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Tech Unemployment Rising In Some Categories ( 182

Nerval's Lobster writes: The technology industry's unemployment rate crept up to 3.0 percent in the third quarter of 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Although that represents an increase from the second quarter, when tech unemployment stood at 2.0 percent, it's nonetheless lower than the 5.2 percent unemployment rate for the U.S. labor market as a whole. Despite that relatively low rate, however, many technology segments saw an accompanying rise in joblessness. (Dice link) Web developers, for example, saw their collective unemployment rate hit 5.10 percent, up from 3.70 percent in the same quarter last year. Computer systems analysts, programmers, network and systems administrators, software developers, and computer & information systems managers likewise experienced a slight rise in unemployment on a year-over-year basis.

The Popular Over-The-Counter Cold Medicine That Science Says Doesn't Work ( 310 writes: Back before methamphetamine cooks started buying up non-prescription decongestants to brew crank, all of us were able to buy effective decongestants right off the store shelf without a problem. Now David DiSalvo writes at Forbes that to fill the store-shelf void, drug companies substituted the already-FDA approved ingredient phenylephrine for pseudoephedrine. But the oral decongestant phenylephrine simply doesn't work at the FDA-approved amount found in popular non-prescription brands, and it may not even work at much higher doses. Researchers at the University of Florida are asking the FDA to remove oral phenylephrine from the market. "We think the evidence supports that phenylephrine's status as a safe and effective over-the-counter product should be changed," says Randy Hatton. "We are looking out for the consumer, and he or she needs to know that science says that oral phenylephrine does not work for the majority of people."

In 1976, the FDA deemed a 10 milligram oral dose of phenylephrine safe and effective at relieving congestion, making it possible for companies to use the ingredient without conducting studies. But Leslie Hendeles and Hatton say phenylephrine does not effectively relieve nasal stuffiness at this dose. They say the FDA cited four tests demonstrating efficacy at the 10 milligram dose, two of which were unpublished and sponsored by drug manufacturers. In contrast, the FDA cited six tests demonstrating no significant difference between phenylephrine and placebo. Hendeles said a higher dose may work, but no research has been published regarding safety at higher doses. "They need to do a dose-response study to determine at what higher dose they get both efficacy and safety," says Hendeles adding that until then "consumers should go that extra step and get it (pseudoephedrine) from behind the counter."


Starting This Week, Wireless Carriers Must Unlock Your Phone 100 writes Andrew Moore-Crispin reports that beginning today, as result of an agreement major wireless carriers made with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in late 2013, wireless carriers in the US must unlock your phone as soon as a contract term is fulfilled if asked to do so unless a phone is connected in some way to an account that owes the carrier money. Carriers must also post unlocking policies on their websites (here are links for AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile), provide notice to customers when their devices are eligible for unlocking, respond to unlock requests within two business days, and unlock devices for deployed military personnel. So why unlock your phone? Unlocking a phone allows it to be used on any compatible network, regardless of carrier which could result in significant savings. Or you could go with an MVNO, stay on the same network, and pay much less for the same cellular service.

How Facebook Is Influencing Who Will Win the Next Election 72

An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from Forbes: [Facebook] announced yesterday that it was shutting down a feature that the Obama campaign used in 2012 to register over a million voters. During the election supporters shared access to their list of Facebook friends list with the campaign through an app. Researchers have found that while people view often political messages with skepticism, they are more receptive and trusting when the information is coming from somebody they know. The feature was credited with boosting Obama’s get-out-the-vote efforts which were crucial to his victory, but Facebook has decided to disable this ability in order to (rightfully) protect users from third-party apps collecting too much of their information.

The company insists that it favors no particular ideology and that its efforts are “neutral.” The first part is likely true, but the second is not possible. The company’s algorithms take into account a proprietary mix of our own biases, connections, and interests combined with Facebook’s business priorities; that is the farthest thing from neutral. Facebook says it just want to encourage “civic participation,” but politically mobilizing the subsection of people that are on their network is not without its own impacts.

Rite Aid and CVS Block Apple Pay and Google Wallet 558

An anonymous reader writes CVS and Rite Aid have reportedly shut off the NFC-based contactless payment option at point of sale terminals in thousands of stores. The move will make it impossible to pay for products using Apple Pay or Google Wallet. Rite Aid posted at their stores: "Please note that we do not accept Apple Pay at this time. However we are currently working with a group of large retailers to develop a mobile wallet that allows for mobile payments attached to credit cards and bank accounts directly from a smart phone. We expect to have this feature available in the first half of 2015."

Cameras On Cops: Coming To a Town Near You 264

An anonymous reader writes "The trend of police officers using body-mounted cameras is going nationwide. As we discussed last month, the NYPD is pondering the cameras, and the LAPD is actively testing them. A town in California (population ~100,000) has tested them with seeming success: incidents involving officers using force have dropped more than half, and citizen complaints have dropped almost 90%. '[C]ops are required to turn on their cameras in any confrontation with a suspect or citizen. The footage is uploaded to computers when they return to the station, and is typically retained for one to three months.' The town's success is even drawing interest from police departments in other countries. The ACLU likes the idea, but has problems with it in practice, so they're opposing the trend (PDF). They worry about privacy abuses, and they want citizens caught on camera to be allowed equal access to the footage."

Hackers Penetrate Top Medical Device Makers 76

An anonymous reader writes "Hackers have penetrated the computer networks of the country's top medical device makers, The Chronicle has learned. The attacks struck Medtronic, the world's largest medical device maker, Boston Scientific and St. Jude Medical sometime during the first half of 2013 and might have lasted as long as several months, according to a source close to the companies."

H&R Block Software Glitch To Delay 600,000 U.S. Tax Refunds 104

mrquagmire sends this quote from a Reuters report: "Tax refunds for about 600,000 taxpayers claiming an education credit will be delayed, the Internal Revenue Service said on Wednesday, citing a software glitch at some tax-preparation companies, including industry leader H&R Block Inc. Refunds may be delayed four to six weeks from mid-February, likely not showing up until late March, the IRS said. ... On Tuesday, a Wal-Mart Stores Inc executive said shoppers had cashed about $2.7 billion in tax refund checks at its U.S. stores so far this year. At this point last year, that amount was about $4 billion. The IRS delayed the start of the tax filing season by eight days, to January 30, due to the enactment of tax law changes made to resolve the "fiscal cliff."

Feds Continue To Consider Linux Users Criminals For Watching DVDs 423

An anonymous reader sent in a link to an article in Wired about the latest DMCA loophole hearing. Bad news: the federal government rejected requests that would make console modding and breaking DRM on DVDs to watch them legal. So, you dirty GNU/Linux hippies using libdvdcss better watch out: "Librarian of Congress James Billington and Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante rejected the two most-sought-after items on the docket, game-console modding and DVD cracking for personal use and 'space shifting.' Congress plays no role in the outcome. The regulators said that the controls were necessary to prevent software piracy and differentiated gaming consoles from smart phones, which legally can be jailbroken. ... On the plus side, the regulators re-authorized jailbreaking of mobile phones. On the downside, they denied it for tablets, saying an 'ebook reading device might be considered a tablet, as might a handheld video game device.'" So you can jailbreak a phone, but if it's 1" larger and considered a "tablet" you are breaking the law.

US Bans Loud Commercials 289

bs0d3 writes "On Tuesday, the FCC passed the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM. It's a law that states all commercials must run at the same volume as network newscasts. The same applies to network promos. The responsibility falls on cable providers like Comcast or charter. The law will not take effect until next year which leaves it plenty of time to be challenged in court by cable providers or advertisers."

Netflix Deflects Rage Over Price Increase 722

oxide7 writes "Netflix provoked an unprecedented outpouring of backlash across the Internet as the company unveiled plans to raise prices on its movie-rental services. The company said it would raise the Internet-plus-DVDs-in-the-mail plan from $9.99 per month to $15.98 per month late Tuesday sparking protests and rage across the subscriber base. Netflix brushed off the criticism however. 'We knew there would be some people who would be upset,' company spokesman Steve Swasey said. 'To most people, it's a latte or two,' he added."
The Internet

Statewide Franchise Illegal? Detroit Sues Comcast 183

jqpublic13 writes "The City of Detroit, Michigan, is suing Comcast's local subsidiary citing a 2006 agreement which the City says violates the constitutions of both the United States and the state of Michigan. They claim that a federal act from 1984 supersedes the local agreement. Comcast has 20 days to respond."

DHS Wants To Monitor the Web For Terrorists 285

clustro writes "Under the belief that terrorists are 'increasingly' recruiting US citizens, Department of Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano says that increased government monitoring of the Internet is necessary to thwart them. It is believed that Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hassan and attempted Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad were inspired by radical Internet postings. Speaking at a meeting of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, Napolitano said, 'We can significantly advance security without having a deleterious impact on individual rights in most instances. At the same time, there are situations where tradeoffs are inevitable.'"

NHTSA Complaint Database Oozes Personal Data 62

EWNiedermeyer writes "Are your name, address, date of birth, driver's license number and Social Security number publicly available online? If you've been involved in an accident, they might be and you would never know. The Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration solicits defect complaints from the public, which are hosted on NHTSA's public database. There are about 792,000 of these complaints currently online, and as the video at the link proves, many of them are improperly redacted. As a result, the most personal information imaginable is available to anyone who takes the time to troll the database. This is a clear violation of the Privacy Act of 1974, and NHTSA needs to shut down the database until it can control the personal data stored there."

NSF Gives Supercomputer Time For 3-D Model of Spill 102

CWmike writes "Scientists have embarked on a crash effort to use one the world's largest supercomputers to create 3-D models to simulate how BP's massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill will affect coastal areas. Acting within 24 hours of receiving a request from researchers, the National Science Foundation late last week made an emergency allocation of 1 million compute hours on a supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center to study how BP's gusher will affect coastlines. The computer model they are working on 'has the potential to advise and undergird many emergency management decisions that may be made along the way, particularly if a hurricane comes through the area,' said Rick Luettich, a professor of marine sciences and head of the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, who is one of the researchers on this project. Meanwhile, geographic information systems vendor ESRI has added a social spin to GIS mapping of the BP oil spill."

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