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Japan's Shinkansen Bullet Trains Celebrate 50th Anniversary

Slashdot - Wed, 01/10/2014 - 19:51
AmiMoJo writes Japan's Shinkansen bullet-train has marked its 50th anniversary. The first Shinkansen between Tokyo and Osaka debuted on October 1st, 1964, ahead of the Tokyo Summer Olympics. Since then, the Shinkansen has run about 2 billion kilometers, or the equivalent of 50,000 times around the earth. It has carried about 5.6 billion passengers. The latest series to enter operation, the E5, operates at 320km/h.

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iOS Trojan Targets Hong Kong Protestors

Slashdot - Wed, 01/10/2014 - 19:30
First time accepted submitter Kexel writes Security researchers have claimed to discover the first Apple iOS Trojan attack in a move to thwart the communications of pro-democracy Hong Kong activists. From the article: "The malicious software, known as Xsser, is capable of stealing text messages, photos, call logs, passwords and other data from Apple mobile devices, researchers with Lacoon Mobile Security said on Tuesday. They uncovered the spyware while investigating similar malware for Google Inc's Android operating system last week that also targeted Hong Kong protesters. Anonymous attackers spread the Android spyware via WhatsApp, sending malicious links to download the program, according to Lacoon. It is unclear how iOS devices get infected with Xsser, which is not disguised as an app."

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Earth Gets Another Quasi-Moon

Slashdot - Wed, 01/10/2014 - 18:48
The Bad Astronomer writes Astronomers have found a new asteroid, 2014 OL339, that is a quasi-moon of the Earth. Discovered accidentally earlier this year, the 150-meter asteroid has an orbit that is more elliptical than Earth's, but has a period of almost exactly one year. It isn't bound to Earth like a real moon, but displays apparent motion as if it did, making it one of several known quasi-moons.

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Back To Faxes: Doctors Can't Exchange Digital Medical Records

Slashdot - Wed, 01/10/2014 - 18:07
nbauman writes: Doctors with one medical records system can't exchange information with systems made by other vendors, including those at their own hospitals, according to the New York Times. One ophthalmologist spent half a million dollars on a system, but still needs to send faxes to get the information where it needs to go. The largest vendor is Epic Systems, Madison, WI, which holds almost half the medical records in the U.S. A report from RAND described Epic as a "closed" platform that made it "challenging and costly" for hospitals to interconnect. The situation is bad for patients and costly for medical works: if doctors can't exchange records, they'll face a 1% Medicare penalty, and UC Davis alone has a staff of 22 dedicated to communication. On top of that, Epic charges a fee to send data to some non-Epic systems. Congress has held hearings on the matter, and Epic has hired a lobbyist. Epic's founder, billionaire computer science major Judith Faulkner, said that Epic was one of the first to establish code and standards for secure interchange, which included user authentication provisions and a legally binding contract. She said the federal government, which gave $24 billion in incentive payments to doctors for computerization, should have done that. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology said that it was a "top priority" and just recently wrote a 10-year vision statement and agenda for it.

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Hundreds of Police Agencies Distributing Spyware and Keylogger

Slashdot - Wed, 01/10/2014 - 17:26
realized sends this news from the EFF: For years, local law enforcement agencies around the country have told parents that installing ComputerCOP software is the "first step" in protecting their children online. ... As official as it looks,ComputerCOP is actually just spyware, generally bought in bulk from a New York company that appears to do nothing but market this software to local government agencies. The way ComputerCOP works is neither safe nor secure. It isn't particularly effective either, except for generating positive PR for the law enforcement agencies distributing it. As security software goes, we observed a product with a keystroke-capturing function, also called a "keylogger," that could place a family's personal information at extreme risk by transmitting what a user types over the Internet to third-party servers without encryption. EFF conducted a security review of ComputerCOP while also following the paper trail of public records to see how widely the software has spread. Based on ComputerCOP's own marketing information, we identified approximately 245 agencies in more than 35 states, plus the U.S. Marshals, that have used public funds (often the proceeds from property seized during criminal investigations) to purchase and distribute ComputerCOP. One sheriff's department even bought a copy for every family in its county.

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The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine

Slashdot - Wed, 01/10/2014 - 16:44
An anonymous reader writes: You may recall Cody Wilson as the man behind the world's first 3D-printed gun. He built a company behind the ideals of DIY gun-making, and now he's come back with another device: the "Ghost Gunner," a CNC mill designed to create the lower receiver of an AR-15 rifle. "That simple chunk of metal has become the epicenter of a gun control firestorm. A lower receiver is the body of the gun that connects its stock, barrel, magazine and other parts. As such, it's also the rifle's most regulated element. Mill your own lower receiver at home, however, and you can order the rest of the parts from online gun shops, creating a semi-automatic weapon with no serial number, obtained with no background check, no waiting period or other regulatory hurdles. Some gun control advocates call it a "ghost gun." Selling that untraceable gun body is illegal, but no law prevents you from making one." Wilson's goal is still to render government gun regulation useless, even as debate rages on banning this kind of manufacturing.

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Aral Sea Basin Almost Completely Dry

Slashdot - Wed, 01/10/2014 - 16:01
An anonymous reader writes: In 2000, NASA began taking satellite images of the Aral Sea in central Asia, which was once the fourth-largest inland lake in the world. At that time, there was an expansive eastern basin, and smaller basins to the north and west. In images recorded just last week, we see that the eastern basin is completely gone, and the western basin just a thin strip of water. The local fishing industry has been devastated, old ship graveyards now rest on dry ground, and salt-heavy sand is being blown around the region, causing health issues. Most of the lake's decline is attributable to human intervention: "In the 1950s, two of the region's major rivers – the Amu Darya and and the Syr Darya – were diverted by the Soviet government to provide irrigation for cotton production in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, starving the Aral. It has been diminishing ever since, with the sea level dropping 16 meters between 1960 and 1996, according to the World Bank. Water levels are believed to be down to less than 10 per cent of what they were five decades ago." Low levels of rain and snow didn't help.

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China Worried About Terrorist Pigeons

Slashdot - Wed, 01/10/2014 - 15:19
An anonymous reader writes: A pleasant event was planned for the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. A ceremony at Tiananmen Square would release 10,000 pigeons at sunrise to symbolize an era of peace. Unfortunately, even symbols of peace can apparently remind people of violence. Chinese authorities searched all 10,000 pigeons for "dangerous materials," after the government was concerned they might be used for attacks. The pigeons' feathers were checked, and they were given a cavity search as well. The reports did not indicate what kind of "dangerous materials" these pigeons might be carrying. It's unclear whether any pigeons disclosed terror plots under interrogation.

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Which Cars Get the Most Traffic Tickets?

Slashdot - Wed, 01/10/2014 - 14:37
An anonymous reader writes: Have you ever been pulled over for a traffic stop and wondered if your sporty car was what caught the officer's attention? Ever had an officer pass up your clunker to snag a flashier vehicle? Well, there's now some data showing which vehicles accumulate the most tickets. According to a study by Insurance.com, drivers of the Subaru WRX, Pontiac GTO, and Scion FR-S get a higher percentage of tickets than drivers of any other cars. At the bottom of the list, we see vehicles such as the Ford Ecosport, the Land Rover LR4, and Chevy Sportvan. They have a widget that will let you see data on your own make/model, if you're curious.

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Tetris To Be Made Into a Live Action Film

Slashdot - Wed, 01/10/2014 - 13:56
SchrodingerZ writes: Threshold Entertainment has announced that it will be producing a live action film based on the Russian stacking game Tetris. Designed in 1984 by Alexey Pajitnov, Tetris has sold over 35 million copies worldwide. Threshold CEO Larry Kasanoff promises "a very big, epic sci-fi movie," explaining, "this isn't a movie with a bunch of lines running around the page. We're not giving feet to the geometric shapes." Kasanoff is known for his work with the video game films Mortal Kombat, and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, collectively grossing $105 million in revenue. The studio is planning "a story behind Tetris which makes it a much more imaginative thing," though no directors nor cast have been connected to the film. Threshold Entertainment teased the idea, saying "What you [will] see in Tetris is the teeny tip of an iceberg that has intergalactic significance."

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David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

Slashdot - Wed, 01/10/2014 - 10:20
00_NOP writes: Children in the U.K. have been taught in metric measures in school since (at least) 1972, but yesterday British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested that they should actually be taught in Imperial measures (which are still in use officially to measure road distances and speeds, but not really anywhere else). Is this because he hasn't a clue about science or because he is catering to a particular political base?

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Robotic Taster Will Judge 'Real Thai Food'

Slashdot - Tue, 30/09/2014 - 14:22
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes The NYT reports that Thailand's former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra repeatedly encountered a distressing problem while traveling the world: bad Thai food. Too often, she found, the meals she sampled at Thai restaurants abroad were unworthy of the name, too bland to be called genuine Thai cooking. The problem bothered her enough to raise it at a cabinet meeting. Even though her political party has since been thrown out of office, in a May military coup, the Thai government is unveiling its project to standardize the art of Thai food using a robot. The government-financed Thai Delicious Committee, which oversaw the development of the machine, describes it as "an intelligent robot that measures smell and taste in food ingredients through sensor technology in order to measure taste like a food critic." Thailand's National Innovation Agency has spent about $100,000 to develop the e-delicious machine. The e-delicious machine has 10 sensors that measure smell and taste, generating a unique fingerprint (signature) for each sample of food that passes its digital maw. Generally with electronic tasting, there are electronic sensors that work just like the taste buds on your tongue, measuring the quantity of various taste-giving compounds, acidity, etc. While these electronic sensors can't actually tell you how something tastes — that's a very subjective, human thing — they are very good at comparing two foods scientifically. Meanwhile at a tiny food stall along one of Bangkok's traffic-clogged boulevards, Thaweekiat Nimmalairatana, questioned the necessity of a robatic taster. "I use my tongue to test if it's delicious or not," said Nimmalairatana. "I think the government should consider using a human to gauge authenticity."

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Apple Fixes Shellshock In OS X

Slashdot - Tue, 30/09/2014 - 13:42
jones_supa (887896) writes Apple has released the OS X Bash Update 1.0 for OS X Mavericks, Mountain Lion, and Lion, a patch that fixes the "Shellshock" bug in the Bash shell. Bash, which is the default shell for many Linux-based operating systems, has been updated two times to fix the bug, and many Linux distributions have already issued updates to their users. When installed on an OS X Mavericks system, the patch upgrades the Bash shell from version 3.2.51 to version 3.2.53. The update requires the OS X 10.9.5, 10.8.5, or 10.7.5 updates to be installed on the system first. An Apple representative told Ars Technica that OS X Yosemite, the upcoming version of OS X, will receive the patch later.

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CloudFlare Announces Free SSL Support For All Customers

Slashdot - Tue, 30/09/2014 - 03:10
Z80xxc! writes: CloudFlare, a cloud service that sits between websites and the internet to provide a CDN, DDOS and other attack prevention, speed optimization, and other services announced today that SSL will now be supported for all customers, including free customers. This will add SSL support to approximately 2 million previously unprotected websites. Previously SSL was only available to customers paying at least $20/month for a "Pro" plan or higher. Browsers connect to CloudFlare's servers and receive a certificate provided by CloudFlare. CloudFlare then connects to the website's server to retrieve the content, serving as a sort of reverse proxy. Different security levels allow CloudFlare to connect to the website host using no encryption, a self-signed certificate, or a verified certificate, depending on the administrator's preferences. CloudFlare's servers will use SNI for free accounts, which is unsupported for IE on Windows XP and older, and Android Browser on Android 2.2 and older.

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Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

Slashdot - Tue, 30/09/2014 - 01:17
An anonymous reader writes: Incremental improvements have been slowly but surely pushing solar power toward mainstream viability for a few decades now. It's getting to the point where the established utilities are worried about the financial hit they're likely to take — and they're working to prevent it. "These solar households are now buying less and less electricity, but the utilities still have to manage the costs of connecting them to the grid. Indeed, a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory argues that this trend could put utilities in dire financial straits. If rooftop solar were to grab 10 percent of the market over the next decade, utility earnings could decline as much as 41 percent." The utilities are throwing their weight behind political groups seeking to end subsidies for solar and make "net metering" policies go away. Studies suggest that if solar adoption continues growing at its current rate, incumbents will be forced to raise their prices, which will only persuade more people to switch to solar (PDF).

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Microsoft Revives Its Hardware Conference

Slashdot - Mon, 29/09/2014 - 21:42
jfruh writes Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, or WinHEC, was an annual staple of the '90s and '00s: every year, execs from Redmond would tell OEMs what to expect when it came to Windows servers and PCs. The conference was wrapped with software into Build in 2009, but now it's being revived to deal with not just computers but also the tablets and cell phone Microsoft has found itself in the business of selling and even making. It's also being moved from the U.S. to China, as an acknowledgment of where the heart of the tech hardware business is now.

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Former GM Product Czar: Tesla a "Fringe Brand"

Slashdot - Mon, 29/09/2014 - 21:00
cartechboy writes There's been plenty of skepticism when it comes to Tesla. The Silicon Valley startup unveiled an all-electric car that stunned the world and had many other automakers rolling their eyes. Fast forward to 2014 and Tesla's preparing to launch its third model, the Model X. Production of the Model S sedan is humming along, and this new automaker continues to make headlines multiple times a week. Industry veteran Bob Lutz was the champion behind the Chevrolet Volt, and has been quite vocal about Tesla from the beginning. So what's his view on the company now? He said Tesla will remain a "fringe brand" until it launches its next generation of vehicles and the smaller, less expensive Model 3. Speaking Wednesday on CNBC's "Squawk Alley" finance show he said that Tesla's stock price was "kinda high" at the moment.

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Building Apps In Swift With Storyboards

Slashdot - Mon, 29/09/2014 - 20:38
Nerval's Lobster writes Apple touts the Swift programming language as easy to use, thanks in large part to features such as Interface Builder, a visual designer provided in Xcode that allows a developer to visually design storyboards. In theory, this simplifies the process of designing both screens and the connections between screens, as it needs no code and offers an easy-to-read visual map of an app's navigation. But is Swift really so easy (or at least as easy as anything else in a developer's workflow)? This new walkthrough of Interface Builder (via Dice) shows that it's indeed simple to build an app with these custom tools... so long as the app itself is simple. Development novices who were hoping that Apple had created a way to build complex apps with a limited amount of actual coding might have to spend a bit more time learning the basics before embarking on the big project of their dreams.

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Marines Put Microsoft Kinect To Work For 3D Mapping

Slashdot - Mon, 29/09/2014 - 18:09
colinneagle points out this article about how the Marines are using a Microsoft Kinect to build maps. A military contractor has come up with something that has the U.S. Marine Corps interested. The Augmented Reality Sand Table is currently being developed by the Army Research Laboratory and was on display at the Modern Day Marine Expo that recently took place on Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia. The set-up is simple: a table-sized sandbox is rigged with a Microsoft Kinect video game motion sensor and an off-the-shelf projector. Using existing software, the sensor detects features in the sand and projects a realistic topographical map that corresponds to the layout, which can change in real time as observers move the sand around in the box. The setup can also project maps from Google Earth or other mapping and GPS systems, enabling units to visualize the exact terrain they'll be covering for exercises or operations. Eventually, they hope to add visual cues to help troops shape the sandbox to match the topography of a specified map. Eventually, the designers of the sandbox hope to involve remote bases or even international partners in conducting joint training and operations exercises. Future possibilities include large-scale models that could project over a gymnasium floor for a battalion briefing, and a smartphone version that could use a pocket-sized projector to turn any patch of dirt into an operational 3-D map.

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Apple Faces Large Penalties In EU Tax Probe

Slashdot - Mon, 29/09/2014 - 13:48
First time accepted submitter chasm22 writes EU Regulators are apparently set to accuse Apple and the Irish government of entering into several sweetheart deals that left Apple with lower taxes than what it legally owed. If the ruling is upheld, Apple could owe billions in back taxes. Interestingly, it seems that the Irish government would actually get the extra money and suffer little for its part in the scheme.

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