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Bitcoin Is Not Anonymous After All

SlashDot - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 16:42
Taco Cowboy points out a new study that shows it is possible to figure out the IP address of someone who pays for transactions anonymously online using bitcoins. "The Bitcoin system is not managed by a central authority, but relies on a peer-to-peer network on the Internet. Anyone can join the network as a user or provide computing capacity to process the transactions. In the network, the user's identity is hidden behind a cryptographic pseudonym, which can be changed as often as is wanted. Transactions are signed with this pseudonym and broadcast to the public network to verify their authenticity and attribute the Bitcoins to the new owner. In their new study, researchers at the Laboratory of Algorithmics, Cryptology and Security of the University of Luxembourg have shown that Bitcoin does not protect user's IP address and that it can be linked to the user's transactions in real-time. To find this out, a hacker would need only a few computers and about €1500 per month for server and traffic costs. Moreover, the popular anonymization network "Tor" can do little to guarantee Bitcoin user's anonymity, since it can be blocked easily."

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BlackBerry Will Buy Your iPhone For $550

SlashDot - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 16:00
mpicpp points out that BlackBerry is hoping to get iPhone owners to switch to Passport smartphones by promising up to $550 to trade in their phones. "The promotion, which starts Monday, promises as much as $550 to iPhone owners who trade in their handsets in favor of BlackBerry's Passport. The actual trade-in value depends on the iPhone, with the iPhone 4S worth up to $90 and the iPhone 6 worth up to $400. (The iPhone 6 Plus is not eligible.) BlackBerry then sweetens the deal by kicking in an additional $150 as a topper for each iPhone. The deal will run through February 13, but it's good only in North America. Customers must buy the $599 to $699 unlocked Passport phone through either BlackBerry's website or Amazon. The trade-in amount comes in the form of a Visa prepaid card."

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Jackie Chan Discs Help Boost Solar Panel Efficiency

SlashDot - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 15:16
wbr1 writes Apparently the pit pattern on a blu-ray disk is great at helping trap photons, rather than reflecting them. Applying this pattern to the glass in a solar panel can boost efficiency by 22%. Researchers at Northwestern tested this system with Jackie Chan discs. From the article: "To increase the efficiency of a solar panel by 22%, the researchers at Northwestern bought a copy of Police Story 3: Supercop on Blu-ray; removed the top plastic layer, exposing the recording medium beneath; cast a mold of the quasi-random pattern; and then used the mold to create a photovoltaic cell with the same pattern....The end result is a solar panel that has a quantum efficiency of around 40% — up about 22% from the non-patterned solar panel."

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Fly With the Brooklyn Aerodrome (Video)

SlashDot - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 14:32
A bit of housing insulation material, a battery, a motor and propellor, a radio receiver and transmitter, and servos to control the motor and a pair of ailerons, and you're ready to fly the Brooklyn Aerodrome way. This isn't a tiny radio-controlled paper airplane, but a big bruiser with a 1:1 power to weight ratio (which means it can climb like a bat out of hell) and enough guts to fly in reasonably windy conditions while carrying a camera -- except we'd better not mention cameras, since Brooklyn Aerodrome creations, whether kits or plans, are obviously intended tohelp you build model airplanes, not drones. Timothy ran into project proponent Breck Baldwin at a maker faire near Atlanta, surrounded by a squadron of junior pilots who may someday become astronauts on the Moon - Mars run -- or at least delivery drone controllers for Amazon. (Alternate Video Link)

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DragonFly BSD 4.0 Released

SlashDot - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 14:03
An anonymous reader writes From the release page: Version 4 of DragonFly brings Haswell graphics support, 3D acceleration, and improved performance in extremely high-traffic networks. DragonFly now supports up to 256 CPUs, Haswell graphics (i915), concurrent pf operation, and a variety of other devices.

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Was Microsoft Forced To Pay $136M In Back Taxes In China?

SlashDot - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 13:42
itwbennett writes China's state-controlled Xinhua News Agency said on Sunday that an unnamed international company was forced to pay 840 million yuan ($136 million) in back taxes, as part of a Chinese government crackdown on tax evasion. The Xinhua article simply referred to it as the "M company," describing it as a top 500 global firm headquartered in the U.S. that in 1995 set up a wholly owned foreign subsidiary in Beijing. The details match Microsoft's own background, and no other company obviously fits the bill. Xinhua added, that despite the company's strengths, its subsidiary in China had not been not making a profit, and posted a loss of over $2 billion during a six-year period.

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Clarificiation on the IP Address Security in Dropbox Case

SlashDot - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 12:59
Bennett Haselton writes A judge rules that a county has to turn over the IP addresses that were used to access a county mayor's Dropbox account, stating that there is no valid security-related reason why the IP addresses should be exempt from a public records request. I think the judge's conclusion about IP addresses was right, but the reasoning was flawed; here is a technically more correct argument that would have led to the same answer. Keep Reading to see what Bennett has to say about the case.

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LHC's 'Heart' Starts Pumping Protons Before Restart

SlashDot - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 07:58
astroengine writes: While on its long road to restart, yet another milestone was reached at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) over the weekend. Protons were generated by the LHC's source and blasted through a "daisy-chain" of smaller accelerators before being intentionally smashed into a metaphorical brick wall. The particle beam didn't reach the LHC's famous 17-mile (27-kilometer) accelerator ring — they were stopped just short — but the event was used to begin calibration efforts of the massive experiment's detectors before the whole system is powered back up again early next year. "These initial tests are a milestone for the whole accelerator chain," said the LHC's chief engineer, Reyes Alemany Fernandez. "Not only was this the first time the injection lines have seen beams in over a year, it was also our first opportunity to test the LHC's operation system. We successfully commissioned the LHC's injection and ejection magnets, all without beam in the machine itself."

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The Schizophrenic Programmer Who Built an OS To Talk To God

SlashDot - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 12:54
rossgneumann writes: Terry Davis, a schizophrenic programmer, has spent 10 years building an operating system to talk to God. He's done this work because God told him to. According to the TempleOS charter, it is "God's official temple. Just like Solomon's temple, this is a community focal point where offerings are made and God's oracle is consulted." [The TempleOS V2.17 welcome screen] greets the user with a riot of 16-color, scrolling, blinking text; depending on your frame of reference, it might recall DESQview, the Commodore 64, or a host of early DOS-based graphical user interfaces. In style if not in specifics, it evokes a particular era, a time when the then-new concept of "personal computing" necessarily meant programming and tinkering and breaking things.

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Revisiting Open Source Social Networking Alternatives

SlashDot - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 12:09
reifman writes Upstart social networking startup Ello burst on the scene in September with promises of a utopian, post-Facebook platform that respected user's privacy. I was surprised to see so many public figures and media entities jump on board — mainly because of what Ello isn't. It isn't an open source, decentralized social networking technology. It's just another privately held, VC-funded silo. Remember Diaspora? In 2010, it raised $200,641 on Kickstarter to take on Facebook with "an open source personal web server to share all your stuff online." Two years later, they essentially gave up, leaving their code to the open source community to carry forward. In part one of "Revisiting Open Source Social Networking Alternatives," I revisit/review six open source social networking alternatives in search of a path forward beyond Facebook.

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Top Counter-Strike Players Embroiled In Hacking Scandal

SlashDot - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 11:30
An anonymous reader writes Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is one of the world's fastest growing eSports, but the community has been rocked by scandal in the last week, with several top players being banned by Valve for using various hacking tools to improve their performance. With the huge Dreamhack Winter tournament taking place this weekend, the purge could not have come at a worse time for the game, and fans are now poring over the archives for other signs of foul play in top tier games — be sure to look out for these tell tale signs while playing.

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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

SlashDot - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 10:50
_Sharp'r_ writes Two Standford PhDs, Ross Koningstein and David Fork, worked for Google on the RE<C project to figure out how to make renewables cheaper than coal and solve climate change. After four years of study they gave up, determining "Renewable energy technologies simply won't work; we need a fundamentally different approach." As a result, is nuclear going to be acknowledged as the future of energy production?

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"Advanced Life Support" Ambulances May Lead To More Deaths

SlashDot - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 08:35
HughPickens.com writes Jason Kane reports at PBS that emergency treatments delivered in ambulances that offer "Advanced Life Support" for cardiac arrest may be linked to more death, comas and brain damage than those providing "Basic Life Support." "They're taking a lot of time in the field to perform interventions that don't seem to be as effective in that environment," says Prachi Sanghavi. "Of course, these are treatments we know are good in the emergency room, but they've been pushed into the field without really being tested and the field is a much different environment." The study suggests that high-tech equipment and sophisticated treatment techniques may distract from what's most important during cardiac arrest — transporting a critically ill patient to the hospital quickly. Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulances stick to simpler techniques, like chest compressions, basic defibrillation and hand-pumped ventilation bags to assist with breathing with more emphasis placed on getting the patient to the hospital as soon as possible. Survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients are extremely low regardless of the ambulance type with roughly 90 percent of the 380,000 patients who experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital each year not surviving to hospital discharge. But researchers found that 90 days after hospitalization, patients treated in BLS ambulances were 50 percent more likely to survive than their counterparts treated with ALS. Not everyone is convinced of the conclusions. "They've done as much as they possibly can with the existing data but I'm not sure that I'm convinced they have solved all of the selection biases," says Judith R. Lave. "I would say that it should be taken as more of an indication that there may be some very significant problems here."

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Conglomerate Rock From Mars: (Much) More Precious Than Gold

SlashDot - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 07:54
An anonymous reader writes It's the oldest rock on Earth--and it's from Mars. A 4.4-billion-year-old martian meteorite, found in a dozen pieces in the western Sahara, has ignited a frenzy among collectors and scientists; prices have reached $10,000 a gram, and museums and universities are vying for slivers of it. It is the only known martian meteorite made of sediment, a conglomerate of pebbles and other clumps of minerals from when the planet was warm, wet, and possibly habitable. The story of the discovery of the rock and its significance is fascinating, as well as the details presented about the economics of rare space materials. Apropos, this older story about missing moon rocks.

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Researchers Say the Tech Worker Shortage Doesn't Really Exist

SlashDot - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 07:13
Beeftopia sends this excerpt from an article at BusinessWeek: "There’s no evidence of any way, shape, or form that there’s a shortage in the conventional sense," says Hal Salzman, a professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers University. "They may not be able to find them at the price they want. But I’m not sure that qualifies as a shortage, any more than my not being able to find a half-priced TV." ... The real issue, say Salzman and others, is the industry’s desire for lower-wage, more-exploitable guest workers, not a lack of available American staff. "It seems pretty clear that the industry just wants lower-cost labor," Dean Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, wrote in an e-mail. A 2011 review (PDF) by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that the H-1B visa program, which is what industry groups are lobbying to expand, had "fragmented and restricted" oversight that weakened its ostensible labor standards. "Many in the tech industry are using it for cheaper, indentured labor," says Rochester Institute of Technology public policy associate professor Ron Hira, an EPI research associate and co-author of the book Outsourcing America.

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Sony Pictures Computer Sytems Shut Down After Ransomware Hack

SlashDot - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 04:14
MojoKid writes: It appears that Sony Pictures has become the victim of a massive ransomware hack, which has resulted in the company basically shutting down its IT infrastructure. According to an unnamed source, every computer in Sony's New York Office, and every Sony Pictures office across the nation, bears an image from the hacker with the headline "Hacked By #GOP" which is then followed by a warning. The hacker, or group, claims to have obtained corporate secrets and has threatened to reveal those secrets if Sony doesn't meet their demands.

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Slack Now Letting Employers Tap Workers' Private Chats

SlashDot - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 02:09
itwbennett writes: Chat app maker Slack is hoping to make inroads in the enterprise with a new paid plan that will include an optional feature called Compliance Exports that will let administrators access their team's communications, encompassing public and private messages. The tool is far-reaching, potentially including the edit history for workers' messages as well as messages workers have marked for deletion, if the supervisor so desires.

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Attack of the One-Letter Programming Languages

SlashDot - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 00:01
snydeq writes: The programming world is fast proliferating with one-letter programming languages, many of which tackle specific problems in ways worthy of a cult following, writes InfoWorld's Peter Wayner in this somewhat tongue-in-cheek roundup of the more interesting entrants among this trend. "They're all a bit out there, with the possible exception of C. ... Each offers compelling ideas that could do the trick in solving a particular problem you need fixed.'"

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Here's What Your Car Could Look Like In 2030

SlashDot - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 23:19
Nerval's Lobster writes: If you took your cubicle, four wheels, powerful AI, and brought them all together in unholy matrimony, their offspring might look something like the self-driving future car created by design consultants IDEO. That's not to say that every car on the road in 2030 will look like a mobile office, but technology could take driving to a place where a car's convenience and onboard software (not to mention smaller size) matter more than, say, speed or handling, especially as urban areas become denser and people potentially look at "driving time" as a time to get things done or relax as the car handles the majority of driving tasks. Then again, if old science-fiction movies have proven anything, it's that visions of automobile design thirty or fifty years down the road (pun intended) tend to be far, far different than the eventual reality. (Blade Runner, for example, posited that the skies above Los Angeles would swarm with flying cars by 2019.) So it's anyone's guess what you'll be driving a couple decades from now.

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Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

SlashDot - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 22:07
An anonymous reader writes: A grand jury in Missouri has decided there is no probable cause to charge police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. "A grand jury of nine whites and three blacks had been meeting weekly since Aug. 20 to consider evidence. At least nine votes would have been required to indict Wilson. The Justice Department is conducting an investigation into possible civil rights violations that could result in federal charges." Government officials and Brown's family are urging calm in Ferguson after the contentious protests that followed Brown's death.

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