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The Courts

Supreme Court OKs Stop and Search Based On Anonymous 911 Tips

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the someone-said-you-were-a-sinner dept.
An anonymous reader writes "On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police officers are legally allowed to stop and search vehicles based solely on anonymous 911 tips. Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority opinion, reasoned that 'a 911 call has some features that allow for identifying and tracking callers' as well as for recording their calls, both of which he believed gave anonymous callers enough reliability for police officers to act on their tips with reasonable suspicion against the people being reported.

The specific case before them involved an anonymous woman who called 911 to report a driver who forced her off the road. She gave the driver's license plate number and the make and model of his car as well as the location of the incident in question. Police officers later found him, pulled him over, smelled marijuana, and searched his car. They found 30 pounds of weed and subsequently arrested the driver. The driver later challenged the constitutionality of the arrest, claiming that a tip from an anonymous source was unreliable and therefore failed to meet the criteria of reasonable suspicion, which would have justified the stop and search. Five of the nine justices disagreed with him."
The ruling itself (PDF).
AI

Face Recognition Algorithm Finally Outperforms Humans 15

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the man-is-obsolete dept.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "Face recognition has come a long way in recent years. In ideal lighting conditions, given the same pose, facial expression etc, it easily outperforms humans. But the real world isn't like that. People grow beards, wear make up and glasses, make strange faces and so on, which makes the task of facial recognition tricky even for humans. A well-known photo database called Labelled Faces in the Wild captures much of this variation. It consists of 13,000 face images of almost 6000 public figures collected off the web. When images of the same person are paired, humans can correctly spot matches and mismatches 97.53 per cent of the time. By comparison, face recognition algorithms have never come close to this. Now a group of computer scientists have developed a new algorithm called GaussianFace that outperforms humans in this task for the first time. The algorithm normalises each face into a 150 x 120 pixel image by transforming it based on five image landmarks: the position of both eyes, the nose and the two corners of the mouth. After being trained on a wide variety of images in advance, it can then compare faces looking for similarities. It does this with an accuracy of 98.52 per cent; the first time an algorithm has beaten human-level performance in such challenging real-world conditions. You can test yourself on some of the image pairs on the other side of the link."
Education

Supreme Court Upholds Michigan's Ban On Affirmative Action In College Admissions 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the sensitive-subjects dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "The Supreme Court, by a vote of 6 — 2, has upheld a Michigan law banning the use of racial criteria in college admissions, finding that a lower court did not have the authority to set aside the measure approved in a 2006 referendum supported by 58% of voters. 'This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it,' wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy. 'Michigan voters used the initiative system to bypass public officials who were deemed not responsive to the concerns of a majority of the voters with respect to a policy of granting race-based preferences that raises difficult and delicate issues.' Kennedy's core opinion in the Michigan case seems to exalt referenda as a kind of direct democracy that the courts should be particularly reluctant to disturb. This might be a problem for same-sex marriage opponents if a future Supreme Court challenge involves a state law or constitutional amendment enacted by voters.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor reacted sharply in disagreeing with the decision in a 58 page dissent. 'For members of historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights, the decision can hardly bolster hope for a vision of democracy (PDF) that preserves for all the right to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government.' The decision was the latest step in a legal and political battle over whether state colleges can use race and gender as a factor in choosing what students to admit. Michigan has said minority enrollment at its flagship university, the University of Michigan, has not gone down since the measure was passed. Civil rights groups dispute those figures and say other states have seen fewer African-American and Hispanic students attending highly competitive schools, especially in graduate level fields like law, medicine, and science."
Games

'The Door Problem' of Game Design 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the making-adoorable-games dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Game design is one of those jobs everybody thinks they can do. After all, they've played a few games, and they know what they liked and disliked, right? How hard could it be? Well, professional game designer Liz England has summed up the difficulty of the job and the breadth of knowledge needed to do it in what she calls 'the door problem.' Quoting: 'Premise: You are making a game. Are there doors in your game? Can the player open them? Can the player open every door in the game? What tells a player a door is locked and will open, as opposed to a door that they will never open? What happens if there are two players? Does it only lock after both players pass through the door? What if the level is REALLY BIG and can't all exist at the same time?' This is just a few of the questions that need answering. She then goes through how other employees in the company respond to the issue, often complicating it. 'Network Programmer: "Do all the players need to see the door open at the same time?" Release Engineer: "You need to get your doors in by 3pm if you want them on the disk." Producer: "Do we need to give everyone those doors or can we save them for a pre-order bonus?"'"
Portables

The $5,600 Tablet 49

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Tablets have come a long way in the past few years, and it has become possible to find a capable device for under $200. But what about the tablets pushing toward the high end of the spectrum? Xplore Technologies sells a line of tablets that top out at $5,600. Who on earth would pay that much? The military, of course. 'The DMSR models both have handles and are encased in tough protective covers. They can be dropped more than 2 meters onto a plywood floor and 1.2 meters onto concrete, and can operate in temperatures between -30 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 to 60 degrees Celsius). They've been tested to the U.S. military's tough MIL-STD-810G standard for extreme conditions. The tablets run Windows and come with Intel's latest Core i5 or i7 Haswell processors. Solid-state drive options extend to 480GB. ... They display images at 1024 x 768 resolution. That's less than some cheaper Windows tablets, but Xplore claims to offer excellent LCD visibility in sunlight thanks to a display luminescence of 1,300 NITS. The tablets have internal fans but can still run for up to eight-and-a-half hours on a 10-cell battery, Xplore said. They weigh a hefty 2.4 kilograms.'"
Networking

WRT54G Successor Falls Flat On Promises 72

Posted by Soulskill
from the too-good-to-be-true dept.
New submitter JImbob0i0 writes: "Back in January, Linksys/Belkin made a big deal about their new router, the WRT1900AC, which they claimed was a successor to the venerable WRT54G, and how they were working with OpenWRT. They released it this week, but their promises have fallen far short. You need to apply patches (which don't apply cleanly) and compile yourself in order to get it to work... so long as you don't need wireless support. There has not been much response from Linksys on the mailing list to criticism of the improperly formatted patch dump and poor reviews as a result."
Cellphones

Google's Project Ara Could Bring PC-Like Hardware Ecosystem To Phones 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the without-the-liquid-cooling-i-hope dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Now that Google's modular phone effort, Project Ara, looks a bit less like vaporware, people are starting to figure out its implications for the future of cellphones. One fascinating possibility is that it could transform the cellphone purchasing process into something resembling desktop computer purchasing. Enthusiasts could search out the individual parts they like the best and assemble them into cellphone Voltron. People who just want a decent phone with no hassle could look at pre-built offerings — and not just from Apple, Samsung, and the like. It could open up a whole new group of phone 'manufacturers.' Of course, this comes with drawbacks, too — if you think fragmentation is bad now, imagine trying to support thousands of different hardware combinations."
Role Playing (Games)

BioWare Announces Dragon Age Inquisition For October 7th 49

Posted by Soulskill
from the nobody-expects-the-dragonish-inquisition dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Today BioWare announced a new game in its popular Dragon Age RPG series titled Inquisition. The game will follow the story of an Inquisitor trying to rally the world against the magic-laden forces spewing from rifts opening to another place. The game's creative director, Mike Laidlaw, says players will be able to watch the world descend into chaos, and then deal with the burdens of power as they rally forces in opposition. BioWare is also taking the opportunity to fix all of the things they broke in Dragon Age 2: 'Top-down tactical view is back. Playable races are back. The game seems to have more of an emphasis on challenge thanks to non-regenerative health.' The game will launch on October 7th for the PC, PS3/4, and Xbox 360/One."
The Almighty Buck

How Silk Road Bounced Back From Its Multimillion-Dollar Hack 35

Posted by Soulskill
from the easy-come-easy-go dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes: "Silk Road, the online marketplace notable for selling drugs and attempting to operate over Tor, was shut down last October. Its successor, Silk Road 2.0 survived for a few months before suffering a security breach. In total, an estimated $2.7 million worth of Bitcoin belonging to users and staff of the site was stolen. Some in the Silk Road community suspected that the hack might have involved staff members of the site itself, echoing scams on other sites. Project Black Flag closed down after its owner scampered with all of their customers' Bitcoin, and after that users of Sheep Marketplace had their funds stolen, in an incident that has never been conclusively proven as an inside job or otherwise. Many site owners would probably have given up at this point, and perhaps attempted to join another site, or start up a new one under a different alias. Why would you bother to pay back millions of dollars when you could just disappear into the digital ether? But Silk Road appears to be trying to rebuild, and to repay users' lost Bitcoins."
Cellphones

How Apple's Billion Dollar Sapphire Bet Will Pay Off 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the sapphires-now-require-proprietary-connectors dept.
alphadogg writes: "Apple is making a billion dollar bet on sapphire as a strategic material for mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPad and perhaps an iWatch. Exactly what the company plans to do with the scratch-resistant crystal – and when – is still the subject of debate. Apple is creating its own supply chain devoted to producing and finishing synthetic sapphire crystal in unprecedented quantities. The new Mesa, Arizona plant, in a partnership with sapphire furnace maker GT Advanced Technologies, will make Apple one of the world's largest sapphire producers when it reaches full capacity, probably in late 2014. By doing so, Apple is assured of a very large amount of sapphire and insulates itself from the ups and downs of sapphire material pricing in the global market."
United States

The US Public's Erratic Acceptance of Science 347

Posted by Soulskill
from the pi-is-exactly-3 dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. general population is often the butt of jokes with regard to their understanding of science. A survey by the Associated Press now shows just how arbitrary and erratic the public's dissent can be. 'The good news is that more than 80 percent of those surveyed are strongly confident that smoking causes cancer; only four percent doubt it. Roughly 70 percent accepted that we have a genome and that mental illness is seated in the brain; about 20 percent were uncertain on these subjects, and the doubters were few. But things go downhill from there. Only about half of the people accepted that vaccines are safe and effective, with 15 percent doubting. And that's one of the controversial topics where the public did well. As for humanity's role in climate change, 33 percent accepted, 28 percent were unsure, and 37 percent fell in the doubter category. For a 4.5-billion-year-old Earth and a 13.8-billion-year-old Big Bang, acceptance was below 30 percent. Fully half of the public doubted the Big Bang (PDF).'"
Music

Groove Basin: Quest For the Ultimate Music Player 72

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-dangerous-to-go-alone,-take-this-ipod dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Andrew Kelley was a big fan of the Amarok open source music player. But a few years ago, its shortcomings were becoming more annoying and the software's development path no longer matched with the new features he wanted. So he did what any enterprising hacker would do: he started work on a replacement. Three and a half years later, his project, Groove Basin, has evolved into a solid music player, and it's still under active development. Kelley has now posted a write-up of his development process, talking about what problems he encountered, how he solved them, and how he ended up contributing code to libav."
Education

Parents' Privacy Concerns Kill 'Personalized Learning' Initiative 71

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-care-too-much-about-our-kids-to-care-about-our-kids dept.
theodp writes: "You may recall that inBloom is a data initiative that sought to personalize learning. GeekWire's Tricia Duryee now reports that inBloom, which was backed by $100 million from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others, is closing up shop after parents worried that its database technology was violating their children's privacy. According to NY Times coverage (reg.), the inBloom database tracked 400 different data fields about students — including family relationships ('foster parent' or 'father's significant other') and reasons for enrollment changes ('withdrawn due to illness' or 'leaving school as a victim of a serious violent incident') — that parents objected to, prompting some schools to recoil from the venture. In a statement, inBloom CEO Iwan Streichenberger said that personalized learning was still an emerging concept, and complained that the venture had been 'the subject of mischaracterizations and a lightning rod for misdirected criticism.' He added, 'It is a shame that the progress of this important innovation has been stalled because of generalized public concerns about data misuse, even though inBloom has world-class security and privacy protections that have raised the bar for school districts and the industry as a whole.' [Although it was still apparently vulnerable to Heartbleed.] Gates still has a couple of irons left in the data-driven personalized learning fire via his ties to Code.org, which seeks 7 years of participating K-12 students' data, and Khan Academy, which recently attracted scrutiny over its data-privacy policies."
Intel

Next-Gen Thunderbolt: Twice as Fast, But a Different Connector 122

Posted by Soulskill
from the bring-on-the-4k dept.
Details have leaked about the next iteration of Intel's Thunderbolt connector. The good news: bandwidth will double, going up to about 40Gbps from its current 20. Power usage will drop by half, and it'll support PCI-e 3.0. The bad news: it uses a redesigned connector, and will rely on adapters for backward compatibility. From the article: "Doubling the available bandwidth will enable next-generation Thunderbolt controllers to drive two 4K displays simultaneously, where current controllers can only drive one. The new controllers will allegedly be compatible with a variety of other protocols as well, including DisplayPort 1.2, USB 3.0, and HDMI 2.0. Intel will offer two different versions of the controller—a version that uses four PCI Express lanes to drive two Thunderbolt ports and an "LP" (presumably "Low Power") version that uses two PCI Express lanes to drive one port."
IOS

Apple Fixes Major SSL Bug In OS X, iOS 81

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-broken-security-stuff dept.
Trailrunner7 writes: "Apple has fixed a serious security flaw present in many versions of both iOS and OS X and could allow an attacker to intercept data on SSL connections. The bug is one of many the company fixed Tuesday in its two main operating systems, and several of the other vulnerabilities have serious consequences as well, including the ability to bypass memory protections and run arbitrary code. The most severe of the vulnerabilities patched in iOS 7.1.1 and OSX Mountain Lion and Mavericks is an issue with the secure transport component of the operating systems. If an attacker was in a man-in-the-middle position on a user's network, he might be able to intercept supposedly secure traffic or change the connection's properties."

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