Science & Tech News

Boo! The House Majority PAC Is Watching You

Slashdot Updates - 3 hours 26 min ago
An anonymous reader writes I received some interesting mail this week from the House Majority PAC. First, a "voter report card" postcard telling me my voting record was "excellent" (I'm a good citizen!), but also letting me know that they "plan to update this report card after the election to see whether you voted". OK, so one of the Democratic Party's super PACs want me to vote, but it seems to be something of an attempt at intimidation. Today, I received a letter in which they really put the pressure on. Here are some excerpts: "Who you vote for is secret. But whether or not you vote is public record. Our organization monitors turnout in your neighborhood, and we are disappointed that many of your neighbors do not always exercise their right to vote." So why contact me instead of them? Voting is a civic duty, but it isn't illegal to abstain. That's my neighbors' business, not mine. It's one way of expressing dissatisfaction, isn't it? And if there are no candidates you wish to vote for, then why should you vote for someone you don't want? But Big Brother PAC has other ideas: "We will be reviewing the Camden County [NJ] official voting records after the upcoming election to determine whether you joined your neighbors who voted in 2014. If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not." The letter is signed "Joe Fox Election day Coordinator". So what happens if I don't vote? Well, at least I got a scare this Halloween. Are PACs using similar tactics in other states?

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NASA Spacecraft Images Crash Site of Retired LADEE Probe

Slashdot Updates - 4 hours 21 min ago
An anonymous reader writes In April, NASA ended the mission of its Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission by de-orbiting (read: crashing) it on the far side of the moon. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has now directly imaged the crash site, showing a small crater and the spray of rocks and dust caused by the crash. "LADEE's grave lies about 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) from the eastern rim of the larger Sundman V crater, just 0.2 miles (0.3 km) north of the spot where mission team members predicted the spacecraft would go down based on tracking data, NASA officials said. ... The new crater is less than 10 feet (3 meters) wide. It's so small because LADEE was just the size of a washing machine, and the probe was traveling relatively slowly (3,800 mph, or 6,116 km/h) when it impacted the surface. The LROC team was able to spot LADEE's impact crater after developing a new tool that compared before-and-after images of the same lunar sites, researchers said."

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LG's 0.7mm Smartphone Bezel Is World's Narrowest

Slashdot Updates - 5 hours 2 min ago
SmartAboutThings (1951032) writes "LG Display has announced that it has developed a 5.3-inch Full HD LCD panel for smartphones with the world's narrowest bezel at 0.7mm. It's even thinner than a credit card, making the screen give you the impression that it 'overflows.' The company calls the construction Neo Edge technology; it uses an adhesive instead of double-sided tape to attach and seal the panel's circuit board and backlight unit.

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Virginia Court: LEOs Can Force You To Provide Fingerprint To Unlock Your Phone

Slashdot Updates - 5 hours 43 min ago
schwit1 writes with news of a Circuit Court decision from Virginia where a judge has ruled that a criminal defendant cannot use Fifth Amendment protections to safeguard a phone that is locked using his or her fingerprint. According to Judge Steven C. Fucci, while a criminal defendant can't be compelled to hand over a passcode to police officers for the purpose of unlocking a cellular device, law enforcement officials can compel a defendant to give up a fingerprint. The Fifth Amendment states that "no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself," which protects memorized information like passwords and passcodes, but it does not extend to fingerprints in the eyes of the law, as speculated by Wired last year. Frucci said that "giving police a fingerprint is akin to providing a DNA or handwriting sample or an actual key, which the law permits. A passcode, though, requires the defendant to divulge knowledge, which the law protects against, according to Frucci's written opinion."

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Qualcomm Begins Contributing To Reverse-Engineered Freedreno Linux Driver

Slashdot Updates - 6 hours 27 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: For over two years there's been a Freedreno driver project that's been reverse-engineering Qualcomm's Adreno graphics hardware. Freedreno consists of both a user-space Gallium3D driver providing OpenGL / OpenGL ES support and a DRM/KMS kernel driver to replace Qualcomm's open-source kernel driver designed just around Android's needs. The community-based, reverse-engineering Freedreno driver project is finally paying off and gaining critical momentum with Qualcomm now contributing to the driver. QuIC through the Aurora Forum provided Adreno A4xx hardware support to the Freedreno MSM kernel driver.

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Integrated Circuit Amplifier Breaches Terahertz Barrier

Slashdot Updates - 7 hours 4 min ago
jenningsthecat writes: DARPA's Terahertz Electronics program has created "the fastest solid-state amplifier integrated circuit ever measured." The Terahertz Monolithic Integrated Circuit (TMIC), boasts a gain of 9dB — previously unheard of for a monolithic device in this frequency range. Plus, the status of "fastest" has been certified by Guinness — seriously! ('Cause you might not trust DARPA, but you gotta trust Guinness — right?). In related news, DARPA has also created a micro-machined vacuum power amplifier operating at 850 GHz, or 0.85 THz.

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Physicists Identify Possible New Particle Behind Dark Matter

Slashdot Updates - 7 hours 47 min ago
sciencehabit writes: Like cops tracking the wrong person, physicists seeking to identify dark matter — the mysterious stuff whose gravity appears to bind the galaxies — may have been stalking the wrong particle. In fact, a particle with some properties opposite to those of physicists' current favorite dark matter candidate — the weakly interacting massive particle, or WIMP — would do just as good a job at explaining the stuff, a quartet of theorists says. Hypothetical strongly interacting massive particles — or SIMPs — would also better account for some astrophysical observations, they argue.

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Physicists Identify Possible New Particle Behind Dark Matter

Slashdot Updates - 7 hours 47 min ago
sciencehabit writes: Like cops tracking the wrong person, physicists seeking to identify dark matter — the mysterious stuff whose gravity appears to bind the galaxies — may have been stalking the wrong particle. In fact, a particle with some properties opposite to those of physicists' current favorite dark matter candidate — the weakly interacting massive particle, or WIMP — would do just as good a job at explaining the stuff, a quartet of theorists says. Hypothetical strongly interacting massive particles — or SIMPs — would also better account for some astrophysical observations, they argue.

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Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Crashes

Slashdot Updates - 8 hours 40 min ago
Fallen Kell writes: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo has crashed. "'During the test. the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of the vehicle,' the company said in a statement. "The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft landed safely. Our first concern is the status of the pilots, which is unknown at this time.'"" ABC says one person is dead, and another injured. This was the craft's fourth powered test flight, and its first since January.

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Beautiful UN stamps use endangered fish to make point

New Scientist - Breaking news - 9 hours 10 min ago
The striking marine life starring on the latest collection of United Nation's postage stamps highlights species that need to be protected






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Colleges Face New 'Gainful Employment' Regulations For Student Loans

Slashdot Updates - 9 hours 14 min ago
HughPickens.com writes: Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the Education Department wants to make sure loan programs that prey on students don't continue their abusive practices. Now Kimberly Hefling reports that for-profit colleges who are not producing graduates capable of paying off their student loans could soon stand to lose access to federal student-aid programs. In order to receive federal student aid, the law requires that most for-profit programs, regardless of credential level, and most non-degree programs at non-profit and public institutions, including community colleges, prepare students for "gainful employment in a recognized occupation" (PDF). To meet these "gainful employment" standards, a program will have to show that the estimated annual loan payment of a typical graduate does not exceed 20 percent of his or her discretionary income or 8 percent of total earnings. "Career colleges must be a stepping stone to the middle class. But too many hard-working students find themselves buried in debt with little to show for it. That is simply unacceptable," says Duncan. "These regulations are a necessary step to ensure that colleges accepting federal funds protect students, cut costs and improve outcomes. We will continue to take action as needed." But not everyone is convinced the rules go far enough. "The rule is far too weak to address the grave misconduct of predatory for-profit colleges," writes David Halperin. "The administration missed an opportunity to issue a strong rule, to take strong executive action and provide real leadership on this issue." The final gainful employment regulations follow an extensive rulemaking process involving public hearings, negotiations and about 95,000 public comments and will go into effect on July 1, 2015.

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Colleges Face New 'Gainful Employment' Regulations For Student Loans

Slashdot Updates - 9 hours 14 min ago
HughPickens.com writes: Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the Education Department wants to make sure loan programs that prey on students don't continue their abusive practices. Now Kimberly Hefling reports that for-profit colleges who are not producing graduates capable of paying off their student loans could soon stand to lose access to federal student-aid programs. In order to receive federal student aid, the law requires that most for-profit programs, regardless of credential level, and most non-degree programs at non-profit and public institutions, including community colleges, prepare students for "gainful employment in a recognized occupation" (PDF). To meet these "gainful employment" standards, a program will have to show that the estimated annual loan payment of a typical graduate does not exceed 20 percent of his or her discretionary income or 8 percent of total earnings. "Career colleges must be a stepping stone to the middle class. But too many hard-working students find themselves buried in debt with little to show for it. That is simply unacceptable," says Duncan. "These regulations are a necessary step to ensure that colleges accepting federal funds protect students, cut costs and improve outcomes. We will continue to take action as needed." But not everyone is convinced the rules go far enough. "The rule is far too weak to address the grave misconduct of predatory for-profit colleges," writes David Halperin. "The administration missed an opportunity to issue a strong rule, to take strong executive action and provide real leadership on this issue." The final gainful employment regulations follow an extensive rulemaking process involving public hearings, negotiations and about 95,000 public comments and will go into effect on July 1, 2015.

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Smart Meters and New IoT Devices Cause Serious Concern

Slashdot Updates - 10 hours 22 sec ago
dkatana writes: The ongoing deployment of internet-of-things devices is already creating serious issues and discussions about the privacy of users, IoT security, and the potential threat of cyber criminals taking control of sensors and smart devices connected to the Internet. Security and privacy concerns associated with smart meters are why they are currently "optional" in several countries. That's the case in the Netherlands after consumer organizations and privacy watchdog groups campaigned vigorously to stop the mandatory smart meter deployment. A report from researchers at Tilburg University claimed that "smart meters have the capacity to reveal quite privacy-sensitive information, thus affecting not only informational privacy but also privacy of the home and of family life." This now applies to televisions as well — an article in Salon discusses the author's new "smart" TV, which came with a 46-page privacy policy. Quoting: "It logs where, when, how and for how long you use the TV. It sets tracking cookies and beacons designed to detect 'when you have viewed particular content or a particular email message.' It records 'the apps you use, the websites you visit, and how you interact with content.' It ignores 'do-not-track' requests as a considered matter of policy. It also has a built-in camera — with facial recognition."

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Zoologger: My lizard persona depends on my neighbours

New Scientist - Breaking news - 10 hours 11 min ago
Different stress levels will make wall lizards from a group of Aegean islands flee or drop their tails – and it all depends on who they grew up with






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Today on New Scientist

New Scientist - Breaking news - 10 hours 20 min ago
All the latest on newscientist.com: the truth about e-cigarettes, arachnophobia chopped out of a man's brain, Interstellar science and more
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Android Co-Founder Andy Rubin Leaving Google

Slashdot Updates - 10 hours 45 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: The Wall Street Journal reports that Andy Rubin is leaving Google. Rubin co-founded Android in 2003 and stayed on when the company was acquired by Google in 2005. Rubin led Android through the acquisition of over a billion users, until 2013 when he moved to Google's robotics division. He was replaced in the Android division by Sundar Pichai, who continues in charge of that, Chrome, Google+, and many other products. Rubin's robotics role will be filled by James Kuffner. "Mr. Rubin's departure is a blow to Google's robotics efforts. However, Mr. Kuffner is experienced in the sector, having worked on human-like robot technology for over two decades, including seven years at Carnegie Mellon University and five years on Google's self-driving car project."

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Virgin Galactic's Spaceshiptwo in fatal crash

New Scientist - Breaking news - 11 hours 31 min ago
The rocket plane broke up over the the California desert today, throwing the future of private spaceflight into disarray
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Facebook Sets Up Shop On Tor

Slashdot Updates - 11 hours 32 min ago
itwbennett writes: Assuming that people who use the anonymity network want to also use Facebook, the social network has made its site available on Tor, Facebook software engineer Alec Muffett said in a post on Friday. Facebook also decided to encrypt the connection between clients and its server with SSL, providing an SSL certificate for Facebook's onion address. This was done both for internal technical reasons and as a way for users to verify Facebook's ownership of the onion address. Since it is still an experiment, Facebook hopes to improve the service and said it would share lessons learned about scaling and deploying services via an onion address over time.

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TTIP: How the world's largest trade deal affects you

New Scientist - Breaking news - 11 hours 50 min ago
The huge US-European deal will have a major impact on health and the environment. New Scientist explains what it is – and what it means for ordinary people






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MPAA Bans Google Glass In Theaters

Slashdot Updates - 12 hours 15 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: The Motion Picture Association of America, along with the National Association of Theater Owners, have banned Google Glass and similar devices from being in movie theaters. They said, "As part of our continued efforts to ensure movies are not recorded in theaters, however, we maintain a zero-tolerance policy toward using any recording device while movies are being shown. As has been our long-standing policy, all phones must be silenced and other recording devices, including wearable devices, must be turned off and put away at show time. Individuals who fail or refuse to put the recording devices away may be asked to leave." This is a change from the MPAA's stance earlier this year that Glass was "no threat" in terms of copyright infringement. A spokesman said the ban is geared toward combating more sophisticated wearables in the future.

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