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+ - 217 Does Software Need a Siskel and Ebert? 1

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Over at Scripting News, Dave Winer laments the lack of serious software reviews in the NY Times. That wasn't always the case, recalls Dave. "When they started doing software reviews in the early 80s it was with the usual Times flair," says Winer. "But somewhere along the line they stopped taking tech seriously. It's as if they would only review Saturday morning television shows. How could television like The Sopranos or Breaking Bad take root in the culture if there was no criticism that discussed it? Yet that's where we are today with software." So, does software need a Siskel and Ebert (or A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis for you highfalutin NYT readers!)?"

+ - 182 Mike Rogers: "You Can't Have Your Privacy Violated If You Don't Know About It"-> 1

Submitted by fish waffle
fish waffle (179067) writes "Techdirt and Popehat are reporting that during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on NSA surveillance, and in defense of accusations that he had installed a digital camera in the women's bathroom in his office, Intel Committee Chair Rep. Mike Rogers makes the astounding declaration that "You Can't Have Your Privacy Violated If You Don't Know About It.""
Link to Original Source

+ - 146 Hacker spoofs track plays to top music charts->

Submitted by mask.of.sanity
mask.of.sanity (1228908) writes "Stand aside P!nk, Niki Minaj; you've just been beaten by a music generator. One Aussie security expert curious about the fraud mechanisms at play on streaming services like Spotify uploaded garbage music tracks and directed three Amazon virtual machines to click the play button 24/7 for a month, earning him top spot in online music charts and $1000 in royalties."
Link to Original Source

+ - 297 Artificial blood made in Romania-> 3

Submitted by calinduca
calinduca (1334025) writes "Artificial blood that could one day be used in humans without side effects has been created by scientists in Romania. The blood contains water and salts along with a protein known as hemerythrin which is extracted from sea worms. Researchers from Babe-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, hope it could help end blood supply shortages and prevent infections through donations."
Link to Original Source

+ - 184 Stiff Resistance to State Technology Taxes->

Submitted by SonicSpike
SonicSpike (242293) writes "As the nation moves from a tangible goods-based economy to a service-based economy, a few states are trying to keep revenues robust by taxing technological services such as software upgrades and cloud computing. But a backlash from the high-tech industry has quashed most efforts.

As a result, the U.S. has a patchwork quilt of state taxes on technological services. Some states that have tried to impose such taxes have failed spectacularly, and most have not tried at all.

According to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank that studies taxes, only 10 states (Connecticut, New Mexico, Hawaii, South Dakota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia) and the District of Columbia tax all writing or updating of software. Only New Mexico, Hawaii and South Dakota levy their general sales taxes on all software services.

States with sales taxes do, however, levy those taxes on software that is sold on CDs or other hard storage materials. About half the states also tax “canned” (non-altered) software that can be downloaded, according to the Tax Foundation.

Elia Peterson, an analyst with the foundation, said in a recent paper that states are reluctant to tax computer services in large part because it “is an especially mobile industry and could easily move to a lower tax state.”"

Link to Original Source

+ - 196 Microsoft Research Uses Kinect To Translate Between Spoken And Sign Languages

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft’s Kinect is a wonderful piece of technology that seems to know no bounds. Microsoft Research is now using it to bridge the gap between folks who don’t speak the same language, whether they can hear or not. The Kinect Sign Language Translator is a research prototype that can translate sign language into spoken language and vice versa. The best part? It does it all in real time."

+ - 228 Kepler-78b -- Earth's Hellish 'Twin Sister' -- Shouldn't Exist->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine (1577233) writes "Kepler-78b may be an exoplanet notable for being approximately Earth-sized and likely possessing a rocky surface plus iron core, but that’s where any similarity to our planet ends. It has an extremely tight orbit around sun-like star Kepler-78, completing one ‘year’ in only 8.5 hours. It orbits so close in fact that the alien world’s surface temperature soars to 2,000 degrees hotter than Earth’s. Referring to Kepler-78b as a “rocky” world is therefore a misnomer — it’s a hellish lava world. But this is just a side-show to the real conundrum behind Kepler-78b: It shouldn’t exist at all. “This planet is a complete mystery,” said astronomer David Latham of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in a press release. “We don’t know how it formed or how it got to where it is today. What we do know is that it’s not going to last forever.”"
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+ - 231 Kutcher 'Hire' Shows Marketing Outranks Engineering at Lenovo->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "It’s not clear whether managers at Lenovo were too starstruck to say “no,” or whether the once-respected PC maker is having so much trouble hiring technical help it genuinely intends to allow lowbrow-sitcom staple Ashton Kutcher serve as both celebrity spokesman and full-on product engineer. Lenovo announced that it had hired Kutcher as a product engineer who will “work with the copany’s engineering teams around the world to develop and market the Yoga line of tablets by providing input and decision-making into design, specifications, software and usage scenarios.” Kutcher – former Calvin Klein underwear model, star of such quality entertainment as That ’70s Show, Punk’d, current star of Two-and-a-Half Men and, most recently, portrayer of Steve Jobs in the biopic Jobs – has a successful track record of investing in tech companies, Lenovo’s announcement said as partial explanation for the arrangement. Kutcher also studied biomechanical engineering as an undergraduate at the University of Iowa, which USA Today and other news outlets used to help bolster the idea that the star of Dude, Where’s My Car? could function effectively as part of an engineering product-development team. Kutcher did list his planned major at the university as biomechanical engineering when he enrolled in 1996, but he dropped out during the 1997-98 school year. He did found A-Grade Investments, which has been involved in or funded tech companies including Sporify, Path, Airbnb and Uber, according to Lenovo."
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+ - 164 Most sensitive detector yet fails to find any signs of dark matter->

Submitted by ananyo
ananyo (2519492) writes "A US team that claims to have built the world’s most sensitive dark matter detector has completed its first data run without seeing any sign of the stuff. In a webcast presentation today at the Sanford Underground Laboratory in Lead, South Dakota, physicists working on the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment said they had seen nothing statistically compelling in 110 days of data-taking. “We find absolutely no events consistent with any kind of dark matter,” says LUX co-spokesman Rick Gaitskell, a physicist at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
Physicists know from astronomical observations that 85% of the Universe’s matter is dark, making itself known only through its gravitational pull on conventional matter. Some think it may also engage in weak but detectable collisions with ordinary matter, and several direct detection experiments have reported tantalizing hints of these candidate dark matter particles, known as WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles). Gaitskell says that it is now overwhelmingly likely that earlier sightings were statistical fluctuations.
Despite the no-shows at XENON-100 and LUX, Laura Baudis, a physicist on XENON-100 at the University of Zurich in Switzerland says physicists are not ready to give up on the idea of detecting WIMPs. They may simply have a lower mass, or may be more weakly interacting than originally hoped. “We have some way to go,” she says."

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+ - 327 NSA Broke Into Links Between Google, Yahoo Datacenters-> 2

Submitted by barlevg
barlevg (2111272) writes "The Washington Post reports that, according to documents obtained from Edward Snowden, through their so-called "MUSCULAR" initiative, the National Security Agency has exploited a weakness in the transfers between data centers, which Google and others pay a premium to send over secure fiber optic cables. The leaked documents include a post-it note as part of an internal NSA Powerpoint presentation showing a diagram of Google network traffic, an arrow pointing to the Google front-end server with text reading, "SSL Added and Removed Here" with a smiley face. When shown the sketch by The Post and asked for comment, two engineers with close ties to Google responded with strings of profanity."
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+ - 155 Hackers Break Currency Validator to Pass Any Paper as Valid Euro

Submitted by Trailrunner7
Trailrunner7 (1100399) writes "If espionage is the world’s second-oldest profession, counterfeiting may be in the running to be third on that list. People have been trying to forge currency for just about as long as currency has been circulating, and anti-counterfeiting methods have tried to keep pace with the state of the art. The anti-counterfeiting technology in use today of course relies on computers and software, and like all software, it has bugs, as researchers at IOActive discovered when they reverse-engineered the firmware in a popular Euro currency verifier and found that they could insert their own firmware and force the machine to verify any piece of paper as a valid Euro note.

“The impact is obvious. An attacker with temporary physical access to the device could install customized firmware and cause the device to accept counterfeit money. Taking into account the types of places where these devices are usually deployed (shops, mall, offices, etc.) this scenario is more than feasible.”"

+ - 197 Owners report that new Dell laptops 'have cat urine smell'->

Submitted by another random user
another random user (2645241) writes "A number of Dell users have complained that their Latitude 6430u Ultrabooks "smell of cat urine".


Dell engineers have ruled out biological contamination, and said the smell was not a health hazard. The problem lay in the manufacturing process, which has now been changed, the company said.


"A few weeks ago I got a new Lattitude 6430u for work," one user called Three West complained on Dell's hardware support forum. "The machine is great, but it smells as if it was assembled near a tomcat's litter box. It is truly awful!"


Another customer, Hoteca, said: "I thought for sure one of my cats sprayed it, but there was something faulty with it so I had it replaced. The next one had the same exact issue. It's embarrassing taking it to clients because it smells so bad.""

Link to Original Source

+ - 156 Security hole found in Obamacare website->

Submitted by RoccamOccam
RoccamOccam (953524) writes "The Obamacare website has more than annoying bugs. A cybersecurity expert found a way to access users' accounts.

Until the Department of Health fixed the security hole last week, anyone could easily reset a user's Healthcare.gov password without their knowledge and potentially hijack the account.

The glitch was discovered last week by Ben Simo, a software tester in Arizona. Simo found that gaining access to people's accounts was frighteningly simple."

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+ - 214 Cisco To Open-Source H.264 Codec, Mozilla Plans Firefox Integration

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Cisco and Mozilla today made a joint announcement that will see the popular H.264 video codec opened up to the broader Web. Cisco plans to open source its H.264 codec, while Mozilla is in turn promising to include it in future versions of Firefox. H.264 has been the industry standard for years, but it unfortunately requires royalty payments to MPEG LA under terms that prevent distributing it with open source products. By open-sourcing its H.264 codec under the BSD license, and providing it as a binary module that can be downloaded for free, Cisco is choosing not to pass on its MPEG LA licensing costs, effectively making H.264 free for use in WebRTC."

+ - 195 Facebook Testing Screen-Tracking Software for Users

Submitted by cagraham
cagraham (3027657) writes "Facebook is currently testing software that would track user's cursor movements, as well as monitor how often a user's newsfeed was visible on their mobile phone, according to the Wall Street Journal. The additional data from such tracking would potentially let Facebook raise their ad prices, as they could deliver even more information about user's on-site behavior to advertisers, such as how long users hovered over specific ads. In order to analyze the extra data, Facebook will utilize a custom version of Hadoop."

+ - 213 The case against gmail

Submitted by stry_cat
stry_cat (558859) writes "Ed Bot makes the case against Gmail

Gmail was a breath of fresh air when it debuted. But this onetime alternative is showing signs that it's past its prime, especially if you want to use the service with a third-party client. That's the way Google wants it, which is why I've given up on Gmail after almost a decade.

Personally, I've always thought it odd that no other email provider ever adopted Gmails "search not sort" mentality. I've been a Gmail user since you needed an invitation to get an account. However Gmail has been steadily moving towards a more traditional email experience. Plus there's the iGoogle disaster that got me looking into alternatives to everything Google. Will this be the wake up call Google needs to get its act together and stop being evil?"

+ - 207 The $15 Device That Protects Against School Shootings

Submitted by Hugh Pickens DOT Com
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "In the tragic aftermath of the Newtown school massacre, as is the case every time there’s a school shooting, Americans debate what should be done to ensure the safety of innocent schoolchildren. Gun control advocates push to limit access to deadly weapons by imposing tougher firearm regulations, while the National Rifle Association suggests that armed security guards be stationed at every school in the country. Now the Smithsonian reports that a group of students at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington D.C. has come up with a device that prevents armed intruders from breaking into a classroom with DeadStop, a lightweight, cup-sized plastic cylinder that slips over the common large hydraulic hinge known as a “door closer“ in seconds. “So many kids and adults were killed (at Sandy Hook). So we got together and we wanted to know how we could stop intruders from entering our school,” says Deonté Antrom, a junior at Benjamin Banneker. The school, like many others across the nation, is equipped with doors that cannot be locked from the inside, in order to comply with building code regulations that allow for unobstructed campus-wide evacuations in case of a fire and other disasters. The DeadStop was designed as a workaround, preserving that need for a quick exit in an emergency while also enabling the class to secure itself inside the room when needed. “The device we have is detachable. It will just be in the teacher’s desk and when there is an announcement that there is a shooter in the building, they will be able to take it out and simply install it on the hinge,” says Anjreyev Harvey. Students at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School hope to patent and release a final product of DeadStop that will cost no more than $15 and a law firm from Denver has already offered the team pro bono services to patent the invention."

+ - 230 Dell releases new Ultrabook that smells of cat urine

Submitted by Sockatume
Sockatume (732728) writes "The BBC is reporting that Dell's Latitude 6430u Ultrabooks have an interesting characteristic you won't find in any Macbook Air: the palmrest emits an odour like cat urine. An issue with a manufacturing process is thought to be to blame. Although Dell has assured potential customers that the issue has been fixed, reports in the Dell support forum indicate that units with the novel fragrance continue to ship out to users. Dell staff state that the palmrest will be replaced by Dell at no cost, but only if the unit is still under warranty."

+ - 184 Phone Calls More Dangerous Than Malware->

Submitted by dinscott
dinscott (1951608) writes "During Social Engineer Capture the Flag contest, one of the most prominent and popular annual events at DEF CON 21, a pool of 10 men and 10 women, from diverse backgrounds and experience levels, tested their social engineering abilities against 10 of the biggest global corporations, including Apple, Boeing, Exxon, General Dynamics and General Electric. The complete results of the competition are in, and they don't bode well for businesses."
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+ - 165 German Headline: "Scientists Prove Existence of God"->

Submitted by retroworks
retroworks (652802) writes "Two scientists have formalized a theorem regarding the existence of God penned by mathematician Kurt Gödel. But unsurprisingly, there is a rather significant caveat to that claim. In fact, what the researchers in question say they have actually proven is a theorem put forward by renowned Austrian mathematician Kurt Gödel — and the real news isn't about a Supreme Being, but rather what can now be achieved in scientific fields using superior technology. Using an ordinary MacBook computer, Berlin Free University researchers have shown that Gödel's proof was correct — at least on a mathematical level — by way of higher modal logic. The initial submission on the arXiv.org research article server is called "Formalization, Mechanization and Automation of Gödel's Proof of God's Existence.""
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