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Crime

Retrieving a Stolen Laptop By IP Address Alone? 765

CorporalKlinger writes "My vehicle was recently burglarized while parked in a university parking lot in a midwestern state. My new Dell laptop was stolen from the car, along with several other items. I have no idea who might have done this, and the police say that without any idea of a suspect, the best they can do is enter the serial number from my laptop in a national stolen goods database in case it is ever pawned or recovered in another investigation. I had Thunderbird set up on the laptop, configured to check my Gmail through IMAP. Luckily, Gmail logs and displays the last 6 or 7 IP addresses that have logged into your account. I immediately stopped using that email account, cleared it out, and left the password unchanged — creating my own honeypot in case the criminal loaded Thunderbird on my laptop. Sure enough, last week Gmail reported 4 accesses via IMAP from the same IP address in a state just to the east of mine. I know that this must be the criminal who took my property, since I've disabled IMAP access to the account on all of my own computers. The municipal police say they can't intervene in the case since university police have jurisdiction over crimes that take place on their land. The university police department — about 10 officers and 2 detectives — don't even know what an IP address is. I even contacted the local FBI office and they said they're 'not interested' in the case despite it now crossing state lines. Am I chasing my own tail here? How can I get someone to pay attention to the fact that all the police need to do is file some RIAA-style paperwork to find the name associated with this IP address and knock on the right door to nab a criminal and recover my property? How can I get my laptop back — and more importantly — stop this criminal in his tracks?"
Earth

New Estimates Say Earth's Oceans Smaller Than Once Believed 263

Velcroman1 writes with this snippet from Fox News: "Using lead weights and depth sounders, scientists have made surprisingly accurate estimates of the ocean's depths in the past. Now, with satellites and radar, researchers have pinned down a more accurate answer to that age-old query: How deep is the ocean? And how big? As long ago as 1888, John Murray dangled lead weights from a rope off a ship to calculate the ocean's volume — the product of area and mean ocean depth. Using satellite data, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute set out to more accurately answer that question — and found out that it's 320 million cubic miles. And despite miles-deep abysses like the Mariana Trench, the ocean's mean depth is just 2.29 miles, thanks to the varied and bumpy ocean floor."
Space

Supermassive Black Hole Is Thrown Out of Galaxy 167

DarkKnightRadick writes "An undergrad student at the University of Utrecht, Marianne Heida, has found evidence of a supermassive black hole being tossed out of its galaxy. According to the article, the black hole — which has a mass equivalent to one billion suns — is possibly the culmination of two galaxies merging (or colliding, depending on how you like to look at it) and their black holes merging, creating one supermassive beast. The black hole was found using the Chandra Source Catalog (from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory). The direction of the expulsion is also possibly indicative of the direction of rotation of the two black holes as they circled each other before merging."
Math

Why Programmers Need To Learn Statistics 572

David Gerard writes "Zed Shaw writes an impassioned plea to programmers: Programmers Need To Learn Statistics Or I Will Kill Them All. Quoting: 'I go insane when I hear programmers talking about statistics like they know s*** when it's clearly obvious they do not. I've been studying it for years and years and still don't think I know anything. ... I have taken a bunch of math classes, studied statistics in grad school, learned the R language, and read tons of books on the subject. Despite all of this I'm not at all confident in my understanding of such a vast topic. What I can do is apply the techniques to common problems I encounter at work. My favorite problem to attack with the statistics wolverine is performance measurement and tuning. All of this leads to a curse since none of my colleagues have any clue about what they don't understand. I'll propose a measurement technique and they'll scoff at it. I try to show them how to properly graph a run chart and they're indignant. I question their metrics and they try to back it up with lame attempts at statistical reasoning. I really can't blame them since they were probably told in college that logic and reason are superior to evidence and observation.'"
Math

Which Math For Programmers? 466

An anonymous reader writes "It is no news that the greatest computer scientists and programmers are/were mathematicians. As a kid 'hacking' if-else programs, I was not aware of the importance of math in programming, but few years later, when I read Engines of Logic by Martin Davis I started becoming increasingly more convinced of this. Unfortunately, math doesn't return my love, and prefers me to struggle with it. Now, as the end of the semester approaches, I am faced with a dilemma: What math subject to choose next? I have two choices: 'Discreet structures with graph theory' (discrete math; proofs, sets, algorithms and graphs) on one side, and 'Selected math chapters' (math analysis; vectors, euclidean space, differentials) on the other. I'm scared of the second one because it's said to be harder. But contrary to my own opinion, one assistant told me that it would be more useful for a programmer compared to the first subject. Then again, he's not a programmer. That's why I turn to you for help, fellow slashdotters — any advice?"
Space

Astronomers Discover 33 Pairs of Waltzing Black Holes 101

Astronomers from UC Berkeley have identified 33 pairs of waltzing black holes, closing the gap somewhat between the observed population of super-massive black hole pairs and what had been predicted by theory. "Astronomical observations have shown that 1) nearly every galaxy has a central super-massive black hole (with a mass of a million to a billion times the mass of the Sun), and 2) galaxies commonly collide and merge to form new, more massive galaxies. As a consequence of these two observations, a merger between two galaxies should bring two super-massive black holes to the new, more massive galaxy formed from the merger. The two black holes gradually in-spiral toward the center of this galaxy, engaging in a gravitational tug-of-war with the surrounding stars. The result is a black hole dance, choreographed by Newton himself. Such a dance is expected to occur in our own Milky Way Galaxy in about 3 billion years, when it collides with the Andromeda Galaxy."

Comment Re:Why implants? (Score 2, Insightful) 314

I was thinking that, too.

The oldest computer I have around is a 1990 Amiga 500; I mostly use new kit, of course. Anyone who gets an implant is going to be stuck with it pretty much for life, or commit to brain surgery every 3-5 years to install the newer one.

On the other hand, a 'trode net or hat would seem doable; sign me up for that.

Comment Re:2010 Year of the linux (Score 1) 485

Me, too
I wonder if we'll be able to hear the giant sloshing sound -- starting 24 months after the iPhone 3G came out -- of everyone moving away from AT&T / iPhone to whoever is offering a good plan with reasonable price/terms/etc. On the other hand, the iPhone is still a (historical) game-changer, in that it got everyone away from horrible dumb-smart-phones that couldn't even keep a calendar in a user-friendly way.
Google

Submission + - Initial Reviews of Google Wave (louisgray.com) 1

bonch writes: "Reviews of Google Wave are out, and opinions are that it has potential as a development platform but is noisy to use for real-time communication. Robert Scoble calls it overhyped, claiming it's useful for little more than personal IM or small-scale project collaboration. He complains about the noisiness of tracking dozens of people chatting him at once in real-time and calls trying to use it a "productivity killer" compared to simpler mediums like email and Twitter."
Wireless Networking

Submission + - Obama bars federal workers from texting and drivin (computerworld.com)

CWmike writes: "A two-day Distracted Driving Summit in Washington concluded Thursday, after experts raised multiple thorny questions on how to reduce cell phone and texting while driving, with a big emphasis placed on driver and employer responsibility. But that was not before President Obama signed an executive order that tells all federal employees not to engage in texting while driving government vehicles. LaHood also announced that his department would ban text messaging altogether and restrict cell phone use by truck and interstate bus drivers, and disqualify school bus drivers from receiving commercial driver's licenses if they have been convicted of texting while driving. His department also plans to make permanent some restrictions placed on the use of cell phones in rail operations, he added without offering further details. The executive order "shows the federal government is leading by example" and "sends a signal that distracted driving dangerous," LaHood said."

Submission + - Why isn't AT&T Femotcell Technology an App?

hajihill writes: "The technology behind a femtocell is essentially a network bridge which connects to a cell phone signal and bridges that signal via an authenticated VOIP connection back to, in this case, AT&T where it is routed as a phone call normally would be. This is understood. What I don't get is why a smartphone, with wifi capabilities, would need a femtocell to operate where there is already an available wireless connection in place. At the point where AT&T has worked out how to authenticate a call routed over the open internet as coming from your handset, isn't this extra piece of hardware they are charging us for superfluous?

I hope you choose to carry this story as it seems to be a case of AT&T blatantly profiting from customer ignorance and really shouldn't be tolerated. AT&T instead should release an AT&T branded VOIP app for it's iPhone handsets, instead of peddling additional hardware to it's customers when it should have beefed up it's wireless networks in the first place. Of course, the same could be said of others carriers and their respective smartphones, however, with the connectivity issues experienced by AT&T and iPhone users, I think this is particularly pertinent."
Cellphones

iPhone Straining AT&T Network 551

dangle writes "More than 20 million other smartphone users are on the AT&T network, but other phones do not drain the network the way the nine million iPhone users do. Because the average iPhone owner can use 10 times the network capacity used by the average smartphone user, dropped calls, spotty service, delayed text and voice messages and glacial download speeds are the result as AT&T's cellular network strains to meet the demand. AT&T says that the majority of the nearly $18 billion it will spend this year on its networks will be diverted into upgrades and expansions to meet the surging demands on the 3G network."

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As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. -- Albert Einstein

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