An anonymous reader writes "The University of Pittsburgh has been plagued with 78 bomb threats (and counting) since February 14. It started low-tech, with handwritten notes, but has progressed to anonymous emails. Nearly every campus building has been a target. The program suspected is anonymous mailer Mixmaster. The university has been evacuating each building when threats come in (day or night), and police departments from around Allegheny County have offered assistance with clearing each building floor by floor with bomb sniffing dogs. There is a popular tracking blog set up by a student as well as a growing Reddit community. Is there any foreseeable defense (forensic or socially engineered) to a situation like this?"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
New submitter waferthinmint asks "What is the best book for my son to use to teach himself to program? He wants to study on his own but everything seems to assume an instructor or a working theoretical knowledge. He's a bright kid but the right guide can make all the difference. Also, what language should he start with? When I was in HS, it was Basic or Pascal. Now, I guess, C? He has access to an Ubuntu box and an older MacBook Pro. Help me Slashdot; you're our only hope."
jrepin writes "The Calligra team has announced the first release of the Calligra suite of office and creativity applications. This marks the end of a long development period lasting almost one and a half year. It is the first release in a long series which is planned to make improved applications every 4 months. Calligra is a continuation of the old KOffice project and it may be interesting for KOffice users to know what they will get. Some highlights are: a completely rewritten text layout engine that can handle most of the advanced layout features of OpenDocument Format (ODF), simplified user interface, support for larger parts of the ODF specification (for example line endings like arrows), and improved import filters for Microsoft document formats. There are also two new applications: Flow for diagrams and flowcharts, and Braindump for the note taking. Calligra Active is a new interface for touch based devices and especially for the KDE Plasma Active environment. Several companies have already used Calligra as a base for their own office solution. One of them is Nokia with their N9 high end smartphone where Calligra is embedded into the so called Harmattan Office."
grumpyman writes "A coalition of 49 ex-NASA employees, including seven Apollo astronauts, have accused the U.S. space agency of sullying its reputation by taking the 'extreme position' of concluding that carbon dioxide is a major cause of climate change. Is the claim in this letter opinion or fact?"
redletterdave writes "In March, a 51-year-old Reddit user named 'Black Visions' wrote his last post on Reddit. He had been writing frequently about depression and suicide, but in his last post where he also threatened his own suicide, others decided to egg him on even further. That turned out to the be the last straw: Seattle news soon reported Jerry had jumped eight stories from a hotel room in the Double Tree in Tukwila, Washington. Reddit announced on Wednesday that the user's sister Sandy has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against nine Reddit users who egged him on, and Reddit has also been subpoenaed in identifying the information of another three individuals."
Hugh Pickens writes "About 65 million years ago, Earth was struck by an asteroid some 10 km in diameter with a mass of well over a trillion tonnes that created megatsunamis, global wildfires ignited by giant clouds of superheated ash, and the mass extinction of land-based life on Earth. Now astrobiologists have begun to study a less well known consequence: the ejection of billions of tons of life-bearing rocks and water into space that has made its way not just to other planets but other solar systems as well. Calculations by Tetsuya Hara and his colleagues at Kyoto Sangyo University in Japan show that a surprisingly large amount of life-bearing material ended up not on the Moon and Mars, as might be expected, but the Jovian moon Europa and the Saturnian moon Enceladus also received tons of life-bearing rock from earth. Even more amazingly, calculations suggest that most Earth ejecta ended up in interstellar space and some has probably already arrived at Earth-like exoplanets orbiting other stars. Hara estimates that about a thousand Earth-rocks from this event would have made the trip to Gliese 581, a red dwarf some 20 light years away that is thought to have a super-Earth orbiting at the edge of the habitable zone, taking about a million years to reach its destination. Of course, nobody knows if microbes can survive that kind of journey or even the shorter trips to Europa and Enceladus. But Hara says that if microbes can survive that kind of journey, they ought to flourish on a super-Earth in the habitable zone (PDF). 'If we consider the possibility that the fragmented ejecta (smaller than 1cm) are accreted to comets and other icy bodies, then buried fertile material could make the interstellar journey throughout the Galaxy,' writes Hara. 'Under these circumstances fragments could continue the interstellar journey and Earth origin meteorites could be transferred to Gl 581 system. If we take it as viable, we should consider the panspermia theories more seriously.'"
samazon writes "Online retail shop Etsy announced a living-expenses grant program for women interested in attending the free Hacker School 3-month programming course. The program is hosted in various New York locations (NYU and Spotify have both hosted sessions) and not only is Etsy offering $5,000 grants to ten women who are accepted into the program, they're also hosting the summer course, and have offered enough space to double the class size to 40 students."
George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Trayvon Martin, was charged with second-degree murder. He faces up to life in prison if convicted in the shooting. From the article: "Special prosecutor Angela Corey announced the charges but would not discuss how she arrived at them or disclose other details of her investigation, saying: 'That's why we try cases in court.' Second-degree murder is typically brought in cases when there is a fight or other confrontation that results in death and but does [not] involve a premeditated plan to kill. Corey would not disclose Zimmerman's whereabouts for his safety but said that he will be in court within 24 hours."
wiredmikey writes "HP has warned of a security vulnerability associated with its ProCurve 5400 zl switches that contain compact flash cards that the company says may be infected with malware. The company warned that using one of the infected compact flash cards in a computer could result in the system being compromised. According to HP, the potential threat exists on HP 5400 zl series switches purchased after April 30, 2011 with certain serial numbers listed in the security advisory. This issue once again brings attention to the security of the electronics supply chain, which has been a hot topic as of late."
stoolpigeon writes "It is a well known fact that the United States has an obesity problem. There are numerous causes that ultimately lead to an imbalance in the ratio between the number of calories taken in to the number of calories burned. The size of the American diet industry is another good indicator of how widespread the problem has become. Clay Johnson believes that the issues the U.S. has with food have become mirrored in how we consume information." Read below for the rest of stoolpigeon's review.
Lendrick writes "OpenGameArt.org, the Free Software Foundation, and the Creative Commons are teaming up to bring the Liberated Pixel Cup, a free-as-in-freedom game making contest starting on June 1st and going through July 31st. The contest will be divided into two phases: the first phase will be about adding on to a consistent set of art commissioned specially for the contest, and the second phase, starting on July 1st, will be about building games using the provided art."
MrKevvy writes "The Tennessee 'Teaching the Controversy' bill was passed into law today. 'A law to allow public school teachers to challenge the scientific consensus on issues like climate change and evolution will soon take effect in Tennessee. State governor Bill Haslam allowed the bill — passed by the state House and Senate — to become law without signing it, saying he did not believe the legislation "changes the scientific standards that are taught in our schools."'" The governor adds: "However, I also don’t believe that it accomplishes anything that isn’t already acceptable in our schools."
redletterdave writes "Not 24 hours after Sony announced it would slash about 10,000 jobs by the end of the year, the Japanese electronics maker announced on Tuesday that it has again doubled its annual net loss to a record $6.4 billion. The new annual estimate is Sony's fourth revision of its original forecast. The company had already more than doubled its loss forecast for fiscal 2011 on April 5 to $2.9 billion, blaming floods in Thailand, poor foreign exchange rates, and a failed partnership with Samsung... Kazuo Hirai, the company's new president and CEO hired 10 days ago, will take 'painful steps' to revive Sony, and will unveil a 'revival strategy' at a Thursday press briefing."
gbrumfiel writes "The Square Kilometre Array will be the world's most powerful telescope, assuming the nations involved can agree on where to build it. A scientific panel recently backed South Africa over Australia to host the project, but neither side has conceded defeat. Rather than splitting the partners, project leaders are now thinking about splitting the telescope between the two countries. There's little scientific advantage, but the thinking is that a split telescope would be better than no telescope."