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Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Questions US Government's Software Flaw Disclosure Policy

Posted by Soulskill
from the we'll-do-that-at-least-once-in-the-past-decade dept.
angry tapir writes: It's not clear if the U.S. government is living up to its promise to disclose serious software flaws to technology companies, a policy it put in place five years ago, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They write, "ODNI has now finished releasing documents in response to our suit, and the results are surprisingly meager. Among the handful of heavily redacted documents is a one-page list of VEP 'Highlights' from 2010. It briefly describes the history of the interagency working group that led to the development of the VEP and notes that the VEP established an office called the 'Executive Secretariat' within the NSA. The only other highlight left unredacted explains that the VEP 'creates a process for notification, decision-making, and appeals.' And that's it. This document, which is almost five years old, is the most recent one released. So where are the documents supporting the 'reinvigorated' VEP 2.0 described by the White House in 2014?"

+ - systemd team forks the Linux kernel->

Submitted by Celarent Darii
Celarent Darii (1561999) writes "The systemd developers have occasionally bumped heads with developers working on other projects, perhaps most notably Linus Torvalds, lead developer of the Linux kernel. Since systemd's init software works to bring the operating system on-line at boot time, systemd needs to work closely with the kernel and this can cause problems. In fact, some conflict and proposed solutions have resulted in at least one systemd developer getting banned from contributing to the Linux kernel.

Now it appears as though the systemd developers have found a solution to kernel compatibility problems and a way to extend their philosophy of placing all key operating system components in one repository. According to Ivan Gotyaovich, one of the developers working on systemd, the project intends to maintain its own fork of the Linux kernel. "There are problems, problems in collaboration, problems with compatibility across versions. Forking the kernel gives us control over these issues, gives us control over almost all key parts of the stack.""

Link to Original Source

+ - US Museums Outnumber Starbucks And McDonald's Combined->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The Washington Post reports, "There are roughly 11,000 Starbucks locations in the United States, and about 14,000 McDonald's restaurants. But combined, the two chains don't come close to the number of museums in the U.S., which stands at a whopping 35,000. So says the latest data release from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, an independent government agency that tallies the number and type of museums in this country. By their count the 35,000 active museums represent a doubling from the number estimated in the 1990s.""
Link to Original Source

+ - User resignation from an IT perspective

Submitted by recaptcha
recaptcha (4064357) writes "Today one of my fellow workers has announced he has found another job and will be leaving our company in two weeks' time. This is all above board and there is no disgruntled employee scenario here; he is simply working through his notice period and finishing up some jobs. I have already set some fileserver folders to Read-Only for him and taken a backup of his mailbox in case he empties it on the last day. Which best practices do you follow that will prevent a resigning user from causing any damage (deliberately or not) in these last days of employment before his account is disabled?"

+ - X-37B to fly again

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "The May 6 Atlas 5 launch will carry one of the Air Force’s two X-37B mini-shuttles on a new mission in space.

The Air Force won’t yet confirm which of the Boeing-built spaceplanes will be making the voyage. The first craft returned in October from a 675-day mission in space following a 224 day trek in 2010. OTV No. 2 spent 469 days in space in 2011-2012 on its only mission so far. “The program selects the Orbital Test Vehicle for each activity based upon the experiment objectives,” said Capt. Chris Hoyler, an Air Force spokesperson. “Each OTV mission builds upon previous on-orbit demonstrations and expands the test envelope of the vehicle. The test mission furthers the development of the concept of operations for reusable space vehicles.”

There are indications that the Air Force wants to attempt landing the shuttle at Kennedy this time."

Businesses

Why You Should Choose Boring Technology 104

Posted by Soulskill
from the predictable-headaches dept.
An anonymous reader writes Dan McKinley, a long-time Etsy engineer who now works at online payment processor Stripe, argues that the boring technology option is usually your best choice for a new project. He says, "Let's say every company gets about three innovation tokens. You can spend these however you want, but the supply is fixed for a long while. You might get a few more after you achieve a certain level of stability and maturity, but the general tendency is to overestimate the contents of your wallet. Clearly this model is approximate, but I think it helps. If you choose to write your website in NodeJS, you just spent one of your innovation tokens. If you choose to use MongoDB, you just spent one of your innovation tokens. If you choose to use service discovery tech that's existed for a year or less, you just spent one of your innovation tokens. If you choose to write your own database, oh god, you're in trouble. ... The nice thing about boringness (so constrained) is that the capabilities of these things are well understood. But more importantly, their failure modes are well understood."

+ - Amazon testing drone delivery in Canada->

Submitted by Keith J Duhaime
Keith J Duhaime (1643277) writes "According to the CBC, it appears that US red tape is a boon to developing and testing drones in Canada. Amazon is apparently testing drones for delivery somewhere in British Columbia, Canada at a secret location near the US border. They are using other countries too, but seem to be frustrated with the regulatory environment in the US itself."
Link to Original Source

+ - Bitcoin in China still chugging along, a year after clampdown->

Submitted by angry tapir
angry tapir (1463043) writes "A year after China began tightening regulations around Bitcoin, the virtual currency is still thriving in the country, albeit on the fringes, according to its largest exchange. Bitcoin prices may have declined, but Chinese buyers are still trading the currency in high volumes with the help of BTC China, an exchange that witnessed the boom days back in 2013, only to see the bust following the Chinese government's announcement, in December of that year, that banks would be banned from trading in bitcoin."
Link to Original Source

+ - Cancer researcher vanishes with tens of millions of dollars->

Submitted by jd
jd (1658) writes "Steven Curley, MD, who ran the Akesogenx corporation (and may indeed have been the sole employee after the dismissal of Robert Zavala) had been working on a radio-frequency cure for cancer with an engineer by the name of John Kanzius.

Kanzius died, Steven Curley set up the aforementioned parallel company that bought all the rights and patents to the technology before shuttering the John Kanzius Foundation. So far, so very uncool.

Last year, just as the company started aproaching the FDA about clinical trials, Dr Curley got blasted with lawsuits accusing him of loading his shortly-to-be ex-wife's computer with spyware.

Two weeks ago, there was to be a major announcement "within two weeks". Shortly after, the company dropped off the Internet and Dr Curley dropped off the face of the planet.

Robert Zavala is the only name mentioned that could be a fit for the company's DNS record owner. The company does not appear to have any employees other than Dr Curley, making it very unlikely he could have ever run a complex engineering project well enough to get to trial stage. His wife doubtless has a few scores to settle. Donors, some providing several millions, were getting frustrated — and as we know from McAfee, not all in IT are terribly sane. There are many people who might want the money and have no confidence any results were forthcoming.

So, what precisely was the device? Simple enough. Every molecule has an absorption line. It can absorb energy on any other frequency. A technique widely exploited in physics, chemistry and astronomy. People have looked into various ways of using it in medicine for a long time.

The idea was to inject patients with nanoparticles on an absorption line well clear of anything the human body cares about. These particles would be preferentially picked up by cancer cells because they're greedy. Once that's done, you blast the body at the specified frequency. The cancer cells are charbroiled and healthy cells remain intact.

It's an idea that's so obvious I was posting about it here and elsewhere in 1998. The difference is, they had a prototype that seemed to work.

But now there is nothing but the sound of Silence, a suspect list of thousands and a list of things they could be suspected of stretching off to infinity. Most likely, there's a doctor sipping champaign on some island with no extradition treaty. Or a future next-door neighbour to Hans Reiser. Regardless, this will set back cancer research. Money is limited and so is trust. It was, in effect, crowdsource funded and that, too, will feel a blow if theft was involved.

Or it could just be the usual absent-minded scientist discovering he hasn't the skills or awesomeness needed, but has got too much pride to admit it, as has happened in so many science fraud cases."

Link to Original Source

Australia

Oops: World Leaders' Personal Data Mistakenly Released By Autofill Error 124

Posted by samzenpus
from the sounds-like-a-case-of-the-mondays dept.
mpicpp writes in with this story about a mistake that saw personal details of world leaders accidentally disclosed by the Australian immigration department. "With a single key stroke, the personal information of President Obama and 30 other world leaders was mistakenly released by an official with Australia's immigration office. Passport numbers, dates of birth, and other personal information of the heads of state attending a G-20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, were inadvertently emailed to one of the organizers of January's Asian Cup football tournament, according to The Guardian. The U.K. newspaper obtained the information as a result of an Australia Freedom of Information request. Aside from President Obama, leaders whose data were released include Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese President Xi Jinping and British Prime Minister David Cameron. The sender forgot to check the auto-fill function in the email 'To' field in Microsoft Outlook before hitting send, the BBC reports."

Comment: Re:I'm all for abolishing the IRS (Score 0) 278

by lgw (#49374213) Attached to: Sign Up At irs.gov Before Crooks Do It For You

When we had that 90% tax rate, the tax code was nothing but loopholes. It's important to remember that the more you make, the more flexibility you have in how, where, and when you get compensated. Remember the Maryland millionaires tax? One year later, 1/3 of the people in that bracket went missing. If you own houses in two states, how hard is it to change your residency? France has a problem today with people leaving to avoid their recent high rates (also a 90% top rate IIRC).

But you're talking about an income tax, not a wealth tax. When it comes to non-property wealth, it takes a very small tax indeed to totally change the game, and create a huge disincentive to to business here (or at least to find some way to own US stocks from elsewhere, I guess). Large investment firms move will their assets around immediately for a 0.1% better guaranteed annual return. A 1% difference in property tax rates makes a big difference in affording a new house (and in a regressive way).

Maybe people are confused about how much overall property (wealth or otherwise) there is to begin with?

Bitcoin

Silk Road Investigators Charged With Stealing Bitcoin 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the was-that-wrong? dept.
itwbennett writes Two former U.S. government agents face charges related to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin while assisting with an investigation of the Silk Road underground online marketplace, with one accused of using a fake online persona to extort money from operators of the site. Facing charges of wire fraud and money laundering are Carl Force, 46, of Baltimore, a former special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, and Shaun Bridges, 32, of Laurel, Maryland, a former special agent with the U.S. Secret Service. Both served on the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force, which investigated illegal activity on the Silk Road website, the Department of Justice said Monday in a press release.
Robotics

Robots4Us: DARPA's Response To Mounting Robophobia 87

Posted by samzenpus
from the hug-your-robot dept.
malachiorion writes DARPA knows that people are afraid of robots. Even Steve Wozniak has joined the growing chorus of household names (Musk, Hawking, Gates) who are terrified of bots and AI. And the agency's response--a video contest for kids--is equal parts silly and insightful. It's called Robots4Us, and it asks high schoolers to describe their hopes for a robot-assisted future. Five winners will be flown to the DARPA Robotics Competition Finals this June, where they'll participate in a day-after discussion with experts in the field. But this isn't quite as useless as it sounds. As DRC program manager Gill Pratt points out, it's kids who will be impacted by the major changes to come, moreso than people his age.

Comment: Re:I'm all for abolishing the IRS (Score 1) 278

by lgw (#49373547) Attached to: Sign Up At irs.gov Before Crooks Do It For You

Sometimes people accuse progressives of wanting to punish success, to hurt the rich just for the sake of hurting. Your plan is why people say stuff like that.

In practice, when individual states start "taxing millionaires", the millionaires move to different states. We're just looking for a way to fund the government here, as a means to the end of improving everyone's standard of living. A plan that would cause the successful to move elsewhere might raise some funds for a while, but is a terrible long-term strategy for improving standard of living. (And I'm fully aware that some actually want to build a metaphorical wall around the nation to keep the successful from escaping - not the sort of nation I want to live in.)

After any salary raise, you will have less money at the end of the month than you did before.

Working...