Daniel_Stuckey writes "The group, called UnSystem, are self-proclaimed crypto-anarchists led by Cody Wilson—who you may remember as the creator of the controversial 3D-printed gun. After getting himself in hot water with the government for making the digital files to print an unregulated weapon freely available on the internet, Wilson's now endeavoring to bring Bitcoin back to its anarchist roots. Like other Bitcoin wallets, you'll be able to store, send, and receive coins, and interact with block chain, the Bitcoin public ledger. But Dark Wallet will include extra protections to make sure transactions are secure, anonymous, and hard to trace—including a protocol called "trustless mixing" that combines users' coins together before encoding it into the ledger."
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Mark Gibbs writes "If you've recently fired up Skype you may have noticed a dialog box with a warning appear briefly (at least on OS X) then vanish. If you're fast enough to catch it you'll find that it's warning you that some application you're using that works with Skype will stop working in December, 2013. This applies to all sorts of software supporting headsets, cameras, ... you name it."
cagraham writes "The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that Amazon will begin charging customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin sales tax today, after fighting against it for years. Amazon now charges sales tax in 16 states, affecting roughly 163 million Americans. Yet despite Amazon's continued fight against sales tax on the state-level, they support a Senate bill that would allow all states to tax online retailers. It seems like a contradiction, but it's actually a calculated move to undercut rivals like eBay (who would have a far harder time dealing with sales tax laws), and even an unequal playing field (many states that tax Amazon don't tax other online retailers)."
SanDogWeps writes "Periodically viewed as copyright infringement by the media, the Department of Defense's 'Early Bird' has been delivering applicable headlines to the Armed Forces since 1948. It stopped updating on October 1st, along with a number of other government products, but when the lights turned back on, The Early Bird remained dark. A number of reasons have been floated, including applicability in the internet age, cost, and a lack of interest. Others claim The Early Bird was nothing more than a propaganda machine, by culling articles that painted DoD in a favorable light."
An anonymous reader writes "Edward Snowden is calling for international help to persuade the U.S. to drop its espionage charges against him. Snowden said he would like to testify before the U.S. Congress about National Security Agency surveillance and may be willing to help German officials investigate alleged U.S. spying in Germany. Snowden is quoted as saying that the U.S. government 'continues to treat dissent as defection, and seeks to criminalize political speech with felony charges that provide no defense.' He continues, 'I am confident that with the support of the international community, the government of the United States will abandon this harmful behavior.'"
Daniel_Stuckey writes "According to a Bloomberg report, Canadian oil sands giant Suncor, which is "Canada's largest energy company by market value," is currently testing haul trucks that are run by computers. Extracting bitumen from sands requires first digging up an enormous amount of the sand itself, with about two tons of sands required to produce one barrel of oil. Digging up all of that sand is the job of huge excavators, which then offload into gigantic haul trucks that transport sands to extraction plants. Time is money, and in this case being faster means carrying as much sand as possible. Haul trucks can carry hundreds of tons at a time, and are in constant motion, moving back and forth between excavator and extraction plant."
schweini writes "Inmates in an Oklahoma prison developed software that attempts to streamline the prison's food logistics. A state representative found out, and he's trying to get every other prison in Oklahoma to use it, too. According to the Washington Post, 'The program tracks inmates as they proceed through food lines, to make sure they don’t go through the lines twice... It can help the prison track how popular a particular meal is, so purchasers know how much food to buy in the future. And it can track tools an inmate checks out to perform their jobs.' The program also tracks supply shipments into the system, and it showed that food supplier Sysco had been charging different prices for the same food depending on which facility it was going to. Another state representative was impressed, but realized the need for oversight: 'If they build on what they’ve done here, they actually have to script it out. If you have inmates writing code, there has to be a continual auditing process. Food in prison is a commodity. It’s currency.'"
KentuckyFC writes "As the Sun expands into a red giant, life on Earth will die away. Now astrobiologists have worked out how this will look to distant observers watching the biosignature in our atmosphere. They say the first major effect of warming, about 1 billion years from now, will be a dramatic drop in atmospheric carbon dioxide as the oceans absorb more of it. That's bad news for trees and plants, which need carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, so they begin to die off. Since plants produce oxygen, atmospheric levels of oxygen will also drop, killing off the animals. Roughly 2 billion years from now, the only living things on Earth will be microbes. However, methane levels will have risen dramatically, caused by decaying plant matter. And decaying animals will release a gas called methanethiol, which breaks down into ethane, which ought to be visible too. Finally, they calculate that about 3 billion years from now, the oceans will boil and Earth will be a barren planet with little if any biosignature at all. But all this is not just a subject of morbid fascination. With the next generation of space telescopes, astronomers should see similar biosignatures on Earth-like planets around other stars that are also beyond their sell-by dates. So we'll be able to watch them die off first."
quantr points out an interview with Bill Gates in which he talks about setting priorities for making a difference in the world. Quoting: "The internet is not going to save the world, says the Microsoft co-founder, whatever Mark Zuckerberg and Silicon Valley's tech billionaires believe. But eradicating disease just might. Bill Gates describes himself as a technocrat. But he does not believe that technology will save the world. Or, to be more precise, he does not believe it can solve a tangle of entrenched and interrelated problems that afflict humanity's most vulnerable: the spread of diseases in the developing world and the poverty, lack of opportunity and despair they engender. 'I certainly love the IT thing,' he says. 'But when we want to improve lives, you've got to deal with more basic things like child survival, child nutrition.' These days, it seems that every West Coast billionaire has a vision for how technology can make the world a better place. A central part of this new consensus is that the internet is an inevitable force for social and economic improvement; that connectivity is a social good in itself. It was a view that recently led Mark Zuckerberg to outline a plan for getting the world's unconnected 5 billion people online, an effort the Facebook boss called 'one of the greatest challenges of our generation.' But asked whether giving the planet an internet connection is more important than finding a vaccination for malaria, the co-founder of Microsoft and world's second-richest man does not hide his irritation: 'As a priority? It's a joke.'"
McGruber tips news that today at 9:30AM PST, a man removed an assault rifle from a bag at Los Angeles International Airport and opened fire. The shooter moved into the screening area, and then further into the terminal. One TSA agent was killed; roughly six more people were injured. The gunman was a ticketed passenger. (Early reports suggested he worked for the TSA — this does not seem to be the case.) Police engaged him in gunfire, and he's now in custody. His motive is unknown at this time.
cold fjord writes "Aviation Week reports, 'Ever since Lockheed's unsurpassed SR-71 Blackbird was retired ... almost two decades ago, the perennial question has been: Will it ever be succeeded by a new-generation, higher-speed aircraft and, if so, when? That is, until now. After years of silence on the subject, Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works has revealed exclusively to AW&ST details of long-running plans for what it describes as an affordable hypersonic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and strike platform that could enter development in demonstrator form as soon as 2018. Dubbed the SR-72, the twin-engine aircraft is designed for a Mach 6 cruise, around twice the speed of its forebear, and will have the optional capability to strike targets. Guided by the U.S. Air Force's long-term hypersonic road map, the SR-72 is designed to fill what are perceived by defense planners as growing gaps in coverage of fast-reaction intelligence by the plethora of satellites, subsonic manned and unmanned platforms meant to replace the SR-71.'"
New submitter The Grim Reefer sends this quote from CNN: "[Ed] Bolian set out on a serious mission to beat the record for driving from New York to Los Angeles. The mark? Alex Roy and David Maher's cross-country record of 31 hours and 4 minutes, which they set in a modified BMW M5 in 2006. ... He went into preparation mode about 18 months ago and chose a Mercedes CL55 AMG with 115,000 miles for the journey. The Benz's gas tank was only 23 gallons, so he added two 22-gallon tanks in the trunk, upping his range to about 800 miles. ... To foil the police, he installed a switch to kill the rear lights and bought two laser jammers and three radar detectors. He commissioned a radar jammer, but it wasn't finished in time for the trek. There was also a police scanner, two GPS units and various chargers for smartphones and tablets -- not to mention snacks, iced coffee and a bedpan. ... The total time: 28 hours, 50 minutes and about 30 seconds. ... When they were moving, which, impressively, was all but 46 minutes of the trip, they were averaging around 100 mph. Their total average was 98 mph, and their top speed was 158 mph, according to an onboard tracking device."
RichDiesal writes "In an upcoming article in Business Communication Quarterly, researchers found that more than half of 20-somethings believe it appropriate to read texts during formal business meetings, whereas only 16% of workers 40+ believe the same thing. 34% of 20-somethings believe it appropriate to answer the phone in the middle of a meeting (i.e., not excusing yourself to answer the phone — answering and talking mid-meeting!). It is unclear if this is happening because more younger workers grew up with mobile technology, or if it's because older workers have the experience to know that answering a call in the middle of a meeting is a terrible idea. So if you're a younger worker, consider leaving your phone alone in meetings to avoid annoying your coworkers. And if you're an older worker annoyed at what you believe to be rude behavior, just remember, it's not you – it's them!"
An anonymous reader writes "Cornell physicists say they've codified why science works, or more specifically, why scientific theories work – a meta-theory. Publishing online in the journal Science (abstract), the team has developed a unified computational framework they say exposes the hidden hierarchy of scientific theories by quantifying the degree to which predictions – like how a particular cellular mechanism might work under certain conditions, or how sound travels through space – depend on the detailed variables of a model."
jfruh writes "Marshall Rose, one of the creators of the SNMP protocol, has a beef with current home automation gadgets: it's very, very difficult to get them to talk to each other, and you often end up needing a pile of remote controls to operate them. To fix these problems, he's proposed the Thing System, which will serve as an intermediary on your home automation network. The Thing System aims to help integrate gadgets already on the market, which may help it take off."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Andrea Peterson reports in the Washington Post that one of Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn's big policy initiatives has been expanding the quality and quantity of high-speed Internet access throughout the city. However incumbent providers, particularly Comcast, have invested heavily in defeating McGinn in the mayoral election. While Comcast denies there is any connection between McGinn's broadband policies and their donations, the company has given thousands of dollars to PACs that have, in turn, given heavily to anti-McGinn groups. One of McGinn's core promises in the 2009 campaign was to 'develop a city-wide broadband system.' The mayor considered creating a citywide broadband system as a public utility, like water or electricity. But aides say that would have been too expensive, so the mayor settled on public-private partnerships using city-owned dark fiber. This dark fiber was laid down starting in 1995, and the mayor's office now says there are some 535 miles of it, only a fraction of which is being used. In June, the partnership, called Gigabit Squared, announced pricing for its Seattle service: $45 dollars a month for 100 Mbps service or $80 a month for 1 Gbps service plus a one-time installation cost of $350 that will be waived for customers signing a one-year contract. For comparison, Comcast, one of the primary Internet providers in the area, offers 105 Mbps service in the area for $114.99 a month, according to their website. If Comcast is indeed attempting to sway the election, it would fall in line with a larger pattern of telecom interests lobbying against municipal efforts to create their own municipal broadband systems or leveraging city-owner fiber resources to create more competition for incumbent providers. Peterson writes, '...if Comcast's donations help Murray defeat McGinn, it will send a powerful message to mayors in other American cities considering initiatives to increase broadband competition.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Scientists at the University of Manchester in England figured out how the largest animal ever to walk on Earth, the 80-ton Argentinosaurus, actually walked on earth. Researchers led by Bill Sellers, Rudolfo Coria and Lee Margetts at the N8 High Performance Computing facility in northern England used a 320 gigaflop/second SGI High Performance Computing Cluster supercomputer called Polaris to model the skeleton and movements of Argentinosaurus. The animal was able to reach a top speed of about 5 mph, with 'a slow, steady gait,' according to the team (PDF). Extrapolating from a few feet of bone, paleontologists were able to estimate the beast weighed between 80 and 100 tons and grew up to 115 feet in length. Polaris not only allowed the team to model the missing parts of the dinosaur and make them move, it did so quickly enough to beat the deadline for PLOS ONE Special Collection on Sauropods, a special edition of the site focusing on new research on sauropods that 'is likely to be the "de facto" international reference for Sauropods for decades to come,' according to a statement from the N8 HPC center. The really exciting thing, according to Coria, was how well Polaris was able to fill in the gaps left by the fossil records. 'It is frustrating there was so little of the original dinosaur fossilized, making any reconstruction difficult,' he said, despite previous research that established some rules of weight distribution, movement and the limits of dinosaurs' biological strength."
mdsolar writes "An Arizona utility commissioner is asking for all the key players in a debate over a solar energy policy in the state to reveal any additional secret funding of nonprofits or public relations campaigns. The probe comes after Arizona Public Service, the state's largest utility, admitted last week that it had been secretly contributing to outside nonprofits running negative ads against solar power. As The Huffington Post reported Friday, APS recently admitted that it had lied for months about paying the 60 Plus Association, a national conservative organization backed by the Koch brothers, to run ads against current solar net-metering policy. APS is currently pushing the Arizona Corporation Commission to roll back the policy, which allows homeowners and businesses with rooftop solar energy systems to make money by selling excess energy back to the grid. Solar proponents say that the policy has facilitated a solar boom in the state, and that changing it could have a huge negative impact on future growth."
If you happen to be one of the other five people who own an Atari Jaguar, you've probably played the excellent Tempest 2000. As chance would have it, a few months ago Llamasoft announced they were approached by Sony to write TxK, based "...on the essence of the original T2K. ... . We're not going to overload you with ultra psychedelia, but we will make it fluid and colourful and awesome-looking ... We're going to give you a perfect treat for your eyes, ears and thumbs with a modern extrapolation of one of the best shooters ever made on hardware that's just perfectly suited for it, and in a way that retains the purity of the original design." A couple of weeks ago, a working version of TxK was demoed at Play Expo. Read below to see the video. It really seems to retain the aesthetic of Tempest 2000 enhanced by modern hardware and a full color range, with a touch of Space Giraffe tactics (you can kill enemies at the rim somehow at least).
theodp writes "Don't tell Business Insider's Nicholas Carlson about Santa and the Easter Bunny just yet. He's still reeling after learning that Larry Page and Sergy Brin are actually pretty lousy coders. That's according to I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59, a book about the company's startup days by Douglas Edwards. 'I didn't trust Larry and Sergey as coders,' Google engineering boss Craig Silverstein recalls in the book. 'I had to deal with their legacy code from the Stanford days and it had a lot of problems. They're research coders: more interested in writing code that works than code that's maintainable.' But don't cry for Larry and Sergey, Argentina — even if the pair won't be taking home any Top Coder prizes, they can at least take solace in their combined $50+ billion fortune. And, according to Woz, they certainly could have kicked Steve Jobs' butt in a coding contest!"
starglider29a writes "Yesterday, a website I maintain that has a Twitter presence encountered an 'unsafe' warning when clicking on the tweets. 'This link has been flagged as potentially harmful.' After scanning the site and its database, then checking with Google and third-party site scanners, I found no evidence of harm. At noon, The Atlantic posted an article which describes the same issue with the Philadelphia City Paper. 'Perhaps most frustrating of all is that Twitter has not been particularly responsive to the paper's plight.' If the warnings are incorrect, how does Twitter justify this libel?"
New submitter GODISNOWHERE writes "Nortel went bankrupt in 2009. In 2011, it held an auction for its massive patent portfolio. The winners of the auction were Apple, Microsoft, Sony, RIM, and others, who bought the patents for $4.5 billion as a consortium named Rockstar Bidco. At the time, many people speculated those patents would be used against Google, who bid separately but lost. It turns out they were right. Rockstar has filed eight lawsuits in federal court targeting Google and Android device manufacturers. 'The complaint (PDF) against Google involves six patents, all from the same patent "family." They're all titled "associative search engine," and list Richard Skillen and Prescott Livermore as inventors. The patents describe "an advertisement machine which provides advertisements to a user searching for desired information within a data network. The oldest patent in the case is US Patent No. 6,098,065, with a filing date of 1997, one year before Google was founded. The newest patent in the suit was filed in 2007 and granted in 2011. The complaint tries to use the fact that Google bid for the patents as an extra point against the search giant.'"
rtoz writes "Chemical weapons watchdog OPCW has declared that Syria has rendered inoperable chemical weapons production facilities and mixing/filling plants. This operation has been completed just one day before the deadline (1 November 2013) set by the OPCW Executive Council. The Joint OPCW-UN Mission has inspected 21 of the 23 sites declared by Syria, and 39 of the 41 facilities located at those sites. The two remaining sites were not visited due to safety and security concerns. But Syria declared those sites as abandoned and that the chemical weapons program items they contained were moved to other declared sites, which were inspected."
angry tapir writes "A majority of Oracle shareholders have once again voted against the company's executive pay practices, including for CEO Larry Ellison. The vote at Oracle's annual shareholder meeting is nonbinding, and follows complaints from some large shareholders and their representatives who say Ellison is overpaid compared to his peers. Ellison is paid US$1 in salary, receiving the rest of his pay in stock options. In Oracle's past fiscal year, that totaled $76.9 million. Shareholders voted against Oracle's executive pay practices at last year's meeting as well."
mrspoonsi writes "Engadget reports: Smartphone market share for the third quarter...as you'd imagine, the world is still Android's oyster. Strategy Analytics estimates that the OS has crossed the symbolic 80 percent mark, reaching 81.3 percent of smartphone shipments by the end of September. Not that Google was the only company doing well — Nokia's strong US sales helped Windows Phone grow to 4.1 percent of the market, or nearly double what it had a year ago."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Dan Goodwin writes at Ars Technica about a rootkit that seems straight out of a science-fiction thriller. According to security consultant Dragos Ruiu one day his MacBook Air, on which he had just installed a fresh copy of OS X, spontaneously updated the firmware that helps it boot. Stranger still, when Ruiu then tried to boot the machine off a CD ROM, it refused and he also found that the machine could delete data and undo configuration changes with no prompting. Next a computer running the Open BSD operating system also began to modify its settings and delete its data without explanation or prompting and further investigation showed that multiple variants of Windows and Linux were also affected. But the story gets stranger still. Ruiu began observing encrypted data packets being sent to and from an infected laptop that had no obvious network connection with—but was in close proximity to—another badBIOS-infected computer. The packets were transmitted even when the laptop had its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth cards removed. Ruiu also disconnected the machine's power cord so it ran only on battery to rule out the possibility it was receiving signals over the electrical connection. Even then, forensic tools showed the packets continued to flow over the airgapped machine. Then, when Ruiu removed internal speaker and microphone connected to the airgapped machine, the packets suddenly stopped. With the speakers and mic intact, Ruiu said, the isolated computer seemed to be using the high-frequency connection to maintain the integrity of the badBIOS infection as he worked to dismantle software components the malware relied on. It's too early to say with confidence that what Ruiu has been observing is a USB-transmitted rootkit that can burrow into a computer's lowest levels and use it as a jumping off point to infect a variety of operating systems with malware that can't be detected. It's even harder to know for sure that infected systems are using high-frequency sounds to communicate with isolated machines. But after almost two weeks of online discussion, no one has been able to rule out these troubling scenarios, either. 'It looks like the state of the art in intrusion stuff is a lot more advanced than we assumed it was,' says Ruiu. 'The take-away from this is a lot of our forensic procedures are weak when faced with challenges like this. A lot of companies have to take a lot more care when they use forensic data if they're faced with sophisticated attackers.'"