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Hacker Holds Key To Free Flights

Slashdot - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 13:47
mask.of.sanity writes: "A security researcher says he has developed a method to score free flights across Europe by generating fake boarding passes designed for Apple's Passbook app. The 18-year-old computer science undergrad didn't reveal the 'bypass' which gets the holder of the fraudulent ticket past the last scanner and onto the jetway; he's saving that for his talk at Hack in the Box in Amsterdam next month."

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Will Living On Mars Drive Us Crazy?

Slashdot - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 13:03
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "When astronauts first began flying in space, NASA worried about 'space madness,' a mental malady they thought might arise from humans experiencing microgravity and claustrophobic isolation inside of a cramped spacecraft high above the Earth. Now Megan Garber writes in The Atlantic that NASA is hoping to find out what life on Mars does to the human emotional state by putting three men and three women in a 1,000-square-foot habitat shaped like a dome for four months. The volunteers in the second HI-SEAS mission — a purposely tiny group selected out of a group of 700 applicants — include, among others, a neuropsychologist, an aerospace engineer, and an Air Force veteran who is studying human factors in aviation. 'We're going to stress them,' says Kim Binsted, the project's principal investigator. 'That's the nature of the study.' That test involves isolating the crew in the same way they'd be isolated on Mars. The only communication they'll be allowed with the outside world—that is to say, with their family and friends—will be conducted through email. (And that will be given an artificial delay of 20 minutes to simulate the lag involved in Mars-to-Earth communications.) If that doesn't seem too stressful, here's another source of stress: Each mission member will get only eight minutes of shower time ... per week. The stress will be compounded by the fact that the only time the crew will be able to leave their habitat-yurt is when they're wearing puffy, insulated uniforms that simulate space suits. In the Hawaiian heat. Throughout the mission, researchers will be testing the subjects' moods and the changes they exhibit in their relationships with each other. They'll also be examining the crew members' cognitive skills, seeing whether—and how—they change as the experiment wears on. Binsted says the mission has gotten the attention of the TV world but don't expect to see much inside-the-dome footage. 'You wouldn't believe the number of producers who called us,' says Binsted. 'Fortunately, we're not ethically allowed to subject our crew to that kind of thing.'"

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Skydiver's Helmet Cam Captures a Falling Meteor

Slashdot - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 10:21
reifman (786887) writes "Anders Helstrup went skydiving nearly two years ago near Hedmark, Norway and while he didn't realize it at the time, when he reviewed the footage taken by two cameras fixed to his helmet during the dive, he saw a rock plummet past him. He took it to experts and they realized he had captured a meteorite falling during its dark flight — when it has been slowed by atmospheric braking, and has cooled and is no longer luminous."

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Saturn's Moon Enceladus Has Underground Ocean

Slashdot - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 09:07
astroengine (1577233) writes "Gravity measurements made with the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft indicate the small moon Enceladus has an ocean sandwiched between its rocky core and icy shell, a finding that raises the prospects of a niche for life beyond Earth. The Cassini data shows the body of water, which is in the moon's southern hemisphere, must be as large or larger than Lake Superior and sitting on top of the moon's rocky core at a depth of about 31 miles. 'The ocean may extend halfway or more toward the equator in every direction,' said planetary scientist David Stevenson, with the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena."

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Oxford Internet Institute Creates Internet "Tube" Map

Slashdot - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 08:09
First time accepted submitter Jahta (1141213) writes "The Oxford Internet Institute has created a schematic of the world's international fiber-optic links in the style of the famous London Tube map. The schematic also highlights nodes where censorship and surveillance are known to be in operation. The map uses data sourced from cablemap.info. Each node has been assigned to a country, and all nodes located in the same country have been collapsed into a single node. The resulting network has been then abstracted."

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Cheaper Fuel From Self-Destructing Trees

Slashdot - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 05:31
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Wood is great for building and heating homes, but it's the bane of biofuels. When converting plants to fuels, engineers must remove a key component of wood, known as lignin, to get to the sugary cellulose that's fermented into alcohols and other energy-rich compounds. That's costly because it normally requires high temperatures and caustic chemicals. Now, researchers in the United States and Canada have modified the lignin in poplar trees to self-destruct under mild processing conditions—a trick that could slash the cost of turning plant biomass into biofuels."

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Study: Exposure To Morning Sunlight Helps Managing Weight

Slashdot - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 03:00
jones_supa (887896) writes "A new Northwestern Medicine study reports the timing, intensity and duration of your light exposure during the day is linked to your weight — the first time this has been shown. People who had most of their daily exposure to even moderately bright light in the morning had a significantly lower body mass index (BMI) than those who had most of their light exposure later in the day, the study found. It accounted for about 20 percent of a person's BMI and was independent of an individual's physical activity level, caloric intake, sleep timing, age or season. About 20 to 30 minutes of morning light is enough to affect BMI. The senior author Phyllis C. Zee rationalizes this by saying that light is the most potent agent to synchronize your internal body clock that regulates circadian rhythms, which in turn also regulate energy balance. The study was small and short. It included 54 participants (26 males, 28 females), an average age of 30. They wore a wrist actigraphy monitor that measured their light exposure and sleep parameters for seven days in normal-living conditions. Their caloric intake was determined from seven days of food logs. The study was published April 2 in the journal PLOS ONE. Giovanni Santostasi, a research fellow in neurology at Feinberg, is a co-lead author."

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What's In a Username? the Power of Gamer Tags

Slashdot - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 02:04
An anonymous reader writes "Are pro gamers good because they're good, or just because their usernames make you think they are? New scientific research suggests it may actually be a little bit of both. What's most interesting about this isn't what it says about current players, but how up and coming gamers will choose their own handles in future, both to intimidate opponents — and pull in the audiences that help subsidize their budding careers."

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China Cracks Down On Bitcoin, Cuts Off Exchanges' Bank Access

Slashdot - Thu, 03/04/2014 - 19:13
jfruh (300774) writes "Bitcoin has made many governments and regulators uncomfortable, and the Chinese government is responding to the challenge it poses with its usual lack of subtlety. Two Chinese bitcoin exchanges have found themselves cut off from the money economy, as Chinese banks, under pressure from the government, refuse to do business with them."

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Amazon's Fire TV: Is It Worth Game Developers' Time?

Slashdot - Thu, 03/04/2014 - 18:32
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Amazon is serious about conquering the living room: the online retailer has launched Fire TV, a set-top box that not only allows viewers to stream content, but also play games. That streaming-and-gaming capability makes Amazon a threat to Apple, which rumors suggest is hard at work on an Apple TV capable of doing the same things. In addition, Fire TV puts the screws to other streaming hardware, including Roku and Google's Chromecast, as well as smaller game consoles such as Ouya (a $99, Android-based device). Much of Amazon's competitive muscle comes from its willingness to sell hardware for cheap (the Fire TV retails for $99) on the expectation that owners will use it to stream and download digital content from Amazon, including television shows and apps. Those developers who've developed Android games have an advantage when it comes to migrating software to Amazon's new platform. "Porting You Don't Know Jack was really like developing for Android, with the exception of the store and the new controller library," Jackbox Games Designer/Director Steve Heinrich told Gamasutra after the Fire TV announcement. "The store itself is the same as the Kindle version, which we've used many times now, and the way the controller works is very close to what we did for Ouya." While Fire TV could represent yet another opportunity for game developers looking to make a buck, it also raises a pressing question: with so many platforms out there (iOS, PC, etc.), how's an indie developer or smaller firm supposed to allocate time and resources to best advantage?"

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Russian GLONASS Down For 12 Hours

Slashdot - Thu, 03/04/2014 - 14:03
An anonymous reader writes "In an unprecedented total disruption of a fully operational GNSS constellation, all satellites in the Russian GLONASS broadcast corrupt information for 11 hours, from just past midnight until noon Russian time (UTC+4), on April 2 (or 5 p.m. on April 1 to 4 a.m. April 2, U.S. Eastern time). This rendered the system completely unusable to all worldwide GLONASS receivers."

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Scientists Solve the Mystery of Why Zebras Have Stripes

Slashdot - Thu, 03/04/2014 - 13:03
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "There have been many explanations for the zebra's impressive stripes including Darwin who thought that the stripes help males and females make sensible choices about whom they mate with. Now Henry Nicholls reports at The Guardian that Tim Caro at the University of California, Davis, has taken a completely original approach, stepping back from one species of zebra and attempting to account for the differences in patterning across different species and subspecies of zebras, horses and asses to see if there is anything about the habitat or ecology of these different equids that hints at the function of stripes. To answer that question, Caro and his colleagues created a detailed map charting the ranges of striped vs. non-striped species and subspecies. Then they worked on a map for the bloodsuckers that targeted those species — specifically, abanid biting flies (horse flies) and tsetse flies. 'I was amazed by our results,' says Caro. 'Again and again, there was greater striping on areas of the body in those parts of the world where there was more annoyance from biting flies.' Where there are tsetse flies, for instance, the equids tend to come in stripes. Where there aren't, they don't. Biologists who buy into the bug-repellent hypothesis say that, all other things being equal, striped animals would have an evolutionary advantage because they wouldn't suffer from the loss of blood, reduced weight gain and lowered milk production that's associated with bug bites. Tsetse flies are also associated with the transmission of diseases. 'There are a lot of them, such as sleeping sickness, equine anemia and equine influenza,' Caro says. Why would zebras evolve to have stripes whereas other hooved mammals did not? The study found that, unlike other African hooved mammals living in the same areas as zebras, zebra hair is shorter than the mouthpart length of biting flies, so zebras may be particularly susceptible to annoyance by biting flies. 'It's clear that the flies can get through that hair and get to the skin.'"

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Ad Tracking: Is Anything Being Done?

Slashdot - Thu, 03/04/2014 - 10:31
bsk_cw (1202181) writes "The W3C's Tracking Protection Working Group has been trying to come up with a way to make targeted ads acceptable to users and useful to advertisers — and so far, hasn't gotten very far. Computerworld's Robert Mitchell has interviewed people on all sides of the issue — consumer privacy advocates, vendors of ad-blocking tools, advertisers and website publishers — to try to unravel the issues and see if any solution is possible at all."

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Fukushima Photo Essay: a Drone's Eye View

Slashdot - Thu, 03/04/2014 - 08:05
Hallie Siegel (2973169) writes "Here's stunning photos and incredible interactive aerial maps of the devastation, cleanup and reconstruction effort in the region around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Adam Klaptocz of Drone Adventures in collaboration with Taichi Furuhashi, researcher at the Center for Spatial Information Science at the University of Tokyo show the current state of the region."

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Will Cameras Replace Sideview Mirrors On Cars In 2018?

Slashdot - Thu, 03/04/2014 - 01:22
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Just the other day we read about how the Department of Transportation will require all manufacturers to include rearview cameras on all new cars produced after May 1, 2018. But there's something else auto manufacturers are pushing for, the ability to replace sideview mirrors with cameras in 2018. Tesla in particular is pushing for this to happen as traditional mirrors are bulky, and not very aerodynamic. That lump of plastic can cause surprising amounts of drag on an otherwise smooth car body. Camera units are much smaller and can be made streamlined, or even mounted nearly flush with the body, thus reducing aerodynamic drag. The idea has been around since the 1990s, and many concept cars have used cameras instead of sideview mirrors for years. But how will NHTSA respond? Is it finally time to ditch the sideview mirror?"

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App Developers, It's Time For a Reality Check

Slashdot - Wed, 02/04/2014 - 22:27
Nerval's Lobster writes: "An article in the Harvard Business Review does its best to punch a small hole in the startup-hype balloon. 'Encouraging kids to blow off schoolwork to write apps, or skip college to become entrepreneurs, is like advising them to take their college money and invest it in PowerBall,' Jerry Davis, Wilbur K. Pierpont professor of management at the Ross School of Business and the editor of Administrative Science Quarterly, wrote in that column. 'A few may win big; many or most will end up living with their moms.' Whether or not the unfortunate developer ends up back in the childhood bedroom, it's true that, with millions of apps available across all mobile platforms, it's increasingly difficult for independent developers to stand out. Compounding the problem, some of the hottest companies out there for developers and programmers don't have nearly enough job openings to absorb the flood of graduates from the world's universities. So what's a developer to do? Continue to plow forward, with adjusted expectations: the prospect of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg is just too tantalizing for many people to pass up, even if the chances of wild success are smaller than anyone rational would like to admit."

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USB Reversable Cable Images Emerge

Slashdot - Wed, 02/04/2014 - 22:05
Lucas123 writes: "A presentation released today by Intel revealed images of the USB 3.1 Type-C cable and connectors, which is symmetrical and will no longer require a user to correctly orient the plug. Initially, the USB 3.1 Type-C specification will support up to 10Gbps data transfer speeds. The Type-C connectors resemble those of Apple's Thunderbolt cabling in that they are much smaller than today's USB SuperSpeed connectors. The receptacle opening is 8.3mm x 2.5mm.The first iteration will have a 5 volt power transfer rate, but it is expected to deliver up to 100 watts for higher power applications in the future."

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NASA Halts Non-ISS Work With Russia Over Ukraine Crisis

Slashdot - Wed, 02/04/2014 - 20:21
An anonymous reader writes "The Verge reports on an internal memo from NASA indicating that they've suspended all contracts and activities with Russia that aren't involved with operating the International Space Station. Quoting: 'Given Russia's ongoing violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, until further notice, the U.S. Government has determined that all NASA contacts with Russian Government representatives are suspended, unless the activity has been specifically excepted. This suspension includes NASA travel to Russia and visits by Russian Government representatives to NASA facilities, bilateral meetings, email, and teleconferences or videoconferences. At the present time, only operational International Space Station activities have been excepted.' NASA Administrator Charles Bolden argued recently that our dependence on Russia for putting astronauts into space needs to end."

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Book Review: How I Discovered World War IIs Greatest Spy

Slashdot - Wed, 02/04/2014 - 19:39
benrothke (2577567) writes "When it comes to documenting the history of cryptography, David Kahn is singularly one of the finest, if not the finest writers in that domain. For anyone with an interest in the topic, Kahn's works are read in detail and anticipated. His first book was written almost 50 years ago: The Codebreakers – The Story of Secret Writing; which was a comprehensive overview on the history of cryptography. Other titles of his include Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-Boats Codes, 1939-1943. The Codebreakers was so good and so groundbreaking, that some in the US intelligence community wanted the book banned. They did not bear a grudge, as Kahn became an NSA scholar-in-residence in the mid 1990's. With such a pedigree, many were looking forward, including myself, to his latest book How I Discovered World War IIs Greatest Spy and Other Stories of Intelligence and Code. While the entire book is fascinating, it is somewhat disingenuous, in that there is no new material in it. Many of the articles are decades old, and some go back to the late 1970's. From the book description and cover, one would get the impression that this is an all new work. But it is not until ones reads the preface, that it is detailed that the book is simple an assemblage of collected articles." Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.

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FWD.us Wants More H-1B Visas, But 50% Go To Offshore Firms

Slashdot - Wed, 02/04/2014 - 10:10
theodp writes: "On the day the U.S. began accepting H-1B visa applications for FY2015, Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC stepped up its lobbying efforts for more tech visas even as ComputerWorld reported that the major share of H-1B visas go to offshore outsourcing firms that use visa holders to displace U.S. workers. 'The two largest H-1B users,' notes ComputerWorld, 'are Indian-based, Infosys, with 6,298 visas, and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), with 6,258.' ComputerWorld adds that food and agricultural company Cargill is outsourcing IT jobs to TCS, including 300 in Minnesota, the home of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, sponsor of the I-Squared Act of 2013, which would allow H-1B visa caps to rise to 300,000 annually."

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