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Submission + - The Hollywood Vixen, The Dadaist Composer, and Spr (nytimes.com)

circletimessquare writes: "In the New York Times Sunday Book Review section is one of those truth-is-stranger-than-fiction stories. This one is about Hedy Lamarr, the Hollywood star, and George Anthiel, the avant garde composer. A new book out by Richard Rhodes, “Hedy’s Folly,” details how this odd friendship produced an even odder product: sophisticated military munition designs during World War II, including an early original implementation of spread spectrum radio for torpedo guidance.

'Hedy’s folly may have been in assuming men in government might overcome their prejudice that a beautiful woman could not have brains and imagination. But she lived to see similar versions of her invention be put into common practice, and in 1997, Hedy Lamarr, at the age of 82, and George Antheil (posthumously) were honored with the Pioneer Award by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.'"

Media

1928 Time Traveler Caught On Film? 685

Many of you have submitted a story about Irish filmmaker George Clarke, who claims to have found a person using a cellphone in the "unused footage" section of the DVD The Circus, a Charlie Chaplin movie filmed in 1928. To me the bigger mystery is how someone who appears to be the offspring of Ram-Man and The Penguin got into a movie in the first place, especially if they were talking to a little metal box on set. Watch the video and decide for yourself.
Security

Submission + - China Penetrated NSA's Classified Operating System 2

Pickens writes: "Seymour M. Hersh writes in the New Yorker that after an American EP-3E Aries II reconnaissance plane on an eavesdropping mission collided with a Chinese interceptor jet over the South China Sea in 2001 and landed at a Chinese F-8 fighter base on Hainan Island, the 24 member crew were unable to completely disable the plane’s equipment and software. The result? The Chinese kept the plane for three months and eventually reverse-engineered the plane’s NSA.-supplied operating system, estimated at between thirty and fifty million lines of computer code, giving China a road map for decrypting the Navy’s classified intelligence and operational data. “If the operating system was controlling what you’d expect on an intelligence aircraft, it would have a bunch of drivers to capture radar and telemetry,” says Whitfield Diffie, a pioneer in the field of encryption. “The plane was configured for what it wants to snoop, and the Chinese would want to know what we wanted to know about them—what we could intercept and they could not.” Despite initial skepticism, over the next few years the US intelligence community began to “read the tells” that China had gotten access to sensitive traffic and in early 2009, Admiral Timothy J. Keating, then the head of the Pacific Command, brought the issue to the new Obama Administration. "If China had reverse-engineered the EP-3E’s operating system, all such systems in the Navy would have to be replaced, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars," writes Hersch. "After much discussion, several current and former officials said, this was done" prompting some black humor from US naval officers. “This is one hell of a way to go about getting a new operating system.”""

Submission + - BP dispersants 'causing sickness' along Gulf coast (aljazeera.net)

An anonymous reader writes: Al Jazeera English has found toxic illnesses linked to BP oil dispersants along Gulf coast.

Two-year-old Gavin Tillman of Pass Christian, Mississippi, has been diagnosed with severe upper respiratory, sinus, and viral infections. His temperature has reached more than 39 degrees since September 15, yet his sicknesses continues to worsen. His parents, some doctors, and environmental consultants believe the child's ailments are linked to exposure to chemicals spilt by BP during its Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. Gavin's father, mother, and sister, Shayleigh, are also facing serious health problems. Their symptoms are being experienced by many others living along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.


Security

Submission + - British Airways Chief Slams US Security Requests

Ponca City writes: "Reflecting a growing frustration among airport and airline owners with the steady build-up of rules covering everything from footwear to liquids, Martin Broughton, chairman of British Airways, has launched a scathing attack on the "completely redundant" airport checks requested by the TSA and urged the UK to stop "kowtowing" to American demands for ever more security. Speaking at the annual conference of the UK Airport Operators Association, Broughton lambasted the TSA for demanding that foreign airports increase checks on U.S.-bound planes, while not applying those regulations to their own domestic services. "America does not do internally a lot of the things they demand that we do," says Broughton. "We shouldn't stand for that. We should say, 'We'll only do things which we consider to be essential and that you Americans also consider essential.'" For example, Broughton noted that cutting-edge technology recently installed at airports can scan laptops inside hand luggage for explosives but despite this breakthrough the British government still demands computers be examined separately. "It's just completely ridiculous," says Broughton. "Every time there is a new security scare, an extra layer is added on to procedures," adds Mike Carrivick, chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK. "We need to step back and have a look at the whole situation. Standards change fairly regularly, and this puts pressure on airports and airlines. We need to decide what we are trying to do and how best to do it.""
Java

Submission + - Oracle Need A Clue As Brain Drain Accelerates (computerworlduk.com) 1

The Contrarian writes: "Looks like Oracle is not suiting former Sun staff well, nor community members in the Java and OpenOffice.org communities. This weekend saw an unusually large number of rather public departures, with (among many others listed in the article) the VP running Solaris development quitting, the token academic on the JCP slamming the door behind him and top community leaders at OpenOffice.org nailing their resignations to the door after having the ex-Sun people slam the door in their face.

The best analysis comes from an unexpected place, with the marketing director of Eclipse — usually loyal defenders of their top-dollar-paying members — turning on Oracle and telling them to get a clue."

Math

Submission + - Quantum Test Could Reinforce String Theory (imperial.ac.uk) 1

eldavojohn writes: There's no much else like a discussion about the 'untestability' of String Theory to get a group of theoretical physicists jawing. Tomorrow in Physical Review Letters, a paper will be published by a professor of the Imperial College of London on how a quantum entanglement test could either disprove or reinforce String Theory (but apparently not prove that it is entirely correct). Curiously, news reports offer little attempt to explain the proposed test aside from how Dr. Duff stumbled upon this relationship between his analysis of String Theory and — bizarrely — a Tasmanian conference on quantum entanglement. While it's not the first test imagined, quantum entanglement has at least been observed before in labs. Big news for theoretical physicists who are fed up with the inability to test String Theory.

Submission + - Newspapers Cut Wikileaks Out Of Shield Law (techdirt.com) 3

An anonymous reader writes: The US press has been pushing for a (much needed) federal shield law, that would allow reporters to protect their sources. It's been something of a political struggle for a few years now, and things were getting close when Wikileaks suddenly got a bunch of attention for leaking all those Afghan war documents. Suddenly, the politicians involved started working on an amendment that would specifically carve out an exception for Wikileaks so that it would not be covered by such a shield law. And, now, The First Amendment Center is condemning the newspaper industry for throwing Wikileaks under the bus, as many in the industry are supporting this new amendment, and saying that Wikileaks doesn't deserve source protection because "it's not journalism."
Security

Submission + - Owning Virtual Worlds For Fun and Profit (threatpost.com)

Trailrunner7 writes: Threatpost has a guest column by security researcher Charlie Miller on the ways in which attackers can easily take advantage of vulnerabilities in virtual worlds and perhaps online games to get control of other players' characters and avatars and even cash out their real-world bank accounts. "I’m a security researcher. I find bugs in software, they get fixed. I write exploits, they give me a shell. It's more or less always the same and it gets kind of boring. But there was one exploit I helped write back in 2007 that was a little different. This is the story of that exploit. It turns out that Second Life uses QuickTime Player to process its multimedia. When I started looking into virtual world exploits, with the help of Dino Dai Zovi, there was a stack buffer overflow in QuickTime Player that had been discovered by Krystian Kloskowski but had not yet been patched. In Second Life it is possible to embed images and video onto objects.

  We embedded a vulnerable file onto a small pink cube and placed it onto a track of land we owned. No matter where the cube was, if a victim walked onto the land and had multimedia enabled (recommended but not required), they would be exploited. The cube could be inside a building, hovering in the air, or even under the ground, and the result was the same."

Linux

Submission + - What is the best cross-platform build system?

rippeltippel writes: I write embedded software for multiple linux-based platforms and use different build systems (makefiles, buildroot, ...) to cross-compile software, kernel, and to generate the final rootfs. I would now like to uniform the build system with a tool which is actively maintained and updated, allows to easily add/remove packages and, most of all, to cross-compile the same codebase to different platforms with little effort.
I've seen that there are several solutions available, e.g. PTXdist, CMake, LTIB, T2 SDE, OpenEmbedded, Poky, Bitbake and, of course, Buildroot. From my understanding, some of them are integrated into each other (e.g. OpenEmbedded uses Bitbake) but unfortunately I couldn't find any serious comparison or review of those tools.
What cross-platform build system do Slashdotters reckon to be the most suitable?
Biotech

Submission + - Resurrected Mammoth Blood is Very Cool

Hugh Pickens writes: "Astrobiology Magazine reports that a team of international researchers has brought the primary component of mammoth blood back to life using ancient DNA preserved in bones from Siberian specimens 25,000 to 43,000 years old and found that the recreated mammoth haemoglobin hads special evolutionary adaptations that allowed the mammoth to cool its extremities down in harsh Arctic conditions to minimise heat loss. We've managed to uncover physiological attributes of an animal that hasn't existed for thousands of years," says team leader Professor Kevin Campbell of the University of Manitoba, Canada. "Our approach opens the way to studying the biomolecular and physiological characteristics of extinct species, even for features that leave no trace in the fossil record." The team converted the mammoth haemoglobin DNA sequences into RNA, and inserted them into modern-day E. coli bacteria, which then manufactured the authentic mammoth protein. Then the team used modern scientific physiological tests and chemical modelling to characterize the biochemical properties that conferred mammoths with physiological cold tolerance. "It has been remarkable to bring a complex protein from an extinct species, such as the mammoth, back to life," adds Professor Alan Cooper, Director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD), where the mammoth haemoglobin sequences were determined."
Microsoft

Submission + - Microsoft Threats to Legislature Seal Huge Tax Cut (microsofttaxdodge.com) 1

newscloud writes: As the Washington State Legislature wound down its special session to close a $2.8 billion fiscal deficit, Microsoft's General Counsel Brad Smith successfully used a carefully timed press conference making veiled threats about tax rates as a concern regarding future job expansion in Washington State. Led by Finance Chair Rep. Ross Hunter, a 17 year former Microsoft manager, the Legislature gave Microsoft two huge gifts: a $100 million annual tax cut and an estimated $1.25 billion in amnesty on its 13 year Nevada tax dodge. To make ends meet, the Legislature cut $120 million from K-12 education and $73 million from university budgets. It also raised the general tax rate on businesses from 1.5% to 1.8% and created new '7-11' taxes on the Average Joe on beer, soda and candy. The benefits of 4,700 at-risk unemployed people with disabilities will expire in the coming year. No word on how cash-strapped Washington plans to address Smith's concerns about its educational system and transportation infrastructure. On Wednesday, Gates' father, Bill Sr. announced a citizen initiative to replace the business tax with an income tax on high earners (>$200,000/yr). Asked if his son was on board with the tax initiative, Gates Sr. said, improbably, they hadn't discussed it. 'I don't know what my son is going to do.' Governor Gregoire said this isn't over: once the budget is signed into law, 'there will be real cuts, there will be real people losing jobs.' Yesterday, Microsoft reported record quarterly revenue. It now has $39.6 billion in cash and short term investments.
Space

A Hyper-Velocity Impact In the Asteroid Belt? 114

astroengine writes "Astronomers have spotted something rather odd in the asteroid belt. It looks like a comet, but it's got a circular orbit, similar to an asteroid. Whether it's an asteroid or a comet, it has a long, comet-like tail, suggesting something is being vented into space. Some experts think it could be a very rare comet/asteroid hybrid being heated by the sun, but there's an even more exciting possibility: It could be the first ever observation of two asteroids colliding in the asteroid belt."

Submission + - Best Buy freaking out over unionized geeks (semiaccurate.com)

LemmingOverlord writes: "Couldn't let this one slip by us. I know unions are always hard to digest, but the idea that the Geek Squad at Best Buy are going "union"... priceless...

Found this on Semi accurate.com (http://www.semiaccurate.com/2009/09/09/best-buys-geek-squad-votes-union/)

"IT LOOKS LIKE the old saying, "management gets the union it deserves" is coming to pass at Best Buy, or at least beginning to in parts of its Geek Squad division. We hear that some of them just voted by an overwhelming margin to go union.

While unions range across the board in quality, the smaller ones in particular tend to do a lot to protect their members and keep abusive management at bay. Having several friends who worked at Best Buy's Geek Squad (GS) division, I can say that many of the stories floating around about long hours, low pay, and lack of training are nothing new. The company sorely needs a union.

In the Pacific Northwest, a group of Best Buy workers, specifically one chunk of the Geek Squad, apparently got so fed up with mistreatment that they just voted to go union. We hear that Best Buy's management, both locally and at headquarters, is absolutely livid over it. Their worst nightmare is that word about this vote will spread, prompting more locales to unionize.

Can you imagine how much management bonuses would have to fall in order to pay workers a fair wage and train them properly? The horror! If you look at how well it reacted the last time the notion was floated, it just shows that Best Buy's management cares — just not about its employees.

Friends on the inside tell us that Best Buy prefers to promote Geek Squad personnel from sales to technical because it finds it easier to teach a sales droid to follow a trouble-shooting flowchart — especially if it has lots of pictures and not too many big words — than to indoctrinate a seasoned, knowledgable technician to upsell bling and push expensive extended warrantees.

See why it is afraid of unions? Standards, training, fair wages, fair hours, and in general, being good to employees could wreak havoc on Best Buy top management's stock options for several quarters.

From what we understand, Best Buy management is desperately trying to keep a lid on this 'problem' and wants to keep it from 'snowballing'. One brave soul described management as "freaked out".

If you too are worried about whether management at Best Buy will have to wait another quarter to get that new V12 Mercedes, please don't spread the news. In fact, don't tell anyone how scared it is of unionization and how Geek Squad workers in the Northwest voted by more than 75% to unionize.

If this spreads, a little more of Best Buy's wealth might be distributed to the people who actually generate it. How anti-capitalist is that?S|A""

Music

Submission + - iTunes Captures 25 Percent of Music Sales (appscout.com)

adeelarshad82 writes: The Apple-owned music store now accounts for 25 percent of music units sold, according to data from the NPD Group. The most surprising bit of news is that people are still buying physical CDs. While iTunes is popular, CD purchases made up 65 percent of all music sold in the first half of 2009, while paid digital downloads came in at 35 percent. In 2007, downloads accounted for 20 percent of music purchases. That jumped to 30 percent in 2008, and is now sitting at 35 percent. But when it comes to overall units of music sold, iTunes tops the list with 25 percent, up from 21 percent in 2008 and 14 percent in 2007.

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