fplatten writes "I would definitely call this unethical manipulation of the ratings system: the Worst Company in America, EA is routing all ratings made in game of 1 to 4 stars as an email that is sent to EA, but all 5 star ratings are routed to the Google Play store, where its rating is currently 4.3 out of 5."
CowboyRobot writes "Writing for ACM's Queue magazine, Paul Vixie argues, "The edge of the Internet is an unruly place." By design, the Internet core is stupid, and the edge is smart. This design decision has enabled the Internet's wildcat growth, since without complexity the core can grow at the speed of demand. On the downside, the decision to put all smartness at the edge means we're at the mercy of scale when it comes to the quality of the Internet's aggregate traffic load. Not all device and software builders have the skills and budgets that something the size of the Internet deserves. Furthermore, the resiliency of the Internet means that a device or program that gets something importantly wrong about Internet communication stands a pretty good chance of working "well enough" in spite of this. Witness the endless stream of patches and vulnerability announcements from the vendors of literally every smartphone, laptop, or desktop operating system and application. Bad guys have the time, skills, and motivation to study edge devices for weaknesses, and they are finding as many weaknesses as they need to inject malicious code into our precious devices where they can then copy our data, modify our installed software, spy on us, and steal our identities."
An anonymous reader writes "While RMS is opposed to LLVM over its BSD-like license rather than the GPL, LLVM/Clang and GCC developers have agreed to try to start cooperating in an "open compiler initiative" to jointly tackle common issues that plague both compilers and issues that can be better served by working together rather than creating fragmentation between the two popular open-source compilers."
tsu doh nimh writes "State authorities in Florida on Thursday announced criminal charges targeting three men who allegedly ran illegal businesses moving large amounts of cash in and out of the Bitcoin virtual currency. Experts say this is likely the first case in which Bitcoin vendors have been prosecuted under state anti-money laundering laws, and that prosecutions like these could shut down one of the last remaining avenues for purchasing Bitcoins anonymously."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Earlier this week, news reports leaked that the NYPD is evaluating whether to give its officers Google Glass for investigations and patrols. Google, which is sensitive to accusations that it works hand-in-hand with governments or law-enforcement agencies to monitor civilians, suggested that the NYPD must have purchased the units on its own initiative, rather than partner with the company. Some pundits and many civil libertarians hate the idea of law enforcement wearing Google Glass or other electronics that can send a constant stream of video and audio to a government (or even third-party) server. But at the same time, wearing Google Glass could also compel cops (and other law-enforcement personnel) to be on their best behavior at all times, particularly when it comes to use of force; the prospect of instantly available video detailing every aspect of an officer's shift could prove a powerful incentive to behave in a courteous and professional manner. But that's a very broad assumption; the reality—if cops really do start wearing Google Glass and other video-equipped electronics in large numbers—will likely end up determined by lots and lots of lawsuits and court-actions, many of them stemming from real-world incidents. Do you think cops should have Google Glass and other wearable electronics? And if so, what sort of regulations could be put in place to ensure that such technology isn't abused by the powers that be?"
theodp writes "Among the billionaires who helped Bill Gates pave the way for charter schools in WA was Walmart heiress Alice Walton. The Walton Family Foundation spent a whopping $158+ million in 2012 on what it calls 'systemic K-12 education reform,' which included $60,920,186 to 'shape public policy' and $652,209 on 'research and evaluation.' Confirming the LA Times' speculation about its influence, the Walton Foundation issued a press release Wednesday boasting it's the largest private funder of charter school 'startups,' adding that it has supported the opening of 1 in 4 charter schools in the U.S. since 1997 through its 1,500 'investments.' But as some charter school kids have learned the hard way, what the rich man giveth, he can also taketh away. For the time being, though, it looks like America's going to continue to depend on the tax-free kindness of wealthy strangers to educate its kids. For example, while it was nice to see the value of Shop Class recognized, the White House on Monday called on businesses, foundations and philanthropists to fund proposed 'Maker Spaces' in schools and libraries. Hey, when the U.S. Secretary of Education turns to corporate sponsors and auctions to fund his Mother's afterschool program for kids of low-income families in the President's hometown, don't look for things to change anytime soon."
StonyCreekBare writes "What options are available for distributed storage for families? My two brothers, my daughter and her husband, and his mother all have homes in various parts of the country. We use various cloud storage providers to keep our shared data. This has numerous limitations and we are starting to think maybe we can do it better ourselves. We all have decent Internet connections, are all somewhat tech savvy, and think that by leveraging the Internet we can maybe provide for our needs better and at lower cost by buying some hardware and doing it ourselves. How would you go about implementing such a family-oriented, distributed cloud platform? What hardware? What applications, beyond simply the preservation and sharing of family data, (grandkids' photos, home videos, and more) would be good to leverage such a platform? Security Cameras? HTPC? VoIP? Home Automation? Primary requirements are Cheap, Secure, Reliable."
mspohr writes with this excerpt from The Register: "Spanish hackers have been showing off their latest car-hacking creation; a circuit board using untraceable, off-the-shelf parts worth $20 that can give wireless access to the car's controls while it's on the road. The device, which will be shown off at next month's Black Hat Asia hacking conference, uses the Controller Area Network (CAN) ports car manufacturers build into their engines for computer-system checks. Once assembled, the smartphone-sized device can be plugged in under some vehicles, or inside the bonnet of other models, and give the hackers remote access to control systems. 'A car is a mini network,' security researcher Alberto Garcia Illera told Forbes. 'And right now there's no security implemented.'"
An anonymous reader writes "At the start of this week, documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden detailed DDOS attacks on chatrooms by a British online intelligence unit dubbed the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG). Now he has released a new trove showing that JTRIG is about much more than purely online annoyances. According to the documents, released to NBC News, JTRIG's role is to "deny, disrupt, degrade and deceive" by any means possible. These techniques include destroying an individual's computer with a custom virus dubbed "Ambassador's Reception", setting up social media honey traps to harvest embarrassing information, actively attacking companies online and off, and planting data on people's systems."
First time accepted submitter AdamnSelene writes "Forbes reports on a National Republican Congressional Committee sanctioned campaign worthy of the NSA: fake candidate websites that use identical or similar pictures and color schemes to solicit donations to defeat the Democratic candidate. The Tampa Bay Times reports that the NRCC initially refused to refund the contribution from a Tampa Bay doctor who caught onto the scam, and he had to contact his credit card company to challenge the charges. The National Journal reports that the NRCC-sponsored effort may run afoul of Federal Election Commission regulations, though it expects that the bipartisan FEC will be toothless when it comes to enforcement. However, I have to wonder whether this is finally a good enough reason to use the DMCA and file take-down notices against the faux websites. Perhaps the candidates could solve this themselves, and get a judgement for copyright infringement so absurdly large that it puts the NRCC out of business?" Some sites along these lines might be dirtier than the ones here illustrated, which seem to fit pretty well into the broad world of snarky and cutting political ads; Dr. Ray Bellamy, the Tampa Bay donor mentioned above, intended to give money to candidate Alex Sink, but evidently didn't notice this line in bold print, just above the "Donate" button: "Make a contribution today to help defeat Alex Sink and candidates like her." Note that, as the Tampa Bay Times' article mentions, this kind of site isn't limited to Republicans, either.
linjaaho writes "Yesterday, the admin list of Finnish language Wikipedia received a request for comment from the National Police Board of Finland. The Police Board claims that the fundraising message appearing on the top of the Wikipedia pages is illegal fundraising and is punishable by criminal law. The Police Board asks how much money have they raised and ask for justification for the campaign. This is not the first time the Police Board has attacked fundraising; in 2012, a crowdfunded textbook Kickstarter project was delayed by a similar request for comment."
cartechboy writes "We've all been there. You're relying on your vehicle's built-in navigation system to get to that meeting downtown, but then suddenly the car loses the satellite signal due to the concrete skyscraper canyon you're in--and you're about to be late. Swiss semiconductor manufacturer U-Blox thinks it has the solution with 3D Automotive Dead Reckoning, or 3D ADR for short. It's a new navigation chip that uses the vehicle's built-in sensors to track speed, horizontal movement, and elevation. The 3D ADR system measures movement in three dimensions, letting the navigation system can keep track of the vehicle's location even when it loses its connection to GPS satellites. Imagine never having to see your navigation screen saying connection lost again. In an age where our phones have accelerometers and compasses, it's amazing your car is still trying to catch up, right?"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Fox News reports that Republican lawmakers in the House are pushing legislation that would prohibit the EPA from proposing new regulations based on science that is not transparent or not reproducible. The bill introduced by Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., would bar the agency from proposing or finalizing rules without first disclosing all "scientific and technical information" relied on to support its proposed action. "Public policy should come from public data, not based on the whims of far-left environmental groups," says Schweikert. "For far too long, the EPA has approved regulations that have placed a crippling financial burden on economic growth in this country with no public evidence to justify their actions." The bill, dubbed the Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 (HR 4012), would prohibit the EPA's administrator from proposing or finalizing any rules unless he or she also discloses "all scientific and technical information" relied on by the agency in the regulations' development including all data, materials and computer models. According to Schweikert's press release a 2013 poll from the Institute of Energy Research found that 90 percent of Americans agree that studies and data used to make federal government decisions should be made public. "Provisions in the bill are consistent with the White House's scientific integrity policy, the President's Executive Order 13563, data access provisions of major scientific journals, the Bipartisan Policy Center and the recommendations of the Obama administration's top science advisors.""
kc123 writes "David Davis MP, a former shadow home secretary, has told the Guardian that police would be able to access the new central NHS database without a warrant as critics warn of catastrophic breach of trust. The database that will store all of England's health records has a series of 'backdoors' that will allow police and government bodies to access people's medical data. In the past police would need to track down the GP who held a suspect's records and go to court for a disclosure order. Now, they would be able to simply approach the new arms-length NHS information centre, which will hold the records. The idea that police will be able to request information from a central database without a warrant totally undermines a long-held belief in the confidentiality of the doctor-patient relationship."
jfruh writes "When the German domain registrar Key-Systems registered and maintained the domain h33t.com, should it have been obvious that their customer would use the site for unauthorized distribution of Robin Thicke albums? A regional German court says that they should've known, and once they had been notified they should have taken steps to prevent it from happening. Obviously domain registrars are worried that this will upend their entire business model."
krakman writes with this excerpt from Bloomberg News: "Bitcoin plunged more than 8 percent [Friday] after a Tokyo-based exchange halted withdrawals of the digital currency, citing technical malfunction. Mt. Gox, claimed in a blog post it needed to 'temporarily pause on all withdrawal requests to obtain a clear technical view of the currency processes.' It promised an 'update' — not a reopening — on Monday, Feb. 10, Japan time. This is day after Russia's Prosecutor General concluded Bitcoin and other digital currencies are illegal under current law."