George Maschke writes "Last year, the McClatchy newspaper group reported on a federal criminal investigation into individuals offering instruction on how to pass polygraph tests. The ongoing investigation, dubbed 'Operation Lie Busters,' has serious free speech implications, and one of the two men known to have been targeted is presently serving an 8-month prison term. The other, Doug Williams, himself a former police polygrapher, has this week for the first time gone public with the story of federal agents' February 2013 raid on his office and home (video). Williams, who has not been charged with a crime but remains in legal jeopardy, is selling his story in an e-book. Public interest website AntiPolygraph.org (which I co-founded) has published a synopsis."
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cold fjord sends this news from Popular Mechanics: "[M]aking custom racecar parts out of carbon fiber is daunting. The only real method available is CNC machining, an expensive and difficult process that requires laying pieces by hand. To improve the process, [Gregory Mark] looked to 3D printing. But nothing on the market could print the material, and no available materials could print pieces strong enough for his purposes. So Mark devised his own solution: the MarkForged Mark One, the world's first carbon fiber 3D printer. Mark debuted his Boston area-based startup MarkForged at SolidWorks World 2014 in San Diego with a working prototype. The Mark One can print in carbon fiber, fiberglass, nylon and PLA (a thermoplastic). ... The main advantage of the Mark One: It can print parts 20 times stiffer and five times stronger than ABS, according to the company. It even has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than CNC-machined aluminum. ... Mark says that he imagines this machine is for anybody who wants to print in a material as strong as aluminum. Beyond racecars, it could be useful to industries like prosthetics."
coondoggie writes "The U.S. Customs and Border Protection service said today it has grounded its nine remaining unmanned aircraft after one of them was forced to ditch in the Pacific Ocean. The unmanned aircraft had an unknown mechanical failure while on patrol off the southern California coast. The crew determined that it wouldn't make it back to Sierra Vista, Arizona, 'and put the aircraft down in the water.' The drone cost about $12 million. 'The Predator B, also known as the MQ-9 Reaper in the U.S. Air Force, can fly as many as 27 hours and reach an altitude of 50,000 feet (15,240 meters), according to the website of Poway, California-based General Atomics. It has a wingspan of 66 feet (20 meters) and can carry more than 3,000 pounds (1,361 kilograms) of cameras, weapons or other payload, according to the company.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Jon Healey writes in the LA Times that a new lawsuit against the Gawker Media site Defamer for linking to an infringing copy of an unreleased screenplay should send chills down the spines of every reporter who writes about copyright issues. Tarantino had kept the script for his ensemble western The Hateful Eight unpublished, but someone obtained a copy and posted it online. In its piece, Defamer quoted only a brief excerpt and a short summary published earlier that day by the Wrap. But it also included two links to the leaked screenplay on a file-sharing site called AnonFiles. In a complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles, Tarantino's lawyers say they repeatedly asked Gawker Media to remove the links, to no avail. John Cook, Gawker's editor, responded with a post that rebuts the complaint's most damaging allegations, saying Defamer had no involvement whatsoever in the leak or the script's posting online. Cook also quotes Tarantino's comments last week to Deadline Hollywood, in which the filmmaker said he likes having his work online for people to read and review. 'Reporters often assume that providing links to items of public interest is perfectly aboveboard, even if the items themselves aren't. If this case goes to trial, it could help clarify what links simply can't be published legally, regardless of the news value,' writes Healey. 'I'm not arguing that what Gawker did was legal — that's a judge's decision. I'm just saying that there's a journalistic reason for Gawker to do what it did, and those of us who write about copyrights struggle often with the question of how to report what seems newsworthy without crossing a line that's drawn case by case.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Google remains tight-lipped about its roadmap for Google Glass, and its population of early-adopter 'Explorers' remains small. Nonetheless, a growing collection of engineers, designers, and artists are creating their own accessories and add-ons for Glass — some of them useful, others totally whimsical. For example, there's Brooklyn designer Todd Blatt, who's relying on a 3D printer to churn out Glass accessories such as tiny flower-pots and pencil holders (not so useful) as well as a plastic camera cover (useful, at least for anyone in the vicinity who likes their privacy). Small firms such as GPOP and Remotte are likewise exploring how to best skin, dangle, screw, and attach hardware to Glass that makes it operate in whole new ways. (The avenues for exploration have opened up with the second generation of Google Glass, which includes a small screw in the right arm that can double as a mounting point for new tech.) Google seems to have no choice but to let this growing ecosystem thrive, even if some of the modifications (such as camera covers) don't necessarily suit its interests. But will the company actually say something about it?"
Space MMO EVE Online has been providing stories of corporate espionage and massive space battles for years. A battle began yesterday that's the biggest one in the game's 10-year history. The main battle itself involved over 2,200 players in a single star system (screenshot, animated picture). The groups on each side of the fight tried to restrict the numbers somewhat in order to maintain server stability, so the battle ended up sprawling across multiple other systems as well. Now, EVE allows players to buy a month of subscription time as an in-game item, which players can then use or trade. This allows a direct conversion from in-game currency to real money, and provides a benchmark for estimating the real-world value of in-game losses. Over 70 of the game's biggest and most expensive ships, the Titans, were destroyed. Individual Titans can be worth upwards of 200 billion ISK, which is worth around $5,000. Losses for the Titans alone for this massive battle are estimated at $200,000 - $300,000. Hundreds upon hundreds of other ships were destroyed as well. How did the battle start? Somebody didn't pay rent and lost control of their system.
alphadogg writes "The early Wi-Fi standards that opened the world's eyes to wire-free networking are now holding back the newer, faster protocols that followed in their wake, Cisco Systems said. The IEEE 802.11 standard, now available in numerous versions with speeds up to 6.9Gbps and growing, still requires devices and access points to be compatible with technologies that date to the late 1990s. But those older standards — the once-popular 802.11b and an even slower spec from 1997 — aren't nearly as efficient as most Wi-Fi being sold today. As a result, Cisco thinks the 802.11 Working Group and the Wi-Fi Alliance should find a way to let some wireless gear leave those versions behind. Two Cisco engineers proposed that idea last week in a presentation at the working group's meeting in Los Angeles. The plan is aimed at making the best use of the 2.4GHz band, the smaller of two unlicensed frequency blocks where Wi-Fi operates."
As the NSA metadata collection scandal has developed, a number of technology and communications companies have fought to increase the transparency of the data collection process by publishing reports on how much data government agencies are asking them for. These transparency reports have been limited, however, because most government requests are entwined with a gag order. In a speech two weeks back, President Obama said this would change, and now the Dept. of Justice has announced new, slightly relaxed rules about what information companies can share. According to an email from the U.S. Deputy Attorney General (PDF) to the General Counsel of Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Yahoo, the companies can publish: how many Criminal Process requests they received, how many National Security Letters they received, how many accounts were affected by NSLs, how many Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act orders were received (both for communications content and 'non-content'), and how many customers were targeted by FISA requests. The companies still aren't allowed to give specific numbers, but they can report them in bands of 1,000 — for example, 0-999, 1,000-1,999, etc. Information requests for old services cannot be disclosed for at least six months. The first information requests for a new service cannot be disclosed for two years. The companies also have the option of lumping all the NSL and FISA requests together — if they do that, they can report in bands of 250 instead of 1,000.
ckwu writes "Scientists predict that the scarcity of phosphorus will increase over the next few decades as the growing demand for agricultural fertilizer depletes geologic reserves of the element. Meanwhile, phosphates released from wastewater into natural waterways can cause harmful algal blooms and low-oxygen conditions that can threaten to kill fish. Now a team of researchers has designed a system that could help solve both of these problems. It captures phosphorus from sewage waste and delivers clean water using a combined osmosis-distillation process. The system improves upon current methods by reducing the amounts of chemicals needed to precipitate a phosphorus mineral from the wastewater, thus bringing down the cost of the recovery process."
The Public Patent Foundations Fights for Patent Freedom (Video) The PUBPAT website's About page says, "The Public Patent Foundation at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law ('PUBPAT') is a not-for-profit legal services organization whose mission is to protect freedom in the patent system." Today's interviewee, Daniel B. Ravicher, is the group's Executive Director and founder. Eben Moglen is on the Board of Directors, and PUBPAT's goals have been aligned with the FSF since PUBPAT started. The most publicized PUBPAT success so far was, in conjunction with the ACLU, getting patents on naturally-occurring genes overturned. Go, PUBPAT!
cartechboy writes "It's winter, and apparently meteorologists have just discovered the term Polar Vortex, as that seems to be the only thing they can talk about these days. But seriously, it's cold, and apparently the darling child of the automotive industry, the new Tesla Model S electric car, is having issues charging in the cold weather. It's being reported that the charging cables that come with the car are unable to provide a charge when the temperature dips below zero. As you can imagine, this is an issue in a country like Norway where the Model S is one of the most popular cars. In fact, it seems this issue has already left one Model S owner stranded with a dead battery nearly 100 miles from the nearest charging station. Other owners are reporting issues charging. Tesla's European sales chief Peter Bardenfleth-Hansen apologized for he inconvenience owners are facing, and said it's 'trying hard to resolve' the issue. Apparently the issues are simply down to the differences in the Norwegian network as Norway uses a slightly different charging adapter than other countries in Europe."
DavidGilbert99 writes "Facebook updates its Android app quite a lot, but the latest version asks for some rather odd permissions. Rolling out in the UK this week, some users have noticed that it now wants permission to read your text messages. While most suspected Facebook wanted to access the data to try and serve you more targeted ads, Facebook says it is only so it can facilitate two-factor authentication...apparently."
MojoKid writes "Blizzard has released a powerful new suite of tools for Starcraft 2 modders and developers that fundamentally change the nature of what's possible in the popular RTS game. Now, players can use the same architectural and graphics design toolsets that Blizzard has used internally to build new units, tilesets, and models. Furthermore, these tools are now available even with the Starcraft 2: Starter Edition kit. Critically, artists will now be able to incorporate images and effects designed in programs like 3ds Max, Photoshop, or other high-end particle systems. The exciting thing about these releases is that Starcraft 2's modding list is as interesting as the primary game, if not moreso. Fans have faithfully created adaptations of famous Starcraft maps, implemented entirely new rulesets that blend the old, micro-friendly playstyle of Starcraft with the modern engine, and even gone total conversion with Warcraft ported over into the SC2 game."
First time accepted submitter geminidomino writes "A research project involving eight schools in Dunedin and Auckland report that loosening rules on the playground may lead to fewer incidents of bullying, vandalism, and injury. One principal opines, 'The kids were motivated, busy and engaged. In my experience, the time children get into trouble is when they are not busy, motivated and engaged. It's during that time they bully other kids, graffiti or wreck things around the school.' As one might expect, the article states that there was a lot of resistance to the project, and I'm kind of surprised they got as many administrators to sign on as they did. The story may be premature, as the article states that 'the results of the study will be collated this year,' but it may be interesting to see how the numbers shake out."
swinferno writes "The Dutch ISPs Ziggo and XS4all are no longer required to block access to the websites of The Pirate Bay. [Original in Dutch; here's Google's translation.] This has been decided by the court in The Hague. The blockade has proven to be ineffective. The Dutch anti-piracy organization BREIN will have to reimburse legal costs of €326,000. The internet provider XS4ALL has already started lifting the ban. The website of The Pirate Bay was ordered to be blocked by the two major ISPs in January 2012. Recent studies by Amsterdam University and CentERdata showed that this did not reduce the number of downloads from illegal sources. Many people circumvented the blockade."
McGruber writes "Like the Mac, the IBM PC Junior first went on sale in late January 1984. That is where the similarities end — the PC Junior became the biggest PC dud of all time. Back on May 17, 1984, the NY Times reported that the PC Junior 'is too expensive for casual home users, but, at the same time, is not nearly powerful enough for serious computer users who can afford a more capable machine.' The article also quoted Peter Norton, then still a human programmer who had not yet morphed into a Brand, who said that the PC Junior 'may well be targeted at a gray area in the market that just does not exist.'' IBM cancelled the machine in March 1985, after only selling 270,000 of them. While it was a commercial flop, the machine is still liked by some. Michael Brutman's PCJr page attempts to preserve the history and technical information of the IBM PCjr and YouTube has a video of a PC Junior running a demo."
Trailrunner7 writes "A group of six Congressmen have asked President Barack Obama to remove James Clapper as director of national intelligence as a result of his misstatements to Congress about the NSA's dragnet data-collection programs. The group, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), said that Clapper's role as DNI 'is incompatible with the goal of restoring trust in our security programs.' Clapper is the former head of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and has been DNI since 2010. In their letter to Obama, the group of Congressmen calling for his ouster said that he lied to Congress and should no longer be in office. 'The continued role of James Clapper as Director of National Intelligence is incompatible with the goal of restoring trust in our security programs and ensuring the highest level of transparency. Director Clapper continues to hold his position despite lying to Congress, under oath, about the existence of bulk data collection programs in March 2013. Asking Director Clapper, and other federal intelligence officials who misrepresented programs to Congress and the courts, to report to you on needed reforms and the future role of government surveillance is not a credible solution,' the letter from Issa, Ted Poe, Paul Broun, Doug Collins, Walter Jones and Alan Grayson says." "Misstatement," of course, being the favorite euphemism for "lie."
1sockchuck writes "Microsoft has joined the Open Compute Project and will be contributing specs and designs for the cloud servers that power Bing, Windows Azure and Office 365. "We came to the conclusion that sharing these hardware innovations will help us accelerate the growth of cloud computing," said Kushagra Vaid, Microsoft's General Manager of Cloud Server Engineering. The company is also releasing its Chassis Manager software that manages its servers, fans and power, which which is now available on GitHub. "We would like to help build an open source software community within OCP as well," said Microsoft's Bill Laing. Microsoft's cloud server hardware is built around a 12U chassis that can house up to 24 server and storage blades, offering a different approach from the current Open Compute server and storage designs."
theodp writes "Weighing in for the WSJ on Spike Jonze's Oscar-nominated, futuristic love story Her (parodies), Stephen Wolfram — whose Wolfram Alpha drives the AI-like component of Siri — thinks that an operating system like Samantha as depicted in the film isn't that far off. In Her, OS Samantha and BeautifulHandwrittenLetters.com employee Theodore Twombly have a relationship that appears to exhibit all the elements of a typical romance, despite the OS's lack of a physical body. They talk late into the night, relax on the beach, and even double date with friends. Both Wolfram and Google director of research Peter Norvig (who hadn't yet seen the film) believe this type of emotional attachment isn't a big hurdle to clear. 'People are only too keen, I think, to anthropomorphize things around them,' explained Wolfram. 'Whether they're stuffed animals, Tamagotchi, things in videogames, whatever else.' By the way, why no supporting actor nomination for Jonze's portrayal of foul-mouthed animated video game character Alien Child?"
Nerval's Lobster writes "On the same day the world discovered Western intelligence agencies were siphoning user information from Angry Birds and other popular smartphone apps, a leading antivirus developer revealed hackers are doing the same thing with one of the most popular open-source applications on the Internet. Maliciously modified versions of the popular FTP application FileZilla look and act just like the real thing, but include extra code that steals the login data typed in by users and sends it to an unauthorized server using the same FTP operation launched by the user without going through a firewall that might spot what it's doing, according to an alert posted this afternoon by antivirus developer Avast Software. The malicious version is fully functional, uses the same graphical interface and component file names as the original, and masks itself further by avoiding any suspicious entries in the system registry, overt attempts to communicate with outside servers or other changes, according to the Jan. 27 alert from Avast. The most obvious differences are that the poisoned version of filezilla.exe is 6.8MB smaller than the real thing and there are two DLL libraries included in the fake that are not present in the original. They are labeled ibgcc_s_dw2-1.dll and libstdc++-6.dll, according to Avast. The official version's Nullsoft installer is v2.45-Unicode; the evil twin uses v2.46.3-Unicode. Automatic updates also fail on the poisoned version 'which is most likely a protection to prevent overwriting of the malware binaries,' Avast added."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "L. J. Rick reports at BBC that Babolat has released a tennis racket with gyroscopes, accelerometers, and a piezoelectric sensor in the handle that can assess your every shot, sensing where the ball strikes the racquet and the quality of the contact. ... The sensor can gather data such as ball speed, accuracy, and angle, and will pair the info with devices over Bluetooth or USB. 'We integrated sensors inside the handle of the racquet, but it does not change the specification. And these sensors will analyze your tennis game, so your swing — your motion — and all this information will be collected by the racquet,' says Gael Moureaux. The International Tennis Federation, aware of the growing influx of hi-tech equipment into the sport, has set up a program called Player Analysis Technology (PAT) to regulate such 'virtual coaches' as the Babolat racquet. The governing body wants to be calling the shots on where and how innovation can be used, as in the past it has found itself having to ban some products like the so-called 'spaghetti-strung' racquets (with double stringing that are already on the market and in use. In conjunction with its PAT approval program, the ITF has also brought in a new rule — Rule 31 — to reflect the growing use of connected equipment, and its possible role in tournament play. Approved devices need to be secure and protected against unauthorized access, to prevent 'sporting espionage' whereby data could be stolen. Knowing when an opponent's right hand gets tired during the second set would be a huge advantage. Despite the innovations, one trainer does not think he is in danger of being upstaged by a smart racquet. 'I think that it's great for feedback but you still need someone to analyze it,' says tennis coach says Nik Snapes. 'At the end of the day it's the practice and the ability of someone that makes the player, not necessarily the equipment in their hand.'"
SmartAboutThings writes with news that Microsoft finally figured out what to rename SkyDrive, after losing rights to the trademark last year. From the article: "Microsoft has just announced that SkyDrive, their cloud storage service, will be renamed to OneDrive very soon. This follows the news of trademark infringement case filed by British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSkyB) last year over SkyDrive branding. Microsoft had initially hinted at fighting BSkyB's claims over SkyDrive branding, but then decided to step back and rebrand their cloud offering. The Redmond giant has registered onedrive.com and has also posted a promotional video on YouTube announcing the upcoming change."