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NASA Setting Up $250,000 Mars Lander Competition

SlashDot - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 2:06am
coondoggie (973519) writes "NASA this week said it is exploring setting up one of its iconic Centennial Challenge competitions for companies to build a robotic Mars landing spacecraft. NASA said it would expect to have about $250,000 worth of prize money for a robotic spacecraft that could land on the Red Planet, retrieve a sample and return it to orbit."

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Categories: Geek News

Future Airline Safety Instructions Will Be Given By Game Apps

SlashDot - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 12:10am
vrml (3027321) writes "They revealed the existence of their project only to aviation safety specialists at the recent FAA Conference on Cabin Safety in Philadelphia (PDF). Now a team of Italian researchers from the HCI Lab of the University of Udine has publicly released the first in a set of aviation safety apps on which they are working. Their mission is to propose novel, first-of-their-kind solutions to a well-known problem in aviation safety: passengers lack preparedness about what to do in aircraft emergencies, and do not pay attention or do not clearly comprehend the pre-flight briefings and safety cards used by airlines to instruct them about safety. So the project is re-inventing safety cards and briefings with new media, turning them into games and apps. The first game they decided to release focuses specifically on the 'Brace for impact' position: players can pose the body of their avatar in the 3D airplane cabin and get a personalized simulation of a crash landing . To win the game, you must save your avatar (and yourself)."

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Categories: Geek News

PHP 5.6.0beta1 released

php.net - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 12:00am
The PHP development team announces the immediate availability of PHP 5.6.0beta1. This release adds new features and fixes bugs and marks the feature freeze for the PHP 5.6.0 release. All users of PHP are encouraged to test this version carefully, and report any bugs in the bug tracking system. THIS IS A DEVELOPMENT PREVIEW - DO NOT USE IT IN PRODUCTION! PHP 5.6.0beta1 comes with a number of new features, including: A new method called fread() to the SplFileObject classA new static method called createFromMutable() to the DateTimeImmutable classA new function called hash_equals()Support for marks to the PCRE extensionSupport for asynchronous connections and queries to the Pgsql extensionFor more information about the new features you can check out the work-in-progress documentation or you can read the full list of changes in the NEWS file contained in the release archive. For source downloads of PHP 5.6.0beta1 please visit the download page. Windows binaries can be found on windows.php.net/qa/. Our second beta should show up on the 24th of April. Thank you for helping us make PHP better.
Categories: PHP Environment

93 Harvard Faculty Members Call On the University To Divest From Fossil Fuels

SlashDot - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 11:31pm
Daniel_Stuckey writes: "One hundred faculty members at one of the nation's most renowned university have signed an open letter calling on Harvard to divest its holdings in fossil fuel companies. Harvard's is the largest university endowment in the world. For the last few years, a national movement has called on on universities, foundations, and municipalities to divest from fossil fuels. Led by students, as well as organized groups like 350.org, it has seen a number of significant victories — at least nine colleges and over a dozen cities have pulled their investments in companies that extract or burn fossil fuels like coal and oil."

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Categories: Geek News

UN Report Reveals Odds of Being Murdered Country By Country

SlashDot - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 9:07pm
ananyo (2519492) writes "A new UN report (link to data) details comprehensive country-by-country murder rates. Safest is Singapore, with just one killing per 480,000 people in 2012. In the world's most violent country, Honduras, a man has a 1 in 9 chance of being murdered during his lifetime. The Economist includes an intriguing 'print only interactive' (see the PDF) and has some tongue-in-cheek tips on how to avoid being slain: 'First, don't live in the Americas or Africa, where murder rates (one in 6,100 and one in 8,000 respectively) are more than four times as high as the rest of the world. Next, be a woman. Your chance of being murdered will be barely a quarter what it would be were you a man. In fact, steer clear of men altogether: nearly half of all female murder-victims are killed by their partner or another (usually male) family member. But note that the gender imbalance is less pronounced in the rich world, probably because there is less banditry, a mainly male pursuit. In Japan and South Korea slightly over half of all murder victims are female. Then, sit back and grow older. From the age of 30 onwards, murder rates fall steadily in most places.'"

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Categories: Geek News

Heartbleed Coder: Bug In OpenSSL Was an Honest Mistake

SlashDot - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 7:28pm
nk497 (1345219) writes "The Heartbleed bug in OpenSSL wasn't placed there deliberately, according to the coder responsible for the mistake — despite suspicions from many that security services may have been behind it. OpenSSL logs show that German developer Robin Seggelmann introduced the bug into OpenSSL when working on the open-source project two and a half years ago, according to an Australian newspaper. The change was logged on New Year's Eve 2011. 'I was working on improving OpenSSL and submitted numerous bug fixes and added new features,' Seggelmann told the Sydney Morning Herald. 'In one of the new features, unfortunately, I missed validating a variable containing a length.' His work was reviewed, but the reviewer also missed the error, and it was included in the released version of OpenSSL."

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Categories: Geek News

Nat Geo Writer: Science Is Running Out of "Great" Things To Discover

SlashDot - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 6:47pm
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "John Horgan writes in National Geographic that scientists have become victims of their own success and that 'further research may yield no more great revelations or revolutions, but only incremental, diminishing returns.' The latest evidence is a 'Correspondence' published in the journal Nature that points out that it is taking longer and longer for scientists to receive Nobel Prizes for their work. The trend is strongest in physics. Prior to 1940, only 11 percent of physics prizes were awarded for work more than 20 years old but since 1985, the percentage has risen to 60 percent. If these trends continue, the Nature authors note, by the end of this century no one will live long enough to win a Nobel Prize, which cannot be awarded posthumously and suggest that the Nobel time lag 'seems to confirm the common feeling of an increasing time needed to achieve new discoveries in basic natural sciences—a somewhat worrisome trend.' One explanation for the time lag might be the nature of scientific discoveries in general—as we learn more it takes more time for new discoveries to prove themselves. Researchers recently announced that observations of gravitational waves provide evidence of inflation, a dramatic theory of cosmic creation. But there are so many different versions of 'inflation' theory that it can 'predict' practically any observation, meaning that it doesn't really predict anything at all. String theory suffers from the same problem. As for multiverse theories, all those hypothetical universes out there are unobservable by definition so it's hard to imagine a better reason to think we may be running out of new things to discover than the fascination of physicists with these highly speculative ideas. According to Keith Simonton of the University of California, 'the core disciplines have accumulated not so much anomalies as mere loose ends that will be tidied up one way or another.'"

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Categories: Geek News

Stephen Colbert To Be Letterman's Successor

SlashDot - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 6:24pm
ralphart (70342) writes "CBS has announced Stephen Colbert will replace David Letterman on The Late Show, after Letterman retires in 2015. 'Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career,' Colbert said in a press release from CBS. 'I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead.'"

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Categories: Geek News

Comcast PAC Gave Money To Every Senator Examining Time Warner Cable Merger

SlashDot - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 6:00pm
An anonymous reader writes in with news about money and politics that is sure to shock no one."It's no surprise that Comcast donates money to members of Congress. Political connections come in handy for a company seeking government approval of mergers, like Comcast's 2011 purchase of NBCUniversal and its proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable (TWC). But just how many politicians have accepted money from Comcast's political arm? In the case of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which held the first congressional hearing on the Comcast/TWC merger yesterday, the answer is all of them."

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Categories: Geek News

MA Gov. Wants To Ban Non-Competes; Will It Matter?

SlashDot - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 5:12pm
curtwoodward (2147628) writes "Entrepreneurs in Massachusetts say the state's legal enforcement of non-competition agreements hurts innovation — if you're going to get sued by Big Company X, you're probably not going to leave for a startup in the same industry. But those contracts have powerful supporters, including EMC, which is by far the state's largest tech company. Gov. Deval Patrick is finally picking a side in the debate by introducing his own bill to outlaw non-competes and adopt trade-secrets protections instead. Just one catch: he's a lame duck, and will be out of office in January."

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Categories: Geek News

Google Chrome Flaw Sets Your PC's Mic Live

SlashDot - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 4:30pm
First time accepted submitter AllTheTinfoilHats (3612007) writes "A security flaw in Google Chrome allows any website you visit with the browser to listen in on nearby conversations. It doesn't allow sites to access your microphone's audio, but provides them with a transcript of the browser's speech-to-text transcriptions of anything in range. It was found by a programmer in Israel, who says Google issued a low-priority label to the bug when he reported it, until he wrote about it on his blog and the post started picking up steam on social media. The website has to keep you clicking for eight seconds to keep the microphone on, and Google says it has no timeline for a fix." However, as discoverer Guy Aharonovsky is quoted, "It seems like they started to look for a way to quickly mitigate this flaw."

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Categories: Geek News

London's Public Bike Data Can Tell Everyone Where You've Been

SlashDot - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 3:53pm
An anonymous reader writes "I recently posted this article with a few vizualizations and a bit of analysis about the risks associated with open data sets. Thought it might be of interest of Slashdot readers: 'This article is about a publicly available dataset of bicycle journey data that contains enough information to track the movements of individual cyclists across London, for a six month period just over a year ago.'"

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Categories: Geek News

Photo Web Site Offers a Wall of Shame For Image Thieves

SlashDot - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 3:00pm
sandbagger (654585) writes "Stop Stealing Photos is a resource in the pro photographer community for protecting consumers. How? By identifying wannabes who use images in their portfolios that they did not create. In this case, one 'photographer' built a massive social media presence, in many platforms including Linked In where he includes System Architecture in his skills. However, such advocacy web sites are very manual and often run by non-programmers. How can the tech community help consumers in protecting them from phoney on-line presences? Or is this vigilantism?"

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Categories: Geek News

Double Take: Condoleezza Rice As Dropbox's Newest Board Member

SlashDot - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 2:10pm
Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State under George W. Bush, and defender of Bush-era (and onward) policies about surveillance by wiretapping and other means, has landed at an interesting place: she's just become a part of the small board at Dropbox. TechDirt calls the appointment "tone deaf," and writes "At a time when people around the globe are increasingly worried about American tech firms having too close a connection to the intelligence community, a move like this seems like a huge public relations disaster. While Rice may be perfectly qualified to hold the role and to help Dropbox with the issues it needs help with, it's hard not to believe that there would be others with less baggage who could handle the job just as well." Some people are doing more than looking for an alternative for themselves, too, as a result.

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Categories: Geek News

Can the ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Be Believed?

SlashDot - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 1:31pm
An anonymous reader writes "When the Obama administration announced on April 1 that an estimated 7.1 million had signed up for ObamaCare by the end of March, it seemed a nearly impossible achievement. To reach 7.1 million, sign-ups had to rocket up by 67% in just one month. That's astounding enough, but an IBD review of existing ObamaCare enrollment data shows that the mathematical challenge of reaching 7.1 million sign-ups was even tougher."

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Categories: Geek News

Ask Slashdot: How To Start With Linux In the Workplace?

SlashDot - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 12:37pm
An anonymous reader writes "Recently my boss has asked me about the advantages of Linux as a desktop operating system and if it would be a good idea to install it instead of upgrading to Windows 7 or 8. About ten boxes here are still running Windows XP and would be too old to upgrade to any newer version of Windows. He knows that i am using Linux at work on quite outdated hardware (would have gotten a new PC but never requested new hardware — Linux Mint x64 runs quite well on it) and i always managed to get my stuff done with it. I explained to him that there are no licensing issues with Linux, there is no anti-virus software to deal with and that Linux is generally a bit more efficient on old hardware than operating systems from Microsoft. The boss seems interested." But that's not quite the end; read on for this reader's question.

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Categories: Geek News

Under the Chassis: A Look At Tesla's Battery Shield

SlashDot - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 11:50am
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Tesla said a few weeks ago it would add additional safety shielding to protect the battery of every Model S car on the road against damage from road debris. But it offered no photos of its update as it would look when installed--so one owner took his own. These may be the first detail shots of what the three different pieces look like. There's a half-round aluminum tube, a titanium plate, and a T-shaped section--and you can see how they combine to deflect and direct impacts to minimize damage to the battery. Do these updates look like they'll solve Tesla's problems?"

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Categories: Geek News

Interviews: Ask Bre Pettis About Making Things

SlashDot - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 11:08am
As co-founder and CEO of MakerBot Industries, Bre Pettis is a driving force in the Maker and 3-D printing world. He's done a number of podcasts for Make, and even worked as an assistant at Jim Henson's Creature Shop in London after college. Makerbot's design community, Thingiverse, boasts over 100,000 3D models, and inspires countless artists and designers by allowing them to share their designs. Bre has agreed to set aside some time from printing in order to type answer to your questions. Normal Slashdot interview rules apply.

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Categories: Geek News

Stung By File-Encrypting Malware, Researchers Fight Back

SlashDot - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 10:26am
itwbennett (1594911) writes "When Jose Vildoza's father became the victim of ransomware, he launched his own investigation. Diving into CryptoDefense's code, he found its developers had made a crucial mistake: CryptoDefense used Microsoft's Data Protection API (application programming interface), a tool in the Windows operating system to encrypt a user's data, which stored a copy of the encryption keys on the affected computer. Vildoza and researcher, Fabian Wosar of the Austrian security company Emsisoft, collaborated on a utility called the Emsisoft Decrypter that could recover the encrypted keys. In mid-March Vildoza had launched a blog chronicling his investigation, purposely not revealing the mistake CryptoDefense's authors had made. But Symantec then published a blog post on March 31 detailing the error."

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Categories: Geek News

Theo De Raadt's Small Rant On OpenSSL

SlashDot - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 9:45am
New submitter raides (881987) writes "Theo De Raadt has been on a better roll as of late. Since his rant about FreeBSD playing catch up, he has something to say about OpenSSL. It is worth the 5 second read because it is how a few thousand of us feel about the whole thing and the stupidity that caused this panic." Update: 04/10 15:20 GMT by U L : Reader badger.foo pointed out Ted Unangst (the Ted in the mailing list post) wrote two posts on the issue: "heartbleed vs malloc.conf and "analysis of openssl freelist reuse" for those seeking more detail.

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Categories: Geek News
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