An anonymous reader writes "Questioning the W3C's stance on DRM, Simon St. Laurent asks 'What do we get for that DRM?' and has a thing or two to say about TBL's cop-out: 'I had a hard time finding anything to like in Tim Berners-Lee's meager excuse for the W3C's new focus on digital rights management (DRM). However, the piece that keeps me shaking my head and wondering is a question he asks but doesn't answer: If we, the programmers who design and build Web systems, are going to consider something which could be very onerous in many ways, what can we ask in return? Yes. What should we ask in return? And what should we expect to get? The W3C appears to have surrendered (or given?) its imprimatur to this work without asking for, well, anything in return. "Considerations to be discussed later" is rarely a powerful diplomatic pose.'"
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sciencehabit writes "One unintended effect of the U.S. federal shutdown is that helpful press officers at government labs are not available to provide a reality check to some of the wilder stories that can catch fire on the Internet. They would have come in handy this week, when a number of outlets jumped on a report on the BBC News website. The National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, it reported, had passed a 'nuclear fusion milestone.' NIF uses the world's highest energy laser system to crush tiny pellets containing a form of hydrogen fuel to enormous temperature and pressure. The aim is to get the hydrogen nuclei to fuse together into helium atoms, releasing energy. The BBC story reported that during one experiment last month, 'the amount of energy released through the fusion reaction exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel — the first time this had been achieved at any fusion facility in the world.' This prompted a rush of even more effusive headlines proclaiming the 'fusion breakthrough.' As no doubt NIF's press officers would have told reporters, the experiment in question certainly shows important progress, but it is not the breakthrough everyone is hoping for."
Lucas123 writes "A solar power array that covers three square miles with 3,200 mirrored parabolic collectors went live this week, creating enough energy to power 70,000 homes in Arizona. The Solana Solar Power Plant, located 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, was built at a cost of $2 billion, and financed in large part by a U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee. The array is the world's largest parabolic trough plant, meaning it uses parabolic shaped mirrors mounted on moving structures that track the sun and concentrate its heat. A first: a thermal energy storage system at the plant can provide electricity for six hours without the concurrent use of the solar field. Because it can store electricity, the plant can continue to provide power during the night and inclement weather."
PengPod is running a crowdfunder to create a GNU Linux/Android tablet, the PengPod 1040. This is their second such product; the first was mentioned on Slashdot last year. PengPod has pledged to make all source and tools used to build the images available, so users can build their own OS top to bottom to guarantee that it's free of NSA tracking. The PengPod has previously found some success as a low-cost touch platform for industrial/commercial control systems and is partnered with ViewTouch, the original inventors of the graphical POS to offer PengPod1040s as restaurant register systems. The feature that the developers seem keenest to emphasize is that the PengPod is built to run conventional desktop Linux distros without special hacking required; Android is the default OS, but it's been tested with several others (including Ubuntu Touch) listed on their Indiegogo page.
An anonymous reader writes "Security firm ThreatTrack Security Labs today spotted that certain Bing ads are linking to sites that infect users with malware. Those who click are redirected to a dynamic DNS service subdomain which in turns serves the Sirefef malware from 109(dot)236(dot)81(dot)176. ThreatTrack notes that the scammers could of course be targeting other keywords aside from YouTube. The more popular the keywords, the bigger the potential for infection."
schwit1 writes "M. Scott Carpenter, whose flight into space in 1962 as the second American to orbit the Earth was marred by technical glitches and ended with the nation waiting anxiously to see if he had survived a landing far from the target site, died on Thursday in Denver. He was 88 and one of the last two surviving astronauts of America's original space program, Project Mercury." NASA has a nice biography of Carpenter, too, and scottcarpenter.com has much more besides.
The intro for yesterday's video interview with Don Marti started out by saying, "Don Marti," says Wikipedia, "is a writer and advocate for free and open source software, writing for LinuxWorld and Linux Today." As we noted, Don has moved on since that description was written. In today's interview he starts by talking about some things venture capitalist Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins has said, notably that people only spend 6% of their media-intake time with print, but advertisers spend 23% of their budgets on print ads. To find out why this is, you might want to read a piece Don wrote titled Targeted Advertising Considered Harmful. Or you can just watch today's video -- and if you didn't catch Part One of our video conversation yesterday, you might want to check it out before watching Part 2.
waderoush writes "Is the digital age sending the old therapist's couch the way of the reference librarian, the CD, and the travel agent? Could be: several recent studies have found that therapy via the Internet is just as effective as face-to-face treatment. But it's taken online therapy startup Breakthrough about four years to convince venture investors and insurance companies that online therapy can remove many of the road blocks to mental health care, including the high cost, the social stigma, and the difficulty of access. So far, Breakthrough has partnered with 100 licensed psychiatrists and psychologists in Texas, California, Virginia, and Maryland; every provider on the site has a profile and a welcome video that allows potential clients to evaluate them before they even talk online. 'Now we have greater research supporting telemedicine, and people are more comfortable digitally,' says co-founder and CEO Mark Goldenson. 'I think the market is ready for it.'"
An anonymous reader writes "An interesting and thoughtful article in the New Yorker about the inner workings of the Guardian newspaper. It explains a lot about why the Snowden files ended up there and not elsewhere. Given all the snark on Slashdot about the sorry state of modern journalism, it is well worth a read to see one organization that got it right. An illustrative quote about Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian's editor: 'He has a really useful piece of equipment that most editors don't have, which is a spinal column.' I would encourage everyone to read this, and if you support the type of journalism the Guardian has been engaging in, think about buying a subscription. The article also talks about the financial side of the newspaper business, and real journalism is not going to happen unless somebody pays for it."
barlevg writes "Analyzing hand-prints found in cave sites, an archaeologist from Penn State University has concluded that roughly 75% of all ancient cave art was painted by women. Previously it was thought that neolithic cave paintings were made mostly by men, perhaps to chronicle their kills. But an analysis of the relative lengths of fingers in hand stencils found on cave walls suggests that it was mostly prehistoric women--not men--who created these works."
adeelarshad82 writes "Acer officially announced its new Chromebook, C720. The C720 is 30% thinner (at 0.75 inches thick) and lighter (at 2.76 pounds) than Acer's previous Chromebook, C7. The C720 Chromebook has an 11.6-inch anti-glare widescreen, with a 1,366-by-768 resolution. Acer claims seven second boot times and up to 8.5 hours of battery life. The C720 comes with 4GB of DDR3L memory and uses an Intel Celeron 2955U processor based on Haswell technology. The system also has 16GB of local SSD storage along with 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi to get to Google's cloud-based storage. Like previous Chromebooks, the C720 Chromebook is constantly updated with the latest version of the Chrome OS and built around the Chrome browser." One thing this machine lacks is the most intriguing feature of the new ARM-based (and lower-power) Chromebook 11 from HP: charging via Micro-USB.
Brandon Butler writes "Today, cloud computing resources are bought and sold in a fairly straightforward process: A company needs extra compute capacity, for example, so they contract with a provider who spins up virtual machines for a certain amount of time. But what will that process look like in, say, 2020? If efforts by a handful of companies come to fruition, there could be a lot more wheeling and dealing that goes on behind the scenes. An idea is being floated to package cloud computing resources into blocks that can be bought and sold on a commodity futures trading market. It would be similar to how financial instruments like stocks, bonds and agricultural products like corn and wheat are traded on exchanges by investors. Blocks of cloud computing resources — for example a month's worth of virtual machines, or a year's worth of cloud storage — would be packaged by service providers and sold on a market. In the exchange, investors and traders could buy up these blocks and resell them to end users, or other investors, potentially turning a profit if the value of the resource increases."
Nerval's Lobster writes "It's no secret that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has a low opinion of the new film, "The Fifth Estate," in which he's portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch. He's railed against it several times, culminating in a lengthy statement (posted Oct. 9) in which he called it 'a geriatric snoozefest that only the US government could love.' That's in addition to a letter in which he refused to meet with Cumberbatch, saying that the script would force the actor to give a 'talented, but debauched, performance.' WikiLeaks and Assange are clearly attempting a bit of damage control ahead of the film's Oct. 11 release in the U.K. (followed by its U.S. debut on Oct. 18). But what if that pushback is the wrong reaction? That's not to say that Assange should gleefully embrace the film —the script portrays him as something of a hustler who freely lies about his past. Whatever its qualities, however, the film could get people talking about WikiLeaks' role in the broader geopolitical context, and that's ultimately a good thing for the organization: It's been quite some time since Assange and company have provided the world with an explosive, game-changing revelation. If nothing else, Assange can take some cold comfort from the case of Mark Zuckerberg, who faced similar issues when the David Fincher-directed 'The Social Network' made its debut in 2010; Facebook's PR team was probably preparing for the worst as the release date approached, but the film — despite its impressive box office, and the awards it won — ultimately did little to harm either the real-life Zuckerberg's reputation or Facebook's continuing growth."
jrepin writes "Google is offering rewards as high as $3,133.70 for software updates that improve the security of OpenSSL, OpenSSH, BIND, and several other open-source packages that are critical to the stability of the Internet. The program announced Wednesday expands on Google's current bug-bounty program, which pays from $500 to $3,133.70 to people who privately report bugs found in the company's software and Web properties." Google isn't the only company that sees the value in rewarding those who find security problems: Microsoft just paid British hacker James Forshaw $100,000 for finding a serious security flaw in Windows 8.1.
itwbennett writes "PC maker Lenovo accidentally posted manuals on its website showing an Android laptop called the IdeaPad A10. Lenovo spokesman Chris Millward said the company had planned on making an official announcement for the device, and that 'the product has not been canceled. It will be going out to the market.' Launch dates and pricing to come, but specs show that it could be a budget product."
Lasrick writes "Conor Friedersdorf at the Atlantic writes up a new report (and infographic) from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School. 'What the Government Does With Americans' Data' is the best single attempt I've seen to explain all of the ways that surveillance professionals are collecting, storing, and disseminating private data on U.S. citizens. The report's text and helpful flow-chart illustrations run to roughly 50 pages. Unless you're already one of America's foremost experts on these subjects, it is virtually impossible to read this synthesis without coming away better informed.."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Andrew Binstock writes at Dr. Dobb's that a recurring prejudice in the forums where the cool kids hang out is against Java, often described as verbose and fading in popularity but Binstock sees little supporting evidence of Java being in some kind of long-term decline. While it is true that Java certainly can be verbose, several scripting languages have sprung up which are purpose-designed to spare developers from long syntactical passages to communicate a simple action, including NetRexx, Groovy, and Scala. As far as Java's popularity goes, normally, when technologies start their ultimate decline, tradeshows are the first to reflect the disintegrating community. But the recent JavaOne show was clearly larger and better attended than it has been in either of the last two years and vendors on the exhibiting floor were unanimous in saying that traffic, leads, and inquiries were up significantly over last year. Technically, the language continues to advance says Binstock. Java 8, expected in March, will add closures (that is, lambda expressions) that will reduce code, diminish the need for anonymous inner classes, and facilitate functional-like coding. Greater modularity which will be complete in Java 9 (due in 2016) will help efficient management of artifacts, as will several enhancements that simplify syntax in that release. 'When you add in the Android ecosystem, whose native development language is Java, it becomes very difficult to see how a language so widely used in so many areas — server, Web, desktop, mobile devices — is in some kind of decline,' concludes Binstock. 'What I'm seeing is a language that is under constant refinement and development, with a large and very active community, which enjoys a platform that is widely used for new languages. None of this looks to me like a language in decline.'"
An anonymous reader writes with a link to The Huffington Post, which reports "that a Saudi man was sentenced to 2,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for dancing naked on the roof of a car and posting the video online, according to multiple reports. Three other men were also sentenced to three to seven years in jail and hundreds of lashes each for the incident, Agence France-Presse reported, citing Arabic-language paper Al-Sharq. The four men were hit with a number of charges, including "encouraging vice" and violating public morality, according to the report. The prosecutor in the case, which was heard by a judge in Saudi Arabia's conservative Al-Qassem province, reportedly objected to the sentences for being "too lenient," Gulf News notes. The video was reportedly circulated widely on the Internet, but could not be found by The Huffington Post."
First time accepted submitter Saethan writes "Healthcare.gov, the site to be used by people in 36 states to get insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act, has apparently cost the U.S. Government $634 million. Not only is this more than Facebook spent during its first 6 years in operation, it is also over $500 million above what the original estimate was: $93.7 million. Why, in a country with some of the best web development companies in the world, has this website, which is poor quality at best, cost so much?" That $634 million figure comes from this U.S. government budget-tracking system. Given that this system is national rather than for a single city, maybe everyone should just be grateful the contract didn't go to TechnoDyne.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from a short article at Geek.com, based on this Chinese newspaper report (Google translation) that thousands of students have been (figuratively) press-ganged into assembling PlayStation 4 consoles, ahead of the PS4's November launch. From the article: "The students involved were offered internships at the company while studying an IT engineering course. But those that accepted aren't being assigned work that matches their course or skill set. Instead, they are being put on the production lines. The reason it is being called a forced internship is because if any of the students refuse to do the work they are assigned, six credits will be deducted from their course total. Without those six credits it's thought to be impossible to pass, meaning the students have to do the work or risk losing their qualification."
dryriver writes in with news that a new round of Snowden leaks may be on the way. "Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger says he plans to publish more revelations from Edward Snowden despite MI5 warning that such disclosures cause enormous damage. Mr Rusbridger insisted the paper was right to publish files leaked by the US intelligence analyst and had helped to prompt a necessary and overdue debate. Mr Rusbridger said more stories would be published in the future as the leaked documents were 'slowly and responsibly' worked through. His comments come after criticism from the new head of MI5, Andrew Parker. Making public the 'reach and limits' of intelligence-gathering techniques gave terrorists the advantage, he said. He warned that terrorists now had tens of thousands of means of communication 'through e-mail, IP telephony, in-game communication, social networking, chat rooms, anonymising services and a myriad of mobile apps'. Mr Parker said it was vital for MI5 to retain the capability to access such information if it was to protect the country. "
ananyo writes "It is the most fundamental, and yet also the strangest postulate of the theory of quantum mechanics: the idea that a quantum system will catastrophically collapse from a blend of several possible quantum states to just one the moment it is measured by an experimentalist. Researchers have now been able to capture that collapse through the use of weak measurements — indirect probes of quantum systems that tweak a wavefunction slightly while providing partial information about its state, avoiding a sudden collapse. Atomic and solid-state physicist Kater Murch of the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues performed a series of weak measurements on a superconducting circuit that was in a superposition — a combination of two quantum states. They did this by monitoring microwaves that had passed through a box containing the circuit, based on the fact that the circuit's electrical oscillations alter the state of the microwaves as they pass through the box. Over a couple of microseconds, those weak measurements captured snapshots of the state of the circuit as it gradually changed from a superposition to just one of the states within that superposition — as if charting the collapse of a quantum wavefunction in slow motion."
First time accepted submitter Philip Ross writes "Scientists at the University of Texas looked at the interactions between bacteria in 3D-printed environments to better understand what makes some microbes resistant to antibiotics, something health officials have been warning us about for a long time. They used high-precision lasers to print multiple two-dimensional images, using a chip modified from a digital movie projector, onto a layer of flexible gelatin where bacteria were growing. As layers of protein were added to the gelatin, which contains photosensitive molecules that become aroused and bond together after being hit with a laser, they formed a tiny encasing around the bacteria."
MojoKid writes "Although the dream of roads full of driverless cars is a ways off, several companies such as Tesla and Google are taking steps toward that goal by developing self-driving car technology. Ford is now also demonstrating self-parking technology called Fully Assisted Parking Aid that will actually help a driver locate a spot and then make the car automatically park itself--without the driver inside. Indeed, you'll be able to hop out of the car and use a smartphone app to tell your car to park itself. This is ideal for both parking in tight spaces (i.e., you don't have to squeeze your way out of your vehicle while trying not to bang the next car's door) and for those who are just terrible at parking to begin with."
Nerval's Lobster writes "The U.S. Army Research Laboratory has awarded as much as $48 million to researchers trying to build computer-security systems that can identify even the most subtle human-exploit attacks and respond without human intervention. The more difficult part of the research will be to develop models of human behavior that allow security systems decide, accurately and on their own, whether actions by humans are part of an attack (whether the humans involved realize it or not). The Army Research Lab (ARL) announced Oct. 8 a grant of $23.2 million to fund a five-year cooperative effort among a team of researchers at Penn State University, the University of California, Davis, Univ. California, Riverside and Indiana University. The five-year program comes with the option to extend it to 10 years with the addition of another $25 million in funding. As part of the project, researchers will need to systematize the criteria and tools used for security analysis, making sure the code detects malicious intrusions rather than legitimate access, all while preserving enough data about any breach for later forensic analysis, according to Alexander Kott, associate director for science and technology at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. Identifying whether the behavior of humans is malicious or not is difficult even for other humans, especially when it's not clear whether users who open a door to attackers knew what they were doing or, conversely, whether the "attackers" are perfectly legitimate and it's the security monitoring staff who are overreacting. Twenty-nine percent of attacks tracked in the April 23 2013 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report could be traced to social-engineering or phishing tactics whose goal is to manipulate humans into giving attackers access to secured systems."