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Submission + - Alternatives to Slashdot post beta? 8

An anonymous reader writes: Like many Slashdotters, I intend to stop visiting Slashdot after the beta changeover. After years of steady decline in the quality of discussions here, the beta will be the last straw. What sites alternative to Slashdot have others found? The best I have found has been arstechnica.com, but it has been a while since I've looked for tech discussion sites.

Submission + - Facebook Silently Removes Ability to Download Your Posts (angrymath.com) 1

dcollins writes: Facebook has a "Download Info" capability that I've used regularly since 2010 to archive, backup, and search all the information that I've written and shared there (called "wall posts"). But I've discovered that sometime in the last few months, Facebook silently removed this largest component from the Downloaded Info, locking up all of your posted information internally where it can no longer be exported or digitally searched. Will they reverse course if this is publicized and they're pressured on the matter?

Submission + - WPA cracked by Russians using NVIDIA cards (scmagazineuk.com) 3

Death Metal writes: "Global Secure Systems has said that a Russian's firm's use of the latest NVidia graphics cards to accelerate WiFi password recovery' times by up to an astonishing 10,000 per cent proves that WiFi's WPA and WPA2 encryption systems are no longer enough to protect wireless data."

Submission + - VIA quits motherboard chipset business (custompc.co.uk)

arcticstoat writes: Following the media hit that was VIA's Nano processor, VIA says that it's now quitting the motherboard chipset business that used to be its bread and butter product for years. VIA's vice president of corporate marketing in Taiwan, Richard Brown, explained that: 'Intel provides the vast majority of chipsets for its processors and, following its purchase of ATI, AMD is also moving very quickly in the same direction.' Although VIA will still be developing chipsets for integrated motherboards featuring the Nano CPU, but will no longer produce chipsets for Intel and AMD CPUs. Was this the right decision, and where does this leave other third-party chipset manufacturers such as SiS?

Submission + - Creative Capitalism Gets Microsoft $528M Tax Break (crosscut.com) 5

NewsCloud writes: "Microsoft makes products in Washington but records software sales to PC makers and high-volume customers through an operation in Nevada, where there is no corporate tax. So Washington has missed out on more than half a billion in taxes; revenue it could use for badly needed infrastructure needs — such as the needed replacement of the 520 bridge which connects Seattle ... to Microsoft. Reported by Slashdot in 2004, the numbers have increased with the company's growth to approx. $76M in savings last year alone. The author questions the legality of the practice given Microsoft's 35,500+ employees and 11.2 million square feet of real estate in Washington state."
Operating Systems

Submission + - Windows XP SP3 Yields Performance Gains (osnews.com) 2

hairyfeet writes: "OSNews is reporting that after an abysmal showing by Vista SP1 in the latest benchmarks that, surprisingly, Windows XP SP3 showed a marked improvement over SP2, gaining around ten percent in performance in the benchmarks. Considering that Microsoft has kept pushing forward the end of life date on XP due to customer and PC manufacturer demand, one has to wonder how wise it is for them to release a service pack that makes the older XP even faster than it already was compared to Vista."

Submission + - Is Garbage Collection killing computer performance

fluor2 writes: "I've become increasingly frustrated with the speed of computers lately, or rather, lack thereof. After thinking about it, I came up with three reasons why I think computers have gotten slow." — VirtualDub programmer, Avery Lee.

"Let's be honest: garbage collection is here to stay. It's quite powerful for certain data structures, most notably string heaps, and it has undeniable benefits in other areas such as sandboxed execution environments and concurrent programming. What I think aggrevates the problems, though, are languages and programming environments that you insist on putting everything in the GC heap."

Read his interesting blog post, which I think really missed a focus from both slashdot and other computer sites.

Microsoft Admits XP Has Same Bug As Win2K 161

Arashtamere sends in a Computerworld story on a security flaw in the Windows 2000 pseudo-random number generator published by Israeli researchers earlier this month. Microsoft has now admitted that the flaw is present in XP too. Microsoft denies that the bug is a security vulnerability, since an attacker would have to have gained administrative access to a system before exploiting it. (The Israeli researchers point out that many common exploits provide admin access.) This stance apparently lets them off the hook for patching Win2K, which is in "extended support" mode, though it powers about 9% of US and EU business computers. Microsoft said that XP SP3, due in the first half of next year, will fix the bug. The company said that Vista, Windows Server 2003 SP2, and the new Windows Server 2008 are not vulnerable.
The Military

Submission + - British Nukes Protected with Bicycle Locks

Ponca City, We Love You writes: "Until 1998 British nuclear weapons were armed by inserting a bicycle lock key into the arming switch and turning it 90 degrees, the BBC reported last week. There was no code required or dual key system to prevent a rogue individual from arming the Bomb. The British military resisted proposals to fit bombs with Permissive Action Links — or PALs — which would prevent them being armed unless the right code was sent. PALs were introduced in the 1960s in America to prevent a mad General or pilot launching a nuclear war off their own bat — the Dr Strangelove scenario. The correct code had to be transmitted by the US Chiefs of Staff and dialed into the Bomb before it could be armed otherwise it would not detonate. Papers at Britian's National Archive show that as early as 1966 an attempt was made to impose PAL security on British nuclear weapons. The Royal Navy argued that officers of the Royal Navy as the Senior Service could be trusted: "It would be invidious to suggest... that Senior Service officers may, in difficult circumstances, act in defiance of their clear orders". Learn how to arm a WE 177 nuclear bomb (video)."

Feed Engadget: Toshiba's Mike Eves wackily compares format war to fuel (engadget.com)

Filed under: HDTV, Home Entertainment

Although one has to consider Toshiba's obvious bias in the format war, we still can't quite wrap our heads around what Mike Eves is trying to get at here. Reportedly, the company's retail marketing executive for its consumer products division told Pocket-Lint that the "HD DVD / Blu-ray battle is like petrol versus diesel at the pumps," and somewhat clarified his thoughts by asserting that "both would probably exist together rather than a single format winning out." Of course, that last statement doesn't deviate too far from the sentiments issued by Sony's Howard Stringer just days ago, and while he couldn't be coerced into admitting whether or not combo players were a good thing, another spokesman did state that he wasn't keen on having two units under his TV. Whatever the case, we can't imagine that having two formats for the duration would be a boon for consumers, but regrettably, we're hardly any closer to seeing a clear-cut winner today than we were on the day these two left the gates.

[Thanks, Timothy, image courtesy of SciFi]

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Submission + - Has Science Become Corrupted?

An anonymous reader writes: Has Science Become Corrupted?

An award winning science author, Gary Taubes has written a book that pans the medical community's treatment of the obesity epidemic. By itself, that isn't particularly worth our time. Diet books are a dime a dozen and we don't cover them on Slashdot anyway.

What is interesting is that it looks like the medical community is behaving in a very unscientific manner. Taubes points out that the current medical orthodoxy has no basis in research. In fact, all the available research points in quite another (more traditional) direction. Here is BoingBoing's take on the story. You can follow the link from there to an excellent podcast of an interview with Taubes on CBC's 'Quirks and Quarks'.

The medical community seems to defer unthinkingly to authority. For instance, when Britain's most respected paediatrician Sir Roy Meadow came up with a crackpot theory (which I thought we have covered on Slashdot but can't find) that sent innocent people to jail, the courts and the medical community bought it hook line and sinker. Of course, he isn't the only one in that boat. Pathologists all over the world have sent innocent people to jail. There's a case in Ontario, Canada right now of a pathologist who screwed up more than twenty cases and sent several people to jail.

People who study expert behavior have found that people need feedback to maintain their expertise. If they don't get the feedback by the nature of the system or because others are too intimidated/lazy to disagree with them, their behavior becomes non-expert. Ericsson points out that surgeons get better as they get older but mammographers don't. Surgeons get feedback immediately. The patient lives or dies. Mammographers may never find out if they are right or wrong.

So, has medicine become a non-science? Is it mostly a non-science? Somewhat? Can physicists feel smug with their repeatable experiments or do they have some 'splainin to do about string theory?

Submission + - AMD Phenom X4 pricing update (techspot.com)

A handsome coward writes: Different to a report unveiled earlier this month, a new pricing scheme for Phenom X4 processors would mean that AMD is ready to undercut similar Intel "Penryn" quad core processors when they are released next Monday. The flagship Phenom X4 9700 will sell for $279 while the baseline X4 9500 at $239 would become the cheapest quad core processor you can get.

Submission + - AMD HD 3800 Series Ushers New Life for Radeon (pcper.com) 2

SizeWise writes: "Last month we learned of the NVIDIA G92 8800 GT graphics card that turned in $400 performance for $250. AMD wasn't going to miss the boat either and their new RV670 GPU is being released in both the Radeon HD 3850 and HD 3870 cards targeting similar performance levels but lower prices. PC Perspective has tested both cards in games like Call of Duty 4, Unreal Tournament 3, Bioshock and several others and found that the lower priced HD 3850 is the real winner, performing nearly twice as good as similarly priced NVIDIA parts. The HD 3870 doesn't do quite as well but still turns out to be a reasonable GPU for the money that uses much less power than the previous AMD R600 cards."

Submission + - Hackers Exploit SafeDisc DRM in Windows XP

An anonymous reader writes: InfoWorld has a story on how hackers are taking advantage of a privilege escalation bug in the SafeDisc DRM that ships with Windows XP and Server 2003. What I wonder is why did Microsoft include this more subtle DRM at all, and can't users simply remove the secdrv.sys file and avoid what could be a slimy patch/secret DRM upgrade?

Read: http://www.infoworld.com/article/07/11/06/Hackers-exploiting-bug-in-DRM-shipped-with-Windows_1.html

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... when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor. -- Fred Brooks