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Data Storage

Oakland Changes License Plate Reader Policy After Filling 80GB Hard Drive 275

An anonymous reader writes: License plate scanners are a contentious subject, generating lots of debate over what information the government should have, how long they should have it, and what they should do with it. However, it seems policy changes are driven more by practical matters than privacy concerns. Earlier this year, Ars Technica reported that the Oakland Police Department retained millions of records going back to 2010. Now, the department has implemented a six-month retention window, with older data being thrown out. Why the change? They filled up the 80GB hard drive on the Windows XP desktop that hosted the data, and it kept crashing.

Why not just buy a cheap drive with an order of magnitude more storage space? Sgt. Dave Burke said, "We don't just buy stuff from Amazon as you suggested. You have to go to a source, i.e., HP or any reputable source where the city has a contract. And there's a purchase order that has to be submitted, and there has to be money in the budget. Whatever we put on the system, has to be certified. You don't just put anything. I think in the beginning of the program, a desktop was appropriate, but now you start increasing the volume of the camera and vehicles, you have to change, otherwise you're going to drown in the amount of data that's being stored."

Twitter Blocks API Access For Sites Monitoring Politicians' Deleted Tweets 113

An anonymous reader writes: Politwoops is/was a site that monitored the Twitter feeds of politicians and posted any tweets that those politicians later deleted. On May 15, Twitter suspended API access for the U.S. version of Politwoops, and now they've blocked access to the versions of Politwoops running in 30 other countries. Twitter has also blocked access for similar site Diplotwoops, which focused on deleted tweets from diplomats and embassies. Twitter said, "'Imagine how nerve-racking – terrifying, even – tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable? No one user is more deserving of that ability than another. Indeed, deleting a tweet is an expression of the user's voice." Arjan El Fassed, director of the Open State Foundation, which developed Politwoops, disagrees: "What politicians say in public should be available to anyone. This is not about typos but it is a unique insight on how messages from elected politicians can change without notice."
The Courts

Do You Have a Right To Use Electrical Weapons? 688

An anonymous reader writes: David Cravets points out a growing debate in U.S. constitutional law: does the second amendment grant the same rights regarding electrical weapons as it does for traditional firearms? A Massachusetts ban on private ownership of stun-guns is being considered by the Supreme Court, and it's unclear whether such ownership has constitutional protection. The state's top court didn't think so: "... although modern handguns were not in common use at the time of enactment of the Second Amendment, their basic function has not changed: many are readily adaptable to military use in the same way that their predecessors were used prior to the enactment. A stun gun, by contrast, is a thoroughly modern invention (PDF). Even were we to view stun guns through a contemporary lens for purposes of our analysis, there is nothing in the record to suggest that they are readily adaptable to use in the military." The petitioner is asking the court (PDF) to clarify that the Second Amendment covers non-lethal weapons used for self-defense. Constitutional law expert Eugene Volokh agrees: "Some people have religious or ethical compunctions about killing. ... Some adherents to these beliefs may therefore conclude that fairly effective non-deadly defensive tools are preferable to deadly tools."

Comment We should make a new game (Score 3, Funny) 258

When someone says something like "This is a public street. You're not expecting privacy on a public street." and means it, and if they're in some position of authority or influence, the game begins. Separate teams immediately start following this person around whenever they're in public and record everything they do for a solid week, and posts it on the internet. Zoom lenses, parabolic mics, the whole bit. Stream it live if possible. The team that captures the most activity wins! Fun fun fun!


Regionally Encoded Toner Cartridges 'to Serve Customers Better' 378

sandbagger writes: The latest attempt to create artificial scarcity comes from Xerox, according to the editors at TechDirt, who cite German sources: "Xerox uses region coding on their toner cartridges AND locks the printer to the first type used. So if you use a North America cartridge you can't use the cheaper Eastern Europe cartridges. The printer's display doesn't show this, nor does the hotline know about it. When c't reached out to Xerox, the marketing drone claimed, this was done to serve the customer better..."

Fitbit Wants To Help Corporations Track Employee Health 206

jfruh writes: Fitbit is pitching its iconic fitness trackers to businesses as a tool to save money on health care costs. Many companies have wellness programs to encourage workers to exercise more, and Fitbit will help employers quantify (and monitor) employee progress. “We think virtually every company will incorporate fitness trackers into their corporate wellness programs,” Fitbit CFO Bill Zerella said

Comment Great, another filtering algorithm (Score 3, Funny) 66

Right up there with resume filters, copyrighted content detectors, search engines, and the like, now people will be writing cartoons geared toward the filters. "Well, at least I'm not Donald Trump's cat sipping cheap red wine while waiting in line for the latest iPhone!"


Lexus Unveils Its Working Hoverboard 68

An anonymous reader writes: Lexus has revealed its eagerly anticipated "SLIDE" hoverboard, which uses magnetic fields to carry its rider without touching the ground. The board is confined to custom-built skatepark, remaining suspended due to the board's repulsion from a specially made magnetic track. Mark Templin, Executive Vice President at Lexus International said: "Embarking on this project, we set out to push the boundaries of technology, design and innovation to make the impossible possible. With this project we call 'SLIDE', we collaborated with partners who share our passion for creating enjoyment out of motion. Even through combining our technology and expertise, we discovered making a hoverboard isn't an easy process. We've experienced the highs and lows and have overcome a few challenges, but through mutual determination we have created a demonstration of our philosophy in design and technology to create Amazing in Motion."

Sounds Can Knock Drones Out of the Sky 120

angry tapir writes: Next week at the USENIX Security Symposium, researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejon, South Korea, are presenting research into knocking drones out of the sky using directed sound waves. They target a component crucial to every drone's ability to fly: its gyroscope. "A gyroscope keeps a drone balanced, providing information on its tilt, orientation and rotation, allowing for micro-adjustments that keep it aloft. Hobbyist and some commercial drones use inexpensive gyroscopes that are designed as integrated circuit packages." For some drones, the gyroscope and its housing have a resonant frequency that's within the audible spectrum. By targeting the drone with sound waves of that frequency, the gyroscope will begin to generate erroneous data, leading to a crash.

FDA Approves First 3D-Printed Drug Tablet 64

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has for the first time approved a 3D-printed pill for human consumption. The printing technique allows higher and more precise dosages to be layered into a smaller tablet size. This is an early step toward a new method of drug distribution. Right now, pills are made in a factory and shipped to hospitals. With 3D printers, hospitals could simply store a bulk supply of the drug in a pure form, and then print out tablets — containing whatever dosage they desire — as they need them. If patients needs to increase or decrease their dosage, the hospital can do so without changing the appearance of the pills, which could help those with memory impairments.

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