symbolset writes "Most of you know about Planetary Resources, the asteroid mining company, and their Kickstarter campaign in the finest spirit of Heinlein's The Man Who Sold the Moon. The campaign has reached its minimum $1M goal to get funded with eight days left to go. In celebration, PR's CEO and Chief Asteroid Miner Chris Lewicki does an interview with Forbes where he discusses the future opportunities, the potential pitfalls, and the unlimited potential of private sector space exploitation. It's well worth the read. Planetary Resources' kickstarter has some worthy stretch goals that are well worth looking at, and the sort of supporter premiums that many Slashdotters will not want to miss. Only $175,000 more and they get a second ground station, at $2M they add exoplanet search capability. Both of these stretch goals are within reach."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
New submitter frost_knight writes "Travel blogger Turner Barr discovered that his entire brand, image, and web personality has been hijacked by a multi-billion dollar company for use in a marketing campaign. 'The video for their marketing campaign was particularly creepy for me, as even my age and personality didn’t escape the level of detail spent on creating this doppelganger (they used a paid actor of course). ... I’m no longer even the first thing that comes up when you Google my brand name. I’ve turned down work opportunities and put on hold any future travel job plans to deal with lawyers, long distance phone calls, corporate executives and other such nonsense — all along feeling misled and patronized. This situation has been extremely confusing for not only myself, but also for participants in company’s marketing campaign who message me thinking that I am am part of the company.'"
MojoKid writes "Google (and many other tech manufacturers lately), have been evangelizing the mantra that technology is here to enhance and improve our lives, not get in the way; in the truest sense to 'serve humanity.' Recent events and breakthroughs in the healthcare industry, which make use of leading-edge technology, illustrate this vision better than any marketing or ad campaign could ever possibly hope to. Dr. Rafael Grossman strapped on his Google Glass eyewear to become the first 'Glass Explorer Surgeon.' The procedure involved is called Gastrostomy, a process by which a surgeon inserts a feeding tube into a patient's abdomen. In this case, the good doctor performed the procedure endoscopically, such that he was able to display the entire procedure and the view of it directly as it was being performed. The opportunities for remote medical consultation, mentoring and even real-time guidance are obvious with the sort of technology that products like Google Glass bring to the table. It's always nice to hear stories of how not only 'quality of life' is improved but how lives are actually saved as a result of these magnificent inventions we create."
Daniel_Stuckey writes "At a moment when governments and corporations alike are hellbent on snooping through your personal digital messages, it'd sure be nice if there was a font their dragnets couldn't decipher. So Sang Mun built one. Sang, a recent graduate from the Rhode Island Schoold of Design, has unleashed ZXX — a 'disruptive typeface' that he says is much more difficult to the NSA and friends to decrypt. He's made it free to download on his website, too. 'The project started with a genuine question: How can we conceal our fundamental thoughts from artificial intelligences and those who deploy them?' he writes. 'I decided to create a typeface that would be unreadable by text scanning software (whether used by a government agency or a lone hacker) — misdirecting information or sometimes not giving any at all. It can be applied to huge amounts of data, or to personal correspondence.' He named it after the Library of Congress's labeling code ZXX, which archivists employ when they find a book that contains 'no linguistic content.'"
nk497 writes "Are you more likely to die from cancer or be wiped out by a malevolent computer? That thought has been bothering one of the co-founders of Skype so much he teamed up with Oxbridge researchers in the hopes of predicting what machine super-intelligence will mean for the world, in order to mitigate the existential threat of new technology – that is, the chance it will destroy humanity. That idea is being studied at the University of Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute and the newly launched Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge, where philosophers look more widely at the possible repercussions of nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence and other innovations — and to try to avoid being outsmarted by technology."
1sockchuck writes "A big chunk of the Azure cloud will be living on the plains of Iowa. Microsoft will invest another $700 million to expand its Iowa data center campus near Des Moines, marking the third major server farm for the state this year. Facebook recently announced a new data center in Altoona. The same day, Google said it would put another $400 million into its facility in Council Bluffs. Why Iowa? Aggressive tax incentives and a central location to bridge the distance between these companies' east and west coast server footprints."
New submitter fineous fingers writes "U.S. computer security researcher Georgia Weidman has revealed on her blog that a fellow speaker at the Confidence security conference in Krakow, Poland attempted to rape her. The attack occurred in her hotel room in the early morning hours of 28 May. Luckily, Georgia was able to fend her attacker off by clocking him in the head with a coffee mug. I was personally at this conference, but was staying at a different hotel and found out about it after the fact. It was Georgia herself that told me after she gave her fantastic talk on Leveraging Mobile Devices on Pentests. That she was able to give a flawless presentation later that day and had the courage to talk about the attack on her blog shows how awesome she really is."
hypnosec writes "World's largest Bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox, has halted U.S. dollar withdrawals of customer funds in the U.S., citing a need for system improvements. According to Mt. Gox, the exchange has experienced a huge number of requests for deposits as well as withdrawals from both established markets and new markets, following which its bank hasn't been able to process transactions on time. This led to difficulties for its overseas clients, especially those in the U.S. The exchange said that the deposits in USD, transfers to Mt. Gox, and deposits and withdrawals in other currencies will remain unaffected during this period. Mt. Gox will be resuming the USD withdrawals for its U.S. clients once the improvement of its systems is complete." Wired suggests the slowness may be due in part to reluctance from banks to get entwined with Bitcoin for a number of reasons. "The problem is that U.S. banks are afraid that doing business with Bitcoin companies might draw the attention of U.S. or state regulators ... This reluctance may be fed by the sense that Bitcoin poses a threat to the banking industry. Anyone can transfer Bitcoins anywhere for free and that could put a dent in some banking transaction processing fees."
An anonymous reader writes "Maybe you've been intrigued about working at Google (video), but unfortunately you slept through some of those economics classes way back in college. And you wouldn't know how to begin figuring out how many fish there are in the Great Lakes. Relax; Google has decided that GPAs and test scores are pretty much useless for evaluating candidates, except (as a weak indicator) for fresh college graduates. And they've apparently retired brain teasers as an interview screening device (though that's up for debate). SVP Laszlo Beck admitted to the New York Times that an internal evaluation of the effectiveness of its interview process produced sobering results: 'We looked at tens of thousands of interviews, and everyone who had done the interviews and what they scored the candidate, and how that person ultimately performed in their job. We found zero relationship. It's a complete random mess.' This sounds similar to criticism of Google's hiring process occasionally levied by outsiders. Beck says Google also isn't convinced of the efficacy of big data in judging the merits of employees either for individual contributor or leadership roles, although they haven't given up on it either." This has led TechCrunch to declare that the technical interview will soon be dead.
CowboyRobot writes "Despite strong advertising industry opposition, Mozilla is advancing plans to have the Firefox browser block, by default, many types of tracking used by numerous websites, and especially advertisers. 'We're trying to change the dynamic so that trackers behave better,' Brendan Eich, CTO of Firefox developer Mozilla, told The Washington Post. According to NetMarketShare, 21% of the world's computers run Firefox. Eich said the blocking technology, which is still being refined, will go live in the next few months. The blocking technology is based on that used by Apple's Safari browser, which blocks all third-party cookies. Advertisers use these types of cookies to track users across multiple websites. Mozilla's cookie-blocking efforts follow a Do Not Track capability being adopted by all major browsers. But the DNT effort stalled in November 2012, after advertisers stopped participating in the program, following Microsoft making DNT active by default in Internet Explorer 10. Advertisers wanted the feature to be not active by default."
An anonymous reader writes "According to The Guardian, the UK government is tapping fiber-optic cables that carry global communications and gathering vast amounts of data. The British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has been sharing the data with its American counterpart, the NSA. 'The sheer scale of the agency's ambition is reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation, aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible. This is all being carried out without any form of public acknowledgement or debate. ... The documents reveal that by last year GCHQ was handling 600m "telephone events" each day, had tapped more than 200 fibre-optic cables and was able to process data from at least 46 of them at a time.'"
jamaicaplain sends this quote from the NY Times: "Facebook has inadvertently exposed six million users' phone numbers and e-mail addresses to unauthorized viewers over the last year, the company said late Friday. Facebook blamed the data leaks, which began in 2012, on a technical flaw in its huge archive of contact information collected from its 1.1 billion users worldwide. As a result of the problem, Facebook users who downloaded contact data for their list of friends obtained additional information that they were not supposed to have. Facebook's security team was alerted to the problem last week and fixed it within 24 hours. But Facebook did not publicly acknowledge the flaw until Friday afternoon, when it published a message on its blog explaining the situation."
theodp writes "As Steve Wozniak publicly laments how government used new technologies he introduced in unintended ways to monitor people, the NY Times reports how the digital masterminds behind the Obama Presidential campaign are cashing in by bringing the secret, technologically advanced formulas used for reaching voters to commercial advertisers. 'The plan is to bring the same Big Data expertise that guided the most expensive presidential campaign in history to companies and nonprofits,' explains Civis Analytics, which is backed by Google Chairman and Obama advisor Eric Schmidt. Also boasting senior members of Obama's campaign team is Analytics Media Group (A.M.G.), which pitched that 'keeping gamblers loyal to Caesars was not all that different from keeping onetime Obama voters from straying to Mitt Romney.' The extent to which the Obama campaign used the newest tech tools to look into people's lives was largely shrouded, the Times reports, but included data mining efforts that triggered Facebook's internal safeguard alarms. ... 'We asked to see [voter's Facebook] photos but really we were looking for who were tagged in photos with you, which was a really great way to dredge up old college friends — and ex-girlfriends.' The Times also explains how the Obama campaign was able to out-optimize the Romney campaign on TV buys by obtaining set-top box TV show viewing information from cable companies for voters on the Obama campaign's 'persuadable voters' list. "
hypnosec writes that the first ever practical implementation of the stored program concept took place 65 years ago, "as the Manchester Small Scale Experimental Machine aka 'Baby' became the world's first computer to run an electronically stored program on June 21, 1948. The 'Baby' was developed by Frederic C. Williams, Tom Kilburn and Geoff Tootill at the University of Manchester. 'Baby' served as a testbed for the experimental Williams-Kilburn tube – a cathode ray tube that was used to store binary digits, aka bits. The reason this became a milestone in computing history was that up until 'Baby' ran the first electronically stored program, there was no means of storing and accessing this information in a cost-effective and flexible way."
The phone-hacking scandal that's surrounded Rupert Murdoch's tabloid empire is bad enough, but according to a newly revealed report, it's small potatoes compared to what some other companies have been doing in the UK. Presto Vivace writes with this excerpt from The Independent: "Soca, dubbed 'Britain's FBI,' knew six years ago that blue-chip institutions were hiring private investigators to obtain sensitive data – yet did next to nothing to disrupt the unlawful trade. The report was privately supplied to the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics in 2012 yet the corruption in other identified industries, including the law, insurance and debt collectors, and among high-net worth individuals, was not mentioned during the public sessions or included in the final report." Further: "Illegal practices identified by Soca investigators went well beyond the relatively simple crime of voicemail hacking and included live phone interceptions, police corruption, computer hacking and perverting the course of justice."