Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


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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.""

Submission + - Apple Laptops Vulnerable to Battery Firmware Hack (

Trailrunner7 writes: Security researcher Charlie Miller, widely known for his work on Mac OS X and Apple's iOS, has discovered an interesting method that enables him to completely disable the batteries on Apple laptops, making them permanently unusable, and perform a number of other unintended actions. The method, which involves accessing and sending instructions to the chip housed on smart batteries could also be used for more malicious purposes down the road.

Miller discovered the default passwords set on the battery at the factory to change the battery into unsealed mode and developed a method that let him permanently brick the battery as well as read and modify the entire firmware.

"You can read all the firmware, make changes to the code, do whatever you want. And those code changes will survive a reinstall of the OS, so you could imagine writing malware that could hide on the chip on the battery. You'd need a vulnerability in the OS or something that the battery could then attack, though," Miller said.

Submission + - Judge Prevents 23,322 Does from Being Sued For Now (

An anonymous reader writes: The Judge overseeing the US Copyright Group's lawsuit against 23,000 individuals sharing "The Expendables" has shut the door on progress. In a ruling made yesterday, the Judge has ordered the US Copyright Group to show cause as to how all 23,322 fall under his Court's jurisdiction. Considering the US Copyright Group's failure in the past to show cause on jurisdiction, this could be the beginning of the end.

Submission + - The most distant object in the Universe. Maybe. (

The Bad Astronomer writes: "A gamma-ray burst seen in 2009 may be the single most distant object ever seen. If the estimates pan out, it's at a whopping 13.4 billion light years away. The estimates look good, though the exact distance isn't known. If it holds up, this explosion occurred when the Universe was only 2% of its current age."

Submission + - Dutch provider KPN using DPI to bill customers ext (

An anonymous reader writes: KPN is using DPI to see whether or not traffic is extra billable. KPN (who made a big profit; & is buying back a lot of stock while complaining about their profits on the SMS & cell-phone voice calls & threatening to transfer half of their staff to India for more profit) is now using DPI to see if traffic is being generated that would cause customers to pay less.. Usng free SMS? then u have to pay extra.. using VoiP? same deal; coz they need the profits.. KPN is breaking the dutch privacy & net neutrality laws while doing so & is currently losing more than 4000 customers per DAY.

Submission + - Signs of Dark Matter from Minnesota Mine (

thomst writes: "Ron Cowen of Science News reports that on May 2nd, at the American Physical Society meeting in Anaheim, CA, Juan Collar, team leader of COGENT, an experimental effort to detect WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles), presented a paper detailing 15 months of data collected via a pure germanium detector located deep in a Minnesota mine which seems to confirm similar results reported by a European effort called DAMA/LIBRA. The results are particularly intriguing, because they appear to show a seasonal variation in the density of WIMPs that accords with models that predict that Earth should encounter more WIMPs in Summer (when its path around the Sun moves in the same direction as the Milky Way revolves) than in Winter (when it goes the opposite direction). The most interesting thing about the COGENT experiment is that the mass of the WIMP candidates it records is significantly less than most particle physicists had predicted, according to popular models. If the interactions recorded by COGENT are eventually confirmed as WIMP encounters, wholesale revisions to the so-called "Standard Model" may be required. (Cowen wrote an earlier article about COGENT last year that goes into a lot more detail about how COGENT works, what its team expects it to find, and why."

Submission + - Judge Declares Federal Healthcare Unconstitutional (

healeyb writes: In a surprise move, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson issued a ruling today that the universal healthcare law that was pushed through by the Obama administration is unconstitutional. Specifically, he invalidated the section of the law that requires all citizens to purchase healthcare insurance, arguing that it does not fall under the purview of Commerce Clause of the constitution, as has been asserted by the government. — The ruling represents the first major setback for President Barack Obama on an issue that will likely end up at the Supreme Court. Two other courts have shot down challenges to the law...
The Internet

Submission + - Thousands of Comcast customers lose service.

An anonymous reader writes: Comcast on Dec 5th around 7:30pm appears to have a dns server outage affecting a number of customers in a number of states, including but not limited to, MN, MO, MI, and IL No Est. Time of Repair had been determined as of around midnight.
This appears to be similar to the recent outage on the east coast.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: DoHS Warnings on calls? 2

IcyNeko writes: So I was calling an acquaintance of mine the other day to invite him to hang out with my friends, and after the phone started ringing and right before the person picked up, I got a message saying that the number I'm calling has been marked for observation by the DoHS's watchlist, and that by calling, I may have added myself to the watchlist. Also, that it is illegal for me to notify them that they're on the watchlist. Any chance this is a real warning? If so, why would they let people know who is on the watchlist?

Submission + - Supercritical Fuel Results in 30% MPG Increase (

thecarchik writes: A flurry of innovations to boost fuel efficiency is in the pipeline. One of them comes from a startup, Transonic Combustion, which claims its technology delivers fuel into the cylinder in a supercritical state--essentially, a fourth state of matter (after solid, liquid, and gas) in which the liquid is heating above its boiling point at very high pressure. When gasoline is injected into the cylinder as a supercritical liquid, Transonic says, it burns faster, cleaner, and closer to the center of the combustion chamber, meaning less energy is wasted as heat loss through the cylinder walls.

Submission + - Control Music Player Wirelessly

Haffner writes: I have a large speaker system that is located in a different room from my computer. I want to find a device that I can plug my speakers into that lets me stream wireless music from my computer. I am wondering — what is the most cost-effective way to do this?

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