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Health Advisor: Ebola Still Spreading, Worst Outbreak We've Ever Seen

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 7:53pm
Lasrick writes After four decades of confining Ebola outbreaks to small areas, experts acknowledged in an October 9 New England Journal of Medicine article that "we were wrong" about the scope of the current situation. At the present transmission rate, the number of Ebola cases in West Africa doubles every two to three weeks. Early diagnosis is the key to controlling the epidemic, but that's far easier said than done: "And there are several complicating factors. For one thing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 60 percent of all Ebola patients remain undiagnosed in their communities." A transmission rate below 1 is necessary to keep the outbreak under control (instead of the current rate of 1.5 to 2), and the authors detail what's in the works to help achieve early detection, which is crucial to reducing the current transmission rate.

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Ask Slashdot: Best Biometric Authentication System?

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 7:06pm
kwelch007 writes I run a network for a company that does manufacturing primarily in a clean-room. We have many systems in place that track countless aspects of every step. However, we do not have systems in place to identify the specific user performing the step. I could do this easily, but asking users to input their AD login every time they perform a task is a time-waster (we have "shared" workstations throughout.) My question is, what technologies are people actually using successfully for rapid authentication? I've thought about fingerprint scanners, but they don't work because in the CR we have to wear gloves. So, I'm thinking either face-recognition or retinal scans...but am open to other ideas if they are commercially viable.

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Voting Machines Malfunction: 5,000 Votes Not Counted In Kansas County

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 6:25pm
An anonymous reader writes A malfunction in electronic voting machines in Saline County, Kansas, left over 5,000 votes uncounted. That's roughly one-third of the votes cast. Counting those 5,207 votes didn't change any outcomes in this case however. “That’s a huge difference,” county Chairman Randy Duncan said when notified by the Journal of the error. “That’s scary. That makes me wonder about voting machines. Should we go back to paper ballots?”

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Categories: Geek News

Bitcoin Is Not Anonymous After All

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 5:42pm
Taco Cowboy points out a new study that shows it is possible to figure out the IP address of someone who pays for transactions anonymously online using bitcoins. "The Bitcoin system is not managed by a central authority, but relies on a peer-to-peer network on the Internet. Anyone can join the network as a user or provide computing capacity to process the transactions. In the network, the user's identity is hidden behind a cryptographic pseudonym, which can be changed as often as is wanted. Transactions are signed with this pseudonym and broadcast to the public network to verify their authenticity and attribute the Bitcoins to the new owner. In their new study, researchers at the Laboratory of Algorithmics, Cryptology and Security of the University of Luxembourg have shown that Bitcoin does not protect user's IP address and that it can be linked to the user's transactions in real-time. To find this out, a hacker would need only a few computers and about €1500 per month for server and traffic costs. Moreover, the popular anonymization network "Tor" can do little to guarantee Bitcoin user's anonymity, since it can be blocked easily."

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BlackBerry Will Buy Your iPhone For $550

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 5:00pm
mpicpp points out that BlackBerry is hoping to get iPhone owners to switch to Passport smartphones by promising up to $550 to trade in their phones. "The promotion, which starts Monday, promises as much as $550 to iPhone owners who trade in their handsets in favor of BlackBerry's Passport. The actual trade-in value depends on the iPhone, with the iPhone 4S worth up to $90 and the iPhone 6 worth up to $400. (The iPhone 6 Plus is not eligible.) BlackBerry then sweetens the deal by kicking in an additional $150 as a topper for each iPhone. The deal will run through February 13, but it's good only in North America. Customers must buy the $599 to $699 unlocked Passport phone through either BlackBerry's website or Amazon. The trade-in amount comes in the form of a Visa prepaid card."

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Jackie Chan Discs Help Boost Solar Panel Efficiency

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 4:16pm
wbr1 writes Apparently the pit pattern on a blu-ray disk is great at helping trap photons, rather than reflecting them. Applying this pattern to the glass in a solar panel can boost efficiency by 22%. Researchers at Northwestern tested this system with Jackie Chan discs. From the article: "To increase the efficiency of a solar panel by 22%, the researchers at Northwestern bought a copy of Police Story 3: Supercop on Blu-ray; removed the top plastic layer, exposing the recording medium beneath; cast a mold of the quasi-random pattern; and then used the mold to create a photovoltaic cell with the same pattern....The end result is a solar panel that has a quantum efficiency of around 40% — up about 22% from the non-patterned solar panel."

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Categories: Geek News

Fly With the Brooklyn Aerodrome (Video)

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 3:32pm
A bit of housing insulation material, a battery, a motor and propellor, a radio receiver and transmitter, and servos to control the motor and a pair of ailerons, and you're ready to fly the Brooklyn Aerodrome way. This isn't a tiny radio-controlled paper airplane, but a big bruiser with a 1:1 power to weight ratio (which means it can climb like a bat out of hell) and enough guts to fly in reasonably windy conditions while carrying a camera -- except we'd better not mention cameras, since Brooklyn Aerodrome creations, whether kits or plans, are obviously intended tohelp you build model airplanes, not drones. Timothy ran into project proponent Breck Baldwin at a maker faire near Atlanta, surrounded by a squadron of junior pilots who may someday become astronauts on the Moon - Mars run -- or at least delivery drone controllers for Amazon. (Alternate Video Link)

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DragonFly BSD 4.0 Released

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 3:03pm
An anonymous reader writes From the release page: Version 4 of DragonFly brings Haswell graphics support, 3D acceleration, and improved performance in extremely high-traffic networks. DragonFly now supports up to 256 CPUs, Haswell graphics (i915), concurrent pf operation, and a variety of other devices.

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Was Microsoft Forced To Pay $136M In Back Taxes In China?

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 2:42pm
itwbennett writes China's state-controlled Xinhua News Agency said on Sunday that an unnamed international company was forced to pay 840 million yuan ($136 million) in back taxes, as part of a Chinese government crackdown on tax evasion. The Xinhua article simply referred to it as the "M company," describing it as a top 500 global firm headquartered in the U.S. that in 1995 set up a wholly owned foreign subsidiary in Beijing. The details match Microsoft's own background, and no other company obviously fits the bill. Xinhua added, that despite the company's strengths, its subsidiary in China had not been not making a profit, and posted a loss of over $2 billion during a six-year period.

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Clarificiation on the IP Address Security in Dropbox Case

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 1:59pm
Bennett Haselton writes A judge rules that a county has to turn over the IP addresses that were used to access a county mayor's Dropbox account, stating that there is no valid security-related reason why the IP addresses should be exempt from a public records request. I think the judge's conclusion about IP addresses was right, but the reasoning was flawed; here is a technically more correct argument that would have led to the same answer. Keep Reading to see what Bennett has to say about the case.

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WaveNET – the Floating, Flexible Wave Energy Generator

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 1:15pm
Zothecula writes: Scotland's Albatern is putting a new, modular spin on renewable energy generation. WaveNET is a scalable array of floating "Squid" generator units that harvest wave energy as their buoyant arms rise and fall with the motion of the waves. Each Squid can link up to as many as three others, effectively creating a large, floating grid that's flexible in every direction. The bigger this grid gets, the more efficient it becomes at harvesting energy, and the more different wave movements it can extract energy from. Albatern's 10-year target is to have 1.25 kilometer-long floating energy farms pumping out as much as 100 megawatts by 2024.

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Categories: Geek News

Auto Industry Teams Up With Military To Stop Car Hacking

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 12:32pm
An anonymous reader writes: A team of hackers is collaborating with military and industry groups to develop cyber security defenses for commercially available cars, in response to a growing threat from criminals and terrorists. In the U.K., hackers are now responsible for a third of car thefts in London and there are fears that while technology is progressing, older models will remain vulnerable to attack. Although there have been no reported instances of a car being completely commandeered outside of controlled conditions, during tests hackers come out on top every time – unlocking car boots, setting off windscreen wipers, locking brakes, and cutting the engine.

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Hacker Threatened With 44 Felony Charges Escapes With Misdemeanor

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 11:50am
An anonymous reader writes: It's no secret that prosecutors usually throw every charge they can at an alleged criminal, but the case of Aaron Swartz brought to light how poorly-written computer abuse laws lend themselves to this practice. Now, another perfect example has resolved itself: a hacker with ties to Anonymous was recently threatened with 44 felony counts of computer fraud and cyberstalking, each with its own 10-year maximum sentence. If the charges stuck, the man was facing multiple lifetimes worth of imprisonment. But, of course, they didn't. Prosecutors struck a deal to get him to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor charge, which carried only a $10,000 fine. The man's attorney, Tor Eklund, said, "The more I looked at this, the more it seemed like an archetypal example of the Department of Justice's prosecutorial abuse when it comes to computer crime. It shows how aggressive they are, and how they seek to destroy your reputation in the press even when the charges are complete, fricking garbage."

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Categories: Geek News

Is Ruby On Rails Losing Steam?

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 11:06am
itwbennett writes: In a post last week, Quartz ranked the most valuable programming skills, based on job listing data from Burning Glass and the Brookings Institution. Ruby on Rails came out on top, with an average salary of $109,460. And that may have been true in the first quarter of 2013 when the data was collected, but "before you run out and buy Ruby on Rails for Dummies, you might want to consider some other data which indicate that Rails (and Ruby) usage is not trending upwards," writes Phil Johnson. He looked at recent trends in the usage of Ruby (as a proxy for Rails usage) across MS Gooroo, the TIOBE index, the PYPL index, Redmonk's language rankings, and GitHut and found that "demand by U.S. employers for engineers with Rails skills has been on the decline, at least for the last year."

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Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Considering US Presidential Run

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 10:23am
McGruber writes: Fired HP CEO and failed Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina is "actively exploring a 2016 presidential run." Fiorina has been "talking privately with potential donors, recruiting campaign staffers, courting grass-roots activists in early caucus and primary states, and planning trips to Iowa and New Hampshire starting next week."

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Canada's Ebola Vaccine Nets Millions For Tiny US Biotech Firm

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 9:40am
Anita Hunt (lissnup) writes: Iowa-based NewLink Genetics has secured a US$50million deal with pharmaceutical giant Merck for the experimental Ebola vaccine developed by Canadian government scientists. NewLink bought the exclusive commercial licensing rights to Canada's VSV-EBOV in 2010 with a milestone payment of just US$205,000. This is an interesting new twist in a story we've discussed previously, and which continues to draw media attention.

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LHC's 'Heart' Starts Pumping Protons Before Restart

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 8:58am
astroengine writes: While on its long road to restart, yet another milestone was reached at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) over the weekend. Protons were generated by the LHC's source and blasted through a "daisy-chain" of smaller accelerators before being intentionally smashed into a metaphorical brick wall. The particle beam didn't reach the LHC's famous 17-mile (27-kilometer) accelerator ring — they were stopped just short — but the event was used to begin calibration efforts of the massive experiment's detectors before the whole system is powered back up again early next year. "These initial tests are a milestone for the whole accelerator chain," said the LHC's chief engineer, Reyes Alemany Fernandez. "Not only was this the first time the injection lines have seen beams in over a year, it was also our first opportunity to test the LHC's operation system. We successfully commissioned the LHC's injection and ejection magnets, all without beam in the machine itself."

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Sony To Offer Partial Refunds For PS Vita

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 8:15am
mpicpp sends this report from the Houston Chronicle: "Hundreds of thousands of people who bought the handheld gaming console PlayStation Vita are in line for a partial refund from Sony because of questionable claims in its advertising. The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday it had reached a settlement with Sony Computer Entertainment America, the U.S.-based arm of the PlayStation business, over advertising claims that the government contended were misleading. As part of the proposed settlement, Sony will provide refunds to those who bought the PS Vita console before June 1, 2012. They'll be eligible for either a $25 cash or credit refund — or a $50 merchandise voucher from Sony. ... Among the claims challenged by the FTC: That the pocket-sized console would revolutionize gaming mobility by allowing consumers to play their PlayStation 3 games via "remote play" on the console anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection, [and] that people could engage in "cross-platform" play by starting a game on a PlayStation 3, pausing it, and continuing the game with the PS Vita from where they left off. Not really true, the FTC said.

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Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 5:15am
An anonymous reader writes: I live in a relatively large college town that's within easy driving distance of several major metropolitan centers. In many ways, the infrastructure around here is top-notch. The major exception is the electrical grid. Lightning storm? Power outage. Heavy winds? Power outage. Lots of rain? Power outage. Some areas around town are immune to this — like around the hospital, for obvious reasons. But others seem to lose power at the drop of hat. Why is this? If it were a tiny village or in the middle of nowhere, it would make sense to me. What problems do the utility companies face that they can't keep service steady? Do you deal with a lot of outages where you live? I'm not sure if it's just an investment issue or a technological one. It hasn't gotten better in the decade I've lived here, and I can imagine it will only get worse as the infrastructure ages.

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NSF Commits $16M To Build Cloud-Based and Data-Intensive Supercomputers

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 2:16am
aarondubrow writes: As supercomputing becomes central to the work and progress of researchers in all fields, new kinds of computing resources and more inclusive modes of interaction are required. The National Science Foundation announced $16M in awards to support two new supercomputing acquisitions for the open science community. The systems — "Bridges" at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and "Jetstream," co-located at the Indiana University Pervasive Technology Institute and The University of Texas at Austin's Texas Advanced Computing Center — respond to the needs of the scientific computing community for more high-end, large-scale computing resources while helping to create a more inclusive computing environment for science and engineering. Reader 1sockchuck adds this article about why funding for the development of supercomputers is more important than ever: America's high-performance computing (HPC) community faces funding challenges and growing competition from China and other countries. At last week's SC14 conference, leading researchers focused on outlining the societal benefits of their work, and how it touches the daily lives of Americans. "When we talk at these conferences, we tend to talk to ourselves," said Wilf Pinfold, director of research and advanced technology development at Intel Federal. "We don't do a good job communicating the importance of what we do to a broader community." Why the focus on messaging? Funding for American supercomputing has been driven by the U.S. government, which is in a transition with implications for HPC funding. As ComputerWorld notes, climate change skeptic Ted Cruz is rumored to be in line to chair a Senate committee that oversees NASA and the NSF.

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