News

Ireland Votes Yes To Same-Sex Marriage 417

Posted by Soulskill
from the have-it-your-way dept.
BarbaraHudson writes: Reuters is reporting that the citizens of Ireland voted overwhelmingly to legalize same-sex marriages. While it's also legal in 19 other countries, Ireland was the first to decide this by putting the question to the citizens. "This has really touched a nerve in Ireland," Equality Minister Aodhan O'Riordain said at the main count center in Dublin. "It's a very strong message to every LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) young person in Ireland and every LGBT young person in the world." Observers say the loss of moral authority of the Catholic church after a series of sex scandals was a strong contributing factor, with priests limiting their appeals to the people sitting in their pews. In contrast, the "Yes" side dominated social media.
Google

Cute Or Creepy? Google's Plan For a Sci-Fi Teddy Bear 87

Posted by timothy
from the teddy-ruxpin-pinned-it-on-the-one-armed-man dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Time Magazine reports that Google has designed and patented an "anthropomorphic device" that could take the form of a "doll or toy" and interact both with people as well as tech gadgets echoing the "super toy" teddy bear featured in Stephen Spielberg's 2001 movie AI. This could be one of Google's creepiest patents yet — especially if movies like "Chuckie" still give you nightmares. The patent filing diagrams a stuffed teddy bear and a bunny rabbit outfitted with microphones, speakers, cameras and motors as well as a wireless connection to the internet. If it senses you're looking at it, the fuzzy toy will rotate its head and look back at you. Once it receives and recognizes a voice command prompt, you can then tell it to control media devices in your home (e.g. turn on your music or TV). According to the patent filing: "To express interest, an anthropomorphic device may open its eyes, lift its head, and/or focus its gaze on the user or object of its interest. To express curiosity, an anthropomorphic device may tilt its head, furrow its brow, and/or scratch its head with an arm. To express boredom, an anthropomorphic device may defocus its gaze, direct its gaze in a downward fashion, tap its foot, and/or close its eyes. To express surprise, an anthropomorphic device may make a sudden movement, sit or stand up straight, and/or dilate its pupils."

The patent adds that making the device look "cute" should encourage even the youngest members of a family to interact with it. But Mikhail Avady, from SmartUp, said he thought it belonged in "a horror film", and the campaign group Big Brother Watch has also expressed dismay. "When those devices are aimed specifically at children, then for many this will step over the creepy line," says Avady. "Children should be able to play in private and shouldn't have to fear this sort of passive invasion of their privacy."
Chrome

Chrome For Android Is Now Almost Entirely Open Source 50

Posted by Soulskill
from the strong-work dept.
jones_supa writes: After lots of work by Chrome for Android team and a huge change, Chrome for Android is now almost entirely open source, a Google engineer announced in Reddit. Over 100,000 lines of code, including Chrome's entire user interface layer, has been made public, allowing anyone with the inclination to do so to look at, modify, and build the browser from source. Licensing restrictions prevent certain media codecs, plugins and Google service features form being included, hence the "almost." This is on par with the open source Chromium browser that is available on the desktop.
The Almighty Buck

FBI: Social Media, Virtual Currency Fraud Becoming a Huge Problem 39

Posted by samzenpus
from the buy-my-web-dollars dept.
coondoggie writes: Criminals taking advantage of personal data found on social media and vulnerabilities of the digital currency system are two of the emerging Internet law-breaking trends identified by the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) in its annual look at online crime. The IC3 said 12% of the complaints submitted in 2014 contained a social media trait. Complaints involving social media have quadrupled over the last five years. In most cases, victim’s personal information was exploited through compromised accounts or social engineering.
America Online

Jason Scott of Textfiles.com Wants Your AOL & Shovelware CDs 123

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-kids-know-them-as-the-small-frisbees-that-shatter-so-beautifully dept.
eldavojohn writes: You've probably got a spindle in your closet, or a drawer layered with them: the CD-ROM discs that were mailed to you or delivered with some hardware that you put away "just in case." Now, of course, the case for actually using them is laughable. Well, a certain eccentric individual named Jason Scott has a fever — and the only cure is more AOL CDs. But his sickness doesn't stop there, "I also want all the CD-ROMs made by Walnut Creek CD-ROM. I want every shovelware disc that came out in the entire breadth of the CD-ROM era. I want every shareware floppy, while we're talking. I want it all. The CD-ROM era is basically finite at this point. It's over. The time when we're going to use physical media as the primary transport for most data is done done done. Sure, there's going to be distributions and use of CD-ROMs for some time to come, but the time when it all came that way and when it was in most cases the only method of distribution in the history books, now. And there were a specific amount of CD-ROMs made. There are directories and listings of many that were manufactured. I want to find those. I want to image them, and I want to put them up. I'm looking for stacks of CD-ROMs now. Stacks and stacks. AOL CDs and driver CDs and Shareware CDs and even hand-burned CDs of stuff you downloaded way back when. This is the time to strike." Who knows? His madness may end up being appreciated by younger generations!
Security

Chris Roberts Is the Least Important Part of the Airplane Hacking Story 200

Posted by samzenpus
from the hacking-the-friendly-skies dept.
chicksdaddy writes: Now that the news media is in full freak-out mode about whether or not security researcher Chris Roberts did or did not hack into the engine of a plane, in flight and cause it to "fly sideways," security experts say its time to take a step back from the crazy and ask what is the real import of the plane hacking. The answer: definitely not Chris Roberts. The real story that media outlets should be chasing isn't what Roberts did or didn't do on board a United flight in April, but whether there is any truth to longtime assurances from airplane makers like Boeing and Airbus that critical avionics systems aboard their aircraft are unreachable from systems accessible to passengers, the Christian Science Monitor writes. And, on that issue, Roberts' statements and the FBI's actions raise as many questions as they answer. For one: why is the FBI suddenly focused on years-old research that has long been part of the public record.

"This has been a known issue for four or five years, where a bunch of us have been stood up and pounding our chest and saying, 'This has to be fixed,' " Roberts noted. "Is there a credible threat? Is something happening? If so, they're not going to tell us," he said. Roberts isn't the only one confused by the series of events surrounding his detention in April and the revelations about his interviews with federal agents. "I would like to see a transcript (of the interviews)," said one former federal computer crimes prosecutor, speaking on condition of anonymity. "If he did what he said he did, why is he not in jail? And if he didn't do it, why is the FBI saying he did?"
Books

Book Review: The Terrorists of Iraq 263

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes: The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting random typewriter keys for an infinite amount of time will eventually be able to create the complete works of Shakespeare. Various scientists such as Nobel laureate Arno Penzias have shown how the theorem is mathematically impossible. Using that metaphor, if you took every member of United States Congress and House of Representatives and wrote their collected wisdom on Iraq, it's unlikely they could equal the astuteness of even a single chapter of author Malcolm W. Nance in The Terrorists of Iraq: Inside the Strategy and Tactics of the Iraq Insurgency 2003-2014. It's Nance's overwhelming real-world experiential knowledge of the subject, language, culture, tribal affiliations and more which make this the overwhelming definitive book on the subject. Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
Facebook

Baton Bob Receives $20,000 Settlement For Coerced Facebook Post 201

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-the-man dept.
McGruber writes: After arresting him during a June 2013 street performance, Atlanta Police Officers forced costumed street performer "Baton Bob" to make a pro-police statement on his Facebook page before they would allow him to be released on bond. Social media coverage of the incident triggered a six-month internal police investigation into the arrest. Atlanta Police Officer H.J. Davis was given a one-day suspension, then resigned from the Atlanta Police department a few weeks later. Atlanta Police Lt. Jeffrey Cantin received a five-day suspension for "violating responsibilities of a supervisor".

Baton Bob also filed a federal lawsuit against the city, arguing that officers made a wrongful arrest that violated, well, nearly every constitutional right you can name. Those included Jamerson's "right to free speech, his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, his right to remain silent while in custody, his right to be free from compelled speech, his right to counsel, and his right to privacy." The City of Atlanta's legal department reviewed the case and determined that a $20,000 settlement would "be in the best interest of the city" rather than fighting the claims in court.
Stats

How MMO Design Has Improved Bar Trivia 22

Posted by timothy
from the want-to-double-down-on-greasy-bar-food? dept.
Polygon.com features a look at how (very) different computer game worlds can meet, in the form of game designer Ralph Koster's Kitchen Disasters-style rescue effort to revive a game quite unlike the ones he's famous for designing, like Ultima Online. Bar-trivia provider Buzztime has been putting electronic trivia games into bars for three decades -- and in that time, the number of options available to potential players has jumped. Bar trivia has crept into the domain of things like vinyl-based juke-boxes: not without appeal, but not exactly modern. Koster has tried to apply modern game design paradigms and objectives, and revamped the game: Koster's Jackpot Trivia is now being introduced in a few hundred locations. Buzztime operates in around 4,000 bars and restaurants, but already the new addition has increased game usage by 15 percent. Much of the improvements came from Koster's experiences of making and playing MMOs, and on the MMO's influence on all games. "These days, a lot of the qualities of MMOs are popping up on everything from social media to systems that sit outside and on top of games, like everything around Xbox Live and Steam," he says. The re-vamp means, for Buzztime, better matching of opponents, as part of an overall redesign of incentives and risks: players have also gotten finer-grained control over their plays, by being able to assign weight to their answers: that means they can guess with less penalty when answers are tough, or take advantage of confidence in knowledge about a category in which they're strong.
Television

Harry Shearer Walks Away From "The Simpsons," and $14 Million 214

Posted by timothy
from the folding-up-money dept.
Actor Harry Shearer, perhaps best known as the voice of several characters on The Simpsons, including that of Montgomery Burns, will be leaving the show's cast, according to CNN. Showrunner Al Jean said Shearer was "offered the same deal as the rest of the cast, but turned it down." ... Shearer is not just walking away from Springfield, but also a large sum of money. The actor was offered a guaranteed $14 million for two years of work, according to someone with direct knowledge of the matter. The proposed deal also allowed for him to do other projects if he wished." That last part, though, seems to be in dispute, and central to Shearer's decision to leave; Shearer tweeted that it's because he "wanted what we've always had: the freedom to do other work."
Encryption

Online Voting Should Be Verifiable -- But It's a Hard Problem 258

Posted by timothy
from the you-did-or-didn't-vote dept.
An anonymous reader writes with a link to a pithy overview at The Conversation of recent uses of (and nagging difficulties with) online voting and asks Regular 'internet voting too risky' arguments don't take some approaches into account like verifiability of votes by voters, observers, and international media. Could we have end-to-end verifiable online voting systems in the future? What are the difficulties? Where is it being done already? From the linked article (which provides at least some answers to those questions), one interesting idea:Another challenge to designing verifiability in online voting is the possibility of malware infection of voters' computers. By some estimates between 30%-40% of all home computers are infected. It’s quite possible that determined attackers could produce and distribute malware specifically designed to thwart or alter the outcome of a national election – for example undetectably changing the way a user votes and then covering its tracks by faking how the vote appears to have been cast to the voter. Whatever verifability mechanisms there are could also be thwarted by the malware.

One way to try to prevent this kind of attack is to make voters use several computers during the voting process. Although this is hardly convenient, the idea is to make it more difficult for an attacker to launch a co-ordinated attack across several computers at once.
Facebook

Top Publishers To Post News Stories Directly To Facebook Timelines 50

Posted by samzenpus
from the news-you-like dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The BBC, BuzzFeed, NBC, The New York Times and National Geographic are among some of the publishers which will post news items directly to a Facebook user's timeline thanks to a new feature called Instant Articles. Chris Cox, Facebook’s chief product officer, says the program will allow publishers to “deliver fast, interactive articles while maintaining control of their content and business models.” Under the terms of the plan, publishers can sell and embed ads in the articles and keep the revenue, or allow Facebook to sell ads. Publishers will also be allowed to track data and traffic with their own analytics tools.
Classic Games (Games)

(Hack) and Slash: Doing the LORD's Work 63

Posted by timothy
from the working-in-mysterious-ways dept.
Emmett Plant (former Slashdot editor as well as video interviewee) writes: Legend of the Red Dragon was written by Seth Robinson in 1989, and it remains one of the most popular games of the DOS BBS era. Chris England has been doing his part to keep the game alive for the past twelve years, adapting an installation that runs on Linux. I was only able to play for two days before I was overcome with curiosity -- I wrote to Chris, politely inquiring as to how it all came together. Read on below for a look into Chris's motivations, the state of the project, and just how deeply nested it can all get, when bringing games from early BBS days into the modern era.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Prison Messaging System JPay Withdraws Copyright Claims 141

Posted by timothy
from the got-you-coming-and-going dept.
Florida-based JPay has a specialized business model and an audience that is at least in part a (literally) captive one: the company specializes in logistics and communications services involving prisons and prisoners, ranging from payment services to logistics to electronic communications with prisoners. Now, via Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing comes a report from the EFF that the company has back-pedaled on a particularly strange aspect of the terms under which the company provided messaging services for prisoners: namely, JPay's terms of service made exhaustive copyright claims on messages sent by prisoners, claiming rights to "all content, whether it be text, images, or video" send via the service. That language has now been excised, but not in time to prevent at least one bad outcome; from the EFF's description: [Valerie] Buford has been running a social media campaign to overturn her [brother, Leon Benson's] murder conviction. However, after Buford published a videogram that her brother recorded via JPay to Facebook, prison administrators cut off her access to the JPay system, sent Benson to solitary confinement, and stripped away some of his earned "good time." To justify the discipline, prison officials said they were enforcing JPay's intellectual property rights and terms of service.
Data Storage

Enterprise SSDs, Powered Off, Potentially Lose Data In a Week 184

Posted by timothy
from the other-side-of-solid-state's-speed dept.
New submitter Mal-2 writes with a selection from IB Times of special interest for anyone replacing hard disks with solid state drives: The standards body for the microelectronics industry has found that Solid State Drives (SSD) can start to lose their data and become corrupted if they are left without power for as little as a week. ... According to a recent presentation (PDF) by Seagate's Alvin Cox, who is also chairman of the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (JEDEC), the period of time that data will be retained on an SSD is halved for every 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) rise in temperature in the area where the SSD is stored. If you have switched to SSD for either personal or business use, do you follow the recommendation here that spinning-disk media be used as backup as well?
Windows

What Might Have Happened To Windows Media Center 198

Posted by timothy
from the does-both-more-and-less-than-I-realized dept.
Phopojijo writes: Microsoft has officially dropped Windows Media Center but, for a time, it looked like Microsoft was designing both Windows and the Xbox around it. That changed when Vista imploded and the new leadership took Windows in a different direction. Meanwhile, Valve Software and others appear to be tiptoeing into the space that Microsoft sprinted away from.
Transportation

25 Percent of Cars Cause 90 Percent of Air Pollution 395

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-to-blame dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Sara Novak reports that according to a recent study, "badly tuned" cars and trucks make up one quarter of the vehicles on the road, but cause 95 percent of black carbon, also known as soot, 93 percent of carbon monoxide, and 76 percent of volatile organic chemicals like benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes. "The most surprising thing we found was how broad the range of emissions was," says Greg Evans. "As we looked at the exhaust coming out of individual vehicles, we saw so many variations. How you drive, hard acceleration, age of the vehicle, how the car is maintained – these are things we can influence that can all have an effect on pollution." Researchers at the University of Toronto looked at 100,000 cars as they drove past air sampling probes on one of Toronto's major roads. An automated identification and integration method was applied to high time resolution air pollutant measurements of in-use vehicle emissions performed under real-world conditions at a near-road monitoring station in Toronto, Canada during four seasons, through month-long campaigns in 2013–2014. Based on carbon dioxide measurements, over 100 000 vehicle-related plumes were automatically identified and fuel-based emission factors for nitrogen oxides; carbon monoxide; particle number, black carbon; benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (BTEX); and methanol were determined for each plume. Evans and his team found that policy changes need to better target cars that are causing the majority of the air pollution. "The ultrafine particles are particularly troubling," says Evans. "Because they are over 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, they have a greater ability to penetrate deeper within the lung and travel in the body."
Facebook

Is Facebook Keeping You In a Political Bubble? 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the tell-me-what-I-want-to-hear dept.
sciencehabit writes: Does Facebook make it harder for people with different political views to get along? Political scientists have long wondered whether the social network's news feed selectively serves up ideologically charged news while filtering out content from different camps. Now, a study by Facebook's in-house social scientists finds that this does happen, though the effect seems to be very small. "There's a growing concern that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow us to more precisely engineer our informational environments than ever before, so we only get info that's consistent with our prior beliefs," says David Lazer, a political and computer scientist who authored a commentary on the paper.
EU

Europe Vows To Get Rid of Geo-Blocking 114

Posted by Soulskill
from the this-article-only-available-at-select-latitudes dept.
AmiMoJo writes: The European Commission has adopted a new set of initiatives for digital technologies that aims to improve access to online services for everyday users. Among other things, Europe vows to end geo-blocking, which it describes as "a discriminatory practice used for commercial reasons," and lift other unwarranted copyright restrictions. Consumers will have the right to access content they purchased at home in other European countries. "I want to see every consumer getting the best deals and every business accessing the widest market – wherever they are in Europe," Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says.