cold fjord writes "There are new developments in the ongoing controversy engulfing the NSA as a result of the Snowden leaks. From The Hill: 'Emerging from a hearing with NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander, Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.), the senior Democrat on the panel, said Edward Snowden simply wasn't in the position to access the content of the communications gathered under National Security Agency programs, as he's claimed. "He was lying," Rogers said. "He clearly has over-inflated his position, he has over-inflated his access and he's even over-inflated what the actual technology of the programs would allow one to do. It's impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do." ... "He's done tremendous damage to the country where he was born and raised and educated," Ruppersberger said. ... "It was clear that he attempted to go places that he was not authorized to go, which should raise questions for everyone," Rogers added.'" U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has also told the E.U. justice commissioner that media reports surrounding PRISM are wrong: "The contention it [PRISM] is not subject to any internal or external oversights is simply not correct. It's subject to an extensive oversight regime from executive, legislative and judicial branches and Congress is made aware of these activities. The courts are aware as we need to get a court order. ... We can't target anyone unless appropriate documented foreign intelligence purpose for the prevention of terrorism or hostile cyber activities." Meanwhile, Bloomberg has gone live with a report (based on unidentified sources, so take it with a grain of salt) saying that private sector cooperation with snooping government agencies extends far beyond the ones listed in the PRISM report. "Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said." Whatever PRISM turns out to be, the NY Times is reporting that at least Yahoo, and probably other tech companies as well, tried to fight participation in it. Other reports suggest Twitter refused to participate, though there's been no official confirmation.
Bruce66423 writes "The government minister in charge of GCHQ, the UK's equivalent of the NSA, has used those immortal words, 'Only terrorists, criminals and spies should fear secret activities of the British and US intelligence agencies.' From the article: '...In an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Mr Hague refused to say whether the British government knew of the existence of Prism before it emerged last week. “I can’t confirm or deny in public what Britain knows about and what Britain doesn’t, for obvious reasons,” he said. However, he implied that the revelations had not taken him by surprise.'" While many are concerned about the reach of PRISM overseas, the Finnish Foreign Minister says he plans to continue using Outlook for email.
wiredmikey writes "The head of the UN telecommunications body, Hamadoun Toure, told an audience at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) in Dubai on Monday that Internet freedom will not be curbed or controlled. 'Nothing can stop the freedom of expression in the world today, and nothing in this conference will be about it,' he said. Such claims are 'completely (unfounded),' Toure, secretary general of the International Telecommunication Union, told AFP. 'We must continue to work together and find a consensus on how to most effectively keep cyberspace open, accessible, affordable and secure,' UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said. Google has been vocal in warning of serious repercussions, saying that 'Some proposals could permit governments to censor legitimate speech — or even cut off Internet access,' noted Google's Vint Cerf in a blog post."
First time accepted submitter danbuter writes "In probably the most poorly thought-out reaction to allowing people displaced by Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey [to take part in the 2012 presidential election], residents will be allowed to vote by email. Of course, this will be completely secure and work perfectly!" Writes user Beryllium Sphere: "There's no mention of any protocol that might possibly make this acceptable. Perhaps the worst thing that could happen would be if it appears to work OK and gains acceptance." I know someone they should consult first.
theodp writes "Those sounding the alarm about the difficulty in making the transition to Windows 8, especially on traditional computers, should check out Adam Desrosiers' son Julian, a 3-year-old kid who uses Windows 8 like a champ. 'I read these tech pundits and journalists discussing how hard it's gonna be for the general public to learn the new UI of Windows 8,' says Desrosiers. 'Nonsense. The long and short of it is: If my 3 years old son can learn Windows 8 through very moderate usage, anybody with half a brain can do so too.' Bill Gates has already successfully made the transition to what he calls an 'unbelievably great' Microsoft Surface. On Friday, we'll start finding out if current Windows XP and Windows 7 users are also smarter than the average 3-year-old!"
Hey, after you get bombed, you can get bombed!
miller60 writes "GoDaddy says yesterday's downtime was caused by internal network problems that corrupted data in router tables. 'The service outage was not caused by external influences,' said Scott Wagner, Go Daddy's Interim CEO. 'It was not a 'hack' and it was not a denial of service attack (DDoS). ... At no time was any customer data at risk or were any of our systems compromised.' The outage lasted for at least six hours, and affected web sites and email for customers of the huge domain registrar."
An anonymous reader writes "Election Analytics is a website developed by Dr. Sheldon Jacobson at the University of Illinois designed to predict the outcomes of the U.S. presidential and senatorial elections, based on reported polling data. From the site: 'The mathematical model employs Bayesian estimators that use available state poll results (at present, this is being taken from Rasmussen, Survey USA, and Quinnipiac, among others) to determine the probability that each presidential candidate will win each of the states (or the probability that each political party will win the Senate race in each state). These state-by-state probabilities are then used in a dynamic programming algorithm to determine a probability distribution for the number of Electoral College votes that each candidate will win in the 2012 presidential election. In the case of the Senate races, the individual state probabilities are used to determine the number of seats that each party will control.'" You can tweak the site by selecting a skew toward the Republican or Democratic tickets, and whether it's mild or strong. Right now, this tool shows the odds favor another four years for Obama, even with a strong swing for the Republicans.
colinneagle writes "Earlier this week I installed the final version of Windows 8. And it is awesome. That's not a joke. Windows 8 is absolutely, unequivocally stellar. And yet, at the end of the day, I am right back to using Linux. Why is that? What is it about Linux that makes me so excited to use it — even while enjoying another operating system that I view as, in all seriousness, a work of art? Why do I not simply install Windows 8 on every machine I own and be happy with it? For me, it's the ability to slowly chip away and remove items from your user interface until you are left with only want you want, and nothing more. The option of looking at an item on the screen, right clicking on it, and declaring to said item 'Listen up, mister Thing-On-My-Screen. I don't want you anymore. Be gone!' Panels, bars, docks, launchers, widgets, gadgets – whatever is on your screen, there is probably a way to send it to whatever form of the afterlife is reserved for unwanted Desktop Crud. And, I'll tell you this right now – as great as it is, you don't find a whole lot of 'Right click, Remove Panel' in Windows 8."
An anonymous reader writes "Boeing's experimental hypersonic X-51 WaveRider aircraft crashed today during an attempt to hit Mach 6 while traveling over the Pacific Ocean. The cause of the crash was a faulty control fin, which compromised the test before the Scramjet engine could be lit. A vehicle traveling at Mach 6 (six times the speed of sound) would be able to travel from New York to London in just one hour."
zacharye writes "In the five years since Apple launched the iPhone, the popular device has gone from a malicious hacker's dream to law enforcement's worst nightmare. As recounted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Technology Review blog, a Justice Department official recently took the stage at the DFRWS computer forensics conference in Washington, D.C. and told attendees that the beefed up security in iOS is now so good that it has become a nightmare for law enforcement."
First time accepted submitter DishpanMan writes "For every success story from NASA like Curiosity, there is a failure story, like today's Morpheus project test flight at Kennedy Space Center. The project is trying to build a low cost Moon and Asteroid lander using clean fuels on a shoestring budget. While tethered flight test were successful, today's actual flight test ended in a crash and a ball of fire followed by a spectacular explosion. Initial feedback points to hardware failure, but the investigation is still ongoing."
SicariusMan writes "Looks like warnings and other precautions were not enough to save Buckyballs Magnets. According to this report, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is concerned about the increase in children swallowing the rare earth magnets, and has issued its first stop-sale order in 11 years. Amazon and others have already agreed to stop selling the toys. 'Although the commission issued a safety alert in November, it has received more than a dozen reports since then of children ingesting the magnets, with many requiring surgery, it said. More than 2 million Buckyballs and at least 200,000 Buckycubes, a similar cube-shaped magnet, have been sold in the United States.'"
An anonymous reader writes with news of a study out of the University of Florida which found that alcohol is the biggest "gateway" drug, the use of which increases the likelihood of other drug use. Quoting: "In the sample of students, alcohol also represented the most commonly used substance, with 72.2 percent of students reporting alcohol consumption at some point in their lifetime. Comparatively, 45 percent of students reported using tobacco, and 43.3 percent cited marijuana use. In addition, the drug use documented found that substance use typically begins with the most socially acceptable drugs, such as alcohol and cigarettes, then proceeds to marijuana use and finally to other illegal, harder drugs. Moreover, the study showed that students who used alcohol exhibited a significantly greater likelihood — up to 16 times — of licit and illicit substance use."