Daniel_Stuckey writes "According to new research, drivers, walkers, and bicyclists will generally provide us with more useful directions than transit riders. Published in Urban Planning , "Going Mental" shows that cognitively active travelers, regardless of commute by foot or car, tend to trump cognitively passive travelers, (those who frequent public buses and trains) in perceiving distance. Questioning cognitively active, passive, and mixed travelers about distances from a survey site to LA's city hall, the research demonstrated that the passive bus and subway riders have less of a grip on distance. Actively cognitive travelers, according to the results, were more likely to integrate street names in their directions, and also exhibited a sharper understanding of distances."Link to Original Source
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Today’s trial saw 13 of the 14 accused in court, and the majority of them pleaded guilty to damaging a protected computer, a violation under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). The fourteenth member was not in court due to a separate trial in Virginia.
Per a plea deal with federal prosecutors, each of the 13 defendants in court today will pay $5,600 in restitution to eBay, which owns PayPal. According to Alexa O'Brien, sentencing was delayed for a year, which set up the mechanism for the plea bargains. Eleven of the defendants pleaded guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges; if they stay out of trouble for a year, prosecutors agreed that they'll give up felony charges which means no jail time, just probation. The other two pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges, which carry a jail term of 90 days."Link to Original Source
Daniel_Stuckey writes "On Tuesday, Pierre Omidyar, the chairman of eBay, called for leniancy in the case of a group of Anonymous hackers who pleaded guilty today to waging a denial-of-service attack on PayPal's webstie, a subsidiary of his company, in 2010.
Paypal suspended online payments to WikiLeaks in December of 2010 after, its managers said, they read a letter by the State Department indicating WikiLeaks was breaking American laws. In retaliation, a group of Anonymous hacktivists brought down the payment site with DDoS attacks two days later. The hacktivists who were apprehended, known as the PayPal 14, were in court today and accepted plea bargains in order to avoid felony charges.
"Justice requires leniency," wrote Omidyar who is also the 123rd richest man in the world. He added that in his view, the PayPal 14 "should be facing misdemeanor charges and the possibility of a fine, rather than felony charges and jail time.”
In recent days, critics have questioned Omidyar's "free expression" credentials in particular, examining his role in eBay, his late arrival to the public conversation over the PayPal 14, and eBay's role in the US Government’s lawsuit. Alexa O'Brien explained in a tweet last night that "E-Bay, Inc. is a 'movant' on the [PayPal 14] case," and that as chair of eBay, Omidyar is privy to the PayPal 14 plea deal which was sealed and unknown to the public."Link to Original Source
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Ingress, developed by Google startup Niantic Labs, is a prime example of the gamification effect. It shows how our actions can contradict the moral we defend; we love to emphasise the value of privacy, but renounce it in the blink of an eye as soon as things get fun.
The game was made available in the Google Play store at the end of October. Not wanting to be a complainiac and denounce people's behaviour without having a clue about what they actually do, I decided to download the game onto my smartphone and try it for myself. Just for academic reasons, of course, as a PhD student in the philosophy of technology. A few weeks later, and I'm totally immersed in the game."Link to Original Source
Daniel_Stuckey writes "German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that the country’s interior ministers will meet this week to discuss use of the app, which was developed by local police in Saxony and has attracted the unofficial name of "Nazi Shazam." Just like Shazam works out what song you're hearing from just a few bars, the system picks up audio fingerprints of neo-Nazi rock so police can intervene when it’s being played.
The whole situation sounds pretty insane to an outsider, but apparently far-right music is a big problem in Germany, where it’s considered a “gateway drug” into the neo-Nazi scene. The Guardian reported that in 2004, far-right groups even tried to recruit young members by handing out CD compilations in schools.
That sort of action is illegal in Germany, where neo-Nazi groups are outlawed and the Federal Review Board for Media Harmful to Minors is tasked with examining and indexing media—including films, games, music, and websites—that may be harmful to young people. They explain on their site:"Link to Original Source
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Turning trains into drones has other problems, which should be fairly predictable in the age of Stuxnet and growing fly-by-wire infrastructure. A system that can slow a train down before a dangerous curve can, in different hands, make it go faster into that curve. In some quarters it's thought that a hacked command-and-control system moved a Blue Line 'L' train with no operator present.
In the end, no technology could have saved Sunday’s doomed Metro-North train. However late, it’s almost certain that Rockefeller acted faster than a positive control system because such a system would still only be bound by the speed limits in place on the line. When the 30 mph speed zone might have triggered his train’s control systems at the very beginning of the curve, he was already trying to stop. And it was already much too late for that."Link to Original Source
Daniel_Stuckey writes "This morning, peacekeepers with the United Nations spun up a pair of mid-sized unmanned surveillance aircraft from Goma, eastern Congo's second largest city. It marks the first time spy drones have been deployed by the UN, which has been accused of not doing enough to stem fighting between armed groups along the Congolese border with Rwanda and Uganda.
"The drones... will allow us to have reliable information about the movement of populations in the areas where there are armed groups," UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous told reporters as one of the two 16-foot-long Selex Falco drones, each sporting the iconic black "UN" letters, flew a demonstration loop overhead. "We will survey the areas where there are armed groups, and we can control the frontier.""Link to Original Source
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Last month, a company working on behalf of the publisher Random House, asked Google to remove links to a free copy of Stephen King’s Carrie from search results. Google complied for three out of the four requested links, but didn’t remove Kim Dotcom’s new website Mega.co.nz as requested—for even if Mega is hosting pirated copies of Carrie, they sure aren’t on the homepage.
But leaving that link up was an exception to the rule. More and more, copyright owners and the organizations they employ are cutting off where the websites and the public meet—the search engine. Google’s transparency reports show that requests to remove links to copyrighted material rose steadily in 2013. The search giant received 6.5 million requests during the week of November 18, 2013, which is over twice as many as the same week a year ago. Google said it complies with 97 percent of requests."Link to Original Source
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Anyhow, the Glassholes are just the beginning. You need to understand that. Everything Facebook and Amazon and Google are doing to your life online, all of it is poised to become material, like something growing in a creepy Brothers Quay movie: Google Glasses emerging out of some clay forehead all trembling and jerky like bug legs from a clod of dirt.
To get my mind off of, well, that, it seemed a useful exercise to imagine the next waves of Glassholes. Let's start with the consumer technology poised to be dropped out of the bay doors of a Google Stratofortress far above San Francisco, Brooklyn, and Seattle, and then extend said technology to people, particularly the variety of person that gets way, way into new gadgets. The results are unappealing."Link to Original Source
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Since Edward Snowden's disclosures about widespread NSA surveillance, Americans and people everywhere have been presented with a digital variation on an old analog threat: the erosion of freedoms and privacy in exchange, presumably, for safety and security.
Bruce Schneier knows the debate well. He's an expert in cryptography and he wrote the book on computer security; Applied Cryptography is one of the field's basic resources, "the book the NSA never wanted to be published," raved Wired in 1994. He knows the evidence well too: lately he's been helping the Guardian and the journalist Glenn Greenwald review the documents they have gathered from Snowden, in order to help explain some of the agency's top secret and highly complex spying programs.
To do that, Schneier has taken his careful digital privacy regime to a new level, relying on a laptop with an encrypted hard drive that he never connects to the internet. That couldn't prevent a pilfered laptop during, say, a "black bag operation," of course. "I know that if some government really wanted to get my data, there'd be little I could do to stop them.""Link to Original Source
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Travel officials expect about 3 million people to venture by plane to their turkey dinner, and already hundreds of flights have been canceled and thousands delayed—including more than a third of routes at the major airport hub in Dallas, which will have a ripple effect down through the airline system as thwarted passengers try to hop on other flights.
The annual clusterfuck apparently inspired flight-tracking site FlightAware to develop an interactive "Misery Map" visualizing flight statuses in real-time and the megastorm traversing the country simultaneously. Because who doesn't love a little data viz schadenfreude?"Link to Original Source
carmendrahl writes "Exposure to certain pesticides, including rotenone and paraquat, has been associated with a higher incidence of Parkinson's disease in population studies. But how did scientists come to think of a link between Parkinson's disease and pesticides in the first place? The answer involves the 1980s drug underworld, where criminals were synthesizing modified versions of illegal drugs such as heroin to stay one step ahead of the law. One molecule in some designer heroin cocktails, 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP), breaks down in the human body into 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+), a nerve cell killer. Heroin addicts exposed to this molecule got Parkinson's-like symptoms. As for the connection to pesticides, MPP+ is a weed killer that was used in the 70s. It also closely resembles the structure of the pesticide paraquat. The saga, therefore, put scientists on high alert to the possibility that pesticides might play a role in developing Parkinson's."Link to Original Source
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology wanted to better understand the physics behind a particular fire ant behavior: forming rafts. These collective structures are formed by the interlocking legs and mandibles of the insects. In the event of flooding or some other form of watery disaster, entire colonies avoid drowning by forming rafts.
But what are the mechanics? How can a raft of ants remain undamaged when battered by waves, raindrops, and rocks?
In order to answer these questions, the researchers put a clot of fire ants—approximately 15 mL, or roughly 1,000 ants—through a series of experimental tests to examine how the clot would respond to stress. Both live and dead ants were used, in order to explore the difference between an active living response to stimuli versus the "purely geometric" alternative."Link to Original Source
Daniel_Stuckey writes "What's a drone, anyway? Surprisingly, Congress offers one of the more succinct definitions. Per the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012:
"The term 'unmanned aircraft' means an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft."
Variously called “drones,” “unmanned aerial vehicles” and “remotely piloted vehicles,” these flying machines are defined by their absence of an onboard pilot. They can be flown by remote control within direct sight, by a pilot thousands of miles away, or even autonomously via a pre-programmed flight pattern. They can be as small as the 0.67 ounce Nano Hummingbird developed for DARPA or as large as the 66-foot wingspan MQ-9 Reaper flown by the CIA. It’s a broad category."Link to Original Source
Daniel_Stuckey writes "...the sarcastic square-jawed fake-rendered mug was as well known to the cult TV viewers of the late 80s as the Guy Fawkes mask is to the people of Twitter today. At 9:16 PM, just after the faux Max intruded on WGN's signal, technicians there suspected an inside job, and began scouring the building for a possible assailant. But Max wasn't there. He wasn't finished either.
Almost exactly two hours later, at around 11:15 PM, Channel 11, the PBS affiliate WTTW, was airing an episode of Dr. Who called “The Horror of Fang Rock” when a gargle of static cut in. Scan lines, indicating the beginning of a VHS recording, flashed across the screen. Unlike the previous thirty-second hacking, this one had audio, just barely coherent amid the whirr of distortion. It lasted for one minute and twenty-two seconds."Link to Original Source