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Submission + - 20th birthday of Linux (google.com)

suso writes: "Today, September 17th, 2011 is the 20th anniversary of Linux being released to the public. The first kernel version 0.01 was made available on the public FTP server at nic.funet.fi on September 17th, 1991. It quickly grew in terms of code, user base and is now is an industry of its own. One would find it difficult to go a day without encountering Linux in their daily activities. Happy Birthday Linux!"
Security

Submission + - Blackboard 0-days expose exams, tests and data (scmagazine.com.au) 1

mask.of.sanity writes: "Multiple zero-day security vulnerabilities have been found in world's most popular educational software — holes that allow students to change grades and download unpublished exams, whilst allowing criminals to steal personal information.

Vulnerabilities in the Blackboard Learn platform have the potential to affect millions of school and university students and thousands of institutions around the world.

The platform is used by the United States military to train soliders.

The holes will remain unpatched until at least the end of the year, the company said."

Hardware

Submission + - Why built-in car navigation is a ripoff (extremetech.com) 2

MrSeb writes: "As portable GPS systems free-fall below $200, automakers stubbornly keep prices of onboard navigation at $1500 to $2000. There are a host of reasons why and they help explain but hardly excuse the bloated pricing of embedded navigation. Some auto analysts say $1000 is the most you can justify for first-class onboard navigation and sooner or later that may be the most, not least you’ll pay for the superiority of built-in navigation. There’s increasing sentiment within the industry that you are indeed getting ripped off today buying navigation systems. Why do in-car solutions cost so much? Integration with existing infotainment systems costs a lot, the generally-larger LCD screen isn't cheap, and even the increased-duration warranty adds to the cost. Realistically, though, if the unit costs more than $1,000, you're getting ripped off — but some upcoming cars from the likes of Hyundai look set to finally bring down the price."
Facebook

Submission + - On the Seventh Day, he logged off (abc.net.au)

beaverdownunder writes: Our constant connectivity is a unique feature of the modern age — internet and mobiles have removed much of the time and distance that was once a part of our lives.

But there is a growing trend toward technology Sabbaths — perhaps a weekend off Twitter, a week without Facebook, or a day sans smart phone.

American writer William Powers, his wife and their son started doing an "internet Sabbath" every weekend more than four years ago.

"We basically decided we were being pulled apart from each other by our internet time and our addiction to the screen," he told ABC News Online.

At first, Powers found it hard to stop going online and he cheated a few times — once to catch the end of a movie, another because a hurricane was forecast to hit their town — but he persevered.

"It was like an existential crisis — we didn't know who we were anymore. My nine-year-old son had moments of tears," he said.

"It continued to be hard for about six more weekends, and then it became routine and normal and we began to notice the benefits."

Earth

Submission + - Crystal Took a Million Years to Make (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: First discovered about a decade ago, the largest known cave crystals—single hunks of gypsum as much as 11 meters long, 1 meter thick, and weighing 55 tons—could have taken up to 1 million years to grow, a new study suggests. The cavern in the Mexican silver and lead mine where the crystals were found was filled with mineral-rich waters until 1975, when it was drained to provide miners with access to new ore veins. At 55C, near the temperature at which the crystals would have grown most slowly, it would take around 990,000 years for a gypsum crystal 1 meter in diameter to form.
NASA

Submission + - To Boldly Go Nowhere (theatlantic.com)

ColdWetDog writes: A brief note in the Atlantic notes that Congress has failed to supply funds to continue Plutonium-238 production, needed for radioisotope generators for NASA's interplanetary probe programs. No PU-238 means no more missions like Cassini-Huygens and pretty much anywhere that the sun doesn't shine enough to power the satellite via solar cells.

The article notes that the only other source of PU-238 is Russia — either through the government or through trolling through Siberia and the Russian coastline looking for old Soviet Era lighthouses and power stations.

Feed Ars Technica: European Parliament passes anti-ACTA declaration (arstechnica.com)

Today377 members of the European Parliament adopted a written declaration on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in which they demand greater transparency, assert that ISPs should not up end being liable for data sent through their networks, and say that ACTA "should not force limitations upon judicial due process or weaken fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and the right to privacy."

The "written declaration" has no binding force; any MEP can issue one (there's a 200-word maximum), which is adopted when more than half of all MEPs sign on. If adopted, "written declarations are printed and posted on a board at the entrance to the Chambers in Strasbourg and Brussels." They also go up on the Web and get passed on to the European Commission.

But the declaration does give the ACTA negotiators a sense of the parliamentary will; in this case, Parliament has many concerns about both substance and process.

Some of these have already been addressed; the most recent leaked ACTA draft shows that ISP liability has been removed, for instance. Others, like concerns of access to medicines, especially those in transit from countries with looser patent systems, continue to be areas of concern—and have been for some time.

La Quadrature du Net, a French group that heavily backed the declaration, sees it as a sign that ACTA is doomed.

"Written Declaration 12 is a strong political signal sent by the EP to the Commission that ACTA is not tolerable as a way of bypassing democratic processes. Legislation related to Internet, freedom of speech and privacy cannot be negotiated in secrecy under the direct influence of entertainment industry lobbies," said spokesperson Jérémie Zimmermann. "Full rejection of ACTA is the only option."

Read the comments on this post



Science

Submission + - Scientists Cut Greenland Ice Loss Estimate By Half (yahoo.com)

bonch writes: A new study on Greenland's and West Antarctica's rate of ice loss halves the estimate of ice loss. Published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the study takes into account a rebounding of the Earth's crust called glacial isostatic adjustment, a continuing rise of the crust after being smashed under the weight of the Ice Age. 'We have concluded that the Greenland and West Antarctica ice caps are melting at approximately half the speed originally predicted,' said researcher Bert Vermeeersen.

Submission + - India's Mystery Red Rain Of Bugs Can Now Reproduce (motherboard.tv)

everydayelk writes: This is one of those stories where I wish I could put absolutely everything in the headline because it’s all so nuts and awesome. So, in 2001, there were widespread reports of a freaky red rain coming down in parts of southern India. It was unexplained. Sand? An alien life form? The initial official report had the cause an exploding meteor but, later, it was changed to lichen spoors.

Physicist Godfrey Louis grabbed some up at the time and has spent the intervening years trying to figure out why exactly it was red. What he found were living cells, sort of like Earth-bound bugs and sort of like red blood cells. Notably, they have no DNA and, overall, the internal structures of the cells are a mystery. His latest study, submitted to arxiv.org, presumes they might have some kind of nucleus.

They study's claiming a couple of pretty interesting things. One is that the cells reproduce at the extremely high temperature of around 250F—and that is only where they reproduce. Making them an extremely rare thing on Earth, even more extremely rare not with proximity to a volcanic vent. The other thing is that they share a certain light spectrum with the Red Rectangle nebula in deep space. Aliens? Probably not, but this is a case where things are so easily canned.

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 + - How to deal with a boss who is a bully? 2

spiffmastercow writes: Last week I got a new project manager who has been more than a little abrasive. My first conversation with him involved a condescending quiz on how an n-tier architecture worked, and my second conversation with him involved him ordering me to rewrite a code generator because I had not written it in his language of choice. He makes it a point to publicly deride members of my team in meetings, and complaining about code that he's "too busy" to actually look at. How have you dealt with this situation?
Red Hat Software

Submission + - Fedora 13 Alpha released (fedoraproject.org)

AdamWill writes: The first pre-release of Fedora 13, Fedora 13 Alpha, has been announced and is available here. As always, a new Fedora brings a bundle of new features, including available experimental open source 3D acceleration support for NVIDIA graphics adapters, automatic printer driver installation, easy color management on the GNOME desktop, a bundle of improvements to NetworkManager and more. Known issues are here.
Security

Submission + - Bank without case-sensitive passwords 3

Anonymous Coward writes: "I logged into my Charter One bank account when I noticed that my CAPS lock was on. I was curious if it was enabled before or after I typed in my password, so I logged out and then back in ignoring all casing. To my surprise it still went through. A friend who uses a completely different bank confirmed that his account password is also not case sensitive. Are banking systems running such old hardware that they simply do not support case sensitivity, or is this just due to a bad design? Maybe your bank account has poor security too. I find it disturbing that Slashdot has better online security than my bank."

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