An anonymous reader writes with a story out of New Zealand: "Gina Kensington was sacked by Air New Zealand earlier this year following a dispute over sick leave she took to care for her sister. She said she did not misuse sick leave, and went to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) seeking reinstatement. Air New Zealand responded by demanding to see her Facebook and bank details. Kensington refused, saying it did not have that information when it dismissed her and that 'it is well accepted in New Zealand there are general and legal privacy expectations about people's personal and financial information.'" At least in the U.S., Facebook isn't keen on employers getting access to employees' Facebook account details.
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The Christian Science Monitor has a short piece with some tips on watching the Perseid meteor showers, which will peak over the next few evenings. MSNBC also has a good suggestion if you'd like to watch the show but can't because of weather: watch online, courtesy of NASA and the Slooh space telescope. I hope the skies will cooperate so I can see them from darkest Maine.
slash-sa writes with a link to an opinion piece from Cory Doctorow that begins: "The European Parliament is currently involved in a wrangle over the new General Data Protection Regulation. At stake are the future rules for online privacy, data mining, big data, governmental spying (by proxy), to name a few. Hundreds of amendments and proposals are on the table, including some that speak of relaxing the rules on sharing data that has been "anonymised" (had identifying information removed) or "pseudonymised" (had identifiers replaced with pseudonyms). This is, however, a very difficult business, with researchers showing how relatively simple techniques can be used to re-identify the data in large anonymised data sets, by picking out the elements of each record that make them unique."
punk2176 writes "Hacker and security researcher Alejandro Caceres (developer of the PunkSPIDER project) and 3D UI developer Teal Rogers unveiled a new free and open source tool at DEF CON 21 that could change the way that users view the web and its vulnerabilities. The project is a visualization system that combines the principles of offensive security, 3D data visualization, and 'big data' to allow users to understand the complex interconnections between websites. Using a highly distributed HBase back-end and a Hadoop-based vulnerability scanner and web crawler the project is meant to improve the average user's understanding of the unseen and potentially vulnerable underbelly of web applications that they own or use. The makers are calling this new method of visualization web 3.0. A free demo can be found here, where users can play with and navigate an early version of the tool via a web interface. More details can be found here and interested users can opt-in to the mailing list and eventually the closed beta here."
In the wake of AOSP maintainer Jean-Baptiste Quéru's resignation, there was speculation that there would be no factory images or binary drivers released for Google's new Nexus 7 tablet. Happily, that's not the case — whatever other open source gaps there are in the Android world, Ars reports that those images and binaries have been released for the Nexus 7.
notscientific writes "Bacteria invest in proteins in an attempt to reduce stress or increase energy intake, while humans invest in cash. In both cases, better tradeoffs pay off. The similarities in tradeoffs faced by both bacteria and humans during investment are actually quite similar. Now, using synthetic biology, a group of scientists has shown that the outcomes of investment decisions in bacteria can be precisely defined, alluding to the idea that human investment activities, such as financial markets, can be thoroughly understood as well, and even modelled."
The U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled that certain models of Samsung phone violate Apple patents, and are likely to be blocked from import to the U.S. From the article: "The patents in question are U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949, which relates to a touch screen and user interface and U.S. Patent No. 7,912,501 which deals with detecting when a headset is connected. The ITC said Samsung didn’t infringe on the other two patents. In a statement on the matter, the ITC said the decision is final and the investigation has been closed. ... As was the case with the previous ruling that saw Apple devices banned, the ban on Samsung devices won’t go into effect until 60 days but can be blocked by a favorable ruling following a presidential review. That seems unlikely as such a block has only been issued once since 1987 – last’s week’s ruling in favor of Apple."
itwbennett writes "Google launched its Mountain View, CA public public Wi-Fi network in August 2006. It was one of the first public wireless Internet services in the U.S. and was intended to provide free service across the city. But in 2012, one year after Google signed a 5-year agreement to continue the service, it started a slow decline to the point of being unusable. 'We started noticing it in very large files, things like operating system updates, but now it's on files as small as 500 kilobytes,' said Rajiv Bhushan, chief scientist of pharmaceutical startup Livionex and a long-time user of the network. A recent test by IDG News Service resulted in a total failure to get a working Internet connection at a dozen sites around Mountain View, including in the city's main downtown area and directly in front of Google's headquarters." I've had disappointing results trying to connect to several other public wireless nets around the U.S., both privately sponsored and municipal. Do you know of any that work especially well?
First time accepted submitter jlnance writes "I don't particularly like the NSA looking over my shoulder. As the scope of its various data gathering programs comes to light, it is apparent to me that the only way to avoid being watched is to use servers based in countries which are unlikely to respond to US requests for information. I realize I am trading surveillance by the NSA for surveillance by the KGB or equivalent, but I'm less troubled by that. I searched briefly for services similar to ymail or gmail which are not hosted in the US. I didn't come up with much. Surely they exist? What are your experiences with this?"
hypnosec writes "The Pirate Bay, on its 10th anniversary, has released 'Pirate Browser,' which it claims would allow people to access The Pirate Bay and other such blocked sites. The 'Pirate Browser' is a fully functional browser that currently works with Windows. ... According to the Pirate Browser website, the browser is basically a bundled package consisting of the Tor client and Firefox Portable browser. The package also includes some tools meant for evading censorship in countries like UK, Finland, Denmark, and Iran among others."
First time accepted submitter kraken9 writes "New research shows that online chatter can help you avoid food poisoning. Leveraging a statistical language model of Twitter users' online communication, nEmesis finds individuals who are likely suffering from a foodborne illness. People's visits to restaurants are modeled by matching GPS data embedded in the messages with restaurant addresses. As a result, each venue is assigned a health score based on the proportion of customers that fell ill shortly after visiting it. The paper shows that this score correlates with the official inspection data from the Department of Health, and argues that 'nEmesis offers an inexpensive way to enhance current methods to monitor food safety (e.g., adaptive inspections) and identify potentially problematic venues in near-real time.' Similar techniques have been used before to predict the spread of flu from GPS-tagged social data."
An anonymous reader writes with a followup to last week's report that certain Xerox scanners and copiers could alter numbers as they scanned documents: "In the second Xerox press statement, Rick Dastin, Vice President at Xerox Corporation, stated: 'You will not see a character substitution issue when scanning with the factory default settings.' In contrast, David Kriesel, who brought up the issue in the first place, was able to replicate the issue with the very same factory settings. This might be a serious problem now. Not only does the problem occur using default settings and everyone may be affected, additionally, their press statements may have misled customers. Xerox replicated the issue by following Kriesel's instructions, later confirming it to Kriesel. Whole image segments seem to be copied around the scanned data. There is also a new Xerox statement out now." Swapping numbers while copying may seem like bizarre behavior for a copier, but In comments on the previous posting, several readers pointed out that Xerox was aware of the problem, and acknowledged it in the machine's documentation; the software updates promised should be welcome news to anyone who expects a copier to faithfully reproduce important numbers.
An anonymous reader writes "Website blocking has become a hot topic in the UK in recent weeks. Opponents of both voluntary and court-ordered blockades have warned about the potential collateral damage these blocking systems may cause, and they have now been proven right. As it turns out blocked sites can easily exploit the system and add new IP-addresses to Sky's blocklist. As a result TorrentFreak has been rendered inaccessible to the ISP's four million customers."
First time accepted submitter jovius writes "The Matriculation Examination Board of Finland has just opened an international hacking contest to find flaws and exploits in Digabi Live — the Live Debian based operating system to be used in the all-digital final exams by the year 2016. The contest ends on 1st of September, and the winners are about to scoop hefty hardware prizes, also available as cash."
First time accepted submitter extraqwert writes "An organization wants me to send them my personal data by email. I certainly do trust them. However, I would like to politely ask them to send me their public key for encryption. The secretary probably does not know what it is. But they do have a pretty good IT department, so they can figure out. My question is, what is the proper wording for such a request? What is the right terminology to use? Should I say ``please send me your RSA key''? ``Public key''? ``PGP key''? Is there a standard and reasonable wording for such a request? (On my end, I am using GNU PGP: http://www.gnupg.org/ ) Any suggestions on how to be polite in this case?"
UnknowingFool writes "CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has told CNET that Nvidia is working with Microsoft on the next generation of Surface tablets. While sales of the first generation have been poor, Huang believes the second generation will be more successful with the inclusion of Outlook."