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Books

+ - How Publishers Are Cutting Their Own Throats With ->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Sci-fi author Charlie Stross has written a post about how the Big Six book publishing companies have maneuvered themselves into a tough spot in the rapidly growing ebook industry — between user-unfriendly DRM and the Amazon juggernaut, they're slowly pushing themselves out of business. Quoting: 'Until 2008, ebooks were a tiny market segment, under 1% and easily overlooked; but in 2009 ebook sales began to rise exponentially, and ebooks now account for over 20% of all fiction sales. In some areas ebooks are up to 40% of the market and rising rapidly. (I am not making that last figure up: I'm speaking from my own sales figures.) And Amazon have got 80% of the ebook retail market. ... the Big Six's pig-headed insistence on DRM on ebooks is handing Amazon a stick with which to beat them harder. DRM on ebooks gives Amazon a great tool for locking ebook customers into the Kindle platform.'"
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Facebook

+ - Facebook settles with FTC, admits privacy violatio->

Submitted by
Animats
Animats writes "The social networking service Facebook has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public. The settlement is soft on Facebook; there are no fines or criminal penalties.

According to the FTC, in December 2009, Facebook changed its website so certain information that users may have designated as private – such as their Friends List – was made public. Facebook didn't warn users that this change was coming, or get their approval in advance.

Facebook represented that third-party apps that users' installed would have access only to user information that they needed to operate. In fact, the apps could access nearly all of users' personal data – data the apps didn't need.

        Facebook told users they could restrict sharing of data to limited audiences – for example with "Friends Only." In fact, selecting "Friends Only" did not prevent their information from being shared with third-party applications their friends used.

        Facebook had a "Verified Apps" program & claimed it certified the security of participating apps. It didn't.

        Facebook promised users that it would not share their personal information with advertisers. It did.

        Facebook claimed that when users deactivated or deleted their accounts, their photos and videos would be inaccessible. But Facebook allowed access to the content, even after users had deactivated or deleted their accounts.

        Facebook claimed that it complied with the U.S.- EU Safe Harbor Framework that governs data transfer between the U.S. and the European Union. It didn't."

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Facebook

+ - SPAM: When & How will Facebook fully turn over your

Submitted by
quantr
quantr writes ""Facebook released guidelines on how it handles requests for member information from law enforcement agencies, lawyers and other legal entities on Wednesday evening, just before the American Thanksgiving holiday.

“We work with law enforcement where appropriate and to the extent required by law to ensure the safety of the people who use Facebook,” the guidelines state. “We may disclose information pursuant to subpoenas, court orders, or other requests (including criminal and civil matters) if we have a good faith belief that the response is required by law.”

The update was made to the section of its Help Center on “How does Facebook work with law enforcement.”

A spokesperson for Facebook could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening. The timing seems notable, since people who might normally hear about the news and raise concerns are traveling or visiting families.""

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Privacy

+ - U.S. malls stop tracking shoppers' cellphones->

Submitted by nairnr
nairnr (314138) writes "Technology that tracks shoppers using their cellphones has been shut off at two U.S. malls over privacy concerns, a U.S. senator says. Promenade Temecula in Southern California and Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Va., had planned to run tests of the technology from Nov. 25 to Jan.1, reported Cleveland, Ohio-based Forest City Commercial Management, which owns the two malls.

The cellphone tracking technology, called Footpath, is made by Path Intelligence Ltd., a Portsmouth, U.K.-based company. It uses sensors placed throughout the mall to detect signals from mobile phones and track their path around the mall. The sensors cannot gather phone numbers or other identifying data, or intercept or log data about calls or SMS messages, the company says.

Forest City Commercial Management said it planned to use the data gathered about shoppers' length of stay and shopping patterns to determine whether to relocate some stores, figure out what other retailers should be added, and learn what events and promotions are most effective for attracting shoppers."

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Ubuntu

+ - Ubuntu: Wake up and smell the Unity against you->

Submitted by
MrSeb
MrSeb writes "In the past few months, Ubuntu seems to have experienced a serious drop in popularity. It can be said that Linux distributions rise and fall when something new becomes the latest and greatest, but this turnaround seems sudden and could possibly be due to some recent design changes on Canonical’s part. DistroWatch is measuring a 47% decline in Ubuntu popularity over the last 30 days, versus a 105% increase for Linux Mint. Ubuntu has been sailing its ship away from the general Linux community for a while, and Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu’s head, is beginning to look like an iron-fisted ruler who allows no discussion as to the direction Ubuntu is taking. But why are Canonical and Shuttleworth so intent on ignoring Ubuntu's mature developer community? Why is Unity being pushed so heavy-handedly?"
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Encryption

Bicycle Thief Barred From Using Encryption 449

Posted by timothy
from the ssl-is-encryption dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A teenager found in possession of a stolen bicycle was given probation, with a whole bunch of computer-related restrictions. He wasn't allowed to use social networks or instant messaging. He wasn't allowed to use a computer that had 'encryption, hacking, cracking, scanning, keystroke monitoring, security testing, steganography, Trojan or virus software.' The kid appealed, noting that the restrictions on social networking seemed overly broad, and restricting him from using a computer with a virus was difficult since viruses and trojans and the like tend to try to stay hidden, so he might not know. While the court overturned the restrictions on social networking, and changed the terms of computer restrictions to include the word 'knowingly,' it did keep the restriction on against using any computer with encryption software. Remember, this isn't someone convicted of malicious computer crimes, but of receiving a stolen bicycle. So why is perfectly reasonable encryption software not allowed? And what computer these days doesn't have encryption software?"

+ - UN appoints ambassador to aliens->

Submitted by dalani
dalani (1569813) writes "A recent article reveals the United Nation has appointed an astrophysicist, Mazlan Othman, as an ambassador and head of the newly formed UN Office of Outer Space Affairs. According to a recent speech, she stated that "The UN is a ready-made mechanism" for a coordinated response to a first contact with extraterrestrials."
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Iphone

+ - The new era of family social "Arcade Puzzle" Apps

Submitted by r2d2Dave
r2d2Dave (1834958) writes "What I am really starting to enjoy are games on my iPhone and iPad that include a sense of family interaction. Recently I downloaded 2 games from the App store and found myself playing them with my family. Yes! a return to family puzzle games perhaps? I grew up in the era of board games and have missed the family aspect of these type of games. Angry Birds for example is a game that has an interesting puzzle element to it. My son and I sit before we launch our first bird and examine the landscape. We try to figure out the puzzle and begin our tactical assault. We downloaded another Arcade type puzzle game called Arcade Cats and again, my son and I sat there working through the puzzle together before launching our mouse on its mission. I like to see more of these type of games come from the App store. The puzzle/arcade games are something Families can enjoy. I congratulate Angry Birds and Arcade Cats developers for making games that are both fun and involve some "thinking" in the process."
Linux

New Linux Petabyte-Scale Distributed File System 132

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-it-out dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A recent addition to Linux's impressive selection of file systems is Ceph, a distributed file system that incorporates replication and fault tolerance while maintaining POSIX compatibility. Explore the architecture of Ceph and learn how it provides fault tolerance and simplifies the management of massive amounts of data."
Businesses

GameStop, Other Retailers Subpoenaed Over Credit Card Information Sharing 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
New York State's Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, has subpoenaed a number of online retailers, including GameStop, Barnes & Noble, Ticketmaster and Staples, over the way they pass information to marketing firms while processing transactions. MSNBC explains the scenario thus: "You're on the site of a well-known retailer and you make a purchase. As soon as you complete the transaction a pop-up window appears. It offers a discount on your next purchase. Click on the ad and you are automatically redirected to another company's site where you are signed up for a buying club, travel club or credit card protection service. The yearly cost is usually $100 to $145. Here's where things really get smarmy. Even though you did not give that second company any account information, they will bill the credit or debit card number you used to make the original purchase. You didn't have to provide your account number because the 'trusted' retailer gave it to them for a cut of the action." While there is no law preventing this sort of behavior, Cuomo hopes the investigation will pressure these companies to change their ways, or at least inform customers when their information might be shared.
Communications

First Room-Temperature Germanium Laser Completed 80

Posted by timothy
from the please-keep-your-comments-germanium dept.
eldavojohn writes "MIT researchers have built and demonstrated the first room-temperature germanium laser that can produce light at wavelengths suited for communication. This achievement has two parts: '[U]nlike the materials typically used in lasers, germanium is easy to incorporate into existing processes for manufacturing silicon chips. So the result could prove an important step toward computers that move data — and maybe even perform calculations — using light instead of electricity. But more fundamentally, the researchers have shown that, contrary to prior belief, a class of materials called indirect-band-gap semiconductors can yield practical lasers.' While these are only the initial steps in what may become optical computing devices, the article paints it as very promising. The painful details will be published in the journal Optics Letters."
Sci-Fi

+ - William Gibson's Neuromancer After 25 Years->

Submitted by
Dr_Ken
Dr_Ken writes ""Neuromancer is important because of its astounding predictive power. Gibson's core idea in the novel is the direct integration of man and computer, with all the possibilities (and horrors) that such a union entails. The book eventually sold more than 160 million copies, but bringing the book to popular attention took a long time and a lot of word-of-mouth. The sci-fi, community, however, was acutely aware of the novel's importance when it came out: Neuromancer ran the table on sci-fi's big three awards in 1984, winning the Hugo Award, the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award, and the Nebula Award.""
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"A mind is a terrible thing to have leaking out your ears." -- The League of Sadistic Telepaths

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