Trailrunner7 writes "Google is in the process of developing a tool to help users generate strong passwords for the various and sundry Web sites for which they need to register and authenticate. The password-generator is meant to serve as an interim solution for users while Google and other companies continue to work on widespread deployment of the OpenID standard. The tool Google engineers are working on is a fairly simple one. For people who are using the Chrome browser, whenever a site presents them with a field that requires creating a password, Chrome will display a small key icon, letting the users know that they could allow Chrome to generate a password for them."
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Titus Andronicus writes "Years in the making, the major new release of VideoLAN's media player has better support for multicore processors, GPUs, and much, much more. From the announcement: 'Twoflower has a new rendering pipeline for video, with higher quality subtitles, and new video filters to enhance your videos. It supports many new devices and BluRay Discs (experimental). Completely reworked Mac and Web interfaces and improvements in the other interfaces make VLC easier than ever to use. Twoflower fixes several hundreds of bugs, in more than 7000 commits from 160 volunteers.'"
Lucas123 writes "New research shows that far more than wireless network or CPUs, the NAND flash memory in cell phones, and in particular smartphones, affects the device's performance when it comes to loading apps, surfing the web and loading and reading documents. In tests with top-selling 16GB smartphones, NAND flash memory slowed mobile app performance from two to three times with one exception, Kingston's embedded memory card; that card slowed app performance 20X. At the bottom of the bottleneck is the fact that while network and CPUs speeds have kept pace with mobile app development, flash throughput hasn't. The researchers from Georgia Tech and NEC Corp. are working on methods to improve flash performance (PDF), including using a PRAM buffer to stage writes or be used as the final location for the SQLite databases."
RedEaredSlider writes "Peter Stone, associate professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Austin, has presented an idea at the AAAS meeting today for managing intersections: a computer in a car calls ahead to the nearest intersection it is headed towards, and says it will arrive at a given time. The intersection checks to see if anyone else is arriving then, and if the slot is open, it tells the car to proceed. If it isn't, it tells the car that the car remains responsible for slowing down or stopping. He says that even with only a few connected cars, the system still works, even if the benefits are still only to those who have the connected vehicles."
New submitter fish waffle writes "The universities of Western Ontario and Toronto have signed a deal with Access Copyright that allows for surveillance of faculty correspondence, defines e-mailing hyperlinks as equivalent to photocopying a document, and imposes an annual $27.50 fee for every full-time equivalent student to pay for it all. Access Copyright is a licensing agency historically used by most universities in Canada to give them blanket permission to reproduce copyrighted works, largely to address photocopying concerns that may extend beyond basic fair-use. Since the expiration of this agreement, and with recognition that many academic uses do not require copyright permissions or payments or are already covered under vendor-specific agreements, Canadian academic institutions have been united in opposing continuation of the agreement with the agency. Access Copyright has countered with a proposal for increased fees, and expansion of the definition of copyright to include linking and the need for online surveillance. In a strange breaking of ranks, the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto have capitulated and signed agreements that basically accede to the licensing agency's demands. The Canadian Association of University Teachers bulletin provides detailed background on the issue (PDF)."
PolygamousRanchKid writes with this quote from CNN: "A Kenyan chief in a town far from the bustling capital foiled a predawn robbery recently using Twitter, highlighting the far-reaching effects of social media in areas that don't have access to the Internet. Chief Francis Kariuki said he got a call in the dead of the night that thieves had broken into a neighbor's house. Local residents, who subscribe to his tweets through a free text messaging service, jumped into action. They surrounded the house, sending the thugs fleeing into the night. In the town 100 miles from Nairobi, a majority of residents don't have access to computers, the Internet or smart phones. The sporadic cyber cafes strewn across the landscape charge for Internet access. However, almost every household has a cell phone and text messages are a major form of communication in the nation."
Diamonddavej writes "The BBC reports that software development student Glenn Mangham, a 26-year-old from the UK, was jailed 17 February 2012 for eight months for computer misuse, after he discovered serious Facebook security vulnerabilities. Hacking from his bedroom, Mangham gained access to three of Facebook's servers and was able to download to an external hard drive the social network's 'invaluable' intellectual property (source code). Mangham's defense lawyer, Mr. Ventham, pointed out that Mangham is an 'ethical hacker' and runs a tax registered security company. The court heard Mangham previously breached Yahoo's security, compiled a vulnerability report and passed on to Yahoo. He was paid '$7000 for this achievement,' and claims he was merely trying to repeat the same routine with Facebook. But in passing sentence, Judge Alistair McCreath said despite the fact he did not intend to pass on the information gathered, his actions were not harmless and had 'real consequences and very serious potential consequences' for Facebook. The case's prosecutor, Mr. Patel, said Facebook spent '$200,000 (£126,400) dealing with Mangham's crime.'"
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from the NY Times: "A new federal law, signed by the president on Tuesday, compels the Federal Aviation Administration to allow drones to be used for all sorts of commercial endeavors — from selling real estate and dusting crops, to monitoring oil spills and wildlife, even shooting Hollywood films. Local police and emergency services will also be freer to send up their own drones. But while businesses, and drone manufacturers especially, are celebrating the opening of the skies to these unmanned aerial vehicles, the law raises new worries about how much detail the drones will capture about lives down below — and what will be done with that information. Safety concerns like midair collisions and property damage on the ground are also an issue."
Barence writes "In 2006, AMD could seemingly do no wrong. Its processors were the fastest in the PC market, annual revenue was up a record 91%, expansion into the graphics game had begun with the high-profile acquisition of ATI, and it was making exciting plans for a future where it looked like it could 'smash Intel's chip monopoly' for good. Now the company is fighting for its very survival. How did AMD end up surrendering such a advantageous position – and was it given an unfair shove on the way down? This article has plotted AMD's decline, including the botched processor launches, the anti-competitive attacks from Intel and years of boardroom unrest."
An anonymous reader writes "In 1955, John Nash sent an amazing letter (PDF) to the NSA in order to support an encryption design that he suggested. In it, he anticipates computational complexity theory as well as modern cryptography. He also proposes that the security of encryption can be based on computational hardness and makes the distinction between polynomial time and exponential time: 'So a logical way to classify enciphering processes is by the way in which the computation length for the computation of the key increases with increasing length of the key. This is at best exponential and at worst probably at most a relatively small power of r, ar^2 or ar^3, as in substitution ciphers.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A preliminary settlement has been reached in the class-action lawsuit brought against Apple in June 2010 over the 'Antennagate' fiasco. Ira Rothken, co-lead counsel for the case, says there are 21 million people entitled to either $15 or a free bumper. 'The settlement comes from 18 separate lawsuits that were consolidated into one. All share the claim that Apple was "misrepresenting and concealing material information in the marketing, advertising, sale, and servicing of its iPhone 4 — particularly as it relates to the quality of the mobile phone antenna and reception and related software." The settlement has its own Web site, www.iPhone4Settlement.com, which will be up in the coming weeks (the site doesn't go anywhere right now). There, customers will be able to get information about the settlement and how to make a claim. As part of the arrangement, e-mails will also be sent alerting original buyers to the settlement before April 30, 2012. The claims period is then open for 120 days.'"
New submitter i-reek writes "Australian police, along with government agencies, are accessing phone and internet account information, outward and inward call details, phone and internet access location data, and details of IP addresses visited of Australian citizens, all without judicial warrants . In the last two years, some states have shown an increase of more than 50 per cent in these surveillance authorizations, which can be granted by senior police officers and officials instead of a magistrate or judge."
suraj.sun sends this quote from an article at Techdirt: "The federal government has been paying lip service to the idea that it wants to encourage new businesses and startups in the U.S. And this is truly important to the economy, as studies have shown that almost all of the net job growth in this country is coming from internet startups. ... With the JotForm situation unfolding, where the U.S. government shut down an entire website with no notice or explanation, people are beginning to recognize that the U.S is not safe for internet startups. Lots of folks have been passing around [a] rather reasonable list of activities for U.S.-based websites."
New submitter Dave_Minsky writes "The U.S. Secret Service responded to a FOIA request on Monday that reveals the names of the printer companies that cooperate with the government to identify and track potential counterfeiters. The Electronic Frontier Foundation revealed in 2005 that the U.S. Secret Service was in cahoots with selected laser printer companies to identify and track printer paper using tiny microscopic dots encoded into the paper. The tiny, yellow dots — less than a millimeter each — are printed in a pattern over each page and are only viewable with a blue light, a magnifying glass or a microscope. The pattern of dots is encodes identifiable information including printer model, and time and location where the document was printed." Easy enough to avoid government dots; just don't buy printers from Canon, Brother, Casio, HP, Konica, Minolta, Mita, Ricoh, Sharp, or Xerox.
einhverfr writes "Eugene Volokh has posted an interesting discussion of a bill that has been introduced in Arizona, which would tie public school educator conduct to the FCC standards for decency for radio and television. The bill is essentially a three strikes system, firing teachers if they violate FCC standards three times. While the goal of the bill may seem reasonable, the details strike me as silly."