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+ - How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text

Submitted by Presto Vivace
Presto Vivace writes: Dan Froomkin reports:

Though perfect transcription of natural conversation apparently remains the Intelligence Community’s “holy grail,” the Snowden documents describe extensive use of keyword searching as well as computer programs designed to analyze and “extract” the content of voice conversations, and even use sophisticated algorithms to flag conversations of interest.

I am torn between admiration of the technical brilliance of building software like this and horror as to how it is being used.

+ - Bernie Sanders, H-1B skeptic

Submitted by Presto Vivace
Presto Vivace writes: Will the Vermont senator raise the visibility of the visa issue with his presidential run?

The H-1B visa issue rarely surfaces during presidential races, and that's what makes the entrance by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) into the 2016 presidential race so interesting. ... ...Sanders is very skeptical of the H-1B program, and has lambasted tech firms for hiring visa workers at the same time they're cutting staff. He's especially critical of the visa's use in offshore outsourcing.

+ - Inside the Military-Police Center That Spies on Baltimore's Rioters->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: Adam Weinstein on a program designed to catch terrorists attacking Baltimore that is now being used to spy on protesters: 'On Ambassador Road, just off I-695 around the corner from the FBI, nearly 100 employees sit in a high-tech suite and wait for terrorists to attack Baltimore. They’ve waited 11 years. But they still have plenty of work to do, like using the intel community’s toys to target this week’s street protests.' Great read.
Link to Original Source

+ - Median age at Google is 29, says age discrimination lawsuit->

Submitted by dcblogs
dcblogs writes: The typical employee at Google is relatively young, according to a lawsuit brought by an older programmer who is alleging age discrimination. Between 2007 and 2013, Google's workforce grew from 9,500 to more than 28,000 employees, "yet as of 2013, its employees' median age was 29 years old," the lawsuit claims. That's in contrast to the median age of nearly 43 for all U.S. workers who are computer programmers, according to the lawsuit.
Link to Original Source

+ - Software, tractors, and property rights

Submitted by Presto Vivace
Presto Vivace writes: We Can’t Let John Deere Destroy the Very Idea of Ownership

In a particularly spectacular display of corporate delusion, John Deere—the world’s largest agricultural machinery maker —told the Copyright Office that farmers don’t own their tractors. Because computer code snakes through the DNA of modern tractors, farmers receive “an implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.”

+ - TPP: Toward Absolutist Capitalism

Submitted by Presto Vivace
Presto Vivace writes: Naked Capitalism

There are many excellent arguments against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), two of which — local zoning over-rides, and loss of national sovereignty — I’ll briefly review as stepping stones to the main topic of the post: Absolutist Capitalism, for which I make two claims: 1) The TPP implies a form of absolute rule, a tyranny as James Madison would have understood the term, and 2) The TPP enshrines capitalization as a principle of jurisprudence. ...

... So, what Madison warned of is exactly what ISDS does: The judge is the legislator, leading to “arbitary control.” And arbritary control is absolutism, just as surely as it was in the age of the divine right of kings.[2] And for bonus points, the judges and the legislators are conflicted, open to corruption, and accountable neither to the voters nor to any system of precedent.

+ - Experimental UI Could Change Future of Code Editors

Submitted by Adam Kumpf
Adam Kumpf writes: A new experimental webapp, Sketchwrite, may look like any other hairbrained online service made by your 10 year old cousin, but buried within it is a little idea that could have a significant impact on the larger developer community.

Sketchwrite combines, as you probably guessed, sketches and writing. However, the way Sketchwrite keeps images and text in sync is different than what you typically find in text/image hybrid environments (like text editors which use relative anchors or explicit object boxes, and image editors which use absolute positioning for each element or layer); instead Sketchwrite anchors are implicit to what/where you draw on the page and flow with the text.

By specifying a font with tightly controlled rendering characteristics (size, line height, kerning, letter spacing, etc.), and using a fixed-width environment, text can be variable-width, seamlessly flow (i.e. line wrap), and work exactly as you'd expect in a modern word-processor. But unlike a word processor, the consistent and predictable relationship between letters and positioning means that sketches or images can be arbitrarily added to the page and remain in sync as text is edited above or below where the sketch was placed. Said differently, the vertical position of each drawing is maintained dynamically by line, while the horizontal position is kept absolute.

Most programmers have encountered complex segments of code that rely on tedious ASCII diagrams to explain how a complex process or algorithm functions. Sketchwrite's approach is a proof-of-concept for what could eventually lead to more integrated ways of adding ad-hoc images to any plain text document; particularly interesting is the possibility of embedding related visual diagrams, graphical notes, or any other media alongside code and comments.

While Sketchwrite doesn't explicitly mention programming or IDEs, it doesn't take much imagination to consider what a similar UI approach could afford code editors (and the code development process in general) with some relatively minor changes (here's a quick example of embedded sketches with javascript code in Sketchwrite).

+ - K-12 CS Education Provider to Largest School Districts Eyes $200M in H-1B Fees

Submitted by theodp
theodp writes: Endorsed by the White House and bankrolled by tech's wealthiest individuals and their corporations, 501c3 tax-exempt nonprofit has inked deals to bring K-12 computer science education to 7 of the largest US school districts. On Thursday, the group followed up on its earlier Congressional testimony, suggesting on Twitter and Tumblr that $200M in visa fees paid by its backers and others for H-1B workers be made available for CS education efforts. "With only 10% of all STEM graduates choosing to major in computer science," exclaimed in a blog post, "it’s no surprise the U.S. needs to bring in so many skilled workers from other countries!" Hey, it's also probably no surprise that many of's backers are also currently pressing for additional H-1B visas through Mark Zuckerberg's PAC and other entities!

+ - FTC calls for comments on the sharing economy

Submitted by Presto Vivace
Presto Vivace writes: The FTC wants to talk about the ‘sharing economy’

And now the Federal Trade Commission wants to talk about what it means for consumers. The agency announced Friday it will host a public workshop to "examine competition, consumer protection, and economic issues raised by the proliferation of online and mobile peer-to peer business platforms" in June.

“We are seeing a dramatic growth in products and services that are built on peer-to-peer platforms, such as ride-sharing and property rentals, as more entrepreneurs harness the power of technology to reach more consumers,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez in a press release. “Through our workshop, we want to better understand the competitive impact of these new business models, as well as their interactions with existing regulatory frameworks.”

+ - Hacked Sony emails reveal that Sony had pirated books about hacking->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Sony has done a lot of aggressive anti-piracy work in their time, which makes it that much funnier that pirated ebooks were found on their servers from the 2014 hacks that just went on to WikiLeaks. Better yet, the pirated books are educational books about hacking called "Inside Cyber Warfare" and "Hacking the Next Generation" from O'Reilly publishers.
Link to Original Source

"Just think, with VLSI we can have 100 ENIACS on a chip!" -- Alan Perlis