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Security

Submission + - After Weeks Of Trying, UK Cryptographers Fail To Crack World War II Code

An anonymous reader writes: A dead pigeon discovered a few weeks ago in a UK chimney may be able to provide new answers to the secrets of World War II. Unfortunately, British cryptographers at the country’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have been unable to crack the code encrypting a message the bird was tasked with sending and say they are confident it cannot be decoded “without access to the original cryptographic material.”
Transportation

Submission + - With Pot Legal, Police Worry About Traffic Safety 13

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "AP reports that with Pot soon legal under state laws in Washington and Colorado, officials in both states are trying to figure out how to keep stoned drivers off the road as law enforcement officials wonder about whether the ability to buy or possess marijuana legally will bring about an increase of marijuana users on the roads. "We've had decades of studies and experience with alcohol," says Washington State Patrol spokesman Dan Coon. "Marijuana is new, so it's going to take some time to figure out how the courts and prosecutors are going to handle it. But the key is impairment: We will arrest drivers who drive impaired, whether it be drugs or alcohol." Marijuana can cause dizziness and slowed reaction time, and drivers are more likely to drift and swerve while they're high and Marijuana legalization activists agree people shouldn't smoke and drive. But setting a standard comparable to blood-alcohol limits has sparked intense disagreement because unlike portable breath tests for alcohol, there's no easily available way to determine whether someone is impaired from recent pot use. If scientists can't tell someone how much marijuana it will take for him or her to test over the threshold, how is the average pot user supposed to know? "A lot of effort has gone into the study of drugged driving and marijuana, because that is the most prevalent drug, but we are not nearly to the point where we are with alcohol," says Jeffrey P. Michael, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's impaired-driving director. "We don't know what level of marijuana impairs a driver.""
Android

Submission + - Android SMS Malware Firm Fined £50,000 (sophos.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A Moscow-based firm has been ordered to refund victims who lost money as a result of Android malware.

Earlier this year, security firm Sophos discovered a malicious link that had been spread on Facebook — which would force an Android app to automatically download onto visiting smartphones.

The app, detected as Andr/Opfake-C, tricked users into believing they would have access to online games — but actually subscribed to a premium rate SMS service at a cost of £10.

Moscow-based firm (translated as Connect Ltd) is said to have made up to £250,000 from the scheme.

UK regulatory authority PhonepayPlus has fined the firm £50,000, ordered it to repay all victims and banned them from introducing other premium rate services without permission for the next two years.

Apple

Submission + - Apple working the broken patent system (informationweek.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A pretty tight op-ed on how apple used the broken parts of the patent system to gain a very favorable portion of the smart-phone market from a design perspective.
Security

Submission + - Frankenstein - Stitching Code Bodies Together To Hide Malware (i-programmer.info) 1

mikejuk writes: A recent research technique manages to hide malware by stitching together bits of program that are already installed in the system to create the functionality required. Although the Frankenstein system is only a proof of concept, and the code created just did some simple tasks, sorting and XORing, without having the ability to replicate, computer scientists from University of Texas, Dallas, have proved that the method is viable.
What it does is to scan the machine’s disk for fragments of code, gadgets, that do simple standard tasks. Each task can have multiple gadgets that can be used to implement it and each gadget does a lot of irrelevant things as well as the main task. The code that you get when you stitch a collection of gadgets together is never the same and this makes it difficult to detect the malware using a signature. Compared to the existing techniques of hiding malware the Frankenstein approach has lots of advantages — the question is, is it already in use?

Submission + - Wiper May have Links with DuQu, Stuxnet; Kaspersky Analysis Indicates (paritynews.com)

hypnosec writes: Wiper malware known for its unforgiving ways hasn’t left a clue behind of its origin or its code as it deletes itself as well as everything in its path once activated but, security researchers over at Kaspersky Lab may have just found a couple of evidences that may point to the origins of Wiper. According to Kaspersky, Wiper has a couple of characteristics that it shares with DuQu and Stuxnet indicating that probably the malware has its roots in US and Israel. Still the security company says that the evidence might just be circumstantial and that one shouldn’t come to conclusions just yet.
Science

Submission + - Calorie Restriction May Not Extend Lifespan (sciencemag.org) 1

sciencehabit writes: Slash your food intake and you can live dramatically longer—at least if you're a mouse or a nematode. But a major study designed to determine whether this regimen, known as caloric restriction, works in primates suggests that it improves monkeys' health but doesn't extend their lives. Researchers not involved with the new paper say the results are still encouraging. Although the monkeys didn't evince an increase in life span, both studies show a major improvement in "health span," or the amount of time before age-related diseases set in. "I certainly wouldn't give up on calorie restriction as a health promoter" based on these findings, says molecular biologist Leonard Guarente of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

Comment Creates barrier of entry for competitors (Score 2) 84

It seems to that the various privacy laws in place across Europe targeting Google Maps have little effect on Google, which has enough resources that they can easily apply technical fixes to tackle each states differing privacy requirement. The net effect though, is to provide a high barrier of entry for competitors. A young startup wishing to start a competing street level mapping service will not have army of lawyers to sort through each states differing laws. Nor may they have the technical expertise to accurately implement blurring algorithms to the satisfaction of the courts. In short, while these laws are intended to target Google, they end up benefiting it, by making it more difficult for competitors to enter the field.
Microsoft

Submission + - Is Microsoft's Kinect A Gaming Failure? (hothardware.com)

MojoKid writes: "E3 is well underway in Los Angeles, and Microsoft has already made a major splash with its "SmartGlass" technology, game demos, and its announcement that a Kinect-powered version of Internet Explorer will debut on the Xbox 360. This is a marked change from last year, when Kinect was the unquestioned centerpiece of Microsoft's display and the company's demos focused on how Kinect-powered games used your full body as a controller. Kinect is in the interesting position of having both sold extremely well while failing to move the bar forward in any of the ways Microsoft projected in the run up to it's launch. Scroll through the ratings on Kinect-required titles, and the percentages are abysmal. Kinect's biggest problem is rooted in ergonomics. Gamepads with buttons may be crude approximations of real life, but they're simple and intuitive. They're also flexible — a great many games have conditional scenarios that allow the same button to perform different functions depending on what's going on within the game. Pure Kinect games don't have a simple mechanism to incorporate these features, and there's no easy way around them. The motion-controller's most enduring features may ultimately be its capabilities outside the gaming sphere."
The Military

Submission + - Air Force believes anti-g suit is cause of F-22's oxygen problems (flightglobal.com) 2

wired_parrot writes: The USAF believes it may have identified the root cause of the F-22 Raptor's oxygen troubles: pilots are running into physiological limitations in attempting to breath oxygen while under high-g loads, leading to a condition know as acceleration atelectasis. This is being aggravated by the anti-g suit worn by pilots, which puts pressure in their chest. It may be that the F-22 has reached the edge of what a human pilot can handle
Businesses

Submission + - As Facebook prepares IPO, a wave of apps startups follows behind (siliconvalley.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook, which is set to go public next week, has spawned a wave of startups based on its apps platform, particularly in the Bay Area. A University of Maryland study estimates that at the Facebook ecosystem supports at least 18 times as many jobs as the parent company itself. The Mercury News article contains a chart of the top 20 Facebook apps developers in the Bay Area, based on active users; Zynga is #1 by a large margin. Meanwhile, some social networking entrepreneurs are trying to avoid becoming dependent on Facebook's platform.

Submission + - The Rise of Chemophobia in the News (plos.org)

eldavojohn writes: American news outlets like The New York Times seem to thrive on chemophobia — consumer fear of the ambiguous concept of 'chemicals.' As a result, Pulitzer-prize winning science writer Deborah Blum has decided to call out New York Times journalist Nicholas Kirstof for his secondary crusade (she notes he is an admirable journalist in other realms) against chemicals. She's quick to point out the absurdity of fearing chemicals like Hydrogen which could be a puzzler considering its integral role played in live-giving water as well as life-destroying hydrogen cyanide. Another example is O2 versus O3. Blum calls upon journalists to be more specific, to avoid the use of vague terms like 'toxin' let alone 'chemical' and instead inform the public with lengthy chemical names like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) instead of omitting the actual culprit altogether. Kristof has, of course, resorted to calling makers of these specific compounds "Big Chem" and Blum chastises his poorly researched reporting along with chemophobic lingo. Chemists of Slashdot, have you found reporting on "chemicals" to be as poor as Blum alleges or is this no more erroneous than any scare tactic used to move newspapers and garner eyeballs?
Facebook

Submission + - NY Times: Microsoft Tried to Unload Bing on Facebook (nytimes.com)

benfrog writes: "According to a blog posting on the New York Times site, Microsoft tried to sell the perpetual money-losing Bing to Facebook "over a year ago" (the article cites "several people with knowledge of the discussions who didn’t want to be identified talking about internal deliberations"). Steve Ballmer, apparently, was not involved or consulted. Facebook politely declined. Neither Microsoft or Facebook would comment on the rumors."
Math

Submission + - Statistical Analysis Raises Civil War Dead by 20%

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "For more than a century it has been accepted that about 620,000 Americans died in the the bloodiest, most devastating conflict in American history, but now BBC reports that historian J David Hacker has used sophisticated statistical software to determine the war's death toll and found that civil war dead may have been undercounted by as many as 130,000. "I have been waiting more than 25 years for an article like this one," writes historian James McPherson. Hacker began by taking digitized samples from the decennial census counts taken 1850-1880. Using statistical package SPSS, Hacker counted the number of native-born white men of military age in 1860 and determined how many of that group were still alive in 1870 and compared that survival rate with the survival rates of the men of the same ages from 1850-1860, and from 1870-1880 — the 10-year census periods before and after the Civil War. The calculations yielded the number of "excess" deaths of military-age men between 1860-1870 — the number who died in the war or in the five subsequent years from causes related to the war. Hacker's findings, published in the December 2011 issue of Civil War History, have been endorsed by some of the leading historians of the conflict but do the numbers, equivalent to about 7.5 million US deaths in proportion to America's current population, really matter? "The difference between the two estimates is large enough to change the way we look at the war," writes Hacker. "The war touched more lives and communities more deeply than we thought, and thus shaped the course of the ensuing decades of American history in ways we have not yet fully grasped. True, the war was terrible in either case. But just how terrible, and just how extensive its consequences, can only be known when we have a better count of the Civil War dead.""

Submission + - At what point has a Kickstarter project failed? 2

skywiseguy writes: I have only used Kickstarter to back a single project so far, but one of the backers of that project pointed us to a project promising video capable glasses which was once one of the top 10 highest funded projects in Kickstarter history. After reading through the comments, it is obvious that the project has not met its expected deadline of "Winter 2011" but the project team rarely gives any updates with concrete information, all emails sent to them by backers get a form letter in reply, they routinely delete negative comments from their Facebook page, and apparently very soon after the project was funded, they posted pictures of themselves on a tropical beach with the tagline "We are not on a beach in Thailand." Their early promotions were featured on Engadget and other tech sites but since the project was funded they've rarely, if ever, communicated in more than a form letter. So at what point can a project like this be considered to have failed? And if you had backed a project with this kind of lack of communication from the project team, what would you consider to be the best course of action? Disclaimer: I have not backed this project, but I am very interested in funding Kickstarter projects and I do not want to get caught sending money to a less than reputable project. According to the above project's backers, Kickstarter claims to have no mechanism for refunding money to backers of failed projects and no way to hold the project team accountable to their backers. This does not seem like a healthy environment for someone who is averse to giving their money to scam artists.

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