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Submission + - Amazon Payment Adds "No Class Action" Language to Terms Of Service

wbr1 writes: I just received an email from Amazon Payments, the Amazon competitor to PayPal, stating among other things, that they were changing and simplifying their policies. It should be no surprise then, that similar to what PayPal and many others have already done, they have added language removing the right to class action lawsuits. See specifically section 11.3 (edited for brevity):

1.3 Disputes. Any dispute or claim relating in any way to your visit to the Site or Seller Central or to products or services sold or distributed by us or through the Site or Seller Central (including without limitation the Service) will be resolved by binding arbitration, rather than in court, except that you may assert claims in small claims court if your claims qualify. The Federal Arbitration Act and federal arbitration law apply to this agreement....
... You and we each agree that any dispute resolution proceedings will be conducted only on an individual basis and not in a class, consolidated, or representative action. If for any reason a claim proceeds in court rather than in arbitration you and we each waive any right to a jury trial. You and we also both agree that you or we may bring suit in court to enjoin infringement or other misuse of intellectual property rights.

This is becoming more and more common, and while the end user normally doesn't make out well in a class-action suit, large settlements do provide a punishment and deterrent to corporations that abuse their power. The question becomes, what do we do to fix this so that consumers are truly protected?


Submission + - Why Microsoft Says the Patent System Is Peachy Keen (

concealment writes: "In some cases, Microsoft will take calls from outside outfits interested in licensing its patents. RIM or Apple, say, will phone and ask to license Microsoft’s ActiveSync technology, a means of synchronizing email, contacts, and calendar entries across phones and other devices. “That’s a pretty friendly set of discussions,” Kaefer says.

But as he puts it, Microsoft will also “pro-actively” drive licensing deals. “We will go out and look for areas where we see a lot people who are probably using our technology in one form or another,” he says, “and we kinda ask ourselves whether it has risen to a level that we care about and we want to have some conversations.” Basically, this involves a Microsoft lawyer like Kaefer trying to convince lawyers at other companies that their technology infringes on Microsoft patents — and that they should pay to license those patents. According to Kaefer, these discussions can spans months — or even years."


Submission + - In UK, Twitter, Facebook rants land some in jail (

concealment writes: "In Britain, hundreds of people are prosecuted each year for posts, tweets, texts and emails deemed menacing, indecent, offensive or obscene, and the number is growing as our online lives expand. "Fifty years ago someone would have made a really offensive comment in a public space and it would have been heard by relatively few people," said Mike Harris of free-speech group Index on Censorship. People take it upon themselves to report this offensive material to police, and suddenly you've got the criminalization of offensive speech. Figures obtained by The Associated Press through a freedom of information request show a steadily rising tally of prosecutions in Britain for electronic communications — phone calls, emails and social media posts — that are grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character — from 1,263 in 2009 to 1,843 in 2011. Justice Igor Judge said in his judgment that the law should not prevent "satirical or iconoclastic or rude comment, the expression of unpopular or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, banter or humor, even if distasteful to some or painful to those subjected to it.""

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: High-tech ways to manage your own library at home? 1

DeptofDepartments writes: With Kindles and ebooks on everyone's lips (sc. hands) nowadays, this might come as a surprise to some, but besides being a techie, I have also amassed quite a collection of actual books (mostly hardcover and first editions) in my personal library. I have always been reluctant to lend them out and the collection has grown so large now that it has become difficult to keep track of all of them.

This is why I am looking for a modern solution to implement some professional-yet-still-home-sized library management. Ideally, this should include some cool features like RFID tags or NFC for keeping track of the books, finding and checking them out quickly, if I decide to lent one.

One problem seems to be the short lifetime of RFID tags (only 5-10 years). Given that many books will probably only be read or checked out once or twice in this period at best, the administrative effort seems very large.
I have also been largely unsuccessful in finding tags or solutions that go beyond the cheap 5 to 20 item "starter kits", yet still remain affordable and below the industrial scale.

Also, what would be suitable and affordable readers/writers for the tags in this context?

Finally, as many of the books are old folios or fairly precious first editions, everything must be non-destructive and should be removable without damage to the books if need be.

(Note: Scanning ISBN's with a hand-held barcode scanner is not an option, as many books are old (pre-ISBN) or special editions).

Software-wise, I would like to have a nice and modern-looking, easy-to-use software that can interface with the hardware side as described above. I do not necessarily need multi-user or networking capabilities at this point.

I hope the CSI (Combined Slashdot Intelligence) has some helpful ideas and pointers for me on this!
The Internet

Submission + - Kinected Browser - Kinect On The Web (

mikejuk writes: The Kinect is well supported by a good and evolving SDK on the desktop, but until now using it in a browser wasn't easy. Now Microsoft Research has a free JavaScript API, Kinected Browser, that lets you integrate the Kinect with HTML. The bad news is that it only works on Windows 7 and 8 and in desktop mode only. In addition the browser has to be IE9 or IE 10. The good news is that more programmers know how to do HTML5 graphics than know how to work with DirectX or .NET. As a result this could lead to another burst of innovative Kinect applications.

Submission + - A Free Internet, If You Can Keep It (

Kethinov writes: "My Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, a prominent opponent of the infamous Stop Online Piracy Act, has introduced two bills to the U.S. House of Representatives designed to protect the free and open internet, expand the protections of the Fourth Amendment to digital communications, and protect against the introduction of any further SOPA-like bills. Since these are issues Slashdotters care deeply about, I wanted to open up the bills for discussion on Slashdot. Is my Congresswoman doing a good job? Is there room for improvement in the language of the bills? If you're as excited by her work as I am, please reach out to your representatives as well and as them to work with Rep. Lofgren. It will take a big coalition to beat the pro-RIAA/MPAA establishment politics on internet regulation."

Submission + - NASA Says Staff Information Was on Stolen Laptop (

SternisheFan writes: By NICOLE PERLROTH, New York Times:
    NASA told its staff this week that a laptop containing sensitive personal information for a large number of employees and contractors was stolen two weeks ago from a locked vehicle. Although the laptop was password protected, the information had not been encrypted, which could give skilled hackers full access to the contents. In its notice to employees on Tuesday, the agency said:
  "On Oct. 31, 2012, a NASA laptop and official NASA documents issued to a headquarters employee were stolen from the employee’s locked vehicle. The laptop contained records of sensitive personally identifiable information for a large number of NASA employees, contractors and others. Although the laptop was password protected, it did not have whole disk encryption software, which means the information on the laptop could be accessible to unauthorized individuals. We are thoroughly assessing and investigating the incident and taking every possible action to mitigate the risk of harm or inconvenience to affected employees."
    This is not the first time NASA has suffered a serious breach. The agency has long been a target for cybercriminals looking to pilfer sensitive research. In 2004, computers at several NASA sites, including its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., were breached. And as recently as March, the company reported a breach that was also caused by a stolen laptop. Given its history, it is unclear why the agency has not stepped up its security practices. Beth Dickey, a NASA spokeswoman, said that in this most recent case, the employee’s laptop had been for a security upgrade.
“The laptop was scheduled to receive encryption, as part of an ongoing, agency-wide effort to encrypt whole disks of all NASA computers,” Ms. Dickey said. “This one just hadn’t been done yet.”
    NASA has said it plans to have all of its laptops running whole-disk encryption software by Dec. 21.


Submission + - Google engineers open source book scanner design (

c0lo writes: Engineers from Google's Books team have released the design plans for a comparatively reasonably priced (about $1500) book scanner on Google Code.

Built using a scanner, a vacuum cleaner and various other components, the Linear Book Scanner was developed by engineers during the "20 percent time" that Google allocates for personal projects.

The license is highly permissive, thus it's possible the design and building costs can be improved. Any takers?


Submission + - The First Amendment and Software Speech (

stanlrev writes: When is software, or content generated by software, "speech" for First Amendment purposes? That is the question that Andrew Tutt seeks to answer in an article published today in the Stanford Law Review Online. He argues that the two approaches commentators and the Supreme Court have proposed are both incorrect. Software or software-generated content is not always speech simply because it conveys information. Nor is software only speech when it resembles traditional art forms. Instead, the courts should turn to the original purposes of the First Amendment to develop a new approach that answers this question more effectively.

Submission + - Teaching robots new tricks without programming ( 1

cylonlover writes: Maya Cakmak, a researcher from Georgia Tech, spent the summer at Willow Garage creating a user-friendly system that teaches the PR2 robot simple tasks. The kicker is that it doesn't require any traditional programming skills whatsoever – it works by physically guiding the robot's arms while giving it verbal commands. After inviting regular people to give it a try, she found that with few instructions they were able to teach the PR2 how to retrieve medicine from a cabinet and fold a t-shirt.
Open Source

Submission + - Unhackable drone research to go open source ( 3

mask.of.sanity writes: Researchers are set to release open source US Defence research designed to prevent unmanned drone aircraft from being hacked.

The DARPA research will take four years, cost $18 million and promises to also help secure critical systems such as aircraft, vehicles and medical devices and make their code more stable.

The Internet

Submission + - Earth's Biggest Wine Cellar?

theodp writes: Ever get carded by your FedEx guy? You will. Several writers at GeekWire had just unboxed, uncorked and polished off their first bottle of Amazon wine, only to have their buzz killed by the need to cover Steven Sinofsky's unexpected exit from Microsoft. With the caveat that per-order shipping charges will discourage those watching their pennies from ordering single bottles of inexpensive wine, GeekWire gave the overall Amazon wine buying experience a thumbs-up. Still time to send a case to whoever's hosting Thanksgiving for that hard-drinking family of yours!

Submission + - Climate treaty negotiators are taking the wrong approach, says game theory (

An anonymous reader writes: Climate treaty negotiators would do well to have a little chat with some game theorists, according to this article. The fundamental approach they've been taking for the last several years is flawed, these researchers say, and they can prove it. They also have some better ideas about what to do.

Submission + - Google open non-destructive book scanner; books and libraries rejoice (

leighklotz writes: "Google released open hardware designs for a book scanner that "sucks" pages to turn them, using a vacuum cleaner. The Google Tech Talk Video starts with Jeff Breidenbach of the Google Books team, and moves on to Dany Qumsiyeh showing how simple his design is to build. Could it be that the Google Books team has had enough of destroying the library in order to save it? Or maybe the just want to up-stage the Internet Archive's Scanning Robot.

Disclaimer: I worked with Jeff when we were at Xerox (where he did the awesome hack Gnu Chess on your Scanner), but this is more awesome because it saves books."

Submission + - Hostess (Twinkies!) to liquidate if bakers' strike continues through Thursday ( 4

PolygamousRanchKid writes: Hostess Brands said Wednesday that it will go into liquidation unless bakers striking in protest against a new contract imposed in bankruptcy court return to work by the end of the day Thursday.

Even if Hostess does end up in liquidation, analysts say that some of its most iconic brand names — Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread, to name a few — will likely live on, getting scooped up at auction and attached to products from other companies


Submission + - US Air Force scraps ERP project after $1 billion spent (

angry tapir writes: "The U.S. Air Force has decided to scrap a major ERP (enterprise resource planning) software project after spending US$1 billion, concluding that finishing it would cost far too much more money for too little gain. Dubbed the Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS), the project has racked up $1.03 billion in costs since 2005, "and has not yielded any significant military capability," an Air Force spokesman said in a statement. "We estimate it would require an additional $1.1B for about a quarter of the original scope to continue and fielding would not be until 2020. The Air Force has concluded the ECSS program is no longer a viable option for meeting the FY17 Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness (FIAR) statutory requirement. Therefore, we are cancelling the program and moving forward with other options in order to meet both requirements.""

Submission + - Volcano may have killed off new bioluminescent cockroach (

terrancem writes: A newly discovered light-producing cockroach, Lucihormetica luckae, may have already been driven to extinction by a volcanic eruption in Ecuador. The species, only formally described by scientists this year, hasn't been spotted since the Tungurahua Volcano erupted in July 2010. The new species was notable because it represented the only known case of mimicry by bioluminescence in a land animal. Like a venomless king snake beating its tail to copy the unmistakable warning of a rattlesnake, Lucihormetica luckae's bioluminescent patterns are nearly identical to the poisonous click beetle, with which it shares (or shared) its habitat.

Submission + - Entire Pig Genome Sequenced in Breakthrough That Could Combat Human Disease (

An anonymous reader writes: Scientists announced Wednesday that they have mapped the entire genome of the domestic pig, revealing that besides providing tasty bacon and sausages, the animal may also be useful in fighting human diseases.
The study published in the journal Nature found that pigs and humans share 112 DNA mutations that have previously been linked to diseases like obesity, diabetes, dyslexia, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, according to US and European researchers.
Researchers said that because pigs share many of the same complex genetic diseases as humans, the animals would serve as excellent models for studying the underlying biology of human disease.


Submission + - Hacker Grabs 150k Adobe User Accounts via SQL Injection (

CowboyRobot writes: "Adobe today confirmed that one of its databases has been breached by a hacker and that it had temporarily taken offline the affected website. The hacker, who also goes by Adam Hima, told Dark Reading that the server he attacked was the Web server, and that he exploited a SQL injection flaw to execute the attack. "It was an SQL Injection vulnerability, somehow I was able to dump the database in less requests than normal people do," he says. Users passwords for the Adobe Connectusers site were stored and hashed with MD5, he says, which made them "easy to crack" with freely available tools. And Adobe wasn't using WAFs on the servers, he notes. Tal Beery, a security researcher at Imperva, analyzed the data dump in the Connectusers Pastebin post and found that the list appears to be valid and that the hacked database was relatively old."