I have lived in Aussie for the last 8 years and am grateful every time I leave the doctor's office without having to fill out one stinking form. This is a wonderful country. Support the Australia economy where you can. There are some good online bookstores like Booktopia. If you can't find any joy there, try the Bookdepository and Abesbooks in the UK (owned by Amazon?) They have low shipping costs. There is a large online electronics industry here. Maybe it won't be quite as cheap as buying from the US, but if you have a problem with the order, it won't take months of overseas troubleshooting to figure out. Australian ebay will give you access to the China markets.
You must be joking. Many scientific papers out there have results based on prototype or proof of concept software written by naive grad students for their advisors. These are largely uncommented hacks with little, if any, sanity checks. To sell these prototypes commercially, I have had to cleanup after some of these grads. I take great sadistic pleasure in throwing out two years of effort and rewriting it all from scratch in a couple of weeks.
I believe some US companies had offshored their crypto development even before the NSA revelations. Perhaps to avoid those national security letters but no doubt to avoid tangling crypto export laws. But you are essentially correct, the credibility is gone. There is no way to know if the hardware or software you have purchased has been given a backdoor.
Vegemite writes "With all the fuss about Snowden I recognize there are many former employees of the NSA and how these ongoing revelations are going to affect them. The only former NSA employee I met was about the same time I was putting together a crypto library to test verilog code and subsequently the security chip for my employer. Access to the code base was universal. Heck, we're all on the same team, right? Now, this former NSA person would not have willingly given out a menu selection from the NSA cafeteria nor one reason for leaving his former employer. It seems to me that while this may be ordinary behavior for a former NSA employee, it also cultivates an air of suspicion. Considering the beligerant nature of the NSA towards our privacy, it seems only natural to suspect they have planted a few moles in selected security positions. If I were producing any cryptographic hardware or software products, all former NSA employees would be re-investigated just to save my company's credibility."
An anonymous reader writes "The male test subjects didn't know what they were smelling, they were just given little vials of clear liquid and told to sniff. But when those vials contained a woman's tears (collected while she watched a sad movie), the men rated pictures of women's faces as less sexually attractive, and their saliva contained less testosterone. Is this proof that humans make and respond to pheromones? The researcher behind the study doesn't use that controversial word, but he says his findings do prove that tears contain meaningful chemical messages."
theodp writes "Writing for Forbes, CS-grad-turned-big-time-VC Ben Horowitz gives three examples of how the smartest people in a company can also be the worst employees: 1. The Heretic, who convincingly builds a case that the company is hopeless and run by a bunch of morons; 2. The Flake, who is brilliant but totally unreliable; 3. The Jerk, who is so belligerent in his communication style that people just stop talking when he is in the room. So, can an employee who fits one of these poisonous descriptions, but nonetheless can make a massive positive contribution to a company, ever be tolerated? Quoting John Madden's take on Terrell Owens, Horowitz gives a cautious yes: 'If you hold the bus for everyone on the team, then you'll be so late that you'll miss the game, so you can't do that. The bus must leave on time. However, sometimes you'll have a player that's so good that you hold the bus for him, but only him.' Ever work with a person who's so good that he/she gets his/her own set of rules? Ever been that person yourself?"
An anonymous reader writes "A University of California, Berkeley, geophysicist has made the first-ever measurement of the strength of the magnetic field inside Earth's core, 1,800 miles underground. The magnetic field strength is 25 Gauss, or 50 times stronger than the magnetic field at the surface that makes compass needles align north-south. Though this number is in the middle of the range geophysicists predict, it puts constraints on the identity of the heat sources in the core that keep the internal dynamo running to maintain this magnetic field."
A survey of American voters by World Public Opinion shows that Fox News viewers are significantly more misinformed than consumers of news from other sources. One of the most interesting questions was about President Obama's birthplace. 63 percent of Fox viewers believe Obama was not born in the US (or that it is unclear). In 2003 a similar study about the Iraq war showed that Fox viewers were once again less knowledgeable on the subject than average. Let the flame war begin!
Chinese archaeologists have discovered a sealed bronze pot containing what they believe is a batch of 2,400-year-old bone soup. The pot was dug up near the ancient capital of Xian. Liu Daiyun of the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archeology says, "It's the first discovery of bone soup in Chinese archaeological history. The discovery will play an important role in studying the eating habits and culture of the Warring States Period (475-221BC)." No word on if the archaeologists also found the accompanying ancient crackers.
aesoteric writes "A 30-year-old IT worker at a Florida-based health centre was this week sentenced to 19 months in a US federal prison for hacking, and then locking, her former employer's IT systems. Four days after being fired from the Suncoast Community Health Centers' for insubordination, Patricia Marie Fowler exacter her revenge by hacking the centre's systems, deleting files, changing passwords, removing access to infrastructure systems, and tampering with pay and accrued leave rates of staff."
An anonymous reader writes "A robot met its end near Coors Field tonight when the Denver Police Department Bomb Squad detonated the 'suspicious object,' bringing to an end the hours-long standoff between police and the approximately eight-inch tall toy. From the article: "'Are you serious?' asked Denver resident Justin Kent, 26, when police stopped him from proceeding down 20th Street. Kent said that he lived just past the closed area, but was told he would have to go around via Park Avenue.'"
mrbongo writes with this excerpt from Wired: "Opening statements in the first-of-its-kind Xbox 360 criminal hacking trial were delayed here Wednesday after a federal judge unleashed a 30-minute tirade at prosecutors in open court, saying he had 'serious concerns about the government's case.' ... Gutierrez slammed the prosecution over everything from alleged unlawful behavior by government witnesses, to proposed jury instructions harmful to the defense. When the verbal assault finally subsided, federal prosecutors asked for a recess to determine whether they would offer the defendant a deal, dismiss or move forward with the case that was slated to become the first jury trial of its type. A jury was seated Tuesday."
University of Florida student Zachary Garcia was more than a little surprised to find out he was wanted for murder after Googling his name. It turns out the police were looking for a different man but had mistakenly used Garcia's photo. From the article: "Investigators originally released a driver's license photo of Zachary Garcia — spelled with an 'A' — but it was Zachery Garcia — spelled with an 'E'— who was charged in connection with the crime."
mernilio writes "According to UPI: 'A Massachusetts school district superintendent said a memo banning sixth graders from carrying pencils was written without district approval. North Brookfield School District interim Superintendent Gordon Noseworthy said Wendy Scott, one of two sixth-grade teachers at North Brookfield Elementary School, did not get approval from administrators before sending the memo to all sixth-grade parents, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported Thursday. The memo said students would no longer be allowed to bring writing implements to school. It said pencils would be provided for students in class and any students caught with pencils or pens after Nov. 15 would face disciplinary action for having materials 'to build weapons.'"
Dr. Alan Hirsch, Director of Chicago's Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Center, says the key to a man's heart, and other parts, is pumpkin pie. Out of the 40 odors tested in Hirsch's study, a mixture of lavender and pumpkin pie got the biggest rise out of men ages 18 to 64. That particular fragrance was found to increase penile blood flow by an average of 40%. "Maybe the odors acted to reduce anxiety. By reducing anxiety, it acted to remove inhibitions," said Hirsch.