Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Submission + - Interest in Cryptocat spikes following developer's interrogation at US border (sophos.com)

An anonymous reader writes: "Here's what Kobeissi said about the ordeal:
Out of my 4 DHS interrogations in the past 3 weeks, itâ(TM)s the first time Iâ(TM)m asked about Cryptocat crypto and my passport is confiscated.
Kobeissi says that his interrogator, who claimed 22 years of computer experience, asked him which algorithms Cryptocat used and about its "censorship resistance". In addition, his passport was confiscated for about an hour, he said. Following the incident, interest in the program has risen sharply. "Cryptocat usage has sizably gone up in the past 24 hours," Kobeissi told me in an email exchange. The project's aim is to provide encrypted communications that are easily accessible and free from the governmental or corporate interception that shadow other chat services, such as those from Facebook, Google or Yahoo."


Submission + - CryptoCat - an encrypted web-based chat (wired.com)

JoeMerchant writes: "Twenty-one-year-old college student Nadim Kobeissi is from Canada, Lebanon and the internet.

Cryptocat is an encrypted web-based chat. It’s the first chat client in the browser to allow anyone to use end-to-end encryption to communicate without the problems of SSL, the standard way browsers do crypto, or mucking about with downloading and installing other software. For Kobeissi, that means non-technical people anywhere in the world can talk without fear of online snooping from corporations, criminals or governments.

“The fact that you don’t have to install anything, the fact that it works instantly, this increases security,” he explained, sitting down with Wired at HOPE 9 to talk about Cryptocat, activism and getting through American airports."


Submission + - Forensic investigator makes claims about BitTorrent detection technology (blogspot.com)

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: "In one of the many BitTorrent download cases brought by pornographic film makers, the plaintiff — faced with a motion to quash brought by a "John Doe" defendant — has filed its opposition papers. Interestingly, these included a declaration by its "forensic investigator" (PDF), employed by a German company, IPP, Limited, in which he makes claims about what his technology detects, and about how BitTorrent works, and attaches, as an exhibit, a "functional description" of his IPTracker software (PDF)."

Submission + - Amazon Android App Store - Mandatory One Click Ordering (amazon.com)

JoeMerchant writes: "So, it has finally arrived... since 2003ish I have been on the lookout for a decent, affordable (sub $100) web browsing device — and it came in the shape of 7" capacitive multitouch Android tablets from cheap off-brand manufacturers. But, this isn't a hardware review. This is a cautionary tale about the importance of choice in app-store compatibility. At least one of these devices is built with a strong preference for the Amazon App Store, yes, some apps can be side-loaded, but Google Play is specifically thwarted by the built-in Android image, making Amazon the "obvious" choice.

So, what's so bad about the Amazon App Store? Well, I personally don't mind that it runs continuously in the background as a kind of license server, though some people complain that it's hard on battery life (while others disagree)... my real beef with the Amazon App Store is its always active one-click: no password, app ordering, always available. The only way I have found to deactivate one-click app ordering is to uninstall the store, which deactivates ALL the apps that use it for license checking, which includes about 18 of the 20 apps I have tested.

You can say that Amazon's customer service is excellent and that they will refund any accidental purchases, you can say that they notify you of every app purchase immediately in e-mail; free and paid app purchase notifications look identical in every way until you click on each individual transaction to open it, and it is the same in Amazon's account review. This feels like a return to the old Record/DVD Club days where you get a bunch of cool stuff you want, very conveniently, for a reasonably good deal, but then have to fight to turn the thing off and eventually get charged for something you don't want, especially if you ever hand your tablet over to an elementary school aged child to play with unsupervised for any length of time.

After getting sucked in on the Free Apps, I finally purchased a couple of paid apps and was fairly shocked that, unlike the iPad, I didn't have to put in any kind of password. It's much less the 2x0.99 that bothers me than all the time and effort spent setting up two tablets, just to find out later that if I don't want to leave my credit card fully exposed for app purchases, I'll lose use of all the apps I have installed from their store. So, suck the customer in and after they have invested maybe 20 hours into your ecosystem, finally give them a clue that there's no way to turn off purchases, the parental controls options only apply to in-app purchases, not to app purchases themselves — and if your kids are smart enough to get into the master app listing, they can always launch the app store.

Response from Amazon Customer Service:

It was a pleasure to speak with you today! I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you spending some of it with Amazon Appstore support. Thanks for suggesting we add parental control for App purchases to the Amazon Appstore for Android. Customer feedback like yours really helps us continue to improve our products and provide better service to our customers. I've passed your suggestion to the Appstore team for consideration as we make future improvements. Thanks for taking time to offer us your thoughts. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Kind words, I really doubt the absence of password entry was any kind of oversight or accident."

Open Source

Submission + - Monetizing Open Source with Fairware: Interview with Virgil Dupras (thepowerbase.com)

An anonymous reader writes: There has been a long standing belief (or perhaps more accurately, fear), that developers who chose to release the source code for their software under a free and open license can’t turn their project into a viable source of income.

It’s not hard to see how this negative connotation has developed. Those who may not be well versed in the various free and open licenses may believe that they are literally prohibited from charging for their software. Others may fall victim to the failed logic that, if the source is freely available, people won’t pay for the convenience of a binary build.

For whatever the reason, developers worried about losing revenue have traditionally either kept their source closed or resorted to desperate attempts at forcing their users into donating.

Virgil Dupras
But Virgil Dupras thinks he may have found a way to turn a developers open source labor of love into a way to keep the lights turned on, which he calls Fairware. We recently got the chance to talk with Virgil about how the Fairware concept has worked for him, and how he made the leap from closed to open source without losing any money in the process.

Submission + - New ReRam silicon chip - 100 times fast as Flash (phys.org)

bricko writes: "Dr Tony Kenyon, UCL Electronic and Electrical Engineering, said: "Our ReRAM memory chips need just a thousandth of the energy and are around a hundred times faster than standard Flash memory chips. The fact that the device can operate in ambient conditions and has a continuously variable resistance opens up a huge range of potential applications.

ReRAM chips promise significantly greater memory storage than current technology, such as the Flash memory used on USB sticks, and require much less energy and space and are also being studied for their computing capabilities."


Submission + - Is Agriculture Sucking Fresh Water Dry? (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: The average American uses enough water each year to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and global agriculture consumes a whopping 92% of all fresh water used annually. Those are the conclusions of the most comprehensive analysis to date of global water use, which also finds that one-fifth of humankind’s water consumption flows across international borders as “virtual water”—the water needed to produce a commodity, such as meat or electronics, if the ultimate consumers were to make it themselves rather than outsource its growth or manufacture.

Submission + - Multicellular life made in months (nature.com)

ananyo writes: The origin of multicellular life, one of the most important developments in Earth’s history, could have occurred with surprising speed, US researchers have shown. In the lab, a single-celled yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) took less than 60 days to evolve into many-celled clusters that behaved as individuals. The clusters even developed a primitive division of labour, with some cells dying so that others could grow and reproduce.

Multicellular life has evolved independently at least 25 times, but these transitions are so ancient that they have been hard to study.

The researchers wanted to see if they could evolve multicellularity in a single-celled organism, using gravity as the selective pressure. In a tube of liquid, clusters of yeast cells settle at the bottom more quickly than single cells. By culturing only the cells that sank, they selected for those that stick together. After many rounds of selection over 60 days, the yeast had evolved into 'snowflakes' comprising dozens of cells.

Many single-celled organisms, including yeast, often form clumps of genetically distinct cells. But Ratcliff’s snowflakes were made up of genetically identical cells that had budded off and stuck together. Many other multicellular organisms may well have evolved through a similar 'divide-and-stick' process.


Submission + - Aptana, Bluefish... what other open source options 1

An anonymous reader writes: I've been looking for an open source alternative to dreamweaver, for a couple weeks, and haven't stumbled upon anything that worked the way i needed. Aptana and bluefish are fantastic tools, but i cannot work exclusively with them, since bluefish doesn't have that wysiwyg functionality, that is so important when you're also dealing with design and aptana doesn't have classic asp support. I don't care much about the classic asp support, but, even though i'm a php developer, i give support to classic asp code in a daily basis. What open source tools are you guys working with out there? I'm really not looking for a dreamweaver clone, or whatever, but a tool that gets closer to cover me needs, that are: wysiwyg,php, html, css support, and less important, classic asp support.

Submission + - Scientists Uncover the Mathematics Of Serial Kille

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Andrei Chikatilo, “The Butcher of Rostov,” was one of the most prolific serial killers in modern history committing at least 52 murders between 1978 and 1990 before he was caught, tried and executed. The pattern of his murders, though, was irregular with long periods of no activity, interrupted by several murders within a short period of time. Hoping to gain insight into serial killings to prevent similar murders, Mikhail Simkin and Vwani Roychowdhury at UCLA built a mathematical model of the time pattern of the activity of Chikatilo and found the distribution of the intervals between murders follows a power law with the exponent of 1.4. The basis of their analysis is the hypothesis that “similar to epileptic seizures, the psychotic affects, causing a serial killer to commit murder, arise from simultaneous firing of large number of neurons in the brain.” In modeling the behavior the authors didn't find that "the killer commits murder right at the moment when neural excitation reaches a certain threshold. He needs time to plan and prepare his crime” so they built delay into their model. The killings eventually have a sedative effect, pushing the neuronal activity below the “killing threshold” – which is why there are large intervals of time between groups of murders. "There is at least qualitative agreement between theory and observation (PDF)," conclude the authors. "Stats can’t tell you who the perp is, but they’re getting better and better at figuring out where and when the next crime might happen," writes criminal lawyer Nathaniel Burney adding that "catching a serial killer by focusing resources based on when and where he’s likely to strike next is a hell of a lot better than relying on the junk science of behavioral profiling.""

Submission + - HP reviving the 99$ Touch Pad on 11th December (techcrunch.com)

Frankie70 writes: Starting Sunday, December 11th at 6:00 p.m. Central time, 16GB and 32GB Touchpads will be available on HP's ebay store. A $79 accessory bundle will also be available, which includes a case, charging dock and wireless keyboard. The caveat with this deal is that these are refurbished TouchPads rather than the brand new models sold during the first firesale.

Slashdot Top Deals

"If you can, help others. If you can't, at least don't hurt others." -- the Dalai Lama