alphadogg writes "U.S. cellphone carriers were offered a technology last year that supporters say would dramatically cut incidents of smartphone theft, but the carriers turned it down, according to sources with knowledge of the proposal. The so-called 'kill-switch' software allows consumers to remotely wipe and render their phones useless if stolen. Law enforcement and politicians believe the incentive for stealing a smartphone or tablet would be greatly reduced if the technology became standard, because the devices could quickly be rendered useless. A proposal by Samsung to the five largest U.S. carriers would have made the LoJack software, developed by Canada's Absolute Software, a standard component on many of its Android phones in the U.S. The proposal followed pressure from the offices of the San Francisco District Attorney and the New York Attorney General for the industry to do more to prevent phone theft."
An anonymous reader writes "From the Telegraph, 'He is vain, secretive, paranoid and jealous, prone to leering at young women and making frequent sexist jokes – and that's not the view of one of his many enemies, but of a friend ... A damning picture of Julian Assange ... has emerged in a detailed account by his ghostwriter. Assange behaves ... like an egotistical tyrant interested more in his own self-publicity than in changing the world. Worse still, he turns on his friends with increasing regularity ... Assange describes the Ecuadorean ambassador offering him diplomatic asylum as 'mad', 'fat' and 'ludicrous'. Even Assange's girlfriend, WikiLeaks researcher Sarah Harrison, grew increasingly frustrated at his behaviour. 'He openly chats girls up and has his hands on their a**e and goes nuts if I even talk to another guy,' she says. O'Hagan, who had hoped to find an anti-authoritarian rebel figure worthy of admiration, says he comes to regard Assange as someone who sacrificed the moral high-ground by attempting to evade trial over the rape charges.' — The Scotsman adds, 'Canongate director Jamie Byng yesterday hailed O'Hagan's account of the "impossibility of trying to ghost Assange's memoirs". He tweeted: "Andy O'Hagan's compelling, ring side account of Being (& being around) Julian Assange is smart, accurate and fair."'"
Zothecula writes "Many organizations around the world are looking at ways to harness the power of waves as a renewable energy source, but none are covering quite the same ground as a team of engineers from the University of California (UC), Berkeley. The seafloor carpet, a system inspired by the wave absorbing abilities of a muddy seabed, has taken exploring the potential of wave power to some intriguing new depths."
An anonymous reader writes "In the aftermath of the Canadian file sharing decision involving Voltage Pictures that includes an order to disclose thousands of subscriber names, the big question is what comes next. Michael Geist examines the law and economics behind file sharing litigation in Canada and concludes that copyright trolling doesn't pay as the economics of suing thousands of Canadians for downloading a movie for personal purposes is likely to lead to hundreds of thousands in losses for rights holders."
First time accepted submitter Rickarmstrong writes "The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is pushing for private contractors to create a screening machine with 'screen and walk' capability for use at the nation's 160 international airports and thousands of federal facilities. The agency recently requested information from high-tech companies and other private firms about any new technology that can help speed up the security checkpoints managed by the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Protective Services."
squiggleslash writes "Despite some industry skepticism, Nokia has indeed been working on an Android smartphone and finally unveiled the Nokia X today. As rumored, it's not a Google Play compatible device, running instead a Google-less AOSP build with a Nokia app store, and Windows Phone style shell. The budget phone will also not be marketed in North America. The Media seems convinced Microsoft — who are in the process of acquiring Nokia — will kill the project, but it's hard to see why Nokia would be working on such a project at this time if Microsoft had plans to do this."
An anonymous reader writes "According to a news report, New York State is giving about $9 million in grants to give broadband connection to 33,000 households and 4,500 businesses in rural areas of the state. This works out to $240 per connection. This second round of grants by Empire State Development is part of a Cuomo administration program to reach more than 500,000 residents with no high-speed Internet access, many in rural areas."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Exxon Mobile's CEO Rex Tillerson's day job is to do all he can to protect and nurture the process of hydraulic fracturing—aka 'fracking'—so that his company can continue to rake in billions via the production and sale of natural gas. 'This type of dysfunctional regulation is holding back the American economic recovery, growth, and global competitiveness,' said Tillerson in 2012 of attempts to increase oversight of drilling operations. But now Rick Unger reports at Forbes that Tillerson has joined a lawsuit seeking to shut down a fracking project near his Texas ranch. Why? Because the 160 foot water tower being built next to Tillerson's house that will supply the water to the near-by fracking site, means the arrival of loud trucks, an ugly tower next door, and the general unpleasantness that will interfere with the quality of his life and the real estate value of his sizeable ranch. The water tower is being built by Cross Timbers Water Supply Corp., a nonprofit utility that has supplied water to the region for half a century. Cross Timbers says that it is required by state law to build enough capacity to serve growing demand. In 2011, Bartonville denied Cross Timbers a permit to build the water tower, saying the location was reserved for residences. The water company sued, arguing that it is exempt from municipal zoning because of its status as a public utility. In May 2012, a state district court judge agreed with Cross Timbers and compelled the town to issue a permit. The utility resumed construction as the town appealed the decision. Later that year, the Tillersons and their co-plaintiffs sued Cross Timbers, saying that the company had promised them it wouldn't build a tower near their properties. An Exxon spokesman said Tillerson declined to comment. The company 'has no involvement in the legal matter' and its directors weren't told of Mr. Tillerson's participation, the spokesman said."
New submitter Albietta writes "Two independent sources inside Nokia have confirmed that Nokia Lumia phones send private information to Nokia and Microsoft servers around the world. Location data, SMS-messages and browser identification is uploaded. The Nokia leadership has known about the privacy violation since 2011 when the Lumia phones were introduced. In spring 2013, after suspicions of leaks and during the negotiations for selling off the mobile phone branch to Microsoft, the Finnish state communications department sent an inquiry to Nokia regarding leaking of private data, asking Nokia to assure that users' private data is not leaked. Nokia did not want to (or could not) provide an assurance due to the delicate business negotiations. After two more inquiries with narrower demands, Nokia assured that the phone, excluding third-party software such as the operating system, did not violate Finnish privacy laws. Microsoft is apparently also following Lumia user accounts. On one occasion a parent's Lumia account was closed without warning when they uploaded pictures from the phone displaying their kids playing naked on the beach at their summer cottage."
theodp writes "In announcing its $16B acquisition of WhatsApp, Facebook confessed it had very little data on WhatsApp's estimated 450 million users. Asked about the user data, Facebook CFO David Ebersman said, 'WhatsApp has good penetration across all demographics but you are not asked your age when you sign up.' Wall Street analysts concerned by Ebersman's answer won't be comforted by GeekWire reporter Taylor Soper's (non-scientific) poll of UW students, which suggested that WhatsApp may not exactly be BMOC (Big Messenger on Campus). 'I don't use it at all,' replied one UW junior. 'I've heard of it but I have so many other things I do online that it would just be another time-consuming thing. I use Facebook or texting to talk to people.' WhatsApp did fare better in a survey of Soper's Facebook network, where responders said they used WhatsApp mostly for communicating internationally and in groups. So, are you or someone you know using WhatsApp, and what's the motivation for doing so?"
New submitter angel115 points out this article on the widespread fraud committed in India against many thousands of those seeking visas to work in the U.S. Many Indian techies rely on the services of visa brokers (or people who claim to be), and end up burned by the transaction. From the article: "Some are lucky enough to get a visa — only to find that the promised job in the US doesn’t materialize. Then the visa holders are forced to return to India after spending thousands of dollars just surviving. ... No official figures are available for the number of frauds in India, but an unclassified document released by Wikileaks showed that in 2009, US consular officials cited H-1B scams as one of the two most common fraud categories in India." Another interesting detail: As part of a U.S. government investigation, "Officers investigated 150 companies in the city and discovered that 77 percent 'turned out to be fraudulent or highly suspect.' ... Officials uncovered a scheme where Hyderabadis were claiming to work for made-up companies in Pune so the Mumbai consulate would be less suspicious about their applications. 'The Hyderabadis claimed that they had opened shell companies in Bangalore because "everyone knows Hyderabad has fraud and Bangalore is reputable,” according to the internal communiqué [later published by Wikileaks]."
An anonymous reader writes "Using computations on the massive near-global SRTM surface model from NASA, this map lets you query watersheds, interactively set the sea-level and flood the world (North America at 500m increase in sea-level), or play around with river thresholds on a global or regional scale (computed rivers around NYC/NJ). It can be used to get an understanding of the watersheds and water flow paths in your local neighborhood; do you know where rain (or pollutants) that falls in your backyard end up? The map is freely available to the public."
SpamSlapper writes "Australia's ABC Science reports that ancient zircon crystals discovered in Western Australia have been positively dated to 4.374 billion years, confirming their place as the oldest rock ever found on Earth, according to a new study. The research reported in the journal Nature Geoscience, means Earth began forming a crust far sooner than previously thought, following the giant impact event which created the Earth-Moon system 4.5 billion years ago."
phantomfive writes "Verizon has said they will not be digging new lines any time soon. Time-Warner's cash flow goes towards paying down debt, not laying down fiber. AT&T is doing everything they can to slow deployment of Google fiber. How can the situation be improved? Mainly by expediting right-of-way access, permits, and inspections, according to Andy Kessler. That is how Google was able to afford to lay down fiber in Austin, and how VTel was able to do it in Vermont (gigabit connections for $35 a month)."
littlesparkvt writes "Harnessing the sun's power is nothing new on Earth, but if a Japanese company has its way, it will build a solar strip across the 11,000 mile Lunar equator that could supply our world with clean and unlimited solar energy for generations." Some of the company's other projects look just as ambitious.