The Guardian carries Edward Snowden's detailed rebuttal to critics who say that his recent live-TV interaction with Vladimir Putin, in which Snowden asked whether the Russian government was engaged in spying on Russian citizens' communications, was a scripted moment intended to curry or maintain favor with Putin. After all, Snowden is currently living in Russia, where he has been granted only temporary harbor, goes this argument, so he is at the mercy of the Russian government, and has just gamely thrown Putin a softball. (Slashdot reader Rambo Tribble said the exchange had a "canned quality," a sentiment widely echoed.) Snowden writes that, far from being a whitewash of actual policies by the Russian government, his question ("Does [your country] intercept, analyse or store millions of individuals' communications?") "was intended to mirror the now infamous exchange in US Senate intelligence committee hearings between senator Ron Wyden and the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, about whether the NSA collected records on millions of Americans, and to invite either an important concession or a clear evasion"; he decribes Putin's answer as a combination of inconsistent denial and evasion. Snowden writes: "I blew the whistle on the NSA's surveillance practices not because I believed that the United States was uniquely at fault, but because I believe that mass surveillance of innocents – the construction of enormous, state-run surveillance time machines that can turn back the clock on the most intimate details of our lives – is a threat to all people, everywhere, no matter who runs them. Last year, I risked family, life, and freedom to help initiate a global debate that even Obama himself conceded 'will make our nation stronger.' I am no more willing to trade my principles for privilege today than I was then. I understand the concerns of critics, but there is a more obvious explanation for my question than a secret desire to defend the kind of policies I sacrificed a comfortable life to challenge: if we are to test the truth of officials' claims, we must first give them an opportunity to make those claims."
mikejuk (1801200) writes "Gofor is a new company that is promoting the idea of drones on demand. All you have to do is use the app to request a drone and it shows you were they are and how long before one reaches your location. You want to take the ultimate selfie? Scout ahead to see if the road is clear or just find a parking space? No problem just task a drone to do the job. For the photo you simply flash your phone camera at it and it pinpoints your location for an aerial selfie. If it is scouting ahead then it shows you what awaits you via a video link. See the promo video to see how it might work. Flight of fancy? Possibly but the company claims to be operational in five US cities." I wish my car had a drone for instant scouting of traffic-jam alternates.
An anonymous reader writes "A high school science teacher at Grand Arts High School in Los Angeles was suspended from the classroom in February, after two of his science fair students turned in projects deemed dangerous by the administrators. "One project was a marshmallow shooter — which uses air pressure to launch projectiles. The other was an AA battery-powered coil gun — which uses electromagnetism to launch small objects. Similar projects have been honored in past LA County Science Fairs and even demonstrated at the White House."
Ars Technica has nothing good to say about the scientific understanding (or at least public understanding) that led Portland to drain 38 million gallons of water after a teenage prankster urinated into the city's water supply. Maybe SCADA systems shouldn't be quite as high on the list of dangers, when major utilities can be quite this brittle even without a high-skill attack.
An anonymous reader writes "The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a Scientology front group, has received a 'grant from Google in the amount of $10,000 per month worth of Pay Per Click Advertising to be used in our Orange County anti-psych campaigns.' CCHR believes that ALL psychiatrists are evil. They believe that psychiatrists were behind the holocaust, and these shadow men were never brought to justice. CCHR also believes that psychiatrists were behind the 911 attacks. Scientologists believe that psychiatrists have always been evil, and their treachery goes back 75 million years when the psychiatrists assisted XENU in killing countless alien life forms. Thanks Google! We may be able to stop these evil Psychs once and for all!"
theodp (442580) writes "'The government is not the only American power whose motivations need to be rigourously examined,' writes The Telegraph's Katherine Rushton. 'Some 2,400 miles away from Washington, in Silicon Valley, Google is aggressively gaining power with little to keep it in check. It has cosied up to governments around the world so effectively that its chairman, Eric Schmidt, is a White House advisor. In Britain, its executives meet with ministers more than almost any other corporation. Google can't be blamed for this: one of its jobs is to lobby for laws that benefit its shareholders, but it is up to governments to push back. As things stand, Google — and to a lesser extent, Facebook — are in danger of becoming the architects of the law.' Schmidt, by the way, is apparently interested in influencing at least two current hot-button White House issues. Joined by execs from Apple, Oracle, and Facebook, the Google Chairman asserted in a March letter to Secretary of State John Kerry that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is not in the economic interests of the U.S.; the Obama administration on Friday extended the review period on the pipeline, perhaps until after the Nov. 4 congressional elections. And as a 'Major Contributor' to Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC, Schmidt is also helping to shape public opinion on the White House's call for immigration reform; FWD.us just launched new attack ads (videos) and a petition aimed at immigration reform opponent Rep. Steve King. In Dave Eggers' The Circle, politicians who impede the company execs' agenda are immediately brought down. But that's fiction, right?"
The mission of NASA's LADEE probe was brought to an intentional violent end yesterday, when it smashed into the far side of the moon. As the Ars Technica report explains, "NASA's policy is to treat the locations of the Moon landings as historical sites, and it takes pains to preserve them from possible damage. LADEE didn't have the fuel to control its orbit indefinitely. As a result, the controllers had been preparing to terminate the probe for several weeks. ... The exact moment of impact isn't clear, since the precise terrain it hit couldn't be determined in advance. (If it hit a ridge, it would have happened earlier than if LADEE plowed across a plain. What is clear is that the impact destroyed the probe." Before the end of LADEE's mission, besides close up observations, the craft was used to test a new laser-based communication system.
An anonymous reader writes "The FCC denied an appeal by Comcast, which argued that its practice of charging customers separately for a DTA (digital terminal adapter) -- a converter box that allows cable subscribers with older televisions to receive digital channels, which the company said would be provided at no charge -- is not subject to rate regulation, because it is a service fee. The ruling was issued on March 19." Also from the article: "In an e-mail last week to the Star Tribune, Comcast vice president of corporate affairs Mary Beth Schubert said the case “involved a relatively minor dispute about the way certain items are presented on the rate card but has no effect on overall pricing.” But, [Michael Bradley, an attorney whose firm represented Minneapolis-area franchising authorities in the dispute] argued the FCC’s decision sets a strong precedent for transparency within the cable industry."
An anonymous reader writes "Linux kernel developers are currently evaluating the possibility of using QR codes to display kernel oops/panic messages. Right now a lot of text is dumped to the screen when a kernel oops occurs, most of which isn't easily archivable by normal Linux end-users. With QR codes as Linux oops messages, a smart-phone could capture the display and either report the error string or redirect them to an error page on Kernel.org. The idea of using QR codes within the Linux kernel is still being discussed by upstream developers."
mdsolar (1045926) writes "Owners of at least two dozen nuclear reactors across the United States, including the operator of Indian Point 2, in Buchanan, N.Y., have told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that they cannot show that their reactors would withstand the most severe earthquake that revised estimates say they might face, according to industry experts. As a result, the reactors' owners will be required to undertake extensive analyses of their structures and components. Those are generally sturdier than assumed in licensing documents, but owners of some plants may be forced to make physical changes, and are likely to spend about $5 million each just for the analysis."
redletterdave (2493036) writes "Facebook owns virtually all the aspects of the social experience—photos (Instagram), status updates (Facebook), location services (Places)—but now, Facebook is transitioning from a simple social network to a full-fledged technology company that rivals Google, moonshot for moonshot. Yet, it's Facebook's corporate control of traffic that leads many to distrust the company. In a sense, people are stuck. When the time comes for someone to abandon Facebook, whether over privacy concerns or frustration with the company, Facebook intentionally makes it hard to leave. Even if you delete your account, your ghost remains—even when you die, Facebook can still make money off you. And that's not behavior fit for a company that's poised to take over the future."
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft [Thursday] announced a change to how it handles adware, a form of malware that pushes unwanted advertisements to the user. As of July 1, the company's security products will immediately stop any adware they detect and notify the user, who can then restore the program if they wish. Currently, when any of Microsoft's security products (including Microsoft Security Essentials and Microsoft Forefront) detects a program as adware, it will alert the user and offer them a recommended action. If the user doesn't do anything, the security product will let the program continue to run until the user makes a decision." If adware is malware, why wait until July?
New submitter FikseGTS (3604833) writes "A Tesla Model S owner located a 4 pin connector on the left side of the Tesla Model S dashboard that turns out to be a disguised ethernet networking port. After crafting his owns patch cable to connect with the Tesla's port, a networking connection was established between the Tesla Model S and a laptop computer. The Model S is running a 100 Mbps, full duplex ethernet network and 3 devices were found with assigned IP addresses in the 192.168.90.0 subnet. Some ports and services that were open on the devices were 22 (SSH), 23 (telnet),53 (open domain), 80 (HTTP), 111 (rpcbind), 2049 (NFS), 6000 (X11). Port 80 was serving up a web page with the image or media of the current song being played. The operating system is modified version of Ubuntu using an ext3 filesystem. Using X11 it also appears that someone was able to somewhat run Firefox on both of the Model S screens. Is a jailbroken Tesla Model S on the way?" Some more details on this front would be appreciated, for anyone who has a Tesla they'd like to explore.
reifman (786887) writes "Anders Helstrup went skydiving nearly two years ago near Hedmark, Norway and while he didn't realize it at the time, when he reviewed the footage taken by two cameras fixed to his helmet during the dive, he saw a rock plummet past him. He took it to experts and they realized he had captured a meteorite falling during its dark flight — when it has been slowed by atmospheric braking, and has cooled and is no longer luminous."
kc123 tips news that 'DeepFace,' the software research project created by Facebook engineers to identify people in pictures, is now accurate 97.25% of the time. In other words, it's almost as good at recognizing faces as humans, who are able to determine whether two photos show the same person 97.53% of the time. The article says DeepFace reaches that level of accuracy "regardless of variations in lighting or whether the person in the picture is directly facing the camera." It continues, "DeepFace processes images of faces in two steps. First it corrects the angle of a face so that the person in the picture faces forward, using a 3-D model of an 'average' forward-looking face. Then the deep learning comes in as a simulated neural network works out a numerical description of the reoriented face. If DeepFace comes up with similar enough descriptions from two different images, it decides they must show the same face. ... The deep-learning part of DeepFace consists of nine layers of simple simulated neurons, with more than 120 million connections between them. To train that network, Facebook’s researchers tapped a tiny slice of data from their company’s hoard of user images—four million photos of faces belonging to almost 4,000 people."