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+ - IRS warns of downtime risk as Congress makes cuts-> 1

Submitted by dcblogs
dcblogs (1096431) writes "Successive budget cuts by Congress are forcing the Internal Revenue Service to delay system modernization and improve its ability to prevent fraud. In telling of the problems ahead, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen almost sounded desperate in a recent memo to employees. The IRS is heavily dependent on technology, and the impact of the budget reduction to IT this year was put at $200 million. It will mean delays in replacing "aging IT systems" and "increasing the risk of downtime," Koskinen said. A new system to protect against ID theft will be delayed, and other IT cost-efficiency efforts curbed.The budget cuts have been so deep IRS employees are being warned of a possible shutdown for two days before this fiscal year ends in October. It would be a forced furlough for agency workers. The IRS employed 84,189 last year, down from 86,400 in 2013. When attrition is considered, the IRS says it lost between 16,000 and 17,000 employees since 2010. The agency has also been hit with a hiring freeze, and appears to be hiring very few people in IT compared to other agencies."
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+ - Bacteria discovered that both eats and excretes pure electrons

Submitted by Presto Vivace
Presto Vivace (882157) writes "Biologists discover electric bacteria that eat pure electrons rather than sugar, redefining the tenacity of life

Some intrepid biologists at the University of Southern California (USC) have discovered bacteria that survives on nothing but electricity — rather than food, they eat and excrete pure electrons. These bacteria yet again prove the almost miraculous tenacity of life — but, from a technology standpoint, they might also prove to be useful in enabling the creation of self-powered nanoscale devices that clean up pollution. Some of these bacteria also have the curious ability to form into ‘biocables,’ microbial nanowires that are centimeters long and conduct electricity as well as copper wires — a capability that might one day be tapped to build long, self-assembling subsurface networks for human use.


+ - Illinois Says Rule-Breaking Students Must Give Teachers Their Facebook Passwords->

Submitted by derekmead
derekmead (2466858) writes "School districts in Illinois are telling parents that a new law may require school officials to demand the social media passwords of students if they are suspected in cyberbullying cases or are otherwise suspected of breaking school rules.

The law (PDF), which went into effect on January 1, defines cyberbullying and makes harassment on Facebook, Twitter, or via other digital means a violation of the state's school code, even if the bullying happens outside of school hours.

A letter sent out to parents in the Triad Community Unit School District #2, a district located just over the Missouri-Illinois line near St. Louis, that was obtained by Motherboard says that school officials can demand students give them their passwords."

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+ - Gender and tenure diversity in GitHub teams relate to higher productivity.->

Submitted by Bogdan Vasilescu
Bogdan Vasilescu (3989455) writes "Diversity in teams is a double-edged sword. Increased team diversity results in more varied backgrounds and ideas, providing the team with access to broader information, enhanced creativity, adaptability, and problem solving skills. However, due to greater perceived differences in values, norms, and communication styles in more diverse teams, members become more likely to engage in stereotyping, cliquishness, and conflict.

In a recent study, researchers from University of California, Davis and Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands have analyzed the effects of gender and tenure diversity on productivity and turnover for more than 23,000 open-source projects on GitHub. Using regression modeling, they showed that after controlling for team size and other confounds (such as a project's age, development model, or amount of social activity), both gender and tenure diversity are positive and significant predictors of productivity, together explaining a small but significant fraction of the data variability. On an economic and societal scale, these findings suggest that added investments in educational and professional training efforts and outreach for female programmers will likely result in added overall value.

The paper describing the results (preprint here will be presented at the prestigious ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, in Seoul, South Korea, in April 2015."

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+ - Yes, local police have radars that can see inside your home

Submitted by Presto Vivace
Presto Vivace (882157) writes "New police radars can 'see' inside homes

At least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies quietly deployed radars that let them effectively see inside homes, with little notice to the courts or the public.

But somehow they don't have money for jaws of life, rape kits, or anything else that might contribute to public safety."

+ - The technological fix for failing democracies

Submitted by Presto Vivace
Presto Vivace (882157) writes "The Interactive Voter Choice System: A Technological Fix for Failing Democracies

The web-based technology of the patented Interactive Voter Choice System (IVCS) can fix failing democracies and enable voters and other democracy stakeholders to surmount domestic and transnational problems, crises and conflicts in the following ways:

By providing voters, lawmakers, candidates, political parties and issue groups common ground online for devising common legislative agendas and slates of candidates to enact them.By enabling these stakeholders, under the leadership of voters, to build transpartisan voting blocs, political parties and coalitions large enough to elect their candidates without special interest funding.
By facilitating the formation of transnational voting blocs, parties and coalitions to solve transnational problems, crises and conflicts, through collectively formulated peace plans and common agendas.
By enabling the members of transnational blocs, parties and coalitions to form blocs, parties and coalitions within their home countries to elect candidates who will enact the peace plans and agendas of transnational blocs, parties and coalitions.

Here’s how the technology will work:

It will enable individual voters to set legislative agendas that cross partisan and ideological lines and connect online with voters with similar agendas to form voting blocs, parties and coalitions around common agendas collectively set by their members.
It will empower voters and other stakeholders to supplant undemocratic political parties that segregate and cage voters into divisive party organizations controlled from the top down, and replace these parties with self-organizing voting blocs, parties and coalitions controlled from the bottom up by voters themselves.
It will replace divisive and ideologically framed political party agendas with pragmatic transpartisan legislative agendas set by voters, lawmakers, candidates and political parties that respond to the current needs and wants of voters at the grassroots.
Elected representatives and candidates who use the system to collaborate with voters to set common legislative agendas will be able to build winning electoral bases that enable them to get elected and re-elected without campaign contributions from funders outside their election district.
It will enable blocs, parties and coalitions to adopt common slates of candidates and create transpartisan electoral bases around collectively determined agendas and slates – electoral bases that can numerically outnumber the electoral base of any single party and defeat party candidates because they comprise broad cross sections of actively involved members of the electorate.
These voters, blocs, parties and coalitions will be able to oversee the work of their elected representatives to ensure they exert their best efforts to implement the legislative agendas they were elected to enact.
The Interactive Voter Choice System contains an inherent consensus building incentive because it motivates and enables voting blocs, parties and coalitions to reach out and negotiate common agendas with virtually unlimited numbers of voters and other blocs, parties and coalitions so that they can create an electoral base large enough to elect their candidates; in contrast, blocs, parties or coalitions that do not reach out to build consensus with enough voters and other blocs, parties and coalitions will be unable to elect their candidates.
While people can create blocs, parties and coalitions based strictly on ethnicity, race, religion, culture, etc., they will be more likely to grow large enough to win elections if they reach out to broader cross-sections of voters to negotiate common legislative agendas, adopt common slates of candidates and build transpartisan electoral bases.
Marginalized, socially excluded groups and politically disenfranchised groups who use the technology to build voting blocs, parties and coalitions, domestically and transnationally, will be more likely to elect their candidates and get their agendas enacted if they reach out to non-group members to generate greater understanding of their perspectives, collectively adopt comprehensive agendas and slates of candidates that appeal to other groups, and build electoral bases that include broad sections of electorates in addition to their core membership.
The system will circumvent political propaganda and media that propagate propaganda because IVCS-enabled blocs, parties and coalitions will create and manage their own independent information and communication ecosystems.


+ - Security vulnerabilities in banking websites->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Research by a researcher of web development and web security company DongIT found a cross-site scripting problem for at least 10 Dutch banking websites on their main domain. This made it possible to place a phishing-websites over the original. This gives a hacker the complete control over the browser and influences the functioning of the websites. The weakness of the websites is demonstrated in the following movie in which the websites are 'Harlem shaked':"
Link to Original Source

+ - Legal developments show the importance of FOSS is growing->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The year 2014 continued the trend of increasing importance of legal issues for the FOSS community. Intellectual property attorney Mark Radcliffe takes a look back at how GPLv2, EU's FOSS policy changes, Android litigation, and other legal issues shaped the direction of open source in 2014."
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Time-sharing is the junk-mail part of the computer business. -- H.R.J. Grosch (attributed)