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+ - Microsoft cheaper to use than open source software, UK CIO says->

Submitted by colinneagle
colinneagle (2544914) writes "Jos Creese, CIO of the Hampshire County Council, told Britain's "Computing" publication that part of the reason is that most staff are already familiar with Microsoft products and that Microsoft has been flexible and more helpful.

"Microsoft has been flexible and helpful in the way we apply their products to improve the operation of our frontline services, and this helps to de-risk ongoing cost," he told the publication. "The point is that the true cost is in the total cost of ownership and exploitation, not just the license cost."

Creese went on to say he didn't have a particular bias about open source over Microsoft, but proprietary solutions from Microsoft or any other commercial software vendor "need to justify themselves and to work doubly hard to have flexible business models to help us further our aims.""

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+ - Rand Paul Starts New Drone War In Congress->

Submitted by SonicSpike
SonicSpike (242293) writes "Rand Paul has warned Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that he will place a hold on one of President Obama’s appellate court nominees because of his role in crafting the legal basis for Obama’s drone policy.

Paul, the junior Republican senator from Kentucky, has informed Reid he will object to David Barron’s nomination to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals unless the Justice Department makes public the memos he authored justifying the killing of an American citizen in Yemen.

The American Civil Liberties Union supports Paul’s objection, giving some Democratic lawmakers extra incentive to support a delay to Barron’s nomination, which could come to the floor in the next two weeks.

Barron, formerly a lawyer in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, penned at least one secret legal memo approving the Sept. 2011 drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric whom intelligence officials accused of planning terrorist attacks against the United States.

The attack also killed another American citizen, Samir Khan, the creator of an online magazine catering to jihadists.

Paul says Justice must show Baron’s memo before he will consider lifting the hold."

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+ - Mozilla offers FCC a net neutrality plan with a twist

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The Mozilla Foundation is filing a petition asking the FCC to declare that ISPs are common carriers, with a twist. 'The FCC doesn't have to reclassify the Internet access ISPs offer consumers as a telecommunications service subject to common carrier regulations under Title II of the Communications Act, Mozilla says. Instead, the FCC should target the service ISPs offer to edge providers like Netflix and Dropbox, who need to send their bits over ISP networks to reach their customers. Classifying the ISP/edge provider relationship as a common carrier service will be a little cleaner since the FCC wouldn't have to undo several decade-old orders that classified broadband as an "information" service rather than telecommunications, Mozilla argues.'"

+ - In Our Search Data, Researchers See a Post-Snowden Chilling Effect->

Submitted by Daniel_Stuckey
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "How risky is it to use the words "bomb," "plague," or "gun" online? That was a question we posed, tongue in cheek, with a web toy we built last year called Hello NSA. It offers users suggested tweets that use words that drawn from a list of watchwords that analysts at the Dept. of Homeland Security are instructed to search for on social media. "Stop holding my love hostage," one of the tweets read. "My emotions are like a tornado of fundamentalist wildfire." It was silly, but it was also imagined as an absurdist response to the absurdist ways that dragnet surveillance of the public and non-public Internet jars with our ideas of freedom of speech and privacy. And yet, after reading the mounting pile of NSA PowerPoints, are all of us as comfortable as we used to be Googling for a word like "anthrax," even if we were simply looking up our favorite thrash metal band? Maybe not. According to a new study of Google search trends, searches for terms deemed to be sensitive to government or privacy concerns have dropped "significantly" in the months since Edward Snowden's revelations in July."
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+ - Students Remember Lectures Better Taking Notes Longhand Than Using Laptops

Submitted by Hugh Pickens DOT Com
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Walk into any university lecture hall and you're likely to see row upon row of students sitting behind glowing laptop screens. Laptops in class have been controversial, due mostly to the many opportunities for distraction that they provide (online shopping, browsing Reddit, or playing solitaire, just to name a few). But few studies have examined how effective laptops are for the students who diligently take notes. Now Robinson Meyer writes at The Atlantic that a new study finds that people remember lectures better when they’ve taken handwritten notes, rather than typed ones. The research suggests that even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing. "Our new findings suggest that even when laptops are used as intended — and not for buying things on Amazon during class — they may still be harming academic performance," says psychological scientist Pam Mueller of Princeton University, lead author of the study. Laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning. If you can type quickly enough, word-for-word transcription is possible, whereas writing by hand usually rules out capturing every word. “We don’t write longhand as fast as we type these days, but people who were typing just tended to transcribe large parts of lecture content verbatim,” says Mueller. “The people who were taking notes on the laptops don’t have to be judicious in what they write down.”"

+ - Kerry Says US Is On The "Right Side Of History" When It Comes To Online Freedom

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Addressing the audience at the Freedom Online Coalition Conference, Secretary of State John Kerry defended NSA snooping actions saying : 'Let me be clear – as in the physical space, cyber security cannot come at the expense of cyber privacy. And we all know this is a difficult challenge. But I am serious when I tell you that we are committed to discussing it in an absolutely inclusive and transparent manner, both at home and abroad. As President Obama has made clear, just because we can do something doesn’t mean that we should do it. And that’s why he ordered a thorough review of all our signals intelligence practices. And that’s why he then, after examining it and debating it and openly engaging in a conversation about it, which is unlike most countries on the planet, he announced a set of concrete and meaningful reforms, including on electronic surveillance, in a world where we know there are terrorists and others who are seeking to do injury to all of us. And finally, transparency – the principles governing such activities need to be understood so that free people can debate them and play their part in shaping these choices. And we believe these principles can positively help us to distinguish the legitimate practices of states governed by the rule of law from the legitimate practices of states that actually use surveillance to repress their people. And while I expect you to hold the United States to the standards that I’ve outlined, I also hope that you won’t let the world forget the places where those who hold their government to standards go to jail rather than win prizes.' He added: 'This debate is about two very different visions: one vision that respects freedom and another that denies it. All of you at the Freedom Online Coalition are on the right side of this debate, and now we need to make sure that all of us together wind up on the right side of history."

+ - Ask Stewart Brand About Protecting Resources and Reviving Extinct Species

Submitted by samzenpus
samzenpus (5) writes "Stewart Brand trained as a biologist at Stanford, was associated with Ken Kesey and the "Merry Pranksters", and served as an Infantry officer in the U.S. Army. His books include Whole Earth Discipline: The Rise of Ecopragmatism, The Clock of the Long Now, How Buildings Learn, and The Media Lab. He is the founder/editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, the co-founder of The Long Now Foundation, The WELL, and the Global Business Network. His latest project, Revive & Restore, may be his most ambitious yet. Revive and Restore aims to bring back extinct species and provide genetic rescue for endangered species that are spiraling down with inbreeding problems. Mr. Brand has agreed to answer any questions you may have but please limit yourself to one question per post."

+ - Millions of Dogecoin stolen over Christmas

Submitted by Kenseilon
Kenseilon (3462441) writes "The Verge reports(http://www.theverge.com/2013/12/26/5244604/millions-of-dogecoin-stolen-in-christmas-hack) that millions of Dogecoins — an alternative cryptocurrency — was stolen after the service DogeWallet was hacked. DogeWallet worked like a bank account for the currency, and the attackers modified it to make sure all transactions ended up in a wallet of their choice. This latest incident is just one in the long (and growing) list of problems that cryptocurrencies are currently facing. It brings to mind the incident where bitcoin exchange service GBL vanished and took a modest amount of Bitcoins with them (http://yro.slashdot.org/story/13/11/12/1553216/chinese-bitcoin-exchange-vanishes-taking-25m-of-coins-with-it). While not a similar case, it highlights the difficulties with trusting service provides in this market."

+ - What can the NSA learn from your phone metadata? There's an app for that.

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Last month researchers at Stanford kicked off MetaPhone, a crowdsourced study of phone metadata. They've since reported that phone activity reveals private relationships, is densely interconnected at just two or three "hops", and can trivially be identified. But now you can see for yourself: an updated version of the Android app will show you how many users you're connected to, as well as the businesses you've been in touch with. It's downright spooky."

+ - Alan Turing May Not Have Committed Suicied->

Submitted by Frosty Piss
Frosty Piss (770223) writes "Alan Turing may not have committed suicide, as is widely believed. Turing expert Prof Jack Copeland has questioned the evidence that was presented at the 1954 inquest, believing that the evidence would not today be accepted as sufficient to establish a suicide verdict. In 1952, after he had reported a petty burglary, Turing found himself being investigated for "acts of gross indecency" after he revealed he had had a male lover in his house. Prof Copeland argues that on the contrary, Turing's career was at an intellectual high, and that he had borne his treatment "with good humour". Prof Copeland suggests that Turing's death was an accident."
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+ - Google's Duplicitous Stance on Loopholes, Spirit of Law 2

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "When it comes to tax loopholes, Google has certainly embraced the letter and not the spirit of the tax law. "Google plays by the rules set by politicians," quipped Google's UK head, defending the company's payment of a mere £6m in tax on sales of £2.6bn. "I view that you should pay the taxes that are legally required," added Google Chairman Eric Schmidt. "If the British system changes the tax laws then we will comply." So, one might ask whether Rap Genius was also playing by the letter of the rules, if not the spirit, when Google penalized Rap Genius for its link schemes. After all, don't they have the same fiduciary responsibility to investors that Google says motivates its tax strategy? Well, you could ask, but it wouldn't matter. In a case of what's-good-for-the-goose-is-not-good-for-the-gander, Google makes it clear that it won't countenance BS letter-of-the-law defenses from those who seek to exploit loopholes. From the Google Webmaster Guidelines, "These quality guidelines cover the most common forms of deceptive or manipulative behavior, but Google may respond negatively to other misleading practices not listed here. It's not safe to assume that just because a specific deceptive technique isn't included on this page, Google approves of it. Webmasters who spend their energies upholding the spirit of the basic principles will provide a much better user experience and subsequently enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking for loopholes they can exploit." So, in Lord Google's eyes, is exploiting loopholes good AND evil?"

+ - Houston Expands Downtown Surveilance, Unsure If It Helps->

Submitted by SpaceGhost
SpaceGhost (23971) writes "Associated Press reports that the Houston (Texas) Police will be adding 180 surveillance cameras in the downtown area, bring the total to close to 1000. While most cover public areas (stadiums, theater district) the police suggest that Houston also has more "critical infrastructure" (energy companies) than other cities. Interestingly AP points out that "Officials say data is not kept to determine if the cameras are driving down crime." Didn't London face the same issue?"
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+ - What would it cost to build a Windows version of the pricey new Mac Pro?->

Submitted by zacharye
zacharye (2330148) writes "The new Mac Pro is the most powerful and flexible computer Apple has ever created, and it’s also extremely expensive — or is it? With a price tag that can climb up around $10,000, Apple’s latest enterprise workhorse clearly isn’t cheap. For businesses with a need for all that muscle, however, is that steep price justifiable or is there a premium “Apple tax” that companies will have to pay? Shortly after the new Mac Pro was finally made available for purchase last week, one PC enthusiast set out to answer that question and in order to do so, he asked another one: How much would it cost to build a comparable Windows 8 machine?..."
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+ - Antarctic Climate Research Expedition Trapped in Sea Ice

Submitted by Stinky Cheese Man
Stinky Cheese Man (548499) writes "An antarctic climate research expedition, led by climate researcher Chris Turney of the University of New South Wales, has become trapped in heavy ice near the coast of Antarctica. The captain has issued a distress call and three nearby icebreaker ships are on their way to the rescue. According to Turney's web site (http://www.christurney.com/), the purpose of the expedition is "to discover and communicate the environmental changes taking place in the south". Read the fine article at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/25/antarctic-expedition-scientists-trapped-ice"

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