itwbennett writes "Contrary to recent reports, data broker Acxiom is not planning to give consumers access to all the information they've collected on us. That would be too great a challenge for the giant company, says spokesperson Alexandra Levy. Privacy blogger Dan Tynan recently spoke with Jennifer Barrett Glasgow, Chief Privacy Officer at Acxiom (she claims to be the very first CPO) about how the company collects information and what they do with it. This should give you some small measure of comfort: 'We don't know that you bought a blue shirt from Lands End. We just know the kinds of products you are interested in. We're trying to get a reasonably complete picture of your household and what the individuals who live there like to do,' says Glasgow."
MojoKid writes "AMD is announcing its Radeon HD 8970M. The mobile GPU is based on a design that has a few small feature changes that have led it to be unofficially labeled a Graphics Core Next (GCN) 1.1 part versus AMD's previous gen GCN 1.0 technology. AMD claims that the Radeon HD 8970M is significantly faster than NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 680M in a variety of tests, but high-end laptops that use AMD hardware are harder to find these days."
WheezyJoe writes "A story on NPR reports that the TrackingPoint rifle went on sale today, and can enable a 'novice' to hit a target 500 yards away on the first try. The rifle's scope features a sophisticated color graphics display (video). The shooter locks a laser on the target by pushing a small button by the trigger... But here's where it's different: You pull the trigger but the gun decides when to shoot. It fires only when the weapon has been pointed in exactly the right place, taking into account dozens of variables, including wind, shake and distance to the target. The rifle has a built-in laser range finder, a ballistics computer and a Wi-Fi transmitter to stream live video and audio to a nearby iPad. Every shot is recorded so it can be replayed, or posted to YouTube or Facebook."
An anonymous reader writes "Andy Oram reports on the quality, security, and community driving open source adoption. 'All too often, the main force uniting competitors is the fear of another vendor and the realization that they can never beat a dominant vendor on its own turf. Open source becomes a way of changing the rules out from under the dominant player. OpenStack, for instance, took on VMware in the virtualization space and Amazon.com in the IaaS space. Android attracted phone manufacturers and telephone companies as a reaction to the iPhone.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Back in April 2012, the U.S. Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and a number of publishers for allegedly colluding to raise the price of e-books on the iBookstore. As part of its investigation into Apple's actions, the Justice Department collected evidence which it claims demonstrates that Apple was the 'ringmaster' in a price fixing conspiracy. Specifically, the Justice Department claims that Apple wielded its power in the mobile app market to coerce publishers to agree to Apple's terms for iBookstore pricing."
cyachallenge writes "Scientists say they have, for the first time, cloned human embryos capable of producing embryonic stem cells. 'We had to find the perfect combination,' Mitalipov says. As it turned out, that perfect combination included something surprising: caffeine. That ingredient, plus other tweaks in the process, including using fresh eggs and determining the optimal stage of each egg's development, Mitalipov says."
danomac writes "Canipre, a Canadian anti-infringement enforcement company, has been using photos on their official website without permission. This company hopes to bring U.S.-style copyright lawsuits to Canada, and they are the company behind Voltage's current lawsuits. It says right on their website, 'they all know it's wrong, and they're still doing it' overlaid on top of the image used without permission. Multiple photos from different photographers are used; none of them with permission. Canipre's response? 'We used a third party vendor to develop the website and they purchased images off of an image bank,' they said, trying to pass the blame to someone else. Some of the photos were released under the Creative Commons, meaning they could have used the photos legally if they'd provided proper attribution."
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from Wired: "[Henry] Markram was proposing a project that has bedeviled AI researchers for decades, that most had presumed was impossible. He wanted to build a working mind from the ground up. ... The self-assured scientist claims that the only thing preventing scientists from understanding the human brain in its entirety — from the molecular level all the way to the mystery of consciousness — is a lack of ambition. If only neuroscience would follow his lead, he insists, his Human Brain Project could simulate the functions of all 86 billion neurons in the human brain, and the 100 trillion connections that link them. And once that's done, once you've built a plug-and-play brain, anything is possible. You could take it apart to figure out the causes of brain diseases. You could rig it to robotics and develop a whole new range of intelligent technologies. You could strap on a pair of virtual reality glasses and experience a brain other than your own."
HyperbolicParabaloid writes "According to the New York Times, an equipment failure on the Kepler spacecraft may mean the end of its planet-hunting mission. One of the reaction wheels that maintains the craft's orientation — critical to long-exposure imaging — has failed. 'In January engineers noticed that one of the reaction wheels that keep the spacecraft pointed was experiencing too much friction. They shut the spacecraft down for a couple of weeks to give it a rest, in the hopes that the wheel’s lubricant would spread out and solve the problem. But when they turned it back on, the friction was still there. Until now, the problem had not interfered with observations, which are scheduled to go on until at least 2016. Kepler was launched with four reaction wheels, but one failed last year after showing signs of erratic friction. Three wheels are required to keep Kepler properly and precisely aimed. Loss of the wheel has robbed it of the ability to detect Earth-size planets, although project managers hope to remedy the situation. The odds, astronomers said, are less than 50-50.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "The United States with its H-1B controversy isn't the only country going through that sort of immigration upheaval. As the cult of entrepreneurship spirals upward in Europe, the intricate vagaries of immigration policy on the continent are being newly scrutinized by our company-building classes. Freshly venture-backed European Internet companies want talent, and they are going to remarkable lengths to get it — but not always legally. Milo Yiannopoulos talked to whole bunch of entrepreneurs and investors in Europe about the fudges, shortcuts, workarounds and, in some cases, 'strategic decision-making' are — just about — getting their companies the talent they need. For example, one well-known Parisian venture capitalist told Milo that he knows of 'at least nine' startups in France employing developers illegally, keeping them off the books not only to avoid France's notoriously onerous labor laws but also because it would have been impossible, or simply too expensive, to import them officially."
sciencehabit writes "From the human perspective, few events in evolution were more momentous than the split among primates that led to apes (large, tailless primates such as today's gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans) and Old World monkeys (which today include baboons and macaques). DNA studies of living primates have estimated that the rift took place between 25 million and 30 million years ago, but the earliest known fossils of both groups date no earlier than 20 million years ago. Now, a team working in Tanzania has found teeth and partial jaws from what it thinks are 25-million-year-old ancestors of both groups. If the interpretations hold up (abstract), the finds would reconcile the molecular and fossil evidence and possibly provide insights into what led to the split in the first place."
New submitter Wisdom writes "1bir (1 Block Interactive Raycaster) is a simple ray casting engine implemented only in 254 bytes to run on a stock, unexpanded Commodore 64. The name comes from the fact that on a C64 floppy disk, 1 block is equivalent to 254 bytes stored on a disk sector. In 254 bytes, 1bir sets up the screen for drawing, creates sine and cosine tables for 256 brads based on a simple approximation, casts rays into a 2D map that lives inside the C64 KERNAL ROM, renders the screen in coordination with KERNAL, evaluates 8-way joystick input and detects collision against walls. The ray casting core employs a brute force algorithm to determine visible walls, while the mapping portion supports both open-ended (infinitely looped) and traditional, closed maps. The source code in 6502 assembly is available, with extensive comments. A YouTube video showcases 1bir in a detailed manner with both kind of maps and more information, while a Vimeo video presents a shorter demonstration."
An anonymous reader writes "In their ongoing battle against websites said to infringe music copyrights, record labels have initiated a fresh wave of actions aimed at forcing UK ISPs to carry out domain blocking. This third wave is set to be the biggest so far, affecting as many as 25 domains and including some of the world's largest torrent sites and file-hosting search engines. Furthermore, the BPI – the entity coordinating the action – will ask courts to block U.S.-based music streaming operation, Grooveshark."
Today The New Yorker unveiled a project called Strongbox, which aims to let sources share tips and leaks with the news organization in a secure manner. It makes use of the TOR network and encrypts file uploads with PGP. Once the files are uploaded, they're transferred via thumb-drive to a laptop that isn't connected to the internet, which is erased every time it is powered on and booted with a live CD. The publication won't record any details about your visit, so even a government request to look at their records will fail to find any useful information. "There’s a growing technology gap: phone records, e-mail, computer forensics, and outright hacking are valuable weapons for anyone looking to identify a journalist’s source. With some exceptions, the press has done little to keep pace: our information-security efforts tend to gravitate toward the parts of our infrastructure that accept credit cards." Strongbox is actually just The New Yorker's version of a secure information-sharing platform called DeadDrop, built by Aaron Swartz shortly before his death. DeadDrop is free software.
msm1267 writes "There are a lot of echoes of the disclosure debate in the current discussions about vulnerability exploit sales. The commercial exploit market has developed relatively quickly, at least the public portion of it. Researchers have been selling vulnerabilities to a variety of buyers – government agencies, contractors, other researchers and third-party brokers – for years. But it was done mostly under cover of darkness. Now, although the transactions themselves are still private, the fact that they're happening, and who's buying (and in some cases, selling) is out in the open. As with the disclosure debate, there are intelligent people lining up on both sides of the aisle and the discussion is generating an unprecedented level of malice."
MTorrice writes "A low-cost chemical process can turn hemp fiber into carbon nanomaterials. Researchers used the materials to make devices called supercapacitors that provide quick bursts of electrical energy. Supercapacitors made with the hemp nanosheets put out more power than commercial devices can." According to one of the authors, "Hemp bast is a nanocomposite made up of layers of lignin, hemicellulose, and crystalline cellulose ... If you process it the right way, it separates into nanosheets similar to graphene." Perhaps the process could be applied to related plants (hops?) too.
An anonymous reader writes "A report released this morning looks at the maintainability level of the Firefox codebase through five measures of architectural complexity. It finds that 11% of files in Firefox are highly interconnected, a value that went up significantly following version 3.0 and that making a change to a randomly selected file can, on average, directly impact eight files and indirectly impact over 1,400 files. All the data is made available and the report comes with an interactive Web-based exploratory tool." The complexity exploration tool is pretty neat.
Google's I/O annual conference is ramping up at San Francisco's Moscone Center. Last year, in the conference keynote, the company took its biggest-yet dive into hardware when it introduced the Nexus 7 tablet, Google Glass, and the ill-fated Nexus Q. The secret is out on Glass, of course: this year, there's a pavilion inside the conference center where I'm sure they'll be showing off applications for it. (Quite a few of the people in the endless lines here are wearing their own, too.) Anticipating the announcements at I/O is practically its own industry, but it's easy to guess that there will be announcements from all the major pots in which Google has its many thousands of (tapping) fingers. Android, search, Chrome, mapping, and all the other ways in which the behemoth of Mountain View is watching what you do. You can watch the keynote talk (talks, really) streamed online from the main conference link above, but this story will be updated with highlights of the announcements, as well with stories that readers contribute. Update: 05/15 16:22 GMT by T : Updates below. Update: 05/15 19:02 GMT by T :Update details: Notes (ongoing) added below on maps, gaming, the Play store, Google+, and more. And, notable, Larry Page is (at this writing) on stage, with an unannounced Q & A session.
cluedweasel writes "A Federal judge in Medford, OR has dismissed a piracy case lodged against 34 Oregonians. Judge Ann Aiken ruled that Voltage Pictures LLC unfairly lumped the defendants into what she called a 'reverse class action suit' to save on legal expenses and possibly to intimidate them into paying thousands of dollars for viewing a movie that could be bought or rented for less than $10." The judge was not enthused that they offered to settle for $7500 while noting that potential penalties could be as much as $150,000.
itwbennett writes "The goal of saving $3 billion by closing 1253 data centers is 'very realistic,' says David Powner, director of IT management issues at the U.S. Government Accountability Office — except that agencies haven't been able to track cost savings for the initiative. Eighteen months from the 2015 deadline, 'we have no idea how much we've saved the taxpayers,' said Steve O'Keeffe, founder of MeriTalk, an online community for government IT issues. This isn't the first snag in the project. Almost a year ago, Slashdot reported that the project was woefully behind schedule." The government released a summary of what data they do have (PDF), and at least the DoD expects to save $575 million next fiscal year. Also see the full GAO report.
An anonymous reader writes "Peter Sunde aka brokep of TPB fame is going to run for European Parliament in 2014, as a Finnish Pirate Party candidate. As he still has a prison sentence to serve in Sweden, he might have to campaign from behind bars. 'Amusingly, the Pirate ticket in Finland could have been even bigger than it is now. Sunde informs TorrentFreak that he also reached out to Finnish-born Kim Dotcom to join the race, but the Megaupload founder currently has other priorities.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Remember how the Australian Government tried to enact a big bad Internet filter on the population? Well, that effort failed, but now there's a new initiative in place. At least one government agency, the country's financial regulator, has quietly started issuing legal notices to ISPs requesting them to block certain types of websites deemed illegal. There's no oversight or appeals process, and already a false positive event has resulted in some 1,200 innocent websites being blocked from Australians viewing them. Sounds ideal, right?"
ananyo writes "Global warming is changing the location of Earth's geographic poles, according to a study published this week. Researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, report that increased melting of the Greenland ice sheet — and to a lesser degree, ice loss in other parts of the globe — helped to shift the North Pole several centimeters east each year since 2005. From 1982 to 2005, the pole drifted southeast towards northern Labrador, Canada, at a rate of about 2 milliarcseconds — or roughly 6 centimetres — per year. But in 2005, the pole changed course and began galloping east towards Greenland at a rate of more than 7 milliarcseconds per year (abstract). The results suggest that tracking polar shifts can serve as a check on current estimates of ice loss. Scientists can locate the north and south poles to within 0.03 milliarcseconds by using Global Positioning System measurements to determine the angle of Earth's spin. When mass is lost in one part of a spinning sphere, its spin axis will tilt directly towards the position of the loss — exactly as the team observed for Greenland."
Georgia Tech and Udacity — the online courseware project led by Sebastian Thrun — have announced a plan to offer an accredited M.S. Computer Science program online. The two organizations are also working with AT&T. This is the first time a major university has made an actual degree available solely through the MOOC format. Getting a degree in this manner is going to be much cheaper than a traditional degree: "... students also will pay a fraction of the cost of traditional on-campus master’s programs; total tuition for the program is initially expected to be below $7,000." U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, "Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have quickly become one of the most significant catalysts of innovation in higher education. As parents know all too well, America urgently needs new ideas about how to make higher education accessible and affordable. This new collaboration between Georgia Tech, AT&T and Udacity, and the application of the MOOC concept to advanced-degree programs, will further the national debate — pushing from conversations about technology to new models of instruction and new linkages between higher education and employers." Georgia Tech is looking at the big picture: "At present, around 160,000 master’s degrees are bestowed in the United States every year in computer science and related subject disciplines; the worldwide market is almost certainly much larger, perhaps even an order of magnitude larger."
theodp writes "Last summer, unspecified voice problems caused Google CEO Larry Page to miss Google's Annual Shareholder Meeting, the I/O conference, and a quarterly earnings call. Now, Page has come forward and revealed that he suffers from partial paralysis of each of his vocal chords, an 'extremely rare' condition. Not unlike what Sergey Brin and his wife are doing with Parkinson's research, Page and his wife will be funding and overseeing 'a significant research program' led by Dr. Steven Zeitels of Harvard Medical School."
cylonlover writes "Due to their relative faintness compared to their parent stars, most known exoplanets have been discovered using indirect detection methods – that is, detecting the effects they have rather than observing them directly. There are numerous indirect methods that have proven useful in the detection of exoplanets and now yet another, which relies on Einstein's special theory of relativity (abstract), has joined the list with the discovery of an exoplanet known as Kepler-76b."
ananyo writes "Researchers hoping to get '2' as the answer for a long-sought proof involving pairs of prime numbers are celebrating the fact that a mathematician has wrestled the value down from infinity to 70 million. That goal is the proof to a conjecture concerning prime numbers. Primes abound among smaller numbers, but they become less and less frequent as one goes towards larger numbers. But exceptions exist: the 'twin primes,' which are pairs of prime numbers that differ in value by 2. The twin prime conjecture says that there is an infinite number of such twin pairs. Some attribute the conjecture to the Greek mathematician Euclid of Alexandria, which would make it one of the oldest open problems in mathematics. The new result, from Yitang Zhang of the University of New Hampshire in Durham, finds that there are infinitely many pairs of primes that are less than 70 million units apart. He presented his research on 13 May to an audience of a few dozen at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Although 70 million seems like a very large number, the existence of any finite bound, no matter how large, means that that the gaps between consecutive numbers don't keep growing forever."
New submitter hguorbray writes "One of my favorite Sci-Fi authors of all time, Gene Wolfe, will be honored with the Damon Night Grand Master award at the Nebula Awards weekend in San Jose this weekend. This Thursday night he will be doing a reading and Q&A along with Connie Willis (author of the Doomsday Book, Blackout/All Clear, etc.) at the San Jose Hilton. There will be a mass book signing event Friday including these authors and many others presented by San Francisco's Borderlands Books." Here are this year's Nebula Award nominees. The awards will be presented at a ceremony starting 7pm ET on Saturday.