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Australia

Submission + - World's oldest fossils found in the Pilbara (watoday.com.au)

Dexter Herbivore writes: Scientists analysing Australian rocks have discovered traces of bacteria that lived a record-breaking 3.49 billion years ago, a mere billion years after Earth formed.

If the find withstands the scrutiny that inevitably faces claims of fossils this old, it could move scientists one step closer to understanding the first chapters of life on Earth. The discovery could also spur the search for ancient life on other planets.

These traces of bacteria "are the oldest fossils ever described. Those are our oldest ancestors," said Nora Noffke, a biogeochemist at Old Dominion University in Norfolk who was part of the group that made the find and presented it last month at a meeting of the Geological Society of America.

Google

Submission + - Chromebook takes top place in laptop sales on Amazon. (amazon.com) 1

rtfa-troll writes: Amazon's latest table of the top selling laptops will be a surprise for many on Slashdot who's first reaction when we discussed this before was "so what" with pundits describing it as "an enterprise contender". Given the recent launch and huge advertising campaign, you would expect that the top selling consumer laptop would be based in Win8. If you read recent discussions about Microsoft's troubled new system you might expect a Mac to be leading but Google's Chromebook topping the sales chart on a consumer site without any major advertising campaign is a major surprise. We've discussed before that apart from it's web based ChromeOS Chromebooks are also very fast running Ubuntu Linux and have several other distributions already ported.
Security

Submission + - Antivirus Software Performs Poorly Against New Threats

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Nicole Perlroth writes in the NY Times that the antivirus industry has a dirty little secret: antivirus products are not very good at stopping new viruses. Researchers collected and analyzed 82 new computer viruses and put them up against more than 40 antivirus products, made by top companies like Microsoft, Symantec, McAfee and Kaspersky Lab and found that the initial detection rate was less than 5 percent (PDF). “The bad guys are always trying to be a step ahead,” says Matthew D. Howard, who previously set up the security strategy at Cisco Systems. “And it doesn’t take a lot to be a step ahead.” Part of the problem is that antivirus products are inherently reactive. Just as medical researchers have to study a virus before they can create a vaccine, antivirus makers must capture a computer virus, take it apart and identify its “signature” — unique signs in its code — before they can write a program that removes it. That process can take as little as a few hours or as long as several years. In May, researchers at Kaspersky Lab discovered Flame, a complex piece of malware that had been stealing data from computers for an estimated five years. “The traditional signature-based method of detecting malware is not keeping up," says Phil Hochmuth. Now the thinking goes that if it is no longer possible to block everything that is bad, then the security companies of the future will be the ones whose software can spot unusual behavior and clean up systems once they have been breached. “The bad guys are getting worse,” says Matthew D. Howard. “Antivirus helps filter down the problem, but the next big security company will be the one that offers a comprehensive solution.”"
Piracy

Submission + - Murdoch's Pirates (yahoo.com)

Presto Vivace writes: "A Murdoch page-turner

Murdoch's Pirates is an almost unbelievable and meticulously detailed account of how one of the world's biggest media groups created its own security force and what happened when an arm of that force went rogue. This is the definitive story about hacking, about the top hackers, how they differ, how they do what they do and what motivates them and how corporations either employ or attempt to thwart the brightest and the best of these technical geniuses — or pirates, depending on their chosen career path.

"

Google

Submission + - Google Glass Feature Set Still in Flux Says Project Head (paritynews.com)

hypnosec writes: Babak Parviz, the founder and head of Project Glass at Google, has revealed that the feature set of Google Glass and state of apps is still in flux and that there is a lot of testing going on at the moment. In an interview with IEEE Spectrum, Parviz provided insights into Project Glass, the reasons behind having such a gadget and what’s there for the project in near future. Parviz said that they are trying out new ideas and ways in which the platform can be used while also trying to make the platform more robust. There is no specific feature set that Google has been talking about and “It is still in flux.”
Apple

Submission + - Pirated IOS app store site shuts down (cnet.com)

SternisheFan writes: CNET's Christopher MacManus writes:
  A wee bit of bad news for Apple's jailbreak community right on the eve of the New Year: Installous, a major portal for pirated paid apps from Apple's App Store, won't be around anymore. Development team Hackulous today announced the closure of Installous on their official Web site. As of today, the pirated app store no longer works, and only shows these errors: "Outdated version. Installous will now terminate" or "API Error. API unavailable."
  For many years, Installous offered complete access to thousands of paid iOS apps for free for anyone with a jailbroken iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Think of it as being able to walk into a fancy department store, steal anything you want, and never get caught.
  Hackulous composed a short swan song on its Web site titled "Goodnight, sweet prince" about the closure of the pirate app store: We are very sad to announce that Hackulous is shutting down. After many years, our community has
become stagnant and our forums are a bit of a ghost town. It has become difficult to keep them online and well-moderated, despite the devotion of our staff. We're incredibly thankful for the support we've had over the years and hope that new, greater communities blossom out of our absence. It seems odd for Installous to close on its own for such simplistic reasons, considering its large user base and a possible moderate revenue stream from built-in ads. Regardless of the reason for Installous shuttering, Apple can't breathe easy just yet --hackers can still download pirated apps quite easily through a number of methods and outlets (such as Appcake on Cydia).

Submission + - Scientology on Trial in Belgium (theatlanticwire.com)

dgharmon writes: "After a years long legal battle, federal prosecutors in Belgium now believe their investigation is complete enough to charge the Church of Scientology and its leaders as a criminal organization on charges of extortion, fraud, privacy breaches, and the illegal practice of medicine .. The Belgian government won't charge Scientology for being a cult — authorities are focusing on prosecuting it as a criminal organization" ...
Ubuntu

Submission + - Canonical ominously hints at product release (ubuntu.com)

ZarathustraDK writes: "A mysterious countdown has appeared on the frontpage of Ubuntu's homepage, pointing to the imminent release of some new Canonical/Ubuntu-related product. The countdown makes no small effort to conceal that whatever it is, it is touch-related.

So what is it? A phone? A tablet? Ubuntu on Android? An office-stressball?

Side-question: How do you make stuff like this not sound astroturfy?"

Technology

Submission + - Why the Emancipation Proclamation Spends Most of its Time in the Dark

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "On January 1, 1863 Abraham Lincoln and William Seward affixed their signatures to the Emancipation Proclamation, the document Frederick Douglass called "the first step on the part of the nation in its departure from the thralldom of the ages" and to mark the 150-year anniversary, The Proclamation will be on rare public display at Washington's National Archives until the end of the day. Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the nation, it placed the issue squarely on top of the wartime agenda. It added moral force to the Union cause and was a significant milestone leading to the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865, formally outlawing slavery throughout the nation. The Emancipation Proclamation linked the preservation of American constitutional government to the end of slavery, and has become one of our country’s most treasured documents. The Proclamation, unlike the Constitution and the Declaration, spends most of the year stored in darkness, encapsulated in layers of alkaline and inert mylar because its paper and ink have been damaged over the years by improper handling and overexposure to light and much of the frailty comes from the fact that the Proclamation was written on low-quality, machine-made paper — the mass-produced stuff typical of the Industrial Revolution — rather than the heartier, animal-skin-based parchment that hosts the founding charters. "One of the most significant documents in our history — a document created with the express purpose of changing the course of that history — and the history-makers didn't splurge for separate pieces of paper," writes Megan Garber. "Its fragility is a reminder that even the most transcendent decisions are inscribed, because they must be, in their historical moment. Often on very bad paper.""

Submission + - What could have been in the public domain January 1, but isn't (duke.edu)

An anonymous reader writes: What could have been entering the public domain in the US on January 1, 2013? Under the law that existed until 1978 Works from 1956. The films Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, The Best Things in Life Are Free, Forbidden Planet, The Ten Commandments, and Around the World in 80 Days, the stories 101 Dalmations and Phillip K. Dick’s The Minority Report, the songs Que Sera, Sera and Heartbreak Hotel, and more What is entering the public domain this year? Nothing.

Submission + - Legendary space sim "Elite" sequel's Kickstarter comes to finish line (kickstarter.com)

Pecisk writes: Kickstarter project for crowd funding next incarnation of 'started it all' space sim "Elite" series — known also as "Elite: Dangerous" — closing in to it's deadline on 4th January, with just £100k to go and also have a stretch goal to get Mac OS X version released just 3 months after Windows PC version. Though having rough start and facing lot of critism about handling Kickstarter and his previous promises for "Elite" third sequel (last "Elite" series game "Frontier: First Encounters" were released in 1995), David Braben and his team for last month has provided lot of updates for fans and interesents to chew on, and together with executive producer Michael Brooks is also hosting reddit Ask Me Anything on Jan 3th. Lot of questions rised on Slashdot in prevous articles about "Elite: Dangerous" are already answered from both Michael and David, so take a look.

Submission + - Zynga Shutters PetVille, 10 Other Gaming Titles Citing Cost Cutting Measures (paritynews.com)

hypnosec writes: Zynga’s road to recovery and a way to welcome the New Year includes cost-cutting measures of not just laying off employees but, also closure of gaming titles such as PetVille, Mafia Wars 2, FishVille, ForestVille and 7 others. Mark Pincus, back in October, had announced that it was going to close gaming titles which were old and that Zynga was about to reduce investment in The Ville. December 30 saw closure of 2 such games – PetVille and Mafia Wars 2.
Hardware

Submission + - With 2012 Ends the "Netbook"

Voline writes: Digitimes reports that Asus and Acer will not be producing netbooks in 2013, signaling the end of a product category that Asus began five years ago with it's Eee PC. The Guardian looks at the rise and fall of the netbook and posits some reasons for it's end. These include: manufacturers shifting from Linux to Windows causing an increase in price that brought netbooks into competition with full-on laptops that offered better specs for not much more money, the global recession beginning in 2008, and the introduction of the iPad and Android tablets. Agree? What are they missing?
Science

Submission + - Harvard researchers fold proteins with D-Wave quantum computer (nature.com)

skade88 writes: I know this is an old story, but it seems to have flown under the wire. Harvard researchers have used a 128 qubit quantum computer to find the native confirmation of six different proteins. What does this mean if you are not knee deep in the world of bioinformatics or quantum computing? I am glad you asked! From the bioinformatics perspective this is a proof that quantum computing can be used to solve one of the most computationally complex problems facing scientist researching the protein folding problem. From a quantum computing standpoint it is the same leap forward. It is a practical test that the dream of quantum computing is coming true here and now. The actual scientific paper published at nature.com is heavy in the science of bioinformatic. Here is the press release from D-Wave, the company that made the quantum computer used in the research. It is a bit easier to read. If you are looking to learn a lot more about protein folding and bioinformatics beyond what wikipedia can teach us, the University of New Orleans has an excellent online resource I found that has many published papers on the topic.

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