schnell writes "The New Statesman is publishing a new in-depth article that examines in detail the seemingly paradoxical nature of WikiLeaks' brave mission of public transparency with the private opaqueness of Julian Assange's leadership. On one hand, WikiLeaks created 'a transparency mechanism to hold governments and corporations to account' when nobody else could or would. On the other hand, WikiLeaks itself was 'guilty of the same obfuscation and misinformation as those it sought to expose, while its supporters are expected to follow, unquestioningly, in blinkered, cultish devotion.' If WikiLeaks performs a public service exposing the secrets of others but censors its own secrets, does it really matter? Or are the ethics of the organization and its leader inseparable?"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
walterbyrd writes with news that Microsoft's PR department has started a campaign to convince Gmail users that Google reads your personal emails, referring to Google's automated method of scanning emails for keywords to generate supposedly relevant advertising. "The gist of the scare campaign is that Google is a scary, scary company that reads your private emails in order to send you targeted ads. 'Even if you don't use Gmail, if you send email to someone who does, Google goes through those emails to generate advertising revenue too,' Microsoft warns in material sent to reporters. Oh, and Microsoft points out that six class-action lawsuits have been filed against Google over this issue, and asks people to sign a petition 'to tell Google to stop going through your personal email messages.'"
jones_supa sends this quote from Phoronix: "David Herrmann has provided an update on his ambitious initiative to kill off the Linux kernel console. Herrmann has long been working on making the Linux kernel CONFIG_VT option unnecessary for providing a Linux console by punting it off to user-space. The Linux kernel VT console hasn't been changed much in the past two decades and Herrmann is hoping to see it replaced with a user-space solution he's been developing that would allow for multi-seat support, a hardware-accelerated console, full internalization, and other features."
Andy Prough writes "Apparently those wise folks at Fox have figured out America's reluctance to invest as much money in solar energy as Germany — the Germans simply have more sun! Well, as Will Oremus from Slate points out, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Solar Resource map comparison of the U.S. and Germany, nothing could be further from the truth — Germany receives as much sunlight as the least lit U.S. state — Alaska."
johnsnails writes "Some of the biggest news sites in the world disappeared yesterday when Facebook took over the internet with a redirection bug. Visitors to sites such as The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, the Gawker network, NBC News and News.com.au were immediately transferred to a Facebook error page upon loading their intended site. It was fixed quickly, and Facebook provided this statement: 'For a short period of time, there was a bug that redirected people logging in with Facebook from third party sites to Facebook.com. The issue was quickly resolved, and Login with Facebook is now working as usual.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The New York Times is running a pair of stories about U.S. financial institutions being investigated by the Federal government and courts for alleged systemic and illegal activities that helped bring about the housing crisis and collapse of the world economy in 2008. Emails produced during courtroom discovery reveal that insiders at JP Morgan Chase knew that the bundles of securities they were marketing to investors were rotten with bad loans. And emails show the credit rating agency Standard & Poor's (a division of McGraw-Hill) was determined to stop losing deals to its competitors by being too tough on the banks whose products they were evaluating."
First time accepted submitter admiral snackbar writes "The European Court of Human Rights has declared that the copyright monopoly stands in direct conflict with fundamental Human Rights, as defined in the European Union and elsewhere. 'For the first time in a judgment on the merits, the European Court of Human Rights has clarified that a conviction based on copyright law for illegally reproducing or publicly communicating copyright protected material can be regarded as an interference with the right of freedom of expression and information under Article 10 of the European Convention [on Human Rights]. Such interference must be in accordance with the three conditions enshrined in the second paragraph of Article 10 of the Convention. This means that a conviction or any other judicial decision based on copyright law, restricting a person's or an organization's freedom of expression, must be pertinently motivated as being necessary in a democratic society, apart from being prescribed by law and pursuing a legitimate aim.'"
sciencehabit writes "A new study shows that ant pupae—a stage between larvae and adult—can communicate via sound, and that this communication can be crucial to their survival. The young insects have a specialized spike along their abdomen that they stroke with one of their hind legs, similar to dragging the teeth of a comb along the edge of a table. This noise serves primarily as an emergency beacon, allowing the ants to shout for help when being threatened by a predator."
cylonlover writes "Drones have become a valuable asset for any military force in recent years for both combat and surveillance. But while scanning a warzone from miles away is great from a tactical standpoint, unmanned aircraft can be just as useful in the hands of troops on the ground. That's why British soldiers in Afghanistan have been issued several Black Hornet Nanos, a palm-sized UAV that can scout around corners and obstacles for hidden dangers. Each UAV measures just 4 x 1 inches (10 x 2.5cm) and weighs a mere 0.6 ounces (16 grams), making it easy for troops to carry along with the rest of their gear. A built-in camera transmits live video and still images to a handheld control unit at a range of up to half a mile (800 meters)."
Rick Zeman writes "The Washington Post writes about how vendor fragmentation leads to security vulnerabilities and other exploits. This situation is '...making the world's most popular mobile operating system more vulnerable than its rivals to hackers, scam artists and a growing universe of malicious software' unlike Apple's iOS which they note has widely available updates several times a year. In light of many companies' Bring Your Own Device initiatives 'You have potentially millions of Androids making their way into the work space, accessing confidential documents,' said Christopher Soghoian, a former Federal Trade Commission technology expert who now works for the American Civil Liberties Union. 'It's like a really dry forest, and it's just waiting for a match.'"
First time accepted submitter Noctis-Kaban writes "Scientists in China have built and tested a radical new space drive. Although the thrust it produces may not be enough to lift your mobile phone, it looks like it could radically change the satellite industry. Satellites are just the start: with superconducting components, this technology could generate the thrust to drive everything from deep space probes to flying cars. And it all started with a British engineer whose invention was ignored and ridiculed in his home country."
Zothecula writes "Use digital technology long enough and you start to become dependent upon it for such mundane tasks as spell checking. That means when you pick up a garden variety ballpoint pen you're back in dictionary and 'I before E except after C' territory. The creators of the Lernstiftdigital pen hope to bring handwriting into the 21st century by having the pen vibrate to indicate when the writer makes spelling and grammatical errors or exhibits poor penmanship."
sciencehabit writes "The ancestor of all placental mammals—the diverse lineage that includes almost all species of mammals living today, including humans—was a tiny, furry-tailed creature that evolved shortly after the dinosaurs disappeared, a new study suggests. The hypothetical creature, not found in the fossil record but inferred from it, probably was a tree-climbing, insect-eating mammal that weighed between 6 and 245 grams—somewhere between a small shrew and a mid-sized rat. It was furry, had a long tail, gave birth to a single young, and had a complex brain with a large lobe for interpreting smells and a corpus callosum, the bundle of nerve fibers that connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain. The period following the dinosaur die-offs could be considered a 'big bang' of mammalian diversification, with species representing as many as 10 major groups of placentals appearing within a 200,000-year interval."
astroengine writes "The Earth has one permanent moon — you know, 'The Moon' — but at any given time there are thought to be two temporary interlopers that were once asteroids, but get captured by our planet's gravity to become mini-moons for a few months or even years. They eventually get flung back out into interplanetary space. This ultimate 'catch and release' provides an interesting opportunity for any future asteroid mission. So now astronomers want to find them, possibly using the newly-minted Hubble-class spy telescopes donated to NASA by the National Reconnaissance Office."
First time accepted submitter Hamsterdan writes "If you're tired of finding that your stuff has been smashed during shipping after opening your package, this device is for you. 'Called DropTag, the gadget combines a battery, a low-energy Bluetooth transmitter, an accelerometer and a memory chip. Stuck on a parcel as it leaves an e-commerce warehouse, it logs any g-forces above a set risky shock level that it experiences. The idea is that when the courier puts it in your hands, you turn on Bluetooth on a smartphone running a DropTag app and scan it before you sign for it.'"