work on your Atari 800 after weeks and weeks of typing and proofreading and losing it to a failed cassette tape that you bounced off the basement wall in frustration."
Portables

Submission + - What should be in a course on Mobile Computing? 1

timothykimball writes: I am an iPhones application developer, and a friend who is a professor at a local university has asked me to teach this course to grad students. I want to look beyond the iPhone and look more broady at the problems of mobile computation — such as hardware constraints, new technologies, how software development is different. How user scenarios are different etc. What I am looking for are ideas or concepts that slashdotters would like to see in such a course. What should these grads learn?
Transportation

Submission + - New battery could change world, 1 house at a time

An anonymous reader writes: In a modest building on the west side of Salt Lake City, a team of specialists in advanced materials and electrochemistry has produced what could be the single most important breakthrough for clean, alternative energy since Socrates first noted solar heating 2,400 years ago. The prize is the culmination of 10 years of research and testing — a new generation of deep-storage battery that's small enough, and safe enough, to sit in your basement and power your home. http://www.heraldextra.com/news/article_b0372fd8-3f3c-11de-ac77-001cc4c002e0.html
Earth

Green Cement Absorbs Carbon 213

Peace Corps Online writes "Concrete accounts for more than 5 percent of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions annually, mostly because cement, the active ingredient in concrete, is made by baking limestone and clay powders under intense heat that is generally produced by the burning of fossil fuels. Now Scientific American reports that British start-up company Novacem has developed a 'carbon-negative' cement that absorbs more carbon dioxide than it emits over its life cycle. The trick is to make cement from magnesium silicates rather than calcium carbonate, or limestone, since this material does not emit CO2 in manufacture and absorbs the greenhouse gas as it ages. 'The building and construction industry knows it has got to do radical things to reduce its carbon footprint and cement companies understand there is not a lot they can do without a technology breakthrough,' says Novacem Chairman Stuart Evans. Novacem estimates that for every ton of Portland cement replaced by its product, around three-quarters of a ton of CO2 is saved, turning the cement industry from a big emitter to a big absorber of carbon. Major cement makers have been working hard to reduce CO2 emissions by investing in modern kilns and using as little carbon-heavy fuel as possible, but reductions to date have been limited. Novacem has raised $1.7M to start a pilot plant that should be up and running in northern England in 2011."
OS X

Submission + - Apple and USB, some serious trouble?

Moritu writes: It seems like Apple is having some more serious problems with its UBS implementation, least for its more recent premium priced laptops... There are lots of reports with the hardware implementation in at least last three models of MacBook Pros (unibody as well as previous designs) that range from devices only working on left or right port or not at all or only with poor performance. On top of that Apple seems to have issues with USB disks randomly disconnecting and no answer in sight ranging from 10.5 to 10.5.7 and its not entirely clear whether thats a hardware or software issue....I myself for example can not use USB as a relaible storage on my 4,1 MacBook Pro. No help so far from support besides the typical "please send in your system.log". One would think that for the preium price one get a premium product...sigh. Seems Apple doesn't care to fix it.... See: http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=9631008#9631008 http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1032615&tstart=0 ...describing intermittent problems. And the following describing more hardware related issues: http://blog.fosketts.net/2008/07/04/low-power-usb-ports-haunt-my-macbook-pro/ http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=491154 Do other readers have similar experiences?
Medicine

Submission + - Adjustable Focus Glasses Can Replace Bifocals

Hugh Pickens writes: "The NY Times reports that inventor Stephen Kurtin has developed glasses with a mechanically adjustable focus which he believes can free nearly two billion people around the world from bifocals, trifocals and progressive lenses. Kurtin has spent almost 20 years on his quest to create a better pair of spectacles for people who suffer from presbyopia — the condition that affects almost everyone over the age of 40 as they progressively lose the ability to focus on close objects. The glasses have a tiny adjustable slider on the bridge of the frame that makes it possible to focus alternately on the page of a book, a computer screen or a mountain range in the distance. "For more than 140 years, adjustable focus has been recognized as the Holy Grail for presbyopes," says Kurtin. "It's a blazingly difficult problem." Each "lens" is actually a set of two lenses, one flexible and one firm. The flexible lens (near the eye) has a transparent distensible membrane attached to a clear rigid surface. The pocket between them holds a small quantity of crystal clear fluid. As you move the slider on the bridge, it pushes the fluid and alters the shape of the flexible lens. Kurtin is introducing his product into the market slowly, but he is hopeful that his new fashion look will catch on. He notes that when the members of one of his investor's families get together they like to joke that they look a little bit like a Devo fan club meeting."
Social Networks

Submission + - Twitter apps to implode within 60 days? (daniweb.com)

slfisher writes: "The Twitter Platform Team is recommending to all Twitter developers that they make sure their applications support 64-bit integers because the popular service has almost reached the limit of 32-bit unsigned integers."
Networking

Submission + - Unethical Private ISP (ntc-com.com) 2

An anonymous reader writes: I've backed myself into a corner this semester: I signed a lease for an apartment without first researching which ISP's were available there. It turns out that one company, NTC Cable, has a monopoly on the ethernet wired in the building. Since they are my only option for cable internet, I read up on their policies. Apparently, they charge by the connection to each room of the apartment; at the time of writing their rate is ~$32/month and routers are against their Terms of Service. This means that in order for my roommates and I to connect our four laptops we would be paying in excess of $120/month. NTC also states that gaming devices and handhelds also need their own connection. This is ridiculous and ought to be considered usury; I'm wondering what recourse I have in this matter. How might they be detecting individual devices, and how might I circumvent this detection. I thought of using an old desktop as a wireless access point and routing our laptops through that, but would that be detectable?
Security

Submission + - SPAM: Kevin Mitnick seeks refuge from hackers

alphadogg writes: Kevin Mitnick, the ex-hacker turned security consultant, is such a high-profile target himself that the Web-hosting firm he was using finally told him it wouldn't host Web pages for him anymore. "They kicked me off," Mitnick says, noting he doesn't begrudge Hostedhere.net, which he used for five years. But after a number of break-ins that targeted the former hacker, "they decided it wasn't cost-effective to keep me around," Mitnick says, adding, "I'm a target," mostly for those who want to play "king of the hill" by hacking someone once known as a notorious hacker. But Mitnick hasn't been left Webless. FireHost has stepped in to offer Mitnick a refuge for the basic advertising he does online for his consultancy, Mitnick Security Consulting LLC. Reports surfaced during last week's Black Hat conference that Mitnick and other security experts had their Web sites hacked.
Link to Original Source
The Internet

Submission + - Bing gains momentum as Google search share drops (arstechnica.com)

suraj.sun writes: Bing's share of the search market grew another percentage point in July, indicating that some of those initial users may be sticking around for the long haul. Google, on the other hand, fell by nearly the same amount.

StatCounter says that throughout July, Bing gained another 1.24% of market share, bringing the grand total to 9.41 percent, compared to 8.23% in June. Combined with Yahoo's current share of the market (10.95 percent), the two come out with 20.36 percent--still a distant second to Google's 77.54 percent, but a relatively large slice of the pie nonetheless.

Interestingly though, this time Bing's gain didn't subtract from Yahoo!'s current standing; it was Google that lost out, going down in users by almost 1% over the month.

ARS Technica : http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2009/08/bing-continues-to-chip-away-at-googles-search-share.ars

Programming

Submission + - Adapting a tool that uses SVN to use GIT instead

wowbagger writes: There are plenty of tutorials on using GIT as a replacement for Subversion — to access a Subversion repository using GIT. But what I need is a tool that allows a (unfortunately closed-source) program which "knows" how to use SVN to access a GIT repository — that is, almost the exact opposite. The tool is Enterprise Architect, a Unified Modeling Language tool, which can use SVN to provide version and configuration control over a UML model. What I'd need would be a tool that used the same command line parameters as "svn" but accessed a GIT repository. Obviously the full range of GIT capabilities wouldn't be available to Enterprise Architect, but if it can do basic functions that would be good enough.
Wireless (Apple)

Submission + - iPhone Exploit (wired.com)

dalpeh writes: "Wired has posted an article http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/07/sms-hijack-iphone/ about exploiting the iPhone via a text message. I found 2 settings for text on the phone. One defaults to displaying a preview of the message. You can turn this off. Other than shutting off your phone or calling ATT to cancel all text messages, your defenses seem pretty limited. Bummer....."

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