CuteSteveJobs writes "The Age reports on creeping Australian government surveillance, beginning with the first operation launched on a baseless rumor. Six decades later the still-unaware victim read five months of transcripts with deep distress. Two decades ago few Australians would have consented to carrying a government-accessible tracking device, but phone and tablet data accessible without a warrant includes historic and real-time location data. In 2010-2011 there were 250,000 warrantless accesses by Federal agencies including ASIO, AFP, the Tax Office, Defence, Immigration, Citizenship, Health, Ageing, and Medicare. This is 18 times the rate of similar requests in the U.S."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Techmeology writes "The Dutch Supreme Court has asked the European Court of Justice to decide whether downloading copyrighted material for personal use — even from illegal sources — is legal. At the heart of the debate is whether the European Copyright Directive requires that any new legal copy of material must have originated from a copy that is itself legal. The case tests the law in the Netherlands, where copyright holders are granted a levy on blank media in exchange for the legalization of private copying." In the Netherlands, it is already legal to download from illegal sources. But EU law might conflict and trump that.
New submitter billius writes "I was recently hired (along with another guy) as a web developer at a large university. Our job is to build tools to support the social science researchers on our team. When I got here the codebase was an unholy mess: the formatting was terrible, there were .bak files scattered everywhere and there was no version control system in place. We quickly went to work cleaning things up and implementing new features. My boss was so pleased with our work that she took us out to lunch. During lunch, she asked us if there were any additional tools we needed to do our job more efficiently. We both told her that version control was an invaluable tool for any kind of software development, but had a difficult time describing to her what exactly version control was. I attempted to explain that it created a log of all the changes made to the code and allowed us to make sure that multiple developers working on the same project would not step on each other's toes. I don't think we really got through to her and a few weeks passed with us hearing nothing. Today we were asked by another supervisor if we needed any additional tools and we went through the same spiel about version control. She suggested that we try to write up a brief description of what we wanted and how much it would cost, but I'm drawing a blank an how exactly to describe version control to a person who isn't very technical, let alone a developer. Does anyone out there have any tips on how to sell version control to management?"
Cutting_Crew writes "Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner will attempt a supersonic free fall on October 8th as the worlds highest skydive. According to the Christian Science Monitor 'The current record for world's highest skydive stands at 102,800 feet (31,333 m). It was set in 1960 by U.S. Air Force Captain Joe Kittinger, who serves as an adviser for Baumgartner's mission. If Baumgartner succeeds on Oct. 8, he will break not only that mark but also the sound barrier, becoming the first skydiver ever to fall at supersonic speeds, Red Bull Stratos officials said. During the July 25 jump, Baumgartner's top freefall speed was 537 mph (864 kph) — about as fast as a commercial airliner.' Let's hope that the weather on the 8th is as good as they hope for. It would be awesome to have a real time camera feed from his helmet."
trbdavies writes "In 'Living Under Drones,' investigators from Stanford and NYU Law Schools report on interviews with 130 people in Pakistan about U.S.-led drone attacks there, including 69 survivors and family members of victims. The report affirms Bureau of Investigative Journalism numbers that count '474 to 884 civilian deaths since 2004, including 176 children' while 'only about 2% of drone casualties are top militant leaders.' It also argues that the attacks violate international law and are counterproductive, stating: 'Evidence suggests that US strikes have facilitated recruitment to violent non-state armed groups, and motivated further violent attacks One major study shows that 74% of Pakistanis now consider the U.S. an enemy.'"
MrSeb writes "Reverse engineering company Chipworks has completed its initial microscopic analysis of Apple's new A6 SoC (found in the iPhone 5), and there are some rather interesting findings. First, there's a tri-core GPU — and then there's a custom, hand-made dual-core ARM CPU. Hand-made chips are very rare nowadays, with Chipworks reporting that it hasn't seen a non-Intel hand-made chip for 'years.' The advantage of hand-drawn chips is that they can be more efficient and capable of higher clock speeds — but they take a lot longer (and cost a lot more) to design. Perhaps this is finally the answer to what PA Semi's engineers have been doing at Apple since the company was acquired back in 2008..." Pretty picture of the chip after using an Ion Beam to remove the casing. The question I have is how it's less expensive (in the long run) to lay a chip out by hand once instead of improving your VLSI layout software forever. NP classification notwithstanding.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft's Quincy data center, physical home of Bing and Hotmail, was fined $210,000 last year because the data center used too little electricity. To avoid similar penalties for 'underconsumption of electricity' this year, the data center burned through $70,000 worth of electricity in three days."
An anonymous reader writes "Reporter David Cay Johnston was interviewed recently for his new book, which touches on why America's Internet access is slow, expensive, and retarding economic growth. The main reason? Regulatory capture. It seems the telecommunication companies have rewritten the regulatory rules in their favor. In regards to the fees that were meant to build a fast Internet, Johnston speculates those fees went to build out cellular networks. 'The companies essentially have a business model that is antithetical to economic growth,' he says. 'Profits go up if they can provide slow Internet at super high prices.'"
tqft writes "From the sourceforge page: 'Source Sans is a set of monospaced OpenType fonts that have been designed to work well coding environments. This family of fonts is a complementary design to the Source Sans family.' License: Open Font License 1.1 (OFL 1.1) (both FSF and DFSG free). Hope to see it Debian (& other) repositories soon." The example text doesn't really look too much better than Inconsolata. But, hey, who can complain about more liberally licensed fonts?
An anonymous reader writes "Raspberry Pi was designed for education. As any popular product is bound to, Raspberry Pi has been criticized a lot for things like lack of a box, absence of supplied charger or even WiFi. Raspberry Pi has a much more fundamental flaw, which directly conflicts with its original goal: it is a black box tightly sealed with patents and protected by corporations. It isn't even remotely an open platform." The author thinks that patents on ARM are a serious threat to the openness of the platform (among other things like the proprietary GPU blob needed to boot). But even the FSF doesn't go that far. Wired had an editorial with the foundation justifying "selling out a little to sell a lot" that has a lot of info on the choices they had to make to hit their cost target.
Penurious Penguin writes "Fuhu Inc., maker of the $199 children-tailored Nabi tablet, is suing Toys R Us. The lawsuit arises after a legal agreement (ended in January) between Fuhu and Toys R Us went awry and Toys R Us released a similar product of their own, the $150 Tabeo. The dispute alleges that Toys R Us may have intended from inception to eventually abandon the Nabi for their own future variation, the Tabeo, presumably after gathering sufficient understanding of Fuhu's design concepts and business strategies. The ZDNet article quite thoroughly covering the story notes some of the formidable investors behind Fuhu, including Acer Inc., Kingston Digital, and Foxconn Digital Inc. Fuhu also sells through retail stores such as WalMart, Target, Best Buy, GameStop and Amazon.com.Another more-recent ZDNet article further analyzes the story."
New submitter The name is Dave. Ja debuts on the front page with the most dismal news of our time: "This is truly 'Stuff That Matters'. Where would civilization be today without bacon? I don't mean to be alarmist but ... sound the alarms! This is big — it could lead to civil unrest." Yes, a bacon shortage. Hopefully what bacon there is will be more delicious after being fed with gummi worms.
The Bad Astronomer writes "Astronomers have unveiled what may be the deepest image of the Universe ever created: the Hubble Extreme Deep Field, a 2 million second exposure that reveals galaxies over 13 billion light years away. The faintest galaxies in the images are at magnitude 31, or one-ten-billionth as bright as the faintest object your naked eye can detect. Some are seen as they were when they were only 500 million years old."
New submitter J0n45 writes "I will soon be traveling to mainland China. While I'm only a tourist, I will still be working freelance for a company back home. I know for a fact that a large amount of the websites I need to have access to on a daily basis for business reasons are censored by the Great Firewall of China. I have been using the Tor Browser for a while now for personal purposes. However Tor has been blocked by China. I was wondering if a personal proxy (connected to a computer back home) would do the trick. Would I be too easily traceable? Basically, I'm wondering if I need to try random public proxies until I find one that works or if there are any other options. What does Slashdot think?"
jcatcw writes "Just as Oracle is ramping up for the September 30 start of JavaOne 2012 in San Francisco, researchers from the Polish firm Security Explorations disclosed yet another critical Java vulnerability that might 'spoil the taste of Larry Ellison's morning ... Java.' According to Security Explorations researcher Adam Gowdiak, who sent the email to the Full Disclosure Seclist, this Java exploit affects one billion users of Oracle Java SE software, Java 5, 6 and 7. It could be exploited by apps on Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera and Safari. Wow, thanks a lot Oracle."