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Submission + - Conroe company still using computers museums want to put on display (chron.com)

concealment writes: Sparkler Filters up north in Conroe still uses an IBM 402 in conjunction with a Model 129 key punch – with the punch cards and all – to do company accounting work and inventory.

The company makes industrial filters for chemical plants and grease traps.

Lutricia Wood is the head accountant at Sparkler and the data processing manager. She went to business school over 40 years ago in Houston, and started at Sparkler in 1973. Back then punch cards were still somewhat state of the art.

Submission + - How heavy metal riffs stimulate our brains (deathmetal.org)

An anonymous reader writes: Like the labyrinths to which they are frequently compared, metal songs create a prediction game within the brain and cause an explosion of neural activity in a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. This tiny wad of cells, which sits in the pleasure/reward center of the brain, gives us a throbbing blast of “reward” every time we play the guess-where-this-riff-goes game.

Both metal and classical play this game. They specialize in intense repetition of certain phrases, but unlike rock music, the repeated phrases do not necessarily lead to the same conclusions, and in fact alter their destinations and form throughout the work. This keeps the guessing game intense and, while we’re distracted with the riffology, shows a change in themes, which if themes are metaphorical, shows a learning process by whatever protagonist may be inferred from the work.

Submission + - How to expunge Google products from your life (github.com)

concealment writes: Recently, Google announced their decision to shut down Google Reader. This latest step in opposition to an open Internet in favour of Google+ has led me to a decision of my own. It's time to expunge Google from my life, to the fullest extent practical.

It's not because Google chose to shut down a free service they were offering, or because of privacy concerns. It's because I think that Google is now working against the potential of the open Internet, and because I think that one gets a better product when one is the customer as well as the user.

Submission + - Tiny Chiplets: A New Level of Micro Manufacturing (nytimes.com)

concealment writes: The technology, on display at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center, or PARC, is part of a new system for making electronics, one that takes advantage of a Xerox invention from the 1970s: the laser printer.

If perfected, it could lead to desktop manufacturing plants that “print” the circuitry for a wide array of electronic devices — flexible smartphones that won’t break when you sit on them; a supple, pressure-sensitive skin for a new breed of robot hands; smart-sensing medical bandages that could capture health data and then be thrown away.

Submission + - Secrets of FBI Smartphone Surveillance Tool Revealed in Court Fight (wired.com)

concealment writes: The actions described by Rigmaiden are much more intrusive than previously known information about how the government uses stingrays, which are generally employed for tracking cell phones and are widely used in drug and other criminal investigations.

The government has long asserted that it doesn’t need to obtain a probable-cause warrant to use the devices because they don’t collect the content of phone calls and text messages and operate like pen-registers and trap-and-traces, collecting the equivalent of header information.

The government has conceded, however, that it needed a warrant in his case alone — because the stingray reached into his apartment remotely to locate the air card — and that the activities performed by Verizon and the FBI to locate Rigmaiden were all authorized by a court order signed by a magistrate.


Submission + - U.S. plans to let spy agencies scour Americans' finances (reuters.com)

concealment writes: "The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters.

The proposed plan represents a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down terrorist networks and crime syndicates by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence. The plan, which legal experts say is permissible under U.S. law, is nonetheless likely to trigger intense criticism from privacy advocates."


Submission + - Cubans evade censorship by exchanging computer memory sticks (mcclatchydc.com)

concealment writes: "But Sanchez said underground blogs, digital portals and illicit e-magazines proliferate, passed around on removable computer drives known as memory sticks.. The small computer memories, also known as flash drives or thumb drives, are dropped into friendly hands on buses and along street corners, offering a surprising number of Cubans access to information.

“Information circulates hand to hand through this wonderful gadget known as the memory stick,” Sanchez said, “and it is difficult for the government to intercept them. I can’t imagine that they can put a police officer on every corner to see who has a flash drive and who doesn’t.”

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/03/09/185347/cubans-evade-censorship-by-exchanging.html#.UTvnWoAWD64.reddit%23storylink=cpy"


Submission + - Why Moore's Law, not mobility, is killing the PC (networkworld.com)

concealment writes: "After watching my mother-in-law happily troll Facebook and sling emails on her nearly ten-year-old Pentium 4 computer, however, an even more insidious possibility slipped into my head.

Did CPU performance reach a "good enough" level for mainstream users some years back? Are older computers still potent enough to complete an average Joe's everyday tasks, reducing the incentive to upgrade?

"It used to be you had to replace your PC every few years or you were way behind. If you didn't, you couldn't even run the latest software," says Linley Gwennap, the principal analyst at the Linley Group, a research firm that focuses on semiconductors and processors. "Now you can hold onto your PC five, six, seven years with no problem. Yeah, it might be a little slow, but not enough to really show up [in everyday use].""


Submission + - How 'Indie' Capitalism Will Replace Our Stagnant Economic System (wired.com)

concealment writes: "We’re beginning to see evidence of what I call Indie Capitalism. My use of the word “indie” is deliberate. “Indie” reflects an economy that is independent of the prevailing orthodoxies of economic theory and big business. It shares many of the distributive and social structures of the independent music scene, which shuns big promoters and labels. And as happens with many bands, so many of today’s successful creative endeavors began as local phenomena before branching out to new locations and networks.

Indie Capitalism is bolstered by a single, simple fact: New companies (those less than five years old) have been responsible for all the net new jobs in the United States for the past three decades. We celebrate the entrepreneur (including those within corporations who behave like entrepreneurs) because we value the entrepreneur’s creativity. It is that creativity that we need to make central to our economy and to our economic thinking."


Submission + - Amazon's Merchandising of Its Search Results Doesn't Violate Trademark Law (forbes.com)

concealment writes: "Many of us have had the experience of going to Amazon to buy one thing but checking out with a huge shopping cart of items that we didn’t initially seek—or even know were available. Amazon’s merchandising often benefits Amazon’s customers, but trademark owners who lose sales to their competition due to it aren’t as thrilled. Fortunately for Amazon, a California federal court recently upheld Amazon’s merchandising practices in its internal search results."

Submission + - DRM Lawsuit Filed By Independent Bookstores Against Amazon, 'Big Six' Publishers (huffingtonpost.com)

concealment writes: "Three independent bookstores are taking Amazon and the so-called Big Six publishers (Random House, Penguin, Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan) to court in an attempt to level the playing field for book retailers. If successful, the lawsuit could completely change how ebooks are sold.

The class-action complaint, filed in New York on Feb 15., claims that by entering into confidential agreements with the Big Six publishers, who control approximately 60 percent of print book revenue in the U.S., Amazon has created a monopoly in the marketplace that is designed to control prices and destroy independent booksellers."


Submission + - Illinois state senator pushes anti-anonymity bill (dailycaller.com)

concealment writes: "The bill, called the Internet Posting Removal Act, is sponsored by Illinois state Sen. Ira Silverstein. It states that a “web site administrator upon request shall remove any comments posted on his or her web site by an anonymous poster unless the anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post and confirms that his or her IP address, legal name, and home address are accurate.”

The bill, which does not ask for or clarify requirements from entities requesting the comment removal, would take effect 90 days after becoming law."


Submission + - FBI Files Unlock History Behind Clandestine Cellphone Tracking Tool (slate.com)

concealment writes: "Stingrays, as I’ve reported here before, are portable surveillance gadgets that can trick phones within a specific area into hopping onto a fake network. The feds call them “cell-site simulators” or “digital analyzers,” and they are sometimes also described as “IMSI catchers.” The FBI says it uses them to target criminals and help track the movements of suspects in real time, not to intercept communications. But because Stingrays by design collaterally gather data from innocent bystanders’ phones and can interrupt phone users’ service, critics say they may violate a federal communications law.

A fresh trove of FBI files on cell tracking, some marked “secret,” was published this week by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. They shed light on how, far from being a “new” tool used by the authorities to track down targets, Stingray-style technology has been in the hands of the feds since about 1995 (at least). During that time, local and state law enforcement agencies have also been able to borrow the spy equipment in “exceptional circumstances,” thanks to an order approved by former FBI Director Louis Freeh."


Submission + - http://www.cio.com/article/728362/House_Immigration_Hearing_Targets_High_Skilled (cio.com)

concealment writes: "In contrast, two separate bipartisan groups in the U.S. Senate are working on broader immigration issues, including tech-specific reforms. One of their proposals would increase the H-1B visa cap to as high as 300,000 a year. Goodlatte said it was "instructive to note" that only about 12% of legal immigrants to the U.S. are picked on the basis of education and skills, while some other countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada, "select over 60% of their immigrants on this basis." The hearing was well attended by lawmakers."

Take your work seriously but never take yourself seriously; and do not take what happens either to yourself or your work seriously. -- Booth Tarkington