Nerval's Lobster writes "People's Liberation Army hackers: they're just like us. As noted by IT security firm Mandiant, and detailed in a new article by The Los Angeles Times, a blogger calling themselves 'Rocy Bird' had posted several hundred blog entries over a three-year period about life as a Chinese military hacker. It wasn't the most exciting existence. He worked a normal workday—8 A.M. until 5:30 P.M., unless some project required late hours—and lived in a dorm. He dined often on instant noodles and enjoyed the television series 'Prison Break.' He spent lots of time online, even when off the clock. And like millions of people all over the world, he disliked many aspects of his job. 'What I can't understand is why all the work units are located in the most remote areas of the city,' the hacker, who the Times identified as having the family name Wang, wrote in a portion of a blog posting reprinted by the paper. 'I really don't get what those old guys are thinking in the beginning. They should at least take us young people into consideration. How can passionate young people like us handle a prison-like environment like this?'"
sciencehabit writes "A fluorescent glow high in the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, signifies the presence of a gas that astronomers have yet to identify. The glow appears only on the daytime side of the moon at altitudes between 600 and 1250 kilometers, with the largest intensity occurring at an altitude of about 950 km. Detailed analyses reveal that the glow doesn't stem from a problem with the Saturn-orbiting Cassini craft, and it isn't associated with methane or any of the other hydrocarbons already identified as constituents of Titan's atmosphere."
jasnw writes "I'm one of apparently many people who moved to OS X from Linux in the early/mid 2000s for their desktop system, keeping Linux boxes around for the heavy lifting and server work. I may also be part of a large segment of that group now considering a return because of all the iOS-ification of OS X, despite the fact that the Linux desktop still falls short in the 'it just works' area. I'm angry enough at Apple, and wary enough of Linux, that I might just go to using Windows 7 for the desktop (not Win8, however). What is the feeling/experience of other 'traitors' who run OS X for the desktop and Linux for everything else?"
mrquagmire sends this quote from a Reuters report: "Tax refunds for about 600,000 taxpayers claiming an education credit will be delayed, the Internal Revenue Service said on Wednesday, citing a software glitch at some tax-preparation companies, including industry leader H&R Block Inc. Refunds may be delayed four to six weeks from mid-February, likely not showing up until late March, the IRS said. ... On Tuesday, a Wal-Mart Stores Inc executive said shoppers had cashed about $2.7 billion in tax refund checks at its U.S. stores so far this year. At this point last year, that amount was about $4 billion. The IRS delayed the start of the tax filing season by eight days, to January 30, due to the enactment of tax law changes made to resolve the "fiscal cliff."
alphadogg writes "A pair of MIT professors and security researchers whose work paved the way for modern cryptography have been named winners of the 2012 A.M. Turing Award, also known as the 'Nobel Prize in Computing.' Shafi Goldwasser, the RSA Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, and Silvio Micali, the MIT Ford Professor of Engineering, are recipients of the award, which will be formally presented by the Association for Computing Machinery on June 15 in San Francisco. According to the ACM: 'By formalizing the concept that cryptographic security had to be computational rather than absolute, they created mathematical structures that turned cryptography from an art into a science.' Goldwasser and Micali will split a $250K prize."
dp619 writes "Outercurve Foundation technical director Stephen Walli has written a blog post arguing that attracting users is fundamental to the ability of open source projects to recruit 'new blood' and contributors who are willing to code. 'So in the end, it's all about freeloaders, but from the perspective that you want as many as possible. That means you're "doing it right" in developing a broad base of users by making their experience easy, making it easy for them to contribute, and ultimately to create an ecosystem that continues to sustain itself,' he wrote."
New submitter KrisJon writes "The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters. Financial institutions that operate in the United States are required by law to file reports of 'suspicious customer activity.' A move like the FinCEN proposal 'raises concerns as to whether people could find their information in a file as a potential terrorist suspect without having the appropriate predicate for that and find themselves potentially falsely accused,' said Sharon Bradford Franklin, senior counsel for the Rule of Law Program at the Constitution Project, a non-profit watchdog group."
houghi writes "OpenSUSE 12.3 is out. There are several methods of downloading, as well as different media. It is also possible to boot the live CD from a USB stick. When using the DVD or Net install ISO, the standard is to select between KDE or GNOME, but XFCE and LXDE are also options. ARM images are available as well. More information about the release can be found in this feature guide."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Andy Rubin is stepping down as head of Google's Android division, according to the company. 'Having exceeded even the crazy ambitious goals we dreamed of for Android — and with a really strong leadership team in place — Andy's decided it's time to hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google,' Google CEO Larry Page wrote in a March 13 note on Google's official blog. 'Going forward, Sundar Pichai will lead Android, in addition to his existing work with Chrome and Apps.' If Rubin had any other reasons for departing, the blog posting left them unexplained. Android has been activated on 750 million devices around the world, according to Google, on top of some 25 billion apps downloaded from the Google Play storefront. It remains to be seen whether 'start a new chapter at Google' is some sort of polite corporate euphemism for Rubin's eventual departure from the company, or if he really is taking over another project or division. Page suggested in his blog posting that Pichai 'will do a tremendous job doubling down on Android as we work to push the ecosystem forward,' which doesn't offer a lot about the operating system's future direction: Pichai does have direct control over three core platforms, raising the possibility that Google could try and exploit further crossovers between the three. But what form that will take is anyone's guess."
Freshly Exhumed sends this quote from CBC: "Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina has been selected as Pope of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. He will be known as Pope Francis. He is the first Pope from the Americas. The 76-year-old was the runner-up to Benedict XVI during the last conclave. He is well-known for his humility and espouses church teachings on homosexuality, abortion and contraception. He has no Vatican experience."
Slashdot editor Tim Lord was wandering around SXSW and ran into a small display for Lynx Laboratories, a startup that makes this claim about its Lynx A camera: "If you can use a point-and-shoot Nikon, you'll find the Lynx even easier to use. Instead of outputing 2D images, it produces 3D models of whatever you point it at. It's faster and cheaper than existing solutions today." There's a two-minute demo at the end of the video in which Lynx Founder and CEO Chris Slaughter shows how it works, and (at least in his hands) it looks extremely easy. The company is a University of Texas spinoff that "has received prestigious awards including the 1st Place Idea2Product (I2P) Texas, 1st Place I2P Global, Top 10 Dell Innovators and National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research Funding." Naturally, they're hoping to raise money through Kickstarter as well. They're looking for $50,000 and as of 13 March 2013 it looks like they've raised $88,548 of it. There are obviously other ways to make 3-D images and models. But Lynx seems to have made a novel device, and the images it makes can be picked up directly by a number of 3D printer software packages. The Lynx-A also does motion capture, which could really speed up rotoscoping and other techniques that make video games and other animations look more lifelike than pure animation. That's totally different from static 3D modeling but might be more interesting to more people, at least in a commercial sense.
First time accepted submitter sagecreek writes "Hadoop is an open-source, Java-based framework for large-scale data processing. Typically, it runs on big clusters of computers working together to crunch large chunks of data. You also can run Hadoop in "single-cluster mode" on a Linux machine, Windows PC or Mac, to learn the technology or do testing and debugging. The Hadoop framework, however, is not quickly mastered. Apache's Hadoop wiki cautions: "If you do not know about classpaths, how to compile and debug Java code, step back from Hadoop and learn a bit more about Java before proceeding." But if you are reasonably comfortable with Java, the well-written Hadoop Beginner's Guide by Garry Turkington can help you start mastering this rising star in the Big Data constellation." Read below for the rest of Si's review.
itwbennett writes "Daiyuu Nobori, a Ph.D. student at Japan's Tsukuba University designed 'VPN Gate' to help individuals in countries that restrict Internet use circumvent government firewalls. The service, which has drawn 77,000 users since its launch last Friday, encourages members of the public to set up VPN servers and offer free connections to individual users, aiming to make the technology more accessible. Nobori had originally planned to host the service on his university's servers, but they have been down recently so he switched it to the Windows Azure cloud platform. He has spent about US$9,000 keeping it up so far."
moon_unit2 writes "In an op-ed piece over at Technology Review, Bruce Schneier says that the cyber espionage between the U.S., China, and other nations, has been rampant for the past decade. But he also worries that the media frenzy over recent attacks is fostering a new kind of Internet-nationalism and spurring a cyber arms race that has plenty of negative side-effects for the Internet and its users. From the piece: 'We don't know the capabilities of the other side, and we fear that they are more capable than we are. So we spend more, just in case. The other side, of course, does the same. That spending will result in more cyber weapons for attack and more cyber-surveillance for defense. It will result in move government control over the protocols of the Internet, and less free-market innovation over the same. At its worst, we might be about to enter an information-age Cold War: one with more than two "superpowers." Aside from this being a bad future for the Internet, this is inherently destabilizing.'"
theodp writes "When Aaron Swartz tapped into MIT's network and scooped up data from one non-profit company, the U.S. Attorney threatened him with 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine. So what kind of jail time did 38 Attorneys General threaten Google with for using its Street View cars to scoop up passwords, e-mail and other personal information by tapping into the networks of their states' unsuspecting citizens? None. In agreeing to settle the case, the NY Times reports, Google is required to police its own employees on privacy issues, lecture the public on how to fend off privacy violations like the one Google perpetrated, and forfeit about 20% of one day's net income. Given the chance, one imagines that Aaron Swartz would have happily jumped at a comparable deal." The fine being $7 million. At least EPIC isn't as cynical and thinks the outcome was positive.
A bit over a year since having their case rejected by the Swedish Supreme Court and appealing to the European Human Rights Court, it looks like basically all legal options have been exhausted for the Pirate Bay Founders: their case has been rejected. From the article: "The EHCR recognizes that the Swedish verdict interferes with the right to freedom of expression, but ruled that this was necessary to protect the rights of copyright holders. In its decision the Court also considered the fact that The Pirate Bay did not remove torrents linking to copyrighted material when they were asked to. 'The Court held that sharing, or allowing others to share files of this kind on the Internet, even copyright-protected material and for profit-making purposes, was covered by the right to "receive and impart information" under Article 10 ... However, the Court considered that the domestic courts had rightly balanced the competing interests at stake – i.e. the right of the applicants to receive and impart information and the necessity to protect copyright – when convicting the applicants and therefore rejected their application as manifestly ill-founded.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "The Ukrainian Navy has a small problem on their hands. The Atlantic reports that, after rebooting the Soviet Union's marine mammal program last year with the goal of teaching dolphins to find underwater mines and kill enemy divers, three of the Ukrainian military's new recruits have gone AWOL. Apparently they swam away from their trainers ostensibly in search of a 'mate' out in open waters. It might not be such a big deal except that these dolphins have been trained to 'attack enemy combat swimmers using special knives or pistols fixed to their heads.' Dolphins were trained at Sevastopol for the Soviet Navy as far back as 1973 to find military equipment such as sea mines on the seabed as well as attacking divers and even carrying explosives on their heads to plant on enemy ships. The U.S. has its own dolphin program in San Diego with 40 trained dolphins and sea lions and another 50 in training. U.S. Navy dolphins were deployed in Bahrain in 1987 during a period when Iran was laying down mines in the Persian Gulf to disrupt oil shipments. No word yet on whether 'sharks with frickin' laser beams attached' have been added to the U.S. arsenal." Update: 03/14 14:55 GMT by T : Note that (as the Atlantic has updated their story reached via above link) while there really are militarized dolphins in use around the world, this particular story turns out to be an elaborate prank.
mask.of.sanity writes "Kali, the sixth installment of the BackTrack operating system has been launched. The platform is a favorite of hackers and penetration testers and has been entirely rebuilt to become more secure, transparent and customizable. Metasploit too has been rebuilt to be more stable with an optional noob-friendly interface. Kali even works on ARM devices and comes ready to go for your Raspberry Pi." The big new feature is that it's been repackaged as a flavor of Debian, instead of using their own custom packaging magic.
An anonymous reader writes "Canonical's plan to develop the Mir Display Server for Ubuntu rather than going with their original plans to adopt Wayland has been met with criticism from KDE (and other) developers... The GNOME response to Ubuntu's Mir is that they will now be rushing support for the GNOME desktop on Wayland. Over the next two release cycles they plan to iron out the Wayland support for the GNOME Shell, the GTK+ toolkit, and all GNOME packages so that by this time next year you can be running GNOME entirely on Wayland while still having X11 fall-back support."
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports on a new study of prehistoric skulls which suggests that Neanderthals became extinct because they had larger eyes than our species. As a consequence of having extra sized eyes, an average 6 millimeters larger in radius, more of their backside brain volume was devoted to seeing, at the expense of frontal lobe high-level processing of information and emotions. This difference affected their ability to innovate and socialize the way we, modern people (Homo Sapiens Sapiens) do. When the last Ice Age set on 28,000 years ago, Neanderthals had no sewn clothes and no large organized groups to rely on each other, hastening their fall. Yet, they were not stupid, brutish creatures as portrayed in Hollywood films, they were very, very smart, but not quite in the same league as the Homo Sapiens of Cromagnon."
An anonymous reader writes "Anandtech compares the Boston Viridis, a server with Calxeda's ARM server technology, with the typical Intel Xeon technology in a server environment. Turns out that the Quad ARM A9 chip has it weaknesses, but it can offer an amazing performance per Watt ratio in some applications. Anandtech tests bandwidth, compression, decompression, building/compiling and a hosted web environment on top of Ubuntu 12.10." At least in their tests (highly parallel, lightweight file serving), the ARM nodes offered slightly better throughput at lower power use, although from the looks of it you'd just be giving money to the server manufacturer instead of the power company.
An anonymous reader writes "We recently discussed what appeared to be a positive response from the Obama administration on the legality of cell phone unlocking. Unfortunately, the Obama administration may not be able to do anything about it. It has already signed away our rights under a trade agreement with South Korea. Lawyer Jonathan Band, who works for the Association of Research Libraries, wrote, 'The White House position, however, may be inconsistent with the U.S. proposal in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and existing obligations in the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) and other free trade agreements to which the United States is a party. This demonstrates the danger of including in international agreements rigid provisions that do not accommodate technological development.'You can read more about this issue in a short eight page legal primer by Jonathan Band (PDF). An interesting, related note that the U.S.-KOREA FTA is possibly inconsistent with our domestic patent/drug law in the Hatch-Waxman Act as well. The trade agreement requires us to grant injunctions until the patent is invalidated as opposed to thirty months under current domestic law."
xclr8r writes "James Holmes representation did not enter a plea today in with regards to the Aurora, Co. Movie theater shooting so the Judge entered a plea of not guilty for James that could be changed at a later date by Holmes' attorney. The judge entered an advisory that if the plea was changed to Not Guilty by insanity that Holmes would be subject to a 'narcoanalytic interview' with the possibility of medically appropriate substances could be used e.g. so called truth serums. Holmes defense looks to have initially objected to this but as the previous article seems to infer that some compromises are being worked out. This certainly raises legal questions on how this is being played out 5th, 14th amendments. The legal expert in the second article states this is legal under Co. law but admits there's not a huge amount of cases regarding this. I was only able to find Harper v State where a defendant willingly underwent truth serum and wanted to submit the interview on his behalf but was rejected due to the judge not recognizing sufficient scientific basis to admit the evidence."
Lasrick writes "Tom Jacobs at Pacific Standard describes desperate attempts to engage with younger audiences on the part of arts organizations who are scrambling to make their productions more interactive. But who really is more engaged: A live-tweeting audience member, or someone staring silently at the stage? Quoting: 'Not surprisingly, many performers and older patrons of the arts hate this idea, which they regard as pandering to the young. But thankfully, the debate over participatory art needn’t devolve into a depressing bout of intergenerational warfare. The controversy raises a number of questions that are hard to answer: Is sustained focus even possible in mass audiences anymore? If not, what have we lost?'"
Hugh Pickens writes "While getting power cords, replacement keyboards, and other sundry computer accessories to employees who need them sounds easy enough, at many companies the process requires filling out order forms that can take IT departments days to fulfill. That's why Facebook CIO Tim Campos decided to take a more user-friendly approach to this common problem, installing custom-made vending machines around the Facebook campus that dispense computer accessories instead of snacks and sodas. When Facebook engineers spill coffee on their keyboard (a common mishap), they head to a nearby vending machine instead of hitting up their IT guy or just grabbing a replacement from a nearby cabinet. They swipe their badge, key in their selection and voila — a brand new keyboard drops down for them to take. According to Campos, they've reduced the cost of managing replacement accessories by about 35%. While products found in the vending machines are free, items are clearly marked with price tags so employees can see the retail value of each accessory they take. The new vending machines also require all employees to swipe their badge before making a selection. That means each and every power cord, keyboard and screen wipe they take can be traced back to their name, ensuring that the system won't be abused. 'I like the assumption that employees will do the right thing,' writes Alexis Madrigal. 'The swipe means that everyone's requests are tracked and I'm sure some algorithm somewhere is constantly sorting the data to see if anyone has pulled 10 sets of headphones out of the system.'"