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Transportation

Tesla Model S REST API Authentication Flaws 161

Posted by Soulskill
from the honk-if-i-control-your-car-remotely dept.
An anonymous reader writes "New Tesla owner and Executive DIrector of Cloud Computing at Dell, George Reese, brings the Tesla Model S REST API authentication into question. 'The authentication protocol in the Tesla REST API is flawed. Worse, it's flawed in a way that makes no sense. Tesla ignored most conventions around API authentication and wrote their own. As much as I talk about the downsides to OAuth (a standard for authenticating consumers of REST APIs—Twitter uses it), this scenario is one that screams for its use.' While not likely to compromise the safety of the vehicle, he does go on to say, 'I can target a site that provides value-added services to Tesla owners and force them to use a lot more electricity than is necessary and shorten their battery lives dramatically. I can also honk their horns, flash their lights, and open and close the sunroof. While none of this is catastrophic, it can certainly be surprising and distracting while someone is driving.'"
Space

Mystery Intergalactic Radio Bursts Detected 259

Posted by timothy
from the fireworks-duh dept.
astroengine writes "Astronomers were on a celestial fishing expedition for pulsing neutron stars and other radio bursts when they found something unexpected in archived sky sweeps conducted by the Parkes radio telescope in New South Wales, Australia. The powerful signal, which lasted for just milliseconds, could have been a fluke, but then the team found three more equally energetic transient flashes all far removed from the galactic plane and coming from different points in the sky. Astronomers are at a loss to explain what these flashes are — they could be a common astrophysical phenomenon that has only just been detected as our radio antennae have become sensitive enough, or they could be very rare and totally new phenomenon that, so far, defies explanation."

Comment: Re:I'm a MOOC addict (Score 1) 141

by ccp (#43786657) Attached to: What Professors Can Learn From "Hard Core" MOOC Students

There are lots of classes that require essays or projects where it is essentially a giant waste of the students time. This includes doing videos and presentations for almost any course (a really well taught audio production course wanted every student to do a video essentially repeating a subset of the same material he just did.

Same here. When I realised we were expected to do a video presentation, my only reaction was What the fuck???. I still can't understand the purpose of this.

On the other side, the course was very good, and the prof. pretty easy to follow.

Businesses

N. Carolina May Ban Tesla Sales To Prevent "Unfair Competition" 555

Posted by timothy
from the rento-polo-rento-polo dept.
nametaken writes with this excerpt from Slate: "From the state that brought you the nation's first ban on climate science comes another legislative gem: a bill that would prohibit automakers from selling their cars in the state. The proposal, which the Raleigh News & Observer reports was unanimously approved by the state's Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday, would apply to all car manufacturers, but the intended target is clear. It's aimed at Tesla, the only U.S. automaker whose business model relies on selling cars directly to consumers, rather than through a network of third-party dealerships. ... [The article adds] it's easy to understand why some car dealers might feel a little threatened: Tesla's Model S outsold the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series, and Audi A8 last quarter without any help from them. If its business model were to catch on, consumers might find that they don't need the middle-men as much as they thought." State laws imposing restrictions on manufacturers in favor of dealers aren't new, though; For more on ways that franchise operations have "used state regulations to protect their profits" long before Tesla was in the picture, check out this 2009 interview with Duke University's Michael Munger.
Censorship

Iran Suspends Programmer's Death Sentence 193

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the don't-lose-your-head dept.
jamaicaplain writes "Reuters reports that 'Iran has suspended the death sentence for a computer programmer convicted on charges of running a pornographic website after he "repented for his actions," his lawyer was quoted as saying on Sunday. Saeed Malekpour, an Iranian citizen and Canadian resident, was arrested in 2008 while visiting relatives in Iran, according to Amnesty International. Although Iranian authorities accused him of running a pornography site, Amnesty has said the charges appear to stem from a software program created by Malekpour that was used without his knowledge to post pornographic images.'" It's not clear if he'll ever be released, however.
AI

A.I. Advances Through Deep Learning 162

Posted by Soulskill
from the skip-the-lesson-on-killing-all-humans dept.
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from the NY Times: "Advances in an artificial intelligence technology that can recognize patterns offer the possibility of machines that perform human activities like seeing, listening and thinking. ... But what is new in recent months is the growing speed and accuracy of deep-learning programs, often called artificial neural networks or just 'neural nets' for their resemblance to the neural connections in the brain. 'There has been a number of stunning new results with deep-learning methods,' said Yann LeCun, a computer scientist at New York University who did pioneering research in handwriting recognition at Bell Laboratories. 'The kind of jump we are seeing in the accuracy of these systems is very rare indeed.' Artificial intelligence researchers are acutely aware of the dangers of being overly optimistic. ... But recent achievements have impressed a wide spectrum of computer experts. In October, for example, a team of graduate students studying with the University of Toronto computer scientist Geoffrey E. Hinton won the top prize in a contest sponsored by Merck to design software to help find molecules that might lead to new drugs. From a data set describing the chemical structure of 15 different molecules, they used deep-learning software to determine which molecule was most likely to be an effective drug agent."
Privacy

UK To Use "Risk-Profiling Software" To Screen All Airline Passengers and Cargo 222

Posted by samzenpus
from the listen-to-the-computer dept.
dryriver writes "The BBC reports: 'The UK branch of an American company — SAS Software — has developed a hi-tech software program it believes can help detect and prevent potentially dangerous passengers and cargo entering the UK using the technique known as 'risk profiling.' So, what exactly is risk profiling and can it really reduce the risk of international terrorism? Risk profiling is a controversial topic. It means identifying a person or group of people who are more likely to act in a certain way than the rest of the population, based on an analysis of their background and past behavior — which of course requires the collection of certain data on people's background and behavior to begin with. When it comes to airline security, some believe this makes perfect sense. Others, though, say this smacks of prejudice and would inevitably lead to unacceptable racial or religious profiling — singling out someone because, say, they happen to be Muslim, or born in Yemen. The company making the Risk-Profiling Software in question, of course, strongly denies that the software would single people out using factors like race, religion or country of origin. It says that the program works by feeding in data about passengers or cargo, including the Advanced Passenger Information (API) that airlines heading to Britain are obliged to send to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) at 'wheels up' — the exact moment the aircraft lifts off from the airport of departure. Additional information could include a combination of factors, like whether the passenger paid for their ticket in cash, or if they have ever been on a watch list or have recently spent time in a country with a known security problem. The data is then analyzed to produce a schematic read-out for immigration officials that shows the risk profile for every single passenger on an incoming flight, seat by seat, high risk to low risk.'"
Privacy

Petraeus Case Illustrates FBI Authority To Read Email 228

Posted by timothy
from the man-vs-state dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Back in April, we discussed how the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act says email that has resided on a server for more than six months can be considered abandoned. The recent investigation of General Petraeus brings this issue to light again, and perhaps to a broader audience. Under current U.S. law, federal authorities need only a subpoena approved by a federal prosecutor — not a judge — to obtain electronic messages that are six months old or older. Do you know anyone these days who doesn't have IMAP accounts with 6+-month-old mail on them?"
Science

Physicists Propose "Perpetual Motion" Time Crystals 153

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the four-harmonic-corner-days dept.
First time accepted submitter b30w0lf writes "It is commonly understood that crystals exist in a state of matter that is periodic in space. Meanwhile, relativistic physics tells us that we should think of time as being a physical dimension, given similar status to the other spacial dimensions. The combination of these two ideas has lead researchers at the University of Kentucky and MIT to propose special manifestations of matter which would be periodic in both space and time, dubbed 'time crystals.' Time crystals would continually transition between a set of physical states in a kind of perpetual motion. Note: the articles stress that this kind of perpetual motion in no way violates the established laws of thermodynamics. While time crystals remain theoretical, methods have been proposed for creating them. The most obvious application of time crystals is the creation of very precise clocks; however, other applications to time crystals have been proposed, ranging from quantum computing to helping us understand certain cosmological models."
Patents

Judge Posner Muses on Excessively Strong Patent and Copyright Laws 100

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the which-one-of-you-hit-him-with-the-cluebat? dept.
Ars Technica reports on Judge Posner's weblog, and in particular a recent post on the excessive strength of U.S. copyright and patent law: "The problem of excessive patent protection is at present best illustrated by the software industry. This is a progressive, dynamic industry rife with invention. But the conditions that make patent protection essential in the pharmaceutical industry are absent. Nowadays most software innovation is incremental, created by teams of software engineers at modest cost, and also ephemeral—most software inventions are quickly superseded. ... The most serious problem with copyright law is the length of copyright protection, which for most works is now from the creation of the work to 70 years after the author’s death. Apart from the fact that the present value of income received so far in the future is negligible, obtaining copyright licenses on very old works is difficult because not only is the author in all likelihood dead, but his heirs or other owners of the copyright may be difficult or even impossible to identify or find. The copyright term should be shorter." Reader jedirock pointed to a related article on how the patent situation got so out of hand in the first place.
Social Networks

Bring On the Decentralized Social Networking 238

Posted by timothy
from the node-distinction dept.
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes: "The distributed-social-networking Diaspora Project recently announced that their software will be released as open source. I don't know if Diaspora specifically will be the Next Big Thing in social networking, but I hope that social networking moves to a decentralized model within the next few years, where anyone can set up and run a hub to administer profiles for themselves and their friends or clients, and where profiles can interact with each other in a distributed fashion instead of on a centralized system like Facebook." Read on for Bennett's thoughts on how that model could work.
Australia

Growth of Pseudoscience Harming Australian Universities 566

Posted by Soulskill
from the my-horoscope-said-the-same-thing dept.
wired_parrot writes "The international credibility of Australia's universities is being undermined by the increase in the 'pseudoscientific' health courses they offer, two academics write in a recent article decrying that a third of Australian universities now offer courses in such subjects as homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine, which undermines science-based medicine. 'As the number of alternative practitioners graduating from tertiary education institutions increases, further health-care resources are wasted, while the potential for harm increases.'"
Piracy

The Case For Piracy 318

Posted by Soulskill
from the arrr-me-hearties dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A mainstream media outlet has published an article called 'The Case for Piracy. The writer shows how copyright has been hijacked by corporations and that publishers are their own worst enemies. 'One of the main reasons we all have anti-piracy slogans embedded in our brains is because the music industry chose to try and protect its existing market and revenue streams at all costs and marginalise and vilify those who didn't want to conform to the harsh new rules being set.' There's a lot in the article that Slashdot readers can relate to, and it's interesting that so many replies seem to agree with the author."

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