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Study: Certain Vaccines Could Make Diseases More Deadly

SlashDot - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 5:55pm
sciencehabit writes: New research suggests that vaccines that don't make their hosts totally immune to a disease and incapable of spreading it to others might have a serious downside. According to a controversial study by Professor Andrew Read these so-called "imperfect" or "leaky" vaccines could sometimes teach pathogens to become more dangerous. Sciencemag reports: "The study is controversial. It was done in chickens, and some scientists say it has little relevance for human vaccination; they worry it will reinforce doubts about the merits or safety of vaccines. It shouldn't, says lead author Andrew Read, a biologist at Pennsylvania State University, University Park: The study provides no support whatsoever for the antivaccine movement. But it does suggest that some vaccines may have to be monitored more closely, he argues, or supported with extra measures to prevent unintended consequences."

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950 Million Android Phones Can Be Hijacked By Malicious Text Messages

SlashDot - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 5:11pm
techtech writes: According to security firm Zimperium a flaw called "Stagefright" in Google's Android operating system can allow hackers take over a phone with a message even if the user doesn't open it. The vulnerability affects about 950 million Android devices. In a blog post Zimperium researchers wrote: "A fully weaponized successful attack could even delete the message before you see it. You will only see the notification. These vulnerabilities are extremely dangerous because they do not require that the victim take any action to be exploited. Unlike spear-phishing, where the victim needs to open a PDF file or a link sent by the attacker, this vulnerability can be triggered while you sleep. Before you wake up, the attacker will remove any signs of the device being compromised and you will continue your day as usual—with a trojaned phone."

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German Scientists Confirm NASA's Controversial EM Drive

SlashDot - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 4:28pm
MarkWhittington writes: Hacked Magazine reported that a group of German scientists believe that they have confirmed that the EM Drive, the propulsion device that uses microwaves rather than rocket fuel, provides thrust. The experimental results are being presented at the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics' Propulsion and Energy Forum in Orlando by Martin Tajmar, a professor and chair for Space Systems at the Dresden University of Technology. Tajmar has an interest in exotic propulsion methods, including one concept using "negative matter."

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You3dit is Working to Help Crowdsource 3D Design and Printing (Video)

SlashDot - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 3:44pm
The example you3dit (You 3D It) person Chris McCoy uses in this video is a prosthetic hand they wanted to make because one of their people lost fingers in a construction accident. Instead of drawing up plans for a new hand, they searched online -- and found enablingthefuture.org, which is all about making 3-D printed prosthetic hands. Using a predesigned hand was obviously much simpler than starting from scratch, and was totally in line with the Open Source "Why reinvent the wheel?" philosophy. So you3dit helps make 3-D printed items of one sort or another, and can either print them for you at their place or help you find someone local to help with the printing, assuming you can't do it yourself. As you might expect, they did a Kickstarter project. It was for a product called Raver Rings. Unlike many Kickstarter projects we mention on Slashdot, this one didn't fly. In fact, it only got $2,275 in pledges against a $10,000 goal. No matter. There are many other useful things the you3dit community can make -- or help you make -- without Kickstarter.

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Computer Science Enrollments Match NASDAQ's Rises and Fall

SlashDot - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 3:00pm
dcblogs writes: In March 2000, the NASDAQ composite index reached a historic high of 5,048, at just about the same time undergrad computer science enrollments hit a peak of nearly 24,000 students at PhD-granting institutions in the U.S. and Canada, according to data collected by the Computing Research Association in its most recent annual Taulbee Survey. By 2005, computer science enrollments had halved, declining to just over 12,000. On July 17, the NASDAQ hit its highest point since 2000, reaching a composite index of 5,210. In 2014, computer science undergrad enrollments reached nearly, 24,000, almost equal to the 2000 high. Remarkably, it has taken nearly 15 years to reach the earlier enrollment peak.

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Samsung Unveils the First Monitor That Can Wirelessly Charge Your Phone

SlashDot - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 2:18pm
An anonymous reader writes: Samsung wants to reduce the number of cords in your house and has unveiled a new monitor that can wirelessly charge your smartphones. Called the SE370, Samsung says the monitor is the first of its kind to have this capability. The monitor comes in 23.6-inch and 27-inch sizes. According to Samsung : The SE370 "declutters work areas by doing away with unnecessary cables and ports needed to charge mobile devices. Along with superior picture quality, enhanced visual performance and thoughtful design, the monitor seamlessly integrates advanced technologies that offer both professionals and consumers an optimal viewing and usability experience."

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Google Is Dropping Its Google+ Requirement Across All Products Including YouTube

SlashDot - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 1:35pm
An anonymous reader writes: After years of plugging Google+ into all of its services, today Google announced that your Google+ profile will no longer be your identity in all its products. The company says it will take a few months for all the changes to happen, but the first product to be uncoupled will be YouTube. Bradley Horowitz, Google's vice president of streams, photos, and sharing, says the changes are a response to user feedback: "We've also heard that it doesn't make sense for your Google+ profile to be your identity in all the other Google products you use."

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Razer Acquires Ouya's Storefront and Technical Team

SlashDot - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 12:52pm
An anonymous reader writes: The Ouya Android-based gaming console was one of Kickstarter's biggest successes — and one of the biggest letdowns for all the backers. The console never really took off, and the company behind it has limped along over the past couple years. Until today. Razer has now acquired the Ouya technical team, as well as their online storefront — but not the console hardware itself. Razer intends to dump of all these new resources into its Forge TV product, also an Android game console. "Razer went so far as to kick a little sand in the face of the little-console-that-couldn't—by advertising its own Forge microconsole as a 'more advanced' system and telling Ouya owners that they will receive 'a clear path of migration' to buy the company's current $100, AndroidTV-compatible box." The fate of Ouya's hardware is not explicitly mentioned, but the news article suggests it is simply "discontinued."

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Debian Drops SPARC Platform Support

SlashDot - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 12:10pm
jones_supa writes: SPARC isn't exactly a highly-used architecture anymore, so the Debian operating system is dropping support for the platform, according to Joerg Jaspert last week in the "debian-sparc" mailing list. He noted that this does not block a later comeback as "sparc64." Following that announcement, a new post today tells us that SPARC support was just removed from the unstable, experimental and jessie-updates channels.

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Trillion-Dollar World Trade Deal Aims To Make IT Products Cheaper

SlashDot - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 11:29am
itwbennett writes: A new (tentative) global trade agreement, struck on Friday at a World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva, eliminates tariffs on more than 200 kinds of IT products, ranging from smartphones, routers, and ink cartridges to video game consoles and telecommunications satellites. A full list of products covered was published by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which called the ITA expansion 'great news for the American workers and businesses that design, manufacture, and export state-of-the-art technology and information products, ranging from MRI machines to semiconductors to video game consoles.' The deal covers $1.3 trillion worth of global trade, about 7 percent of total trade today. The deal has approval from 49 countries, and is waiting on just a handful more before it becomes official,

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'Stagefright' Flaw: Compromise Android With Just a Text

SlashDot - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 10:47am
An anonymous reader writes: Up to 950 million Android phones may be vulnerable to a new exploit involving the Stagefright component of Android, which lets attackers compromise a device through a simple multimedia text — even before the recipient sees it. Researchers from Zimperium zLabs reported the related bugs to Google in April. Google quickly accepted a patch and distributed it to manufacturers, but the researchers say they don't think the manufacturers have yet passed it on to most consumers. "The weaknesses reside in Stagefright, a media playback tool in Android. They are all "remote code execution" bugs, allowing malicious hackers to infiltrate devices and exfiltrate private data. All attackers would need to send out exploits would be mobile phone numbers, Drake noted. From there, they could send an exploit packaged in a Stagefright multimedia message (MMS), which would let them write code to the device and steal data from sections of the phone that can be reached with Stagefright's permissions. That would allow for recording of audio and video, and snooping on photos stored in SD cards. Bluetooth would also be hackable via Stagefright."

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Musk, Woz, Hawking, and Robotics/AI Experts Urge Ban On Autonomous Weapons

SlashDot - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 10:05am
An anonymous reader writes: An open letter published by the Future of Life Institute urges governments to ban offensive autonomous weaponry. The letter is signed by high profile leaders in the science community and tech industry, such as Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Noam Chomsky, and Frank Wilczek. It's also signed — more importantly — by literally hundreds of expert researchers in robotics and AI. They say, "The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting. If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable, and the endpoint of this technological trajectory is obvious: autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow. Unlike nuclear weapons, they require no costly or hard-to-obtain raw materials, so they will become ubiquitous and cheap for all significant military powers to mass-produce."

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Steam Bug Allowed Password Resets Without Confirmation

SlashDot - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 9:22am
An anonymous reader writes: Valve has fixed a bug in their account authentication system that allowed attackers to easily reset the password to a Steam account. When a Steam user forgets a password, he goes to an account recovery page and asks for a reset. The page then sends a short code to the email address registered with the account. The problem was that Steam wasn't actually checking the codes sent via email. Attackers could simply request a reset and then submit a blank field when prompted for the code. Valve says the bug was active from July 21-25. A number of accounts were compromised, including some prominent streamers and Dota 2 pros. Valve issued password resets to those accounts with "suspicious" changes over the past several days.

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Clinton Promises 500 Million New Solar Panels

SlashDot - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 8:40am
An anonymous reader writes: Hillary Clinton, widely regarded as most likely to win the Democrat nomination for the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has unveiled her campaign climate plan. Speaking at Iowa State University, Clinton said she would set up tax incentives for renewable energy to drive further adoption. She also set a goal of installing half a billion new solar panels within her first term, if elected. Her plan would cost roughly $60 billion over 10 years, and she intends to pay for it by cutting tax breaks to the oil and gas industry. According to The Guardian, "Clinton has promised to make the issue of climate change a key pillar of her campaign platform."

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Police Shut Down Anti-Violence Fundraiser Over Rapper's Hologram

SlashDot - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 7:56am
An anonymous reader writes: A Chicago rapper by the name of Chief Keef has been making headlines recently after the city launched a campaign to deny his performance at an anti-violence event. The event was organized to raise funds for victims of recent Chicago murders in which another rapper was slain. Keef is currently wanted on warrants in the region but is living on the East Coast. He was expected to perform via a live stream projection. While Chicago officials worked to deny his performance from occurring in the city, promoters vowed that he would still perform. A recent concert called Craze Fest was just held at the Wolf Lake Pavilion in Hammond, Indiana. The Pavilion is part of a public park. The city of Hammond refused to let promoters hold the event unless they agreed that Chief Keef would not be allowed to perform. Instead, the promoters setup a live stream projection of the rapper and showed it at the end of the concert. Once the Hologram of Keef began performing, police rushed in and began shutting down the event. This raises some interesting questions about free speech and the role of technology in it. Here's a local news article, and some brief cellphone footage of the event.

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For the Love of the Analytics of the Game: Before Beane, There Was AVM Systems

SlashDot - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 7:13am
theodp writes: Those of you slugging your way through EdX's (free) Sabermetrics 101: Introduction to Baseball Analytics MOOC course might want to take a break from your R and SQL coding to check out Grantland's Before Beane, in which Ben Lindbergh tells the story of AVM Systems, the little-known company that jump-started sabermetrics and made Moneyball possible. Ken Mauriello, whose love-for-the-analytics-of-the-game led him to ditch a trading career to co-found AVM in the mid-90's, said of the early days, "Back in the day we weren't doing presentations [to skeptical MLB teams] with laptops. We were carrying around two enormous boxes with an enormous monitor and an enormous tower. It was like Planes, Trains & Automobiles traveling around with that stuff. Watching a great big Gateway box with your monitor come tumbling out upside down, and you pick it up and it's rattling. ... So we're in the hotel, saying, 'Please lord, let this thing work.'"

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LinkedIn (Temporarily) Backs Down After Uproar At Contact Export Removal

SlashDot - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 6:27am
Mark Wilson writes: LinkedIn caused a storm a couple of days ago when it removed the option to instantly download contacts. Many users of the professional social network were more than a little irked to discover that while contact exporting was still available, a wait of up to three days had been put in place. Unsurprisingly, users revolted, having been particularly upset by the fact the change was implemented with no warning or announcement. But the company has managed to turn things around by quickly backtracking on its decision after listening to a stream of complaints on Twitter.

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A Plea For Websites To Stop Blocking Password Managers

SlashDot - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 4:10am
An anonymous reader writes: Password managers aren't a security panacea, but experts widely agree that it's better to use one than to have weak (but easy-to-remember) passwords. Just this week, they were listed as a tool non-experts don't use as much as experts do. I use one, and a pet peeve of mine is when a website specifically (or through bad design) interferes with the copying and pasting of a password. Thus, I appreciated this rant about it in Wired: "It's unacceptable that in an age where our lives are increasingly being played out online, and are sometimes only protected by a password, some sites deliberately stop their users from being as secure as possible, for no really justifiable reason."

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Fiat Chrysler Hit With Record $105 Million Fine Over Botched Recalls

SlashDot - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 1:03am
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has levied a record fine against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to punish them for failing to adequately recall and fix defective cars. (If Fiat sounds familiar, it's the same company that issued a 1.4 million-vehicle recall on Friday over a remote hack.) The NHTSA's $105 million fine is half-again as much as the next biggest fine (given to Honda last year over faulty airbags). Fiat Chrysler "admitted to violating federal rules requiring timely recalls and notifications to vehicle owners, dealers and regulators." The company will be forced to buy back hundreds of thousands of vehicles (at the owners' discretion, of course) that have problems with the suspension that could lead to a loss of control. A million more Jeep owners will be given a chance to trade in their vehicle at a higher rate than market value because of rear-mounted gas tanks that are prone to catching fire.

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Smithsonian Increases Goal For Spacesuit Crowdfunding Effort

SlashDot - Sun, 07/26/2015 - 10:26pm
An anonymous reader writes: The recently launched Kickstarter campaign by the Smithsonian to preserve Neil Armstrong's Apollo 11 spacesuit has surpassed its goal. As of Saturday, the campaign raised about $525,000, and now The National Air and Space Museum has increased its goal to $700,000 in order to save Alan Shepard's Mercury spacesuit.

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