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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 197 declined, 69 accepted (266 total, 25.94% accepted)

+ - Nest halts sales of high-tech smoke detector, cites fire alarm glitch->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "Nest is halting sales of its Nest Protect fire alarm and smoke detector, citing a problem with the hand-waving feature that could delay an alarm in case of a real fire.
The company, which discovered the problems through its own internal tests, is offering to refund customers. The much-hyped Nest Protect was rolled out last year at a price point of $129.
In the next 24 hours, the company said that the Nest Wave will be automatically disabled, though the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms will continue to work."

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+ - "Meeting of the Mines" Minecraft convention accused of scamming attendees->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "New Yorks Long Island's News12 reports:

WANTAGH — Many Long Island gamers who had been looking forward to a MineCraft convention in Nassau County this weekend say they were victims of a scam.

Lovers of the popular game spent $200 on tickets to the “Meeting of the Mines” convention at the Marriot in Uniondale. Management at the Marriott says it was never booked for the convention.

Matthew Berner, 10, and his father Alan, of Wantagh, recently learned that the convention organizer, Kevin Roman, is under fire for a similar convention that, parents say, failed last weekend in Orlando. Attendees say the games and prizes that were promised by the organizer never materialized, and many demanded a refund.

Berner says he cannot get his money back because he paid more than 45 days in advance using PayPal. He contacted the New York Attorney General's Office to file a complaint. The Florida attorney general reports 20 parents there have already filed complaints.

Attempts by News 12 to reach Roman by phone and email were not successful.

Gamers tell News 12 that "Meeting of the Mines" should not be confused with the annual "Mine-Con" event, which they say is a legitimate MineCraft convention."

See linked News12 page for the full video report."

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+ - How Secure is your WiFi? Not Very,...->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "HowToGeek.com explores the question of how secure WiFi really is. I'll insert a quick paste from the (well written) article below, though the linked article really needs to be read fully (including the comments) in order to be properly discussed on Slashdot. The answer seems to be, 'Not very secure at all.' "

"At the end of the day, maybe the question to ask is “What do I need to do to make it not worth a casual hacker’s time to penetrate my network?” or “What is the real cost of having my network compromised?”, and going from there. There is no quick and easy answer..."

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+ - Lego robot solves Rubik's Cube puzzle in 3.253 seconds->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "For further proof the robot apocalypse is nigh, CTV News reports...

The Cubestormer 3 took 18 months to build but only needed 3.253 seconds to solve the puzzle, breaking the existing record.

Unveiled at the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham, U.K., the Cubestormer 3 is constructed from the modular children's building-block toy but uses a Samsung Galaxy SIV smartphone with a special ARM chip addition as its brain. It analyzes the muddled up Rubik's Cube and powers each of the robot's four ‘hands', which spin the cube until all sides are in order.

Created by ARM engineer David Gilday and Securi-Plex security systems engineer Mike Dobson, Cubestormer 3's new record shaves just over two seconds off the existing record, set by Cubestormer 2, which the pair also built.

"We knew Cubestormer 3 had the potential to beat the existing record but with the robot performing physical operations quicker than the human eye can see there's always an element of risk," said Gilday. "In the end, the hours we spent perfecting the robot and ensuring its motor and intelligence functions were properly synchronized paid off. Our big challenge now is working out if it's possible to make it go even faster.""

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+ - CIA accused: Senator sees torture probe meddling->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "In an extraordinary public accusation, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee declared on Tuesday that the CIA interfered with and then tried to intimidate a congressional investigation into the agency’s possible use of torture in terror probes during the Bush administration.

The CIA clandestinely removed documents and searched a computer network set up for lawmakers, said Sen. Dianne Feinstein in a long and biting speech on the Senate floor. In an escalating dispute with an agency she has long supported, she said the CIA may well have violated criminal laws and the U.S. Constitution."

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+ - Snowden: NSA Leaders Have Harmed Our National Security 'More Than Anything-> 2

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "America's most high-profile fugitive visited one of the country's most popular entertainment festivals in Texas on Monday, drawing thunderous applause from a crowded room filled with his adoring fans.

Edward Snowden, appearing from Russia through a live video stream, told attendees of the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin that Congress had fundamentally failed to do its job as an overseer of the government's bulk surveillance programs, declaring that "we need a watchdog that watches Congress."

The former National Security Agency contractor, in a conversation with the American Civil Liberties Union's Christopher Soghoian and Ben Wizner, also charged the current and most recent chief of the NSA as the two people most responsible for jeopardizing the country's national security due to their preference for aggressive collection of data rather than protection of it after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"More than anything, there are two officials who have harmed our Internet security and national security," Snowden said, his image backdropped by an enlarged copy of the U.S. Constitution. "Those two officials are Michael Hayden and Keith Alexander."

He added: "When you are the one country that has a vault that is more full than anyone else's, it doesn't make any sense to be attacking all day and never defending your vault. And it makes even less sense when you're setting the standards for vaults worldwide and leaving a huge back door open."

Snowden also told SXSW that the technology community can push for changes to the way Internet data is collected and stored even in the absence of action from Capitol Hill, specifically citing the need for end-to-end encryption of data, which he likened to a "defense against the dark arts for the digital realm."

"The people who are in the room in Austin right now are the folks who can really fix things even when Congress hasn't yet gotten to the point to protect our freedoms," Snowden said. "There's a policy response that needs to occur but there's also technology response that needs to occur.""

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+ - ArsTechnica reviews leaked Windows 8.1 update->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "ArsTechnica's Peter Bright reviews leaked Windows 8.1 update.

Leaks of upcoming versions of Microsoft's software are nothing new, but it's a little surprising when the source is Microsoft itself. The Spring update to Windows 8.1, known as Update 1, was briefly available from Windows Update earlier this week.

The update wasn't a free-for-all. To get Windows Update to install it, you had to create a special (undocumented, secret) registry key to indicate that you were in a particular testing group; only then were the updates displayed and downloadable.

After news of this spread, Microsoft removed the hefty—700MB—update from its servers, but not before it had spread across all manner of file-sharing sites...

Just because it was distributed by Windows Update doesn't mean that this is, necessarily, the final build, but it does present a good opportunity to see what Microsoft is actually planning to deliver."

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+ - The county sheriff who keylogged his wife-> 3

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "From Ars Technica:

On April 22, 2013, Miles J. Stark of Clay County, West Virginia made a bad decision. Stark was going through a divorce at the time and had grown concerned about his wife's relationship with an "unnamed individual." So he entered his wife's workplace after normal business hours, located her PC, and installed a tiny keylogger between her keyboard cable and her computer. The keylogger would record his wife's e-mails and her instant messaging chats as she typed them out letter by letter, along with the usernames and passwords she used for various online services. Stark left the office without getting caught.

Installing hardware keyloggers can be risky even in low-security circumstances, but Stark had made his offense far worse by installing the device on a computer belonging to the West Virginia Supreme Court. Stark's wife worked for the Clay County Magistrate Court and often had occasion to enter the financial details of defendants convicted in court—including the credit cards they used to pay their fines. Stark's bid to spy on his wife's e-mails was also vacuuming up private court information, which the government was bound to take extremely seriously if it found out.

Making the whole situation just that much worse was the fact that Stark was a cop. Not just any cop, either; Stark was the county sheriff. He had served as a Clay County deputy sheriff for 16 years and in November 2012 won an election to become the chief law enforcement officer in all of Clay County. At the time of the keylogger job, Stark had been in office only three months, and if the device were ever found, Stark stood to lose his career.

It took less than three weeks. On May 6, a Supreme Court technician was out at the magistrate office doing a scheduled replacement of many of the machines; he noticed the keylogger and reported it. When the West Virginia State Police questioned Stark about the matter, the sheriff "pretended not to know what a keystroke logger was," according to a later government court filing, "a response unworthy of a law enforcement officer."

Stark held out for several months before resigning, but eventually quit his job and pleaded guilty to a federal charge of wiretapping. Federal prosecutors, outraged that a county sheriff was essentially wiretapping the judiciary, wanted a tough sentence. Anything more modest "would erroneously equate this offense with the wiretap of a private citizen by a private citizen." But Stark argued that, stupid as his scheme was, the goal had only been his wife's information—not the court's. He asked for probation.

On December 19, Stark was sentenced to two years of probation and a $1,000 fine. "You have lost your position as sheriff, lost your career in law enforcement... That alone is enough," said Judge John Copenhaver, according to the Charleston Gazette. Stark's ex-wife requested leniency and hugged Stark after the ruling.

Original Charleston Gazette story here: http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201312190019"

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+ - Google Doodle remembers computing pioneer Grace Hopper->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "Monday’s Google Doodle honors computing genius Grace Hopper (remembered as a great pioneer in computing, as well as in women’s achievements in science and engineering), on what would have been her 107th birthday, doodling her right where she spent much of her time – at the helm of one of the world’s first computers.

At Harvard, Hopper would go on to work with the subsequent Mark II and Mark III computers. She is often credited with coining the term “bug” for a computer malfunction: In 1947, she is said to have tweezed from the Mark II computer an actual moth that had been bugging up the machine, caught between Relay #70 and Panel F. She was also at the forefront of designing computers that would communicate to the user in a language similar to English, not in numbers. The language that she and her colleagues produced, Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL), is still in use in 2013.

When, in 1982, David Letterman asked her how she knew so much about computers, in order to work with Mark I, her reply was: “I didn’t. It was the first one.”"

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+ - NASA's Cassini Spacecraft Obtains Best Views of Saturn Hexagon->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "NASA's Cassini spacecraft has obtained the highest-resolution movie yet of a unique six-sided jet stream, known as the hexagon, around Saturn's north pole.

This is the first hexagon movie of its kind, using color filters, and the first to show a complete view of the top of Saturn down to about 70 degrees latitude. Spanning about 20,000 miles (30,000 kilometers) across, the hexagon is a wavy jet stream of 200-mile-per-hour winds (about 322 kilometers per hour) with a massive, rotating storm at the center. There is no weather feature exactly, consistently like this anywhere else in the solar system.

"The hexagon is just a current of air, and weather features out there that share similarities to this are notoriously turbulent and unstable," said Andrew Ingersoll, a Cassini imaging team member at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "A hurricane on Earth typically lasts a week, but this has been here for decades — and who knows — maybe centuries.""

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+ - Something (we're not sure what) survived ISON's closest approach to the Sun.-> 2

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "This ArsTechnica article (by Natalie Starkey Dec 1 2013) contains a detailed animated GIF from the NASA STEREO Ahead spacecraft. From the article:

"It looks like comet ISON, or most of it, did not survive its encounter with the Sun yesterday, when it made a close approach at just 1.2 million kms from that fiery surface. This distance may seem large, but it is close enough to have subjected the comet to temperatures of around 2,700C. To survive such a close shave with the Sun may sound unlikely, but a few other sungrazing comets have managed the feat during even closer passes. So some people hoped ISON would perform a death-defying stunt and emerge intact.

ISON did not leave us without a final serving of mystery though. Soon after reaching its nearest point to the Sun (known as perihelion), there was no sign of it emerging afterwards. Twitter and news agencies were alight, lamenting its loss and assuming it disintegrated—RIP ISON.

But then, moments later, new images emerged showing a hint of something appearing on the other side of the Sun. Was this still a diminished comet ISON or a ghostly version of its former self? Well, even comet experts are not sure.

The image below shows that whatever appeared after perihelion had enough matter in it to produce a tail, which started fading as it got farther from the Sun.""

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+ - The Volocopter: 18-propeller electric helicopter takes flight->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "(CNN) — There's a lot to be said for determination. Two years ago, a contraption that looked a bit like a bouncy ball attached to a clothesline, took flight in a pioneering experiment in the German countryside.
A YouTube clip of a man flying the electric "Multicopter" attracted over 8 million hits, with comments ranging from: "AMAZING MACHINE!" to "Not sure you could pay me enough to sit in the middle of flying blenders bolted together."
Regardless, the three German engineers behind the baffling creation plowed ahead with their dream of making an electric helicopter. Last week it paid off.

There wasn't a bouncy ball in sight as the slick white "Volocopter" took to the air for the first time, quietly hovering 20 meters high, while its ecstatic creators cheered below.
Featuring 18 propellers on a lightweight carbon frame, the futuristic copter — which has been around €4 million ($5.4 million) in the making — could change the way we commute forever.

"What we're looking at now, is in the future where everyone is traveling not by car, but by some kind of aircraft," explained Stephan Wolf, co-chief executive of e-volo, the company behind the remarkable flying machine.
"Normal helicopters are very hard to fly. But we thought 'what if you could have a helicopter that is easy for the pilot to fly, and cheap compared to other aircraft?'"
Clever copter
Powered by a 100 kilogram battery, the two-passenger Volocopter can travel at least 70 kilometers per hour, recently making its first remote-controlled flight in a hanger in Karlsruhe, southwest Germany.
The chopper weighs just 300 kilograms in total. One limitation is that it currently only has enough power to fly for 20 minutes — though designers are looking at ways of increasing this, or introducing a hybrid engine.

Many small rotors — attached to a 10-meter wide circular frame — also help the eco-friendly machine hover more easily than other helicopters.
"If you let the joystick go, the Volocopter will just hover in the current position, so there's nothing the pilot has to do," said Wolf.
"But if you do that in another helicopter it will crash immediately."

Indeed, the Volocopter's simplicity sets it apart from other helicopters, and its creators hope in the future commuters will be able to take their electric aircraft to work, instead of languishing in gridlocked cars below.
The European Union is already looking at ways personal aerial vehicles (PAVs) could revolutionize urban spaces. It might sound like a scene from the Jetsons, but a city where flying machines replace cars isn't as far off as it seems.
"The most helicopters in the world are in Sao Paulo, Brazil," explained Wolf. "They have several thousand movements per day because the streets are congested and everyone who can afford it is taking the helicopter to go from one building to the next.
"You can imagine this happening in a big city in Germany. And already we've been approached by several companies who'd like to do it, maybe with landing pads on buildings."
The team hopes to sell its first Volocopter by 2015, with each machine setting you back €250,000 ($338,000). They're now on the lookout for further funding to develop their unique design."

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+ - Snowden rebuts Feinsteins statement that NSA spying is not surveillance->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "Note to Eds: Entire Ars Technica story pasted here, edit as you like...

by Cyrus Farivar — Oct 25 2013, 12:17am +0200
National Security
88
NSA leaks
US official handed over 35 foreign leaders’ phone numbers to NSA
Germany accuses US of spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone
France angered by new revelations of NSA surveillance
Snowden’s NSA post in Hawaii failed to install “anti-leak” software
The top 5 things we’ve learned about the NSA thanks to Edward Snowden
View all

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden went into a relatively long silent period after being charged with espionage and fleeing to Russia. But it seems that he is becoming more comfortable about speaking out. Today, new Snowden comments emerged in which he directly took on Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), who last week defended the NSA spying programs in a controversial op-ed in USA Today.

“We've learned that the US intelligence community secretly built a system of pervasive surveillance,” Snowden wrote in the statement, published today by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Today, no telephone in America makes a call without leaving a record with the NSA. Today, no Internet transaction enters or leaves America without passing through the NSA's hands. Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. They're wrong.”

In her October 20 op-ed, Feinstein argued that the “call-records program is legal and subject to extensive congressional and judicial oversight,” adding that “[t]he Supreme Court has held this ‘metadata’ is not protected under the Fourth Amendment.”

Snowden called on his supporters to join the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and other groups who will be holding a rally called "Stop Watching Us" at Union Station in Washington, DC on Saturday, October 26, at 12:00pm local time."

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+ - Steve Wozniak's views on current technology->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "Speaking at AppsWorld in London, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak gave his thoughts on the shifting mobile industry; wearable tech, connected devices, voice assistants, the Cloud, and the iOS competition from rivals such as Android and Windows Phone. Some snippets from articles on "The Woz":
        On talking about who’s “doing the most” for mobile; Woz is still on the iOS-side of the fence for reasons of reliability. When asked if he’d like to see a larger iPhone – it was a certain ‘yes’ — with the sentiment echoed by the crowd. He says: “I have been thinking they’ll do it for a while – but they have with the iPhone 5 just in one way only!” — Speaking in regards to the iPhone 5’s extra screen length; not width. Woz rightfully points out: “You walk into a store and iPhone has got the smallest screen of all” .
    He admires the competition drive by Google’s open-source OS, Android, and was quoted as saying: “It came to the Galaxy S3 and the Note and I said these are pretty good!” Whilst his “eye is often drawn to the big, glowing screens” by the likes of the HTC One and Galaxy S4.
    In smartwatches he states: “I got this iPod Nano and I wear it all the time on flights; and I think; what a nice interface to swipe with my hand” but he really wants integration with iOS voice assistant Siri. Steve is hoping to see devices which are standalone products: “I want a wearable phone – I don’t want to carry this thing in my pocket – I want it all on my wrist.” As for Cupertino, he says: “Apple will have something different. Something which will shock the world."
    On wearable tech he says: Your smartphone becomes a friend you talk to it and sometimes it talks back! They’re becoming closer and closer to you and what’s closer than on you?” When asked what his favourite app is; he replied ‘Siri’; but even explained how it was better before Apple’s acquisition in terms of relevant results. The one reason Woz gave for not liking Windows Phone 8 devices is “because I can’t operate them by voice.”
    He admires and is excited for the possibilities of ‘Google Glass’ — the wearable technology which you wear as if they were standard spectacles. The device doesn’t place information in your direct sight; but in your field of view as to be useful without distracting. As a man with many contacts; including within Google; he says he would’ve been able to get hold of the current “Explorer” development testing units but says: “I felt for a new product like Google Glass, I should leave it to people who can properly test – but I drool over people with it.”
    The moderator, Wired’s Nate Lanxon, said: “What we really need – is an AppleScript for phones.” Woz responded: “That’s what I’ve been saying for years!” (AppleScript is a scripting language created by Apple Inc. and built into Macintosh operating systems since System 7. It was built for inter-app communication; something which Android excels at.)
    It was a great time to catch-up with Steve Wozniak; as only the previous day Apple announced updates to their range of products – most notably an updated tablet newly dubbed as ‘iPad Air’.
    On the new iPad, Woz didn’t seem necessarily blown-away. Speaking of in regards to his own requirements he says: “Yes, it’s thinner, it’s lighter — but I carry a lot of my personal media. 128GB for the current iPad? I had hoped for 256GB.”
  Many would, again, see the new iPad as an iterative upgrade; which as Woz states: “The fact that Apple seems to be at a plateau for a while is fine with me." He continues: “You can’t come up with brand-new, innovative products every year.”
  Whilst fairly disinterested in the new iPad; the new MacBook Pro took his fancy – now with a 1TB SSD – a technology he is passionate about. To make the many of you with slow broadband speeds feel a little bit more content; Wozniak, a pioneer, doesn’t even have a connection at home. As he states: “40% of Americans don’t have it – not out of choice – they don’t run the wires through my town.” His connection to the outside world comes via LTE – which displays the power of the technology for internet access in rural areas."

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