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Updated: 1 hour 55 min ago

AT&T Hotspots Now Injecting Ads

Tue, 25/08/2015 - 11:39pm
An anonymous reader writes: Computer scientist Jonathan Mayer did some investigating after seeing some unexpected ads while he browsed the web at an airport (Stanford hawking jewelry? The FCC selling shoes?). He found that AT&T's public Wi-Fi hotspot was messing with HTTP traffic, injecting advertisements using a service called RaGaPa. As an HTML pages loads over HTTP, the hotspot adds an advertising stylesheet, injects a simple advertisement image (as a backup), and then injects two scripts that control the loading and display of advertising content. Mayer writes, "AT&T has an (understandable) incentive to seek consumer-side income from its free Wi-Fi service, but this model of advertising injection is particularly unsavory. Among other drawbacks: It exposes much of the user's browsing activity to an undisclosed and untrusted business. It clutters the user's web browsing experience. It tarnishes carefully crafted online brands and content, especially because the ads are not clearly marked as part of the hotspot service.3 And it introduces security and breakage risks, since website developers generally don't plan for extra scripts and layout elements."

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Categories: Science

Stephen Hawking Presents Theory On Getting Information Out of a Black Hole

Tue, 25/08/2015 - 10:56pm
An anonymous reader writes: Physicist Stephen Hawking claims to have figured out a way for information to leave a black hole. He presented his theory today at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Scientists have struggled with the black hole information paradox for years, and Hawking thinks this new theory could be a solution. He said, "I propose that the information is stored not in the interior of the black hole as one might expect, but in its boundary, the event horizon." Put in layman's terms, "this jumbled return of information was like burning an encyclopedia: You wouldn't technically lose any information if you kept all of the ashes in one place, but you'd have a hard time looking up the capital of Minnesota." Information can leave the black hole via Hawking radiation, though it will be functionally useless. Hawking worked with Cambridge's Malcolm Perry and Harvard's Andrew Stromberg on this theory.

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Categories: Science

Massachusetts Boarding School Sued Over Wi-Fi Sickness

Tue, 25/08/2015 - 10:15pm
alphadogg writes: The parents of an anonymous student at the Fay School in Southborough, Mass., allege that the Wi-Fi at the institution is making their child sick, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court earlier this month (PDF). The child, identified only as "G" in court documents, is said to suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome. The radio waves emitted by the school's Wi-Fi routers cause G serious discomfort and physical harm, according to the suit. "After being continually denied access to the school in order to test their student's classroom, and having their request that all classrooms in which their child is present have the WiFi network replaced with a hard-wired Ethernet denied, the parents sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act."

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Categories: Science

'Gynepunks' DIY Gynecology For Underserved Women

Tue, 25/08/2015 - 9:32pm
New submitter Alien7 sends an article about a group of bio-hackers who are out to bring DIY gynecological medicine to women who don't have easy access to it. Under the name GynePunks, they're assembling an arsenal of open-source tools for DIY diagnosis and first-aid care—centrifuges made from old hard drive motors; microscopes from deconstructed webcams; homemade incubators; and 3D printable speculums. ... So far the work is largely focused on diagnosis, and members of the collective are quick to note that what they’re creating is far from a comprehensive solution. It’s limited by some obvious factors—access to materials, a place to put them together, and the time to do it. But where the infrastructure does exist, and people are motivated to do so, it is very possible to establish some useful alternatives for self-care. As an example, Klau pointed to a pilot vinegar test program that’s lowered cervical cancer deaths by some 31 percent among poor women in Mumbai’s slums.

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Categories: Science

Fusion Progress: Superheated Gas Kept Stable For 5 Milliseconds

Tue, 25/08/2015 - 8:50pm
An anonymous reader writes: A company called Tri Alpha has successfully kept a ball of superheated gas stable for a record time, 5 milliseconds, putting them closer to producing fusion power. "'They've succeeded finally in achieving a lifetime limited only by the power available to the system,' says particle physicist Burton Richter of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who sits on a board of advisers to Tri Alpha. If the company's scientists can scale the technique up to longer times and higher temperatures, they will reach a stage at which atomic nuclei in the gas collide forcefully enough to fuse together, releasing energy. Importantly, the Tri Alpha machine may be able to operate with a different fuel than most other fusion reactors. This fuel-a mix of hydrogen and boron-is harder to react, but Tri Alpha researchers say it avoids many of the problems likely to confront conventional fusion power plants." The article does not say how much this success cost the privately-funded Tri Alpha, but it certainly wasn't in the billions of dollars.

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Categories: Science

MIT Develops Inkjet-Style 3D Printer That Uses 10 Different Materials At Once

Tue, 25/08/2015 - 8:08pm
Lucas123 writes: Researchers at MIT have been able to build a printer with uses 10 different photosensitive polymers to create a myriad of objects, and they were able to build it using off-the-shelf commodity parts for around $7,000. The MultiFab 3D printer works by mixing together microscopic droplets of photopolymers that are then extruded through inkjet printheads similar to those in office printers. A UV light then hardens the polymers layer by layer. Perhaps even more remarkable than the list of materials it can use is the MultiFab 3D printer's ability to self-calibrate and self-correct during a print job (PDF). The printer has an integrated machine vision system that automatically readjusts the printer head if errors occur, rectifying the build before a problem ruins the object; that means print jobs that run into errors don't need to be cancelled and materials wasted. The researchers said they can foresee an array of applications for the MultiFab 3D in consumer electronics, microsensing, medical imaging and telecommunications, among other things.

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Categories: Science

The Muddy Truth About Kickstarter 'Staff Picks'

Tue, 25/08/2015 - 7:25pm
szczys writes: Crowd Funding is the wild-wild west of business financing, and it's not just the people starting campaigns that are playing without many rules. One of Kickstarter's sort algorithm triggers is the "Staff Pick." Research indicates being featured by Kickstarter staff is a huge predictor for success. But there is no published benchmark for how these are chosen. Oddly, Kickstarter only discourages users from falsely labeling their campaign as a Staff Pick. To protect backers and ensure the crowdfunding ecosystem isn't sullied by scammers, Kickstarter needs to boost their transparency starting with this Staff Pick conundrum.

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Categories: Science

The Case For Teaching Ignorance

Tue, 25/08/2015 - 6:26pm
HughPickens.com writes: In the mid-1980s, a University of Arizona surgery professor, Marlys H. Witte, proposed teaching a class entitled "Introduction to Medical and Other Ignorance." Far too often, she believed, teachers fail to emphasize how much about a given topic is unknown. "Textbooks spend 8 to 10 pages on pancreatic cancer," said Witte, "without ever telling the student that we just don't know very much about it." Now Jamie Holmes writes in the NY Times that many scientific facts simply aren't solid and immutable, but are instead destined to be vigorously challenged and revised by successive generations. According to Homes, presenting ignorance as less extensive than it is, knowledge as more solid and more stable, and discovery as neater also leads students to misunderstand the interplay between answers and questions. In 2006, a Columbia University neuroscientist named Stuart J. Firestein, began teaching a course on scientific ignorance after realizing, to his horror, that many of his students might have believed that we understand nearly everything about the brain. "This crucial element in science was being left out for the students," says Firestein."The undone part of science that gets us into the lab early and keeps us there late, the thing that "turns your crank," the very driving force of science, the exhilaration of the unknown, all this is missing from our classrooms. In short, we are failing to teach the ignorance, the most critical part of the whole operation." The time has come to "view ignorance as 'regular' rather than deviant," argue sociologists Matthias Gross and Linsey McGoey. Our students will be more curious — and more intelligently so — if, in addition to facts, they were equipped with theories of ignorance as well as theories of knowledge.

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Categories: Science

Microsoft Researchers Generate 3D Models From Ordinary Smartphones

Tue, 25/08/2015 - 5:44pm
New submitter subh_arya writes: Engineers from Microsoft Research have unveiled the first technology to perform 3D surface reconstruction from ordinary smartphone cameras. Their computational framework creates a connected 3D surface model by continuously registering RGB input to an incrementally built 3D model. Although the reconstruction results look promising, Microsoft does not plan to release an app anytime soon.

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Categories: Science

As Coursera Evolves, Colleges Stay On and Investors Buy In

Tue, 25/08/2015 - 5:13pm
An anonymous reader writes: The hype over online academics has diminished as it became clear that it wasn't a panacea for cheap, global education. While many organizations are struggling with the realization that online courses don't fit in everywhere, Coursera has found out they definitely fit in somewhere. The colleges partnering with Coursera are sticking around, and the company has drawn fresh investments totaling $60 million from venture capitalists. Rather than shoehorning traditional college courses into an online format, they've begun experimenting with different ways to structure education. "The company has created a series of courses that add up to mini-degrees that students can earn quickly, and pay a small fee to certify that they successfully completed them." Other students are using it as a stepping stone to traditional universities: "Rice University, for instance, reports that it is getting more applicants — and higher-quality applicants — for its computer-science masters' degree after offering a CS course on Coursera."

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Categories: Science

Many Android Users Susceptible To Plug-In Exploit -- And Many Of Them Have It

Tue, 25/08/2015 - 4:27pm
Ars Technica reports that a recently reported remote access vulnerability in Android is no longer just theoretical, but is being actively exploited. After more than 100,000 downloads of a scanning app from Check Point to evaluate users' risk from the attack, says Ars, In a blog post published today, Check Point researchers share a summary of that data—a majority (about 58 percent) of the Android devices scanned were vulnerable to the bug, with 15.84 percent actually having a vulnerable version of the remote access plug-in installed. The brand with the highest percentage of devices already carrying the vulnerable plug-in was LG—over 72 percent of LG devices scanned in the anonymized pool had a vulnerable version of the plug-in.

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Categories: Science

Virgin Media To Base a Public Wi-Fi Net On Paying Customers' Routers

Tue, 25/08/2015 - 3:43pm
An anonymous reader writes with a story that Virgin Media "announced this month its plans to roll out a free public WiFi network this autumn, using subscribers' personal routers and existing infrastructure to distribute the service across UK cities." And while regular customers' routers are to be the basis of the new network, the publicly viewable overlay would operate over "a completely separate connection," and the company claims subscribers' performance will not be hindered. Why, then, would customers bother to pay? For one thing, because the free version is slow: 0.5Mbps, vs. 10Mbps for Virgin's customers.

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Categories: Science

KDE Plasma 5.4 Released

Tue, 25/08/2015 - 3:23pm
jrepin writes: KDE have announced the release of Plasma 5.4 desktop. This release of Plasma brings many nice touches for our users such as new fullscreen application launcher, much improved high DPI support, KRunner auto-completion and many new beautiful Breeze icons. It also lays the ground for the future with a tech preview of Wayland session available. We're shipping a few new components such as an Audio Volume Plasma Widget, monitor calibration tool and the User Manager tool comes out beta.

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Categories: Science

Next Texas Energy Boom: Solar

Tue, 25/08/2015 - 3:02pm
Layzej writes: The Wall Street Journal reports: "Solar power has gotten so cheap to produce—and so competitively priced in the electricity market—that it is taking hold even in a state that, unlike California, doesn't offer incentives to utilities to buy or build sun-powered generation." Falling cost is one factor driving investment. "Another reason for the boom: Texas recently wrapped up construction of $6.9 billion worth of new transmission lines, many connecting West Texas to the state's large cities. These massive power lines enabled Texas to become, by far, the largest U.S. wind producer. Solar developers plan to move electricity on the same lines, taking advantage of a lull in wind generation during the heat of the day when solar output is at its highest."

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Categories: Science

Life With the Dash Button: Good Design For Amazon, Bad For Everyone Else

Tue, 25/08/2015 - 2:13pm
vivaoporto writes: A scathing review published on Fast Company describes Amazon's Dash Button, the "Buy Now" button brought into the physical world as "the latest symptom of Amazon's slowly spreading disease", "an unabashed attempt to disconnect customers from the amount of money we're spending." The author's criticism centers on Amazon's lack of focus on customer experience, a core UI that doesn't make sense, limited and expensive product selection and a store UX "no longer designed for your convenient shopping", but rather "designed for their profitable selling."

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Categories: Science

Happy Birthday, Linux! An OS At 24

Tue, 25/08/2015 - 1:31pm
prisoninmate writes: It has been 24 long years since the first ever release of the Linux project on August 25, 1991, which is the core component of any GNU/Linux distribution. With this occasion we want to remind everyone that Linux is everywhere, even if you don't see it. You use Linux when you search on Google, when you use your phone, when buy metro tickets, actually the whole Internet is powered by Linux. Happy Birthday, Linux!

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Categories: Science

Backwards S-Pen Can Permanently Damage Note 5

Tue, 25/08/2015 - 12:52pm
tlhIngan writes: Samsung recently released a new version of its popular Galaxy Note series phablet, the Note 5. However, it turns out that there is a huge design flaw in the design of its pen holder (which Samsung calls the S-pen). If you insert it backwards (pointy end out instead of in), it's possible for it get stuck damaging the S-pen detection features. While it may be possible to fix it (Ars Technica was able to, Android Police was not), there's also a chance that your pen is also stuck the wrong way in permanently as the mechanism that holds the pen in grabs the wrong end and doesn't let go.

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Categories: Science

Comcast Planning Gigabit Cable For Entire US In 2-3 Years

Tue, 25/08/2015 - 12:14pm
An anonymous reader writes: Robert Howald, Comcast's VP of network architecture, said the company is hoping to upgrade its entire cable network within the next two years. The upgraded DOCSIS 3.1 network can support maximum speeds of 10 Gpbs. "Our intent is to scale it through our footprint through 2016," Howald said. "We want to get it across the footprint very quickly... We're shooting for two years."

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Categories: Science

Ask Slashdot: New Employee System Access Tracking?

Tue, 25/08/2015 - 11:34am
New submitter mushero writes: We are a fast-growing IT services company with dozens of systems, SaaS tools, dev tools and systems, and more that a new employee might need access to. We struggle to track this, both in terms of what systems a given set of roles will need and then has it been done, as different people manage various systems. And of course the reverse when an employee leaves. Every on-boarding or HR system we've looked at has zero support for this; they are great at getting tax info, your home address, etc. but not for getting you a computer nor access to a myriad of systems. I know in a perfect world it'd all be single-sign-on, but not realistic yet and we have many, many SaaS service that will never integrate. So what have you used for this, how do you track new employee access across dozens of systems, hundreds of employees, new hires every day, etc.?

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Categories: Science

Met Office Loses BBC Weather Forecasting Contract

Tue, 25/08/2015 - 9:30am
An anonymous reader writes: UK weather forecasts could be run on computers in New Zealand, as the BBC announced that the UK Met Office lost a forecasting contract it held for almost 100 years. The Guardian reports: "The Met Office has lost the contract it has held for close to a century to provide weather forecasts to the BBC, bringing to an end one of the longest relationships in British media. The broadcaster said it was legally required to open up the contract to outside competition in order to secure the best value for licence fee payers. The meteorological service said it was disappointed by the BBC’s decision to put out to tender the contract, which has been in place since the corporation’s first radio weather bulletin on 14 November 1922. Steve Noyes, operations and customer services director at the Met Office, said: 'Nobody knows Britain’s weather better and, during our long relationship with the BBC, we’ve revolutionised weather communication to make it an integral part of British daily life.'"

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Categories: Science