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Submission + - Over 10,000 Problems Fixed In Detroit Thanks To Cellphone App (

An anonymous reader writes: Six months ago, Detroit's city officials launched a smartphone app called "Improve Detroit." The idea was to give residents a way to easily inform city hall of problems that needed to be fixed. For example: potholes, abandoned vehicles, broken hydrants and traffic lights, water leaks, and more. Since that time, over 10,000 issues have been fixed thanks to reports from that app. "Residents have long complained about city hall ignoring litter and broken utilities. But the app has provided a more transparent and direct approach to fixing problems." Perhaps most significant is its effect on the water supply: running water has been shut off to almost a thousand abandoned structures, and over 500 water main breaks have been located with the app's help. Crowd-sourced city improvement — imagine if apps like this become ubiquitous.

Submission + - School Defied Google and US Government, Let Boys Program White House Xmas Trees

theodp writes: This holiday season, Google and the National Parks partnered to let girls program the White House Christmas tree lights. While the initiative earned kudos in Fast Company's 9 Giant Leaps For Women In Science and Technology In 2014, it also prompted an act of civil disobedience of sorts from St. Augustine of Canterbury School, which decided Google and the U.S. government wouldn't determine which of their kids would be allowed to participate in the coding event. "We decided to open it up to all our students, both boys and girls so that they could be a part of such an historic event, and have it be the kickoff to our Hour of Code week," explained Debra Knox, a technology teacher at St. Augustine.

Submission + - Starbucks offers workers 2 years of free college (

mpicpp writes: Starbucks baristas working through college are about to get an extra boost from their employer.
The company announced it will offer both full- and part-time employees a generous tuition reimbursement benefit that covers two full years of classes.

The benefit is through a partnership with Arizona State University's online studies program. Employees can choose any of more than 40 undergraduate degrees, and aren't limited to only business classes.

Submission + - George R R Martin Reveals His Secret Weapon for Writing GOT- Wordstar

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Ryan Reed writes that when most Game of Thrones fans imagine George R.R. Martin writing his epic fantasy novels, they probably picture the author working on a futuristic desktop (or possibly carving his words onto massive stones like the Ten Commandments). But the truth is that Martin works on an outdated DOS machine using Eighties word processor WordStar 4.0, as he revealed during an interview on Conan. "I actually like it," says Martin. "It does everything I want a word processing program to do, and it doesn't do anything else. I don't want any help. I hate some of these modern systems where you type a lower case letter and it becomes a capital letter. I don't want a capital. If I wanted a capital, I would have typed a capital. I know how to work the shift key." “I actually have two computers," Martin continued. “I have a computer I browse the Internet with and I get my email on, and I do my taxes on. And then I have my writing computer, which is a DOS machine, not connected to the Internet."

Submission + - First transmission of Bitcoin over public radio 1

kbahey writes: A local radio channel in Kitchener-Waterloo was able to successfully transmit Bitcoin over radio waves. This makes what is believed to be the first known transmission of the digital currency by a public radio station. A series of beeps were played over the air, and listeners were asked to use an app known as to decipher a code produced by the sound. Chris Skory of Rockland County, New York was the winning recipient, and unlocked 0.05 Bitcoin worth about $40. The Bitcoin was donated by Waterloo start-up Tinkercoin and a local Bitcoin enthusiast.

Those local enthusiasts engage in local buying and selling of Bitcoin.

Submission + - FreeBSD 10.0 Released

An anonymous reader writes: FreeBSD 10.0 has been released. A few highlights include: pkg is now the default package management utility. Major enhancements in virtualization, including the addition of bhyve, virtio, and native paravirtualized drivers providing support for FreeBSD as a guest operating system on Microsoft Hyper-V. Support for the high-performance LZ4 compression algorithm has been added to ZFS and TRIM support for SSD has been added to ZFS. clang is the default compiler. This release has official Raspberry Pi support. For a complete list of new features and known problems, please see the online release notes and a quick FreeBSD installation video is here. FreeBSD 10.0-RELEASE may be downloaded via ftp or via a torrent client that supports web seeding.

Submission + - Analyst Calls Russian Teen Author of Target Malware (

Nerval's Lobster writes: A digital-activity data analytics firm called IntelCrawler, Inc. claims to have identified the author of the BlackPOS malware used in attacks against Target and Neiman Marcus, and spotted similar attacks that are still in progress against six other retailers. Andrey Komarov, CEO of the Los Angeles-based IntelCrawler, told Reuters Jan. 17 that his company had spotted the six ongoing attacks while analyzing Web traffic in search of the specific entry points and origin of the malware infection behind the Target data breach, which allowed hackers to steak magnetic card-strip data on 40 million debit- and credit cards and demographic data on 70 million additional customers. According to Komarov, BlackPOS was developed by a 17-year-old Russian who goes by the username Ree4 and lives in St. Petersburg. Ree4 probably did not participate in the attack on Target, but did sell the malware to the actual attackers, according to Komarov, who refused to identify the source of his information other than to say he had been monitoring forums on which he said Ree4 sells malware. In a series of chat clips Komarov said are exchanges between buyer and seller, Ree4 tells a potential customer that the price for the software is US$2,000 and that the malware grabs credit-card numbers from system memory as they’re scanned, dumps them into a file called time.txt that is sent back to the controller. Ree4 also said the app works only on standalone point-of-sale terminals with a separate monitor that also runs Windows, but not on Verifone systems, which can be attached to PCs but secure credit-card data before it can be scraped by BlackPOS.

Submission + - U.S. home electricity use declines for 3rd straight year ( 2

An anonymous reader writes: For a third year in a row the U.S. home has used less electricity. The continuing focus on energy conservation combined with new technology has and probably will continue to show promise.

Submission + - Public Citizen sues for $75,000 over $3500 fine... 1

BUL2294 writes: Public Citizen has followed through on their threat to sue over their decision to "fine" Utah resident John Palmer $3500 over a negative review posted by his wife, Jennifer Palmer. The review, posted to in 2009 when the $20 order was not received & the couple had difficulties in getting a refund, was made 3 years before a "non-disparagement" clause was added to KlearGear's Terms of Sale and Use, to which all customers agree to before purchasing from them. In 2012, KlearGear informed credit reporting agencies of the $3500 "debt", sent a debt collection agency against the Palmers, and validated the "debt" to credit reporting agencies (adding a $50 dispute charge) when John Palmer attempted to dispute it. Since then, the Palmers have had difficulties obtaining credit, which included going 3 weeks without heat while trying to obtain a new furnace. KlearGear has publicly stated on KUTV and CNN that the fine was valid and would stand. Now, on behalf of the Palmers, Public Citizen is suing KlearGear 'after ignored a Nov. 25 demand letter sent by Public Citizen on behalf of the Palmers requesting that contact the relevant credit agencies immediately and inform them that the debt it had reported concerning John was in error. The letter also asked for compensation of $75,000 and permanent removal of the “non-disparagement clause” from its website’s terms of use. // Today’s complaint seeks punitive damages as well as damages for the economic, emotional and other harms that the Palmers suffered as a result of’s actions.'

Submission + - Google Autocomplete Ruins Man's Life ( 1

DavidGilbert99 writes: Google's autocomplete function turned a mild-mannered man into a terror suspect and four years of sustained harassment by various US government investigators, according to a lawsuit filed today. Jeffery Kantor says that Google's autocomplete changed ""How do I build a radio controlled airplane?" to "How do I build a radio controlled bomb?" triggering a sequence of events which saw him lose his job. He is seeking $58million in damages.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright