EU

US Activists Oppose US Govt Calls To Weaken EU Privacy Rules 151 151

judgecorp writes "The European Commission has proposals for data privacy (including the 'right to be forgotten') and the U.S. government is opposing them. Now U.S. activists have arrived in Brussels to lobby against their government's opposition to the European measures. The move comes following reports of 'extreme' lobbying by U.S. authorities against the European proposals." Although the "right to be forgotten" raises some free speech issues, it doesn't seem like a bad idea in principle.
AI

Why Ray Kurzweil's Google Project May Be Doomed To Fail 354 354

moon_unit2 writes "An AI researcher at MIT suggests that Ray Kurzweil's ambitious plan to build a super-smart personal assistant at Google may be fundamentally flawed. Kurzweil's idea, as put forward in his book How to Build a Mind, is to combine a simple model of the brain with enormous computing power and vast amounts of data, to construct a much more sophisticated AI. Boris Katz, who works on machines designed to understand language, says this misses a key facet of human intelligence: that it is built on a lifetime of experiencing the world rather than simply processing raw information."
The Almighty Buck

PayPal Preparing To Address Frozen Funds Policy 175 175

First time accepted submitter skywire writes "After years of forcing innocent customers to navigate a Kafkaesque process to unfreeze their funds, PayPal has announced that they are preparing major changes to alleviate the pain. From the article: 'The company routinely freezes funds for 21 days if it thinks there's a fraud risk, and its terms give it the right to extend the freeze for up to 180 days. To get access to their money, users are often asked to provide the kind of documentation that a product seller would have, like several months' worth of sales records. But if you're running a fundraiser or selling tickets to an upcoming conference, you don't have that paperwork. Even for those with extensive paper trails, the appeals process can take months to resolve. The Web is filled with enraged blog posts, websites like paypalsucks.com, and a Tumblr called "Conferences Burned by PayPal."'"
Games

Valve Starts Promoting Steam For Linux To Windows Users 474 474

An anonymous reader writes "Steam is now being used by thousands of gamers running a Linux OS, and Valve has got to the point where they are happy to start urging Windows users to make the switch. Proof of that comes from a 'Join the Beta' promotion on the homepage of Steam suggesting you try Steam for Linux. There's even a download link to get Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, which removes yet another barrier to entry. With Gabe Newell's clear hatred of Windows 8, this shouldn't be a surprising move. We aren't going to see another version of Windows appear for a few years, so in Valve's eyes pushing Linux to gamers makes a lot of sense."
Censorship

Chinese Government Appears To Be Blocking GitHub Via DNS 61 61

An anonymous reader writes "Reports are coming in that the social coding site GitHub has been blocked in China. While the service has seen blocks in the country before, this appears to be a much broader denial of service, affecting most, if not all users in the world's most populous country online and offline. GitHub released a statement saying: 'GitHub is still investigating, but it does appear that we’re at least being partly blocked by the Great Firewall of China. We’re looking into it, and will update with more information when we have it.'"
Earth

Earth May Have Been Hit By a Gamma-Ray Burst In 775 AD 157 157

The Bad Astronomer writes "Studies of carbon-14 in Japanese trees and beryllium-10 in Antarctic ice indicate the Earth was hit by a big radiation blast in 775 AD. Although very rare, occurring only once every million years or so, the most likely culprit is a gamma-ray burst, a cosmic explosion accompanying the birth of a black hole. While a big solar flare is still in the running, a GRB from merging neutron stars produces the ratio of carbon and beryllium observed, and also can explain why no bright explosion was seen at the time, and no supernova remnant is seen now."
Image

Book Review: A Gift of Fire 52 52

benrothke writes "In the 4th edition of A Gift of Fire: Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues for Computing Technology, author Sara Baase takes a broad look at the social, legal and ethical issues around technology and their implications. Baase notes that her primary goal in writing the book is for computer professionals to understand the implications of what they create and how it fits into society. The book is an interesting analysis of a broad set of topics. Combined with Baase's superb writing skills, the book is both an excellent reference and a fascinating read." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
Programming

JavaScript Comes To Minecraft 149 149

mikejuk writes "JavaScript is the language of the client and it is becoming the language of the server. Now it seems set to be the language of Minecraft. ScriptCraft is a Minecraft mod that can be added to the game to allow the player to use JavaScript commands. Walter Higgins ported the Rhino JVM implementation of JavaScript in a few spare weeks over Xmas. Some additional JavaScript classes allow the construction of blocks making it possible to automate construction. It also provides a 'turtle like' drone class that makes it easier to move in 3D. It makes use of a fluent API to create a domain specific language for movement. As its creator says: 'Ultimately I think the ScriptCraft mod could be used to take building in Minecraft to a whole new level. With a full-blown language at the Player's disposal, it should be possible to create not just castles and forts but entire road networks and cities.' Most importantly of all, it not only pushes the boundary of Minecraft, it also provides a way to get kids who are already hooked on Minecraft to start learning JavaScript."
Facebook

Will "Group Hug" Commoditize the Hardware Market? 72 72

Will the Open Compute Project’s Common Slot specification and Facebook’s Group Hug board commoditize the data center hardware market even further? Analyst opinions vary widely, indicating that time and additional development work may be necessary before any sort of consensus is reached. At the Open Compute Summit last week, Frank Frankovsky, director of hardware design and supply chain operations at Facebook, announced both the Open Slot specification and Facebook’s prototype Open Slot board, known as “Group Hug.” Group Hug’s premise is simple: disaggregate the CPU in a way that allows virtually any processor to be linked to the motherboard. This has never been done before with a CPU, which has traditionally required its own socket, its own chipset, and thus its own motherboard. Group Hug is designed to accommodate CPUs from AMD, Intel, and even ARM vendors such as Applied Micro and Calxeda.
Power

Swiss Federal Lab Claims New World Record For Solar Cell Efficiency 177 177

Zothecula writes "Scientists based at Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, have set a new efficiency record for thin-film copper indium gallium (di)selenid (or CIGS) based solar cells on flexible polymer foils, reaching an efficiency of 20.4 percent. This is an increase from a previous record of 18.7 percent set by the team back in 2011."
Books

O'Reilly Giving Away Open Government As Aaron Swartz Tribute 87 87

jones_supa writes "The classic hacker book publisher O'Reilly is releasing their book Open Government for free as a tribute for Aaron Swartz. The book asks the question, in a world where web services can make real-time data accessible to anyone, how can the government leverage this openness to improve its operations and increase citizen participation and awareness? Through a collection of essays and case studies, leading visionaries and practitioners both inside and outside of government share their ideas on how to achieve and direct this emerging world of online collaboration, transparency, and participation. The files are posted on the O'Reilly Media GitHub account as PDF, Mobi, and EPUB files."
Microsoft

Will Microsoft Sell Off Its Entertainment Division? 404 404

An anonymous reader writes "Forbes analyst Adam Hartung has predicted that Microsoft will sell off its entertainment division, which includes Xbox, in the coming years. He even goes so far as to list Sony or Barnes & Noble as potential buyers. Lets forget how crazy this sounds for a moment and focus on the reasons why Hartung believes such a sale will happen. It basically comes down to Windows 8, and how poorly it is selling. Combine that with falling sales of PCs, the Surface RT tablet not doing so great, the era of more than one PC in the home disappearing, and Microsoft has a big problem. The problem not only stems from the PC market not growing, but because Microsoft relies so heavily on Windows and Office for revenue. With that in mind, Hartung believes Steve Ballmer will do anything and everything to save Windows, including ditching entertainment and therefore Xbox."
Government

UK Government To Use PayPal For Identity Assurance 74 74

judgecorp writes "A UK government contract has confirmed earlier reports that British citizens will have the option to use PayPal to accredit themselves for public services such as the new Universal Credit benefit system. Using PayPal might be a public relations goof, as PayPal's parent eBay is notoriously clever at avoiding UK taxes, recently paying only £1.2 million on profit of £789 million (around 0.15 percent)."
Security

Kaspersky Says Cyber Weapons "Cleaner" Than Traditional Weapons But "Much Worse" 89 89

DavidGilbert99 writes "Eugene Kaspersky and Mikko Hypponen have been watching the cyber security world every since happy hackers were writing viruses for nothing more than their own entertainment. Today however things are very much different. At the DLD 2013 conference, the pair debated the current state of cyber warfare and cyber weapons. Kaspersky said that while cyber weapons may be much 'cleaner' than traditional missiles, guns and bombs, they are 'much worse' as they can be used by just about anyone who has some level of computer proficiency. Both agreed that it was very difficult to protect against the highly-complex nation-state developed malware like Stuxnet, Flame and Gauss. Hypponen said that we are in the 'first stages of a cyber-arms race' warning: 'I think we've only seen the very beginning of these problems.'"
Advertising

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