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Submission + - Uber clone Ola India aided disaster recovery efforts in a flood hit metropolis. (

140Mandak262Jamuna writes: Ola is a uber clone quite popular in India. Last week there were very heavy rains in Southern India and one of its major cities got severely affected by the heavy rains. The Ola taxi drivers banded together with local fishermen and rescued people stranded by the floods. It seems to be a spontaneous local innovation. Ola management was neither aware of it nor got the idea nor approved it.

This is probably a great idea, worthy of being developed further. If the emergency, police, fire and ambulance services integrate their crews and vehicles to plug in to the taxi calling app infrastructure, it would help them find the people in need of services quicker. Or Android and iOS could include an emergency assistance request app and provide the emergency crews with the client software to inter-operate with the callers. Probably some sort of neutral open standard protocol could be developed by our universities, using slave labor of graduate students of comp sci/engg departments.

Imagine how well it would have worked in a situation like Katrina in New Orleans if the people stranded in the attic would be able hail emergency helicopters...

(I was in Chennai last week, and the rains were not really all that much above average. It was just 20 cm in one day. But almost all the lakes and ponds in around the city have encroached upon by unscrupulous real estate agents, in cahoots with local politicians. Almost all the affected localities were former lakes and ponds. So much of the land was paved over, there was some runoff issue and some flooded underpasses. But water was just waist deep in all those areas. Surprisingly the power grid held, and the cell towers were functional most of the time. It should not have been a disaster at all, just blessed rain bringing valuable fresh water. But ...)

Submission + - Intuit reverses course. Turbo tax 2014 Deluxe support schedule D

140Mandak262Jamuna writes: Intuit quietly removed support for schedule D and C from Turbo Tax 2014, forcing people to upgrade to Premier version. It created a huge backlash from the customers. Slashdot covered it on Jan 12. There were a lot of media coverage too. Some VP was posting in the amazon reviews trying to spin the news. Suggesting things like it is still possible to file Schedule D in the "forms" mode. [ Forms mode just saves a trip to the post office or to to download the forms. That is all, it is print it out, fill it up and mail it in option. ]

Eventually Intuit has reversed course and is posting in reviews, that it is going to refund the money to people who were forced to upgrade, and add the feature back to Deluxe version and promises never to do it again.

TurboTax Desktop Customers:

We recently communicated to you about the changes we made to TurboTax desktop software products. The message back to me was clear — you want your TurboTax desktop product to do what it always has done — handle the same tax situations as it did in years past. We've heard you and here's what we going to do.

1. Beginning February 7, returning Deluxe desktop customers who need to upgrade can do so within the product for free, making it simple and seamless.

2. For returning customers who have already upgraded to Premier or Home & Business, we are continuing to offer $25 cash back through April 20. Just go to where we've streamlined the process.

3. Next year, we're changing back to the TurboTax desktop software you know and love by restoring the forms that you've counted on for years (and for some of you, decades).

We will be communicating this to customers in the coming days.

I realize this hasn't been easy on you, and I'm sorry for that. I also recognize that it took us too long to make this right. We are committed to earning your trust again.

Bob Meighan, VP, TurboTax

Submission + - Charlie Hebdo publishes a picture of Mohammad (

140Mandak262Jamuna writes: Charlie Hebdo ups the ante. From the pictures released to the media I am not able to see where the figure depicted is marked as the Prophet Mohammad. But, if it is true, as claimed by almost all the media outlets, that it was indeed a depiction of the Prophet Mohammad, it is really a big deal. This escalates the confrontation, and forces Muslims, at least those who live in the Western democracies to accept that "non muslims can draw pictures of Mohammad, and they do not have the right to retaliate against it".

Charlie Hebdo is more anti-clerical than anti-islam. Even the earlier depiction of Mohammad that provoked the assault actually shows Mohammad being beheaded by the terrorists for being an infidel. Very provocative, but still it is anti-clerical than anti-islam.

I am not sure the media description make that distinction.

Submission + - Neil DeGrasse Tyson Explains his Christmas Tweet. ( 1

140Mandak262Jamuna writes: Neil DeGrasse Tyson tweeted on christmas day what appeared to begin as a tribute to Infant Jesus, but ended up celebrating Isaac Newton who shares his birthday with Jesus, (with sufficient allowances for the estimate of Jesus' and the confusion between Gregorian and Julian calenders for Newton). Apparently this was retweeted some 77000 times, far above his average of 3.5K retweets. He doubled down on it by tweeting about people being offended by objective truths. Then wrote a fuller explanation.

Submission + - Slashdot Beta. How to filter ? How to get to my comment? 3

140Mandak262Jamuna writes: 1. In the slashdot beta I don't see the knob that lets you see more stories or less. Did I miss something, and it is under some obscure icon? Or is it gone?

2. When I post a comment, I often go my profile, find my latest comments, expand the threads there to see if there are any follow ups. In beta I am not able to get to my comment. It gives me the whole story. Will there be a link to a specific comment and the local view of that thread alone?

Submission + - Facebook + Instagram asking for photo IDs (

140Mandak262Jamuna writes: Apparently Facebook and Instagram are asking their account holders to verify their identity using government issued photo ids that include their full name and date of birth. Your account has been secured and requires account validation. Please login to from your desktop computer to validate your identify. is the message they are getting, according to CNET. CNET is speculating that it is an attempt by these companies to crack down on underage users because they are worried about the liability.

And here in slashdot we are obsessing with privacy and google getting to collect so much of info etc etc. Out there there are people who seem to be willing to upload their IDs to these sites, and think it is a fair price to pay for these services. Is there a site that will give a fake photoshopped government issued ID to upload to such services?


Submission + - Indian engineering students develop solar powered moped (

140Mandak262Jamuna writes: The Tamil language newspaper news item reads, "Two engineering students [name, college] have developed a moped that runs on electricity charged by solar panels. It takes 8 hours to be fully charged. It has a range of 35 Km (19 miles). The moped is built entirely using parts salvaged from scrap yards. Commuters can charge it while working and return home. With more than 8 hours of power cut in the grid, ability to charge using solar panels is indispensable. It costs 60,000 Indian Rupees (1250$) and we hope to reduce the price down to 25,000 Rs (500$) in mass production".

If it takes 1250$ using scrap yard salvaged parts, I am not sure how it is going to be 500$ in mass production. But still it is a good attempt and a nice project for engineering college students.


Submission + - Digg overrunn with spammers!

140Mandak262Jamuna writes: Conservative activists have been caught banding together to digg or bury news stories of the progressives. Blogger oleoleolson writes in alternet: A group of influential conservative members of the behemoth social media site have just been caught red-handed in a widespread campaign of censorship, having multiple accounts, upvote padding, and deliberately trying to ban progressives. An undercover investigation has exposed this effort, which has been in action for more than one year. The article details the modus operandi of the net-mob.

Submission + - Why Chrome browser chokes on text files?

140Mandak262Jamuna writes: I am trying to use Chrome to display some text files with non standard extensions (or no extensions like Imakefile). All the browsers handle this nicely. But Chrome keeps throwing up the file save dialog instead of just rendering the damn file with some fixed with font. Others are also reporting the same issue. Wondering why Chrome made it so difficult? I tried to make Chrome the default file handler for text files, (instead of notepad) that did not help. How does Firefox detect the file:/// resource is text file and displays it without fuss? Where is the file extension and mime type association defined for Chrome?

Submission + - "Blaming IE is simplistic" says PCMag. (

140Mandak262Jamuna writes: PC Magazine is defending Internet Explorer with this piece contending the browser is merely a messenger and there could be more holes, and blaming IE is simplistic and provides a false sense of security.

It is worth noting that Kurtz used the phrase "one of the malware samples", implying that there are others and that additional attack vectors may be involved. There is a fair chance that Internet Explorer is not alone in enabling the attacks.

It concludes:

The main thing to keep in mind is that these attacks go beyond Internet Explorer and that simply switching browsers is not an adequate defense. Kurtz sums it up on his blog "The world has changed. Everyone's threat model now needs to be adapted to the new reality of these advanced persistent threats. In addition to worrying about Eastern European cybercriminals trying to siphon off credit card databases, you have to focus on protecting all of your core intellectual property, private non-financial customer information and anything else of intangible value."


Submission + - HP ships Linux on its netbooks quietly

140Mandak262Jamuna writes: HP is including Linux in its 110 series of netbooks that are shipping now. It goes by various names QuickWeb or Instant Web. When you power on these netbooks, they boot into a splashtop linux instance. The OS is locked down and only the predefined applications could be run. They are browser, photo viewer, music player, skype and some file browser to view files on USB drives. WiFi works. Then if the you want Windows7 or WinXP, you press a button and the machine boots to a full Windows machine.

The Linux part can not see the hard disk of the machine. I just got the machine yesterday and have not poked around much to know how much it can be hacked. The browser is Firefox, I have not even checked to see if I can install noscript on it.

For most users of netbook, this is a very good deal. When you are in a public wifi in a coffee shop or an airport, you are guaranteed not to pick up a virus. I am not saying Linux is more secure or FireFox is more secure. Simply if you stay within QuickWeb or InstantWeb, there is no way any file can be written to the Windows disk at all!

This is such a big brand differentiation and it can be touted to high degree. But HP for some strange reason is very quiet about this feature in its ads and press releases. From business stand point, every company would strive for brand differentiation so that they dont compete on price alone. Quite strange HP is so silent about it. People are spending on purchase and subscriptions to antivirus software. All that revenue could be targeted by selling a device that is guaranteed not to be infected. Once many users realize that they rarely boot to full windows, they and their circle of friends and family would become more receptive to cheaper plain net access devices in various form factors.

I am very sure Microsoft is giving HP hell for this move behind the scenes. Is it the first sign of PC vendors growing a back bone? Or the lackluster promotion of this feature bodes ill for such an experiment? I wonder.

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