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The Cost of Caring For Elderly Nuclear Plants Expected To Rise

Slashdot - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 20:18
mdsolar writes with this story about the rising costs of keeping Europe's nuclear power plants safe and operational. Europe's ageing nuclear fleet will undergo more prolonged outages over the next few years, reducing the reliability of power supply and costing plant operators many millions of dollars. Nuclear power provides about a third of the European Union's electricity generation, but the 28-nation bloc's 131 reactors are well past their prime, with an average age of 30 years. And the energy companies, already feeling the pinch from falling energy prices and weak demand, want to extend the life of their plants into the 2020s, to put off the drain of funding new builds. Closing the older nuclear plants is not an option for many EU countries, which are facing an energy capacity crunch as other types of plant are being closed or mothballed because they can't cover their operating costs, or to meet stricter environmental regulation.

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Plan Would Give Government Virtual Veto Over Internet Governance

Slashdot - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 19:35
An anonymous reader writes The debate over Internet governance for much of the past decade has often come down to a battle between ICANN and the United Nations. The reality has always been far more complicated. The U.S. still maintains contractual control over ICANN, while all governments exert considerable power within the ICANN model through the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). Now governments are looking for even more power, seeking a near-complete veto power of ICANN decisions.

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WikiLeaks' Assange Hopes To Exit London Embassy "Soon"

Slashdot - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 18:50
An anonymous reader writes "Julian Assange has hosted a press conference in which he indicated he is soon about to leave the embassy of Ecuador in London. From the article: "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has spent over two years in Ecuador's London embassy to avoid a sex crimes inquiry in Sweden, said on Monday he planned to leave the building 'soon', but Britain signaled it would still arrest him if he tried. Assange made the surprise assertion during a news conference alongside Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino. But his spokesman played down the chances of an imminent departure, saying the British government would first need to revise its position and let him leave without arrest, something it has repeatedly refused to do."

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Selectable Ethics For Robotic Cars and the Possibility of a Robot Car Bomb

Slashdot - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 18:07
Rick Zeman writes Wired has an interesting article on the possibility of selectable ethical choices in robotic autonomous cars. From the article: "The way this would work is one customer may set the car (which he paid for) to jealously value his life over all others; another user may prefer that the car values all lives the same and minimizes harm overall; yet another may want to minimize legal liability and costs for herself; and other settings are possible. Philosophically, this opens up an interesting debate about the oft-clashing ideas of morality vs. liability." Meanwhile, others are thinking about the potential large scale damage a robot car could do. Lasrick writes Patrick Lin writes about a recent FBI report that warns of the use of robot cars as terrorist and criminal threats, calling the use of weaponized robot cars "game changing." Lin explores the many ways in which robot cars could be exploited for nefarious purposes, including the fear that they could help terrorist organizations based in the Middle East carry out attacks on US soil. "And earlier this year, jihadists were calling for more car bombs in America. Thus, popular concerns about car bombs seem all too real." But Lin isn't too worried about these threats, and points out that there are far easier ways for terrorists to wreak havoc in the US.

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Researchers Find Hundreds of Thousands of Woefully Insecure IoT Devices

Slashdot - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 17:52
mask.of.sanity writes "More than 140,000 internet-of-things devices, from routers to CCTV systems contain zero-day vulnerabilities, backdoors, hard coded crackable passwords and blurted private keys, according to the first large scale analysis of firmware in embedded devices. Four researchers from EURECOM France found the flaws when conducting a simple but systematic, automated, and large-scale analysis of 32,356 firmware images running on embedded systems within thousands of different devices. Of these, 693 had at least one vulnerability while 38 contained active (or possibly recently patched) zero day flaws."

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Machine Vision Reveals Previously Unknown Influences Between Great Artists

Slashdot - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 17:07
KentuckyFC writes Art experts look for influences between great masters by studying the artist's use of space, texture, form, shape, colour and so on. They may also consider the subject matter, brushstrokes, meaning, historical context and myriad other factors. So it's easy to imagine that today's primitive machine vision techniques have little to add. Not so. Using a new technique for classifying objects in images, a team of computer scientists and art experts have compared more than 1700 paintings from over 60 artists dating from the early 15th century to the late 20 the century. They've developed an algorithm that has used these classifications to find many well known influences between artists, such as the well known influence of Pablo Picasso and George Braque on the Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt, the influence of the French romantic Delacroix on the French impressionist Bazille, the Norwegian painter Munch's influence on the German painter Beckmann and Degas' influence on Caillebotte. But the algorithm also discovered connections that art historians have never noticed (judge the comparisons for yourself). In particular, the algorithm points out that Norman Rockwell's Shuffleton's Barber Shop painted in 1950 is remarkably similar to Frederic Bazille's Studio 9 Rue de la Condamine painted 80 years before.

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Xiaomi's Next OS Looks Strikingly Similar To iOS

Slashdot - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 16:20
stephendavion writes Looks like Chinese device maker, Xiaomi, is taking its "Apple of the East" tag too literally. First, their CEO brazenly copies Steve Jobs' signature look, sitting cross-legged on the floor. And now, Xiaomi's latest version of Android shamelessly rips off iOS 7. MIUI 6, which is Xiaomi's upcoming edition of Android for its latest phones and tablets, looks almost exactly like Apple's operating system for iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch. It features the same bright color palette and a flat design. Heck, it even does away with Google's "app drawer" and puts all apps on your home screen. It's like the CEO handed iPhones to the design team and barked: "Here, copy this!"

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Ask Slashdot: Would You Pay For Websites Without Trolls?

Slashdot - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 15:34
First time accepted submitter carbon_tet writes I read two articles this week that made me wonder: "Would anyone actually pay for a website without trolls?" The first, was about web trolls and civility on the internet, and the second about the ad-based internet. It seems that public comments unavoidably have trolls, or they degrade very quickly until someone makes a reference to Hitler. So, is it impossible to have a substantive discussion online without trolls? Would you put your money where your mouth is to have a serious online conversation without them? Are there any topics that you would talk about (or prefer to see talked about) on a website where trolls were paywalled out?

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Daimler's Solution For Annoying Out-of-office Email: Delete It

Slashdot - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 14:50
AmiMoJo writes Sure, you can set an out-of-office auto-reply to let others know they shouldn't email you, but that doesn't usually stop the messages; you may still have to handle those urgent-but-not-really requests while you're on vacation. That's not a problem if you work at Daimler, though. The German automaker recently installed software that not only auto-replies to email sent while staff is away, but deletes it outright.

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Feds: Red Light Camera Firm Paid For Chicago Official's Car, Condo

Slashdot - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 14:05
An anonymous reader writes "The former CEO of Redflex, a major red light camera vendor, and John Bills, former Managing Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Transportation, have been indicted on federal corruption charges stemming from a contract with the City of Chicago. According to the indictment, a friend of Bills was hired as a contractor and paid $2 million. Much of that money was then kicked back to Bills, who also got a Mercedes and a condominium via Redflex employees. The defendants are facing 23 counts including: mail fraud, wire fraud, and bribery. Each fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years."

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Ebola Quarantine Center In Liberia Looted

Slashdot - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 11:04
An anonymous reader writes The BBC and other outlets are reporting that a major quarantine center for patients who have been infected with the Ebola virus in Liberia has been looted and ransacked. Reports vary on the motive of the attack, but officials have confirmed that the Ebola patients are missing and that the quarantine center's medical supplies have been stolen. Officials say that the looters are highly likely to contract the virus themselves and worsen the epidemic further, as the WHO counts 1000+ lives claimed by the virus total."

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Fighting Invasive Fish With Forks and Knives

Slashdot - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 08:10
An anonymous reader writes "NPR commentator Bonny Wolf has a unique solution to battle the threat of invasive fish species in our waterways. She proposes we fight them with a knife, fork, and a few lemon wedges. From the article: "Take the , which has made its way into tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. It competes with native species for food, and then eats the native species, not to mention the odd frog or bird, with its mouthful of sharp teeth. It's been called "Fishzilla." It breeds fast, has no natural predators and can grow to be 4 feet long. The northern snakehead hangs out in grassy shallows, making it hard to catch. But a couple of years ago, Maryland started promoting the snakehead as an eating fish. Its harvest has increased from zero to 5,000 pounds a year.""

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ICANN Offers Fix For Domain Name Collisions

Slashdot - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 05:02
An anonymous reader writes with news about ICANN's fix for conflicting domain names. This kind of problem — when an internal server's DNS name conflicts with one of the new Top Level Domain (TLD) names — is going to start happening more and more often. With over 300 new TLDs available to be used by August 2014 and 1,100 more to come, you can expect to see it a lot. Fortunately, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has a fix so you don't have to go through all the hoops I did to find the problem: the Name Collision Occurrence Management Framework. According to ICANN, which is also the organization that has blessed us with so many new TLDs to add to such old favorites of .com, .edu, and .org, "The framework is designed to mitigate the impact of name collisions in the DNS, which typically occur when fully qualified domain names conflicts with similar domain names used in private networks. When this occurs, users can be taken to an unintended web page or encounter an error message."

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Windows 8.1 Update Crippling PCs With BSOD, Microsoft Suggests You Roll Back

Slashdot - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 02:50
MojoKid writes Right on schedule, Microsoft rolled-out an onslaught of patches for its "Patch Tuesday" last week, and despite the fact that it wasn't the true "Update 2" for Windows 8.1 many of us were hoping for, updates are generally worth snatching up. Since the patch rollout, it's been discovered that four individual updates are causing random BSoD issues for its users, with KB2982791, a kernel-mode related driver, being the biggest culprit. Because of the bug's severity, Microsoft is recommending that anyone who updated go and uninstall a couple of the specific updates, or rollback using Windows Restore. You can uninstall these updates in much the same way you uninstall any app; the difference is that once you're in the "Programs and Features" section, you'll need to click on "View installed updates" on the left. While it's mostly recommended that you uninstall 2982791, you may wish to uninstall the others as well, just in case.

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No, a Huge Asteroid Is Not "Set To Wipe Out Life On Earth In 2880"

Slashdot - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 01:40
An anonymous reader writes "Phil Plait wants you to know that asteroid 1950 DA is very, very unlikely to hit the Earth in 2880, despite what you may have read. He writes: "As it happens, 1950 DA is what's called a 'near-Earth asteroid', because its orbit sometimes brings it relatively close to Earth. I'll note that I mean close on a cosmic scale. Looking over the next few decades, a typical pass is tens of millions of kilometers away, with some as close as five million kilometers — which is still more than ten times farther away than the Moon! Still, that's in our neighborhood, which is one of the reasons this asteroid is studied so well. It gets close enough that we can get a decent look at it when it passes. Can it impact the Earth? Yes, kindof. Right now, the orbit of the asteroid doesn't bring it close enough to hit us. But there are forces acting on asteroids over time that subtly change their orbits; one of them is called the YORP effect, a weak force that arises due to the way the asteroid spins and radiates away heat. The infrared photons it emits when it's warm carry away a teeny tiny bit of momentum, and they act pretty much like an incredibly low-thrust rocket. Over many years, this can change both the rotation of the asteroid as well as the shape of its orbit."

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Facebook Tests "Satire" Tag To Avoid Confusion On News Feed

Slashdot - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 00:30
An anonymous reader writes "In an attempt to keep you from having to explain to your crazy relatives that despite what they read, Vice President Biden *didn't* get a grow light delivered to the White House under a fake name, Facebook is testing a "satire" tag on news feeds. A Facebook representative issued the following statement to Ars Technica: "We are running a small test which shows the text '[Satire]' in front of links to satirical articles in the related articles unit in News Feed. This is because we received feedback that people wanted a clearer way to distinguish satirical articles from others in these units."

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Are Altcoins Undermining Bitcoin's Credibility?

Slashdot - Sun, 08/17/2014 - 23:22
An anonymous reader writes The editor of a Bitcoin advocacy site believes the proliferation of altcoins (cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin) is harming Bitcoin's long-term potential as an alternative to traditional currencies. Posting at BadBitcoin.org, a site that seeks to expose online scams that target Bitcoin users, the pseudonymous ViK compares altcoins, including the Internet meme inspired Dogecoin, to a pump-and-dump scheme where developers create their own version of the Bitcoin wallet and blockchain and then "pre-mine" or generate a significant number of cryptocurrency units before the altcoin's official release. Later, when their value has risen, the pre-mined altcoins are exchanged for Bitcoin or in some cases converted directly to cash. While critics of cryptocurrencies in general might find ViK's comments about the altcoin "tulip" mania ironic, the self-confessed Bitcoin fan is nevertheless calling for an altcoin boycott: "The easiest way to stop them is to not participate. We all know that they only have one purpose, and that is to make Bitcoin for the so called developers."

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New Cridex Malware Copies Tactics From GameOver Zeus

Slashdot - Sun, 08/17/2014 - 22:16
Trailrunner7 writes The GameOver Zeus malware had a nice run for itself, making untold millions of dollars for its creators. But it was a run that ended with a multi-continent operation from law enforcement and security researchers to disassemble the infrastructure. Now researchers have identified a new variant of the Cridex malware that has adopted some of the techniques that made GOZ so successful in its day. Researchers at IBM's X-Force research team have seen a new version of Cridex, which is also known as Bugat and Feodo, using some of the same techniques that GOZ used to such good effect. Specifically, the new strain of malware has adopted GOZ's penchant for using HTML injections, and the researchers say the technique is nearly identical to the way that GOZ handled it. "There are two possible explanations for this. First, someone from the GOZ group could have moved to the Bugat team. This would not be the first time something like this has happened, which we've witnessed in other cases involving Zeus and Citadel; however, it is not very likely in this case since Bugat and GOZ are essentially competitors, while Zeus and Citadel are closely related. The second and more likely explanation is that the Bugat team could have analyzed and perhaps reversed the GOZ malware before copying the HTML injections that made GOZ so highly profitable for its operators," Etay Maor, a senior fraud prevention strategist at IBM, wrote in an analysis of the new malware.

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Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

Slashdot - Sun, 08/17/2014 - 21:11
mdsolar writes Physicist and energy expert Amory Lovins, chief scientist at The Rocky Mountain Institute, recently released a video in which he claims that renewable energy can meet all of our energy needs without the need for a fossil fuel or nuclear baseload generation. There's nothing unusual about that — many people have made that claim — but he also suggests that this can be done without a lot of grid-level storage. Instead, Lovins describes a "choreography" between supply and demand, using predictive computer models models to anticipate production and consumption, and intelligent routing to deliver power where it's needed. This "energy dance," combined with advances in energy efficiency, will allow us to meet all of our energy needs without sacrificing reliability.

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ISS Earth at Night Photos Crowdsourced For Science

Slashdot - Sun, 08/17/2014 - 20:03
teleyinex writes The Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) is leading a project called Cities at Night to catalog the images taken by astronauts from the ISS. The project uses the platform Crowdcrafting powered by the open source software PyBossa to catalog images in cities, stars or other objects, as well as geo-reference them."

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