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Government

Confessions Of an Ex-TSA Agent: Secrets Of the I.O. Room 393

Posted by timothy
from the ma'am-this-is-for-your-own-good dept.
Jason Edward Harrington has seen some of the same frustrations, misgivings, and objections that have crossed the mind of probably every commercial airline traveler who's flown over the last decade in the U.S. One difference: Harrington got to see them from the perspective of a TSA agent. His description of the realities of the job (including learning the rote responses that agents are instructed to reassure the public with) is wince-worthy and compelling. A sample makes it clear why the TSA has such famously low morale, even among Federal agencies: "I hated it from the beginning. It was a job that had me patting down the crotches of children, the elderly and even infants as part of the post-9/11 airport security show. I confiscated jars of homemade apple butter on the pretense that they could pose threats to national security. I was even required to confiscate nail clippers from airline pilots—the implied logic being that pilots could use the nail clippers to hijack the very planes they were flying." It only gets worse from there.
Transportation

When Cars Go Driverless, What Happens To the Honking? 267

Posted by timothy
from the beeping-insane dept.
blastboy writes "The potential upside to getting rid of drivers: 'Today car horns are still a leading source of noise pollution in urban centers. India's honking problem is so severe that the response to it—from both activists and government officials—mirrors the response to an actual epidemic. Officials in Peru, meanwhile, began treating honking like a serious crime in 2009, threatening to confiscate the cars of people who honk when they shouldn't.'"
Microsoft

Reports Say Satya Nadella Is Microsoft's Next CEO 177

Posted by timothy
from the of-insiders-expressing-an-opinion dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Microsoft's next CEO will be Satya Nadella, if current reports prove accurate. According to Re/code, which drew its information from "numerous sources close to Microsoft," Nadella could officially assume the role in early February. Meanwhile, anonymous sources speaking to Bloomberg suggested that co-founder Bill Gates could be forced to give up his longtime chairman role. Nadella (again, if confirmed) seems a logical choice for Microsoft. He's been with the company for more than twenty years, eventually becoming executive vice president of its Cloud and Enterprise division. The enterprise remains a key—perhaps the key — customer segment for Microsoft, especially as its mobile and consumer efforts (excluding the Xbox) have floundered in recent years; in order to retain those business clients, Nadella and his team embarked on the creation of 'Cloud OS,' the platform that powers Microsoft's large-scale cloud services such as SkyDrive, Azure, and Office 365. Under his guidance, Microsoft's revenue from cloud services has grown by several billion over the past few years, so he's shown that he can expand a business. In addition, his technical background could afford him a measure of respect from Microsoft's legions of engineers and developers. But if he's ultimately tapped for the CEO seat, Nadella faces one of the toughest jobs in the technology industry: not only does he need to craft a plan that will allow Microsoft to grow and prosper in an integrated, holistic manner—he'll need to do it while guiding the company through the massive internal reorganization initiated by his predecessor, Steve Ballmer."
Moon

Israeli Group To Attempt Moon Landing 150

Posted by Soulskill
from the fly-me-to-the-moon dept.
cold fjord writes: "NDTV reports, 'Israel plans to do what only the world's biggest countries have so far managed to do: land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon ... only Russia, the U.S. and China have soft landed on the moon, and India hard landed its tri-colour using the moon impact probe in 2008 ... The washing machine-sized spacecraft that weighs 121 kilograms is being readied by a not-for-profit venture called SpaceIL. ... The Israeli lunar probe had its genesis after the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize was announced as a competition which challenged non-state-owned space agencies to land on the moon, send back photos, and move 500 meters on the surface of the moon. About two dozen global teams are racing to win the prize- SpaceIL reckons it's in pole position. ... ex-NASA engineer Yonatan Winetraub and two of his friends conceived of the spacecraft in 2010 ... then used a Facebook page to promote the dream. Today, the dream has matured into a $36 million mission with 20 full time employees and 250 volunteers. ... Around 40,000 school students have been associated with this project.' Further details are available here."
Portables

Proof-of-Concept Malware Captures Every Tap On Smartphones Or Tablets 39

Posted by Soulskill
from the keyloggers-for-the-mobile-consumer dept.
DavidGilbert99 writes: "Keylogging has been a big component of most malware in recent years, but with the advent of touch as the interface of choice on smartphones, tablets and — increasingly — laptops, it has been getting harder for cyber-criminals to know what you are doing. A researcher has developed a proof-of-concept piece of malware which is able to capture everything you are doing on your touch devices, from where you touch the screen to what is being displayed."
Power

World's First Magma-Based Geothermal Energy System 161

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-pour-it-into-your-gas-tank dept.
Lucas123 writes: "The Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) announced it broke through to the Mantle and created a superheated steam pipe capable of producing power at the nearby Krafla Power Plant in Northern Iceland. The system was operational for several months until a malfunctioning valve forced its closure. The IDDP, however, plans to either reopen its first magma-based geothermal bore hole (PDF) — IDDP-1 — or drill another one at Reykjanes. While the IDDP-1 is not the first bore hole to reach the planet's magma, it is the first time an operation has been able to harness the mantle's heat to produce a steam pipe that could power a plant."
Medicine

Animal Drug Investigation Reveals Pet Medication Often Doesn't Work 279

Posted by Soulskill
from the works-at-making-money-for-the-medication-providers dept.
KentuckyFC writes: "Americans spent an estimated $14.2 billion on veterinary care for their pets in 2013 — and that doesn't even include proprietary health diets and food supplements. Put another way, pet owners pay about $850 annually in veterinary expenses per dog, and about $575 per cat. Factor in the emotional energy we invest in keeping our companion animals healthy, and you'd hope for high confidence in the end results. But when one journalist investigated the science behind the meds being used to treat his aging dog's osteoarthritis, he was in for a nasty surprise. Glucosamine and chondroitin food supplements? Next to useless. Tramadol to kill pain? It's probably just getting dogs high. The one treatment that's been proven to help, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug called carprofen, is often left on the shelf because of fears — likely overblown — that it might damage dogs' kidneys. In part, you can blame this sorry state of affairs on a lack of financial incentives for drug companies to run clinical trials on animals. But often, vets aren't paying attention to the studies that have been done. If we want our dogs and cats to receive the best possible medical care, we need to ask our vets some tougher questions about why they think the drugs will work."
Toys

Meet the MOSS Modular Robots (Video) 22

Posted by Roblimo
from the one-day-they-will-be-sentient-but-not-quite-yet dept.
The MOSS modular robot system is sort of like LEGO Mindstorms, in that you assemble small blocks to make custom robots and other items. But it has some interesting tricks of its own, as product demonstrator John Moyes shows Timothy Lord at CES 2014. The MOSS kits include lots of little metal balls, so they carry a warning that says MOSS kits are suitable for ages 8 and up, while the company's older Cubelets product, which doesn't have the little balls, is supposed to be okay for ages 4 and up. There is no upper age limit specified for either product, so you're probably safe if you want to buy (and can *afford* to buy) any of these interesting toys.
Space

GPM Satellite To Usher In a New Era of Weather Observation 31

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-climate-data-to-argue-about dept.
Zothecula writes: "A new satellite designed to take detailed, near real-time measurements of rain and snowfall on a global scale whilst mapping the interior of storm systems is set to launch. The Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory has been in development since 2005 and is a collaboration project between NASA and the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA). The satellite is due to be launched on the Japanese manufactured H-IIA delivery vehicle from the Tanegashima Space Centre, Tanegashima Island, Japan, on February 27."
Programming

The Moderately Enthusiastic Programmer 533

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'll-get-to-that-after-dinner dept.
An anonymous reader writes: "Developer Avdi Grimm posts about the trend throughout the software industry of companies demanding that job applicants be 'passionate' about programming when hiring into ordinary development jobs. Grimm says, 'I love code. I dream of code. I enjoy code. I find writing high quality code deeply satisfying. I feel the same way about helping others write code they can feel proud of. But do I feel 'strong and barely controllable emotion' about code? Honestly? No. ... I think some of the people writing these job ads are well-meaning. Maybe most of them. I think when they write "passionate" they mean "motivated." No slackers. No one who is a drag on the team. But sometimes I worry that it's code for we want to exploit your lack of boundaries. Maybe it's fanciful on my part, but there's a faintly Orwellian whiff to the language of these job ads: excuse me comrade, I couldn't help but notice that man over there is not chanting the team slogan with sincere revolutionary conviction.' Is it realistic for employers to expect us to be passionate about software we're hired to build? If they're looking for the head of a major product, then maybe it's warranted — but for everybody, even the grunts?"
Technology

Engineers Invent Acoustic Equivalent of One-Way Glass 114

Posted by Soulskill
from the sound-waves-aren't-welcome-here dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Up until now, acoustic waves traveling between two points in space always exhibited a basic symmetry summed up with the phrase, 'if you can hear, you can also be heard.' Not anymore; Tia Ghose reports at Live Science that a team at UT Austin has created a 'nonreciprocal acoustic circulator,' the first step that could lead to the sound equivalent of a one-way mirror. All waves — whether visible light, sound, radio or otherwise — have a physical property known as time reversal symmetry — a wave sent one way can always be sent back. For radio waves, researchers figured out how to break this rule using magnetic materials that set electrons spinning in one direction. The resulting radio waves detect the difference in the material in one direction versus the other, preventing reverse transmission. To accomplish the feat with sound waves, the team created a cavity loaded with tiny CPU fans that spin the air with a specific velocity. The air is spinning in one direction, so the flow of air 'feels' different to the wave in one direction versus the other, preventing backward transmission. As a result, sound waves can go in, but they can't go the other way. The result is one-directional sound. With such a device, people can hear someone talking, but they themselves cannot be heard. The findings will likely lead to many useful applications, says Sebastien Guenneau. 'I would be surprised if sound industries do not pick up this idea. This could have great applications in sound insulation of motorways, music studios, submarines and airplanes.'"
Opera

Former Dev Gives Gloomy Outlook On Linux Support For the Opera Browser 181

Posted by Soulskill
from the blink-and-you'll-miss-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes: "It doesn't take a Columbo to figure out that the 'previous employer, a small browser vendor that decided to abandon its own rendering engine and browser stack' is referring to Opera in this comment answering the question 'Do you actually use the product you are working on?' It appears to originate from Andreas Tolfsen, a former Opera developer who is now part of the Mozilla project. From releasing a unified architecture browser including Linux support since 2001, Opera decided to put Linux development on indefinite hold, communicated through blog comments, and focus on Windows and Mac for their browser rewrite centered around the Blink engine that had its first beta release last spring. The promise to bring back the Linux version in due time was met with growing skepticism as the months went by, and clear answers have been avoided in the developer blog. The uncertainty has spawned user projects such as Otter browser in an attempt to recreate the Opera UI in a free application. Tolfsen's statement seem to be in line with what users have suspected all along: Opera for Linux is not something for the near future."
Software

The Schizophrenic State of Software In 2014 209

Posted by Soulskill
from the forgot-to-take-its-meds dept.
jfruh writes: "The current state of the world of software is going in two radically different directions. On the one hand, server-side software is maturing, with wide consensus on tools and techniques that can be used across platforms. On the other hand, client-side programming is an increasingly fragmented mess, with the need to build apps for the Web and for multiple PC and mobile platforms, all natively. But of course, the server and client sides have to work together to deliver what people actually want."
Canada

Canadian Spy Agency Snooped Travelers With Airport Wi-Fi 159

Posted by Soulskill
from the mapping-everyone's-hockey-allegiances dept.
Walking The Walk writes: "It seems the NSA isn't the only agency doing illegal domestic spying. According to a Snowden document obtained by the CBC, Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) has apparently been tracking domestic travelers, starting from when they first use free Wi-Fi at an airport, and continuing for days after they left the terminal. From the article: 'The document indicates the passenger tracking operation was a trial run of a powerful new software program CSEC was developing with help from its U.S. counterpart, the National Security Agency. In the document, CSEC called the new technologies "game-changing," and said they could be used for tracking "any target that makes occasional forays into other cities/regions."' The CBC notes early in the article that the spy agency 'is supposed to be collecting primarily foreign intelligence by intercepting overseas phone and internet traffic, and is prohibited by law from targeting Canadians or anyone in Canada without a judicial warrant.' Predictably, CSEC's chief is quoted saying that they aren't allowed to spy on Canadians, so therefore they don't. As observed by experts consulted for the story, that claim is equivalent to saying that they collect the data but we're to trust that they don't look at it."
Education

California Regulator Seeks To Shut Down 'Learn To Code' Bootcamps 374

Posted by Soulskill
from the here-for-the-danegeld dept.
cultiv8 writes: "The Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE), a unit in the California Department of Consumer Affairs charged with licensing and regulating postsecondary education in California, is arguing that 'learn to code' bootcamps fall under its jurisdiction and are subject to regulation. In mid-January, BPPE sent cease and desist letters to Hackbright Academy, Hack Reactor, App Academy, Zipfian Academy, and others. Unless they comply, these organizations face imminent closure and a hefty $50,000 fine. A BPPE spokesperson said these organizations have two weeks to start coming into compliance."
The Courts

Judge Rules BitTorrent Cases Must Be Tried Separately 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the enjoy-your-filing-fees dept.
PhrostyMcByte writes: "TorrentFreak reports that Federal Judge Stephanie Rose recently put a thorn in the plans of copyright holders hoping to file cheap mass-lawsuits against alleged pirates. Rejecting all but one Doe for such a lawsuit, Rose's order mentions that the plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate the five Does in the case were a part of the same 'transaction' needed to be tried together, with an uncommon understanding of BitTorrent showing that '... even in all five cases where Doe defendants allegedly have "hit dates" on the same day and close in time, there is no showing that the earlier defendants were still connected to the Internet and actively distributing data through the BitTorrent client at the same time as the later defendants.'"
Yahoo!

Yahoo Mail Resets Account Passwords After Attack 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the fallout-from-an-earlier-breach dept.
MAXOMENOS writes: "Last night Yahoo! announced via their Tumblr page that they had detected attacks against some Yahoo Mail accounts. They reset the passwords to all affected accounts, and advised users of good password practices. Quoting: 'Based on our current findings, the list of usernames and passwords that were used to execute the attack was likely collected from a third-party database compromise. We have no evidence that they were obtained directly from Yahoo's systems. Our ongoing investigation shows that malicious computer software used the list of usernames and passwords to access Yahoo Mail accounts. The information sought in the attack seems to be names and email addresses from the affected accounts' most recent sent emails.'"
Google

Kansas To Nix Expansion of Google Fiber and Municipal Broadband 430

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-in-my-state dept.
symbolset writes: "Consumerist, among others, is reporting on a Kansas bill to restrict municipal support of broadband expansion. Purportedly to ensure a 'level playing field' to encourage commercial expansion in this area, these bills are usually referred to as oligopoly protection acts. Everywhere they have been implemented expansion of new broadband technology stops. In this specific case no municipal entity in Kansas will be able to enter the same sort of agreements that enabled Google Fiber. From the bill:
Except with regard to unserved areas, a municipality may not, directly or indirectly:
(1) Offer to provide to one or more subscribers, video, telecommunications or broadband service; or
(2) purchase, lease, construct, maintain or operate any facility for the purpose of enabling a private business or entity to offer, provide, carry, or deliver video, telecommunications or broadband service to one or more subscribers."
Nintendo

Nintendo Could Base Comeback On Improving Peoples' Health 129

Posted by samzenpus
from the time-to-play dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: "It's no secret that Nintendo faces significant challenges: revenues are down, rival platforms such as Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4 are attracting a lot of buzz, and iOS and Android have made significant inroads into mobile gaming. Rather than double down on its core business, however, Nintendo reportedly sees its salvation in new, nongaming segments such as... monitoring your health? 'We have now redefined entertainment to mean making it fun for people to improve the quality of their lives,' Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata told a company strategy meeting, according to The Wall Street Journal. But he refused to part with more detail about Nintendo's plans, except to claim that whatever's in the works isn't a wearable device along the lines of Nike's FuelBand or the FitBit, and it isn't an iteration of the Wii Balance Board, an accessory that measures the user's weight and center of balance while playing games."
United Kingdom

Peanut Allergy Treatment Trial In UK "A Success" 192

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-doesn't-kill-me dept.
cold fjord writes: "The BBC reports, 'Peanuts are the most common cause of fatal allergic reactions to food. There is no treatment so the only option for patients is to avoid them completely, leading to a lifetime of checking every food label before a meal. The trial ... tried to train the children's immune system to tolerate peanut. Every day they were given a peanut protein powder — starting off on a dose equivalent to a 70th of a peanut. Once a fortnight the dose was increased while the children were in hospital and then they continued taking the higher dose at home. The majority of patients learned to tolerate the peanut. ... Dr Andrew Clark, told the BBC: "It really transformed their lives dramatically, this really comes across during the trial. ... Dr Pamela Ewan added ... further studies would be needed and that people should not try this on their own as this "should only be done by medical professionals in specialist settings."' The story also notes, 'The findings, published in the Lancet, suggest 84% of allergic children could eat the equivalent of five peanuts a day after six months.'"
Crime

Feds Grab 163 Web Sites, Snatch $21.6 Million In NFL Counterfeit Gear 133

Posted by samzenpus
from the without-expressed-written-consent dept.
coondoggie writes: "As they have for the past few years the US Customs department teamed with the National Football League to cut into the lucrative counterfeit sports gear market. In what the feds called 'Operation Team Player,' special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and officers from Customs and Border Protection worked with the National Football League (NFL) and other sports leagues along with law enforcement agencies to identify illegal shipments imported into the U.S., as well as stores and vendors selling counterfeit trademarked items."
Science

It's Not Memory Loss - Older Minds May Just Be Fuller of Information 206

Posted by samzenpus
from the filled-to-the-briim dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Benedict Carey writes in the NYT that the idea that the brain slows with age is one of the strongest in all of psychology. But a new paper suggests that older adults' performance on cognitive tests reflects the predictable consequences of learning on information-processing, and not cognitive decline. A team of linguistic researchers from the University of Tübingen in Germany used advanced learning models to search enormous databases of words and phrases. Since educated older people generally know more words than younger people, simply by virtue of having been around longer, the experiment simulates what an older brain has to do to retrieve a word. When the researchers incorporated that difference into the models, the aging 'deficits' largely disappeared. That is to say, the larger the library you have in your head, the longer it usually takes to find a particular word (or pair). 'What shocked me, to be honest, is that for the first half of the time we were doing this project, I totally bought into the idea of age-related cognitive decline in healthy adults,' says lead author Michael Ramscar but the simulations 'fit so well to human data that it slowly forced me to entertain this idea that I didn't need to invoke decline at all.' The new report will very likely add to a growing skepticism about how steep age-related decline really is. Scientists who study thinking and memory often make a broad distinction between 'fluid' and 'crystallized' intelligence. The former includes short-term memory, like holding a phone number in mind, analytical reasoning, and the ability to tune out distractions, like ambient conversation. The latter is accumulated knowledge, vocabulary and expertise. 'In essence, what Ramscar's group is arguing is that an increase in crystallized intelligence can account for a decrease in fluid intelligence,' says Zach Hambrick, In the meantime the new digital-era challenge to 'cognitive decline' can serve as a ready-made explanation for blank moments, whether senior or otherwise (PDF). 'It's not that you're slow,' says Carey. 'It's that you know so much.'"

Stellar rays prove fibbing never pays. Embezzlement is another matter.

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