Medicine

Scientists Show Human Aging Rates Vary Widely 121 121

HughPickens.com writes: Ever notice at your high school reunions how some classmates look ten years older than everybody else — and some look ten years younger. Now BBC reports that a study of people born within a year of each other has uncovered a huge gulf in the speed at which human bodies bodies age. The report tracked traits such as weight, kidney function and gum health and found that some of the 38-year-olds in the study were aging so badly that their "biological age" was on the cusp of retirement. "They look rough, they look lacking in vitality," says Prof Terrie Moffitt. The study says some people had almost stopped aging during the period of the study, while others were gaining nearly three years of biological age for every twelve months that passed. "Any area of life where we currently use chronological age is faulty, if we knew more about biological age we could be more fair and egalitarian," says Moffitt. The researchers studied aging in 954 young humans, the Dunedin Study birth cohort, tracking multiple biomarkers across three time points spanning their third and fourth decades of life. They developed and validated two methods by which aging can be measured in young adults, one cross-sectional and one longitudinal. According to Moffit the science of healthspan extension may be focused on the wrong end of the lifespan; rather than only studying old humans, geroscience should also study the young. "Eventually if we really want to slow the process of ageing to prevent the onset of disease we're going to have to intervene with young people."
United Kingdom

Theresa May Named UK's Internet Villain of the Year 58 58

An anonymous reader writes with news that Theresa May, the UK's Secretary of State for the Home Department, has been named the UK internet industry's villain of the year. She won this dubious honor for pushing the UK's controversial "snooper's charter" legislation, which would require ISPs to retain massive amounts of data regarding their subscribers for no less than a year. May championed the legislation without consulting the internet industry.

Conversely, "The MPs Tom Watson and David Davis were jointly named internet hero for their legal action against the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act. 'Surveillance has dominated both the hero and villain shortlists for number of years, and it was felt Davis and Watson were some of the best informed politicians on the subject,' the ISPA said."
The Almighty Buck

Ask Slashdot: How Much Did Your Biggest Tech Mistake Cost? 373 373

NotQuiteReal writes: What is the most expensive piece of hardware you broke (I fried a $2500 disk drive once, back when 400MB was $2500) or what software bug did you let slip that caused damage? (No comment on the details — but about $20K cost to a client.) Did you lose your job over it? If you worked on the Mars probe that crashed, please try not to be the First Post, that would scare off too many people!
The Almighty Buck

Leased LEDs and Energy Service Contracts can Cut Electric Bills (Video) 51 51

I first heard of Consumer Energy Solutions from a non-profit's IT guy who was boasting about how he got them to lease him LED bulbs for their parking lot and the security lights at their equipment lot -- pretty much all their outdoor lighting -- for a lot less than their monthly savings on electricity from replacing most of their Halogen, fluorescent, and other less-efficient lights with LEDs. What made this a big deal to my friend was that no front money was required. It's one thing to tell a town council or non-profit board, "If we spend $180,000 on LEDs we'll save it all back in five years" (or whatever). It's another thing to say, "We can lease LEDs for all our outdoor lighting for $4,000 per month and save $8,000 on electricity right away." That gets officials to prick up their ears in a hurry.Then there are energy service contracts, essentially buying electricity one, two or three years in advance. This business got a bad name from Enron and their energy wholesaling business, but despite that single big blast of negative publicity, it grows a little each year. And the LED lease business? In many areas, governments and utility companies actually subsidize purchases of anything that cuts electricity use. Totally worth checking out.

But why, you might ask, is this on Slashdot? Because some of our readers own stacks of servers (or work for companies that own stacks of servers) and need to know they don't have to pay whatever their local electric utility demands, but can shop for better electricity prices in today's deregulated electricity market. And while this conversation was with one person in this business, we are not pushing his company. As interviewee Patrick Clouden says at the end of the interview, it's a competitive business. So if you want the best deal, you'd better shop around. One more thing: the deregulated utility market, with its multitude of suppliers, peak and off-peak pricing, and (often) minute-by-minute price changes, takes excellent software (possibly written by someone like you) to negotiate, so this business niche might be one an entrepreneurial software developer should explore.
Google

Google: Stop Making Apps! (A Love Letter) 110 110

An anonymous reader writes: Seasoned Silicon Valley software executive and investor Domenic Merenda has written a love letter to Google, and it's filled with "tough" love. The main thesis is that Google, as a company, should stop making apps, and instead focus on using its enormous data assets to make meaningful connections between people and facilitate organic engagement within a rich ecosystem. Interestingly, the article cites Wikipedia's information that Google maintains over 70 apps on the Android platform alone.
DRM

Cory Doctorow Talks About Fighting the DMCA (2 Videos) 48 48

Wikipedia says, 'Cory Efram Doctorow (/kri dktro/; born July 17, 1971) is a Canadian-British blogger, journalist, and science fiction author who serves as co-editor of the blog Boing Boing. He is an activist in favour of liberalising copyright laws and a proponent of the Creative Commons organization, using some of their licenses for his books. Some common themes of his work include digital rights management, file sharing, and post-scarcity economics.' Timothy Lord sat down with Cory at the O'Reilly Solid Conference and asked him about the DMCA and how the fight against it is going. Due to management-imposed restraints on video lengths, we broke the ~10 minute interview into two parts, both attached to this paragraph. The transcript covers both videos, so it's your choice: view, read or listen to as much of this interview as you like.
Government

White House Lures Mudge From Google To Launch Cyber UL 23 23

chicksdaddy writes: The Obama Whitehouse has tapped famed hacker Peiter Zatko (aka "Mudge") to head up a new project aimed at developing an "underwriters' lab" for cyber security. The new organization would function as an independent, non-profit entity designed to assess the security strengths and weaknesses of products and publishing the results of its tests.

Zatko is a famed hacker and security luminary, who cut his teeth with the Boston-based hacker collective The L0pht in the 1990s before moving on to work in private industry and, then, to become a program manager at the DARPA in 2010. Though known for keeping a low profile, his scruffy visage (circa 1998) graced the pages of the Washington Post in a recent piece that remembered testimony that Mudge and other L0pht members gave to Congress about the dangers posed by insecure software.
Software

Ask Slashdot: User-Friendly, Version-Preserving File Sharing For Linux? 211 211

petherfile writes: I've been a professional with Microsoft stuff for more than 10 years and I'm a bit sick of it to be honest. The one that's got me stuck is really not where I expected it to be. You can use a combination of DFS and VSS to create a file share where users can put whatever files they are working on that is both redundant and has "previous versions" of files they can recover. That is, users have a highly available network location where they can "go back" to how their file was an hour ago. How do you do that with Linux?

This is a highly desirable situation for users. I know there are nice document management things out there that make sharepoint look silly, but I just want a simple file share, not a document management utility. I've found versioning file systems for Linux that do what Microsoft does with VSS so much better (for having previous version of files available.) I've found distributed file systems for Linux that make DFS look like a bad joke. Unfortunately, they seem to be mutually exclusive. Is there something simple I have missed?
United States

Google, Apple, and Others Remove Content Related To the Confederate Flag 818 818

davek writes with news that Google is removing results related to the Confederate Flag from Google Shopping, the company's online marketplace. They're also blocking advertisements involving the flag. They say, "We have determined that the Confederate flag violates our Ads policies, which don't allow content that's generally perceived as expressing hate toward a particular group." At the same time, Apple is removing from the App Store any games or other software featuring the Confederate Flag. This, of course, follows the recent shooting in South Carolina, which triggered a nationwide debate over whether the flag should be flown at government buildings (or anywhere). Major online merchant websites like eBay and Amazon have already taken the step of banning merchandise relating to the flag.
Security

Security Researcher Drops 15 Vulnerabilities for Windows and Adobe Reader 117 117

mask.of.sanity writes: Google Project Zero hacker Mateusz Jurczyk has dropped 15 remote code execution vulnerabilities, including a single devastating hack against Adobe Reader and Windows he reckons beats all exploit defenses. He said, "The extremely powerful primitive provided by the vulnerability, together with the fact that it affected all supported versions of both Adobe Reader and Microsoft Windows (32-bit) – thus making it possible to create an exploit chain leading to a full system compromise with just a single bug – makes it one of the most interesting security issues I have discovered so far." Jurczyk published a video demonstration of the exploit for 32-bit and 64-bit systems. His slides are here [PDF].
Wireless Networking

The Town That Banned Wi-Fi 529 529

An anonymous reader sends a story from The Guardian about Green Bank, West Virginia, a small town housing the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. There are other telescopes nearby, too. Because the telescopes are so sensitive, stray electromagnetic signals are strictly regulated in the surrounding area, which is called the National Radio Quiet Zone. But the town is running into a problem: its population was around 120 when this began, and by now about 40 people have moved there because they want to get away from radio waves and Wi-Fi signals and other types of electromagnetic radiation. There have been reports of tensions in the town: tales of threats and abuse unfitting to a sleepy mountain village. And it is all the stranger when you consider that no serious scientific study has been able to establish that electrosensitivity exists. ... Where the locals might have been happy to tolerate one or two of the sensitives, the mass migration was beyond the pale. ... People would walk towards [one woman] with concealed electronics, in an effort to provoke a reaction. A meeting she and her husband organised to help educate the others about electrosensitivity descended into a slanging match.
Data Storage

When Will Your Hard Drive Fail? 297 297

jfruh writes: Tech writer Andy Patrizio suffered his most catastrophic hard drive failure in 25 years of computing recently, which prompted him to delve into the questions of which hard drives fail and when. One intriguing theory behind some failure rates involve a crisis in the industry that arose from the massive 2011 floods in Thailand, home to the global hard drive industry.
Government

Mayday PAC's Benjamin Singer Explains How You can Help Reform American Politics (Video) 233 233

Larry Lessig's Mayday PAC is a SuperPac that is working to eliminate the inherent corruption of having a government run almost entirely by people who manage to raise -- or have their "non-connected" SuperPACs raise -- most of the money they need to run their campaigns. The Mayday PAC isn't about right or left wing or partisan politics at all. It's about finding and supporting candidates who are in favor of something like last year's Government by the People Act. As we noted in our Mayday Pac interview with Larry Lessig last June, a whole panoply of tech luminaries, up to and including Steve Wozniak, are in favor of Mayday PAC.

This interview is being posted, appropriately, just before the 4th of July, but it's also just one day before the Mayday PAC Day of Action to Reform Congress. They're big on calling members of Congress rather than emailing, because our representatives get email by the (digital) bushel, while they get comparatively few issue-oriented phone calls from citizens. So Mayday PAC makes it easy for you to call your Congressional representatives and even, if you're too shy to talk to a legislative aide in person, to record a message Mayday PAC will leave for them after hours.

The five specific pieces of legislation Mayday PAC currently supports are listed at the RepsWith.US/reforms page. Two are sponsored by Republicans, two by Democrats, and one by an Independent. That's about as non-partisan as you can get, so no matter what kind of political beliefs you hold, you can support Mayday PAC with a clear conscience. (Note: the transcript has more information than the video, which is less than six minutes long.)
Crime

Dallas Police Falsely Credit TrapWire System For Arrests 31 31

In April, the Texas Department of Public Safety told a reporter for the Dallas Morning News, inspired by information leaked by Wikileaks to ask about ways that the agency might be compromising citizen's privacy and other rights, that the TrapWire behavioral analysis system employed in combination with surveillance equipment posted at various high-profile locations around the state had resulted in 44 arrests. However, after numerous public records requests for more information about those claimed arrests, the agency admitted that the true figure is somewhat lower: namely, zero. The story naturally involves "millions" of dollars (though an exact figure for the zero-arrest system isn't named), and Austin-based Stratfor, a company that's been named a few times here on Slashdot.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Best Setups For Navigating a Programming-Focused MOOC? 39 39

theodp writes: As one works his or her way through EdX's free The Analytics Edge, one finds oneself going back-and-forth between videos and R to complete the programming exercises associated with the lectures. While this can certainly be done on a cheap-o 13" laptop with a 6mbps connection by jumping around from the web-based videos to the client-based programming environment and to the web for help (god bless Stack Overflow), have you found (or do you dream of) a better setup for the MOOC programming courses offered by the likes of EdX, Udacity, and Coursera? Are you using multiple screens, split screens, touch screens, laptops/desktops/tablets, speakers, headphones, higher-speed connections? Anything else? Do you rely solely on the class materials and web-based resources, or do you purchase complementary books? Any thoughts on how to make the experience work best for those learning at home, in a classroom setting, on the road for business/travel, or during lengthy train commutes? Do you playback videos at faster speeds (e.g., 1.5x)? Any other tips?
Crime

Security Oversights and Complacency Set the Stage For Killers' Escape 80 80

HughPickens.com writes: The NY Times reports that although no single lapse or mistake in security enabled two killers to break out of the Clinton Correctional Facility two weeks ago, it is now clear that an array of oversights, years in the making, set the stage for the prison break and for the ensuing manhunt. According to the Times, a sense of complacency had taken hold that in some ways might have been understandable: "There had not been an escape from the 170-year-old prison in decades, and officials say no one had ever broken out of the maximum-security section. ... 'As the months go by, years go by, things get less strict,' says [retired corrections officer] Keith Provost. ... [U]nlike many prisons and jails across the country, there are no video cameras on the cellblocks at the Clinton facility that might have detected suspicious activity." And although prison rules forbid putting sheets across cell bars to obstruct viewing, in practice, officers say, inmates frequently were allowed to hang sheets for lengthy periods. Officials say there is a good chance that the two men had been at work on their plan for weeks, maybe months. Night after night, the authorities have come to believe, the two men stuffed their beds with crude dummies, slipped out of holes they had cut in the back of their cells and climbed down five stories using the piping along the walls. They then set to work inside the tunnels under the prison, spending hours preparing their path of escape before returning to their cells unobserved. No contemporary prison break has reminded me so much of the 1962 breakout from Alcatraz (theories on survival aside).
Earth

Study: Sixth Extinction Event Is Underway 294 294

garyisabusyguy writes: We've heard proposals in the past that a new extinction event is underway. However, a new study takes into consideration many other factors that may be tilting the data, and still comes to the inevitable conclusion that we have triggered a large die-off, and that we may become victims of it as well.

From the paper's abstract: "Even under our assumptions, which would tend to minimize evidence of an incipient mass extinction, the average rate of vertebrate species loss over the last century is up to 114 times higher than the background rate. Under the 2 E/MSY background rate, the number of species that have gone extinct in the last century would have taken, depending on the vertebrate taxon, between 800 and 10,000 years to disappear. These estimates reveal an exceptionally rapid loss of biodiversity over the last few centuries, indicating that a sixth mass extinction is already under way."

The authors suggest that rapid work to avert the worst of the die-off is still possible. The question may really be whether we can get past paid trolls, FUD, and finger pointing in order to act wisely in a timely manner.
United Kingdom

Jimmy Wales: London Is Better For Tech Than "Dreadful" Silicon Valley 410 410

Mickeycaskill writes: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has praised London as a tech hub, saying its cultural assets make it an ideal place to do business and superior to Silicon Valley as a place to live. “I meet people around London and they ask ‘when do you go back to San Francisco?’ assuming I’m here for a few days, but I live in London,” he said at the launch of Tech.London. “There’s always this bit of British self-deprecation about ‘oh well, things are so great in Silicon Valley’. But I can tell you, things aren’t that great in Silicon Valley. London has all these incredible advantages of a tech scene, but it’s also a place people want to live. Nobody wants to live in Silicon Valley – it’s dreadful out there. London is this incredible cultural city, it’s at the crossroads of the world. In the US you have San Francisco for tech, Los Angeles for movies and Washington for politics. In London you have all these things. It’s a great place to do business.”
Open Source

Reasons To Use Mono For Linux Development 355 355

Nerval's Lobster writes: In the eleven years since Mono first appeared, the Linux community has regarded it with suspicion. Because Mono is basically a free, open-source implementation of Microsoft's .NET framework, some developers feared that Microsoft would eventually launch a patent war that could harm many in the open-source community. But there are some good reasons for using Mono, developer David Bolton argues in a new blog posting. Chief among them is MonoDevelop, which he claims is an excellent IDE; it's cross-platform abilities; and its utility as a game-development platform. That might not ease everybody's concerns (and some people really don't like how Xamarin has basically commercialized Mono as an iOS/Android development platform), but it's maybe enough for some people to take another look at the platform.
Businesses

Apple De-Certifies Monster Cables After Lawsuit Against Beats 288 288

An anonymous reader writes: Since 2005, Monster cables have been licensed under Apple's "Made For iDevice" program, which lets cable manufacturers put a logo on their product signifying they work with Apple products. Now, Apple has revoked that certification. In January of this year, Monster sued Beats, accusing its founders of fraud. Beats was acquired by Apple in 2014, and Monster is accusing Apple of bullying them by terminating the licensing deal. Monster's general counsel said the move would "significantly disrupt Monster's business and that the two companies had worked well for years, with Monster paying Apple more than $12 million in licensing fees since 2008."