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The Media

How a Scientist Fooled Millions With Bizarre Chocolate Diet Claims 246

Posted by timothy
from the tongue-in-cheek-sandwich-diet-works-too dept.
__roo writes: Did you know chocolate helps you lose weight? You can read all about this great news for chocoholics in the Daily Star, Daily Express, Irish Examiner, and TV shows in Texas and Australia, and even the front page of Bild, Europe's largest daily newspaper. The problem is that it's not true. A researcher who previously worked with Science to do a sting operation on fee-charging open access journals ran a real—but obviously flawed—study rigged to generate false positives, paid €600 to get it published in a fee-charging open access journal, set up a website for a fake institute, and issued press releases to feed the ever-hungry pool of nutrition journalists. The doctor who ran the trial had the idea to use chocolate, because it's a favorite of the "whole food" fanatics. "Bitter chocolate tastes bad, therefore it must be good for you. It's like a religion."
The Military

The Marshall Islands, Nuclear Testing, and the NPT 67

Posted by samzenpus
from the big-booms dept.
Lasrick writes: Robert Alvarez, a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and a former senior policy adviser to the Energy Department's secretary and deputy assistant secretary for national security and the environment, details the horrific consequences of nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands and explains the lawsuits the Marshallese have filed against the nuclear weapons states. The lawsuits hope to close the huge loophole those states carved for themselves with the vague wording of Article VI of the NPT (Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty), wording that allows those states to delay, seemingly indefinitely, implementing the disarmament they agreed to when they signed the treaty.

+ - Apple's secret weapon: Incredible customer service->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Not too long ago, Brian X. Chen of The New York Times wrote a piece arguing that traditional product reviews are broken insofar as they don’t often consider the varying levels of customer service different companies provide.

“The product evaluations neglect to mention the quality of a company’s customer service,” Chen writes, “which becomes the most important fact of of all when problems or questions related to the product come up.”

This is an astute point, and especially apt in regards to tech products. Not only are tech products pricey, but addressing tech oriented problems is usually beyond the expertise of most owners. As a result, if there’s any one industry where customer service should be afforded more weight when putting together a product review or stacking two rival products against one another, it’s the tech industry.

In this regard, Apple reigns supreme. Over the last 14 years, Apple has elevated customer service into a science. Today, the company stands shoulders above the competition when it comes to alleviating the stresses that accompany a faulty tech product.

Link to Original Source

+ - Cyber criminals access to 100,000 U.S. Taxpayers information->

Submitted by Cexy
Cexy writes: Cyber criminals have gained unauthorised access to information about 100,000 U.S taxpayers over the past four to five months. Latest in series of data thefts has alarmed U.S consumers.

Hacker have exploited the agency’s “Get Transcript Online” application which provide information from previous returns and from February to May they have gain access to over 200,000 tax information John Koskinen have confirmed that more than half of those attempts were successful. However, the breach supposedly did not affect any of IRS servers or data outside of “Get Transcript application” and the agency have already started improving security for it’s online services.

Link to Original Source
Space

SpaceX Cleared For US Military Launches 62

Posted by Soulskill
from the low-earth-orbit-needs-more-lasers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Air Force has given private rocket company SpaceX clearance to launch military satellites into orbit. This disrupts the lock that Boeing and Lockheed Martin have had on military launches for almost a decade. SpaceX will get its first opportunity to bid for such launches in June, when the Air Force posts a contract to launch GPS satellites.

+ - Ballistic Wallpaper to Help Protect Soldiers Seeking Temporary Shelter->

Submitted by Zothecula
Zothecula writes: It sounds like an old Goon Show joke, but soldiers may one day protect themselves from blasts by wallpapering temporary shelters. It may not be very decorative, but the new ballistic wallpaper under development by the US Army Corps of Engineers uses a special fiber inlay to help prevent walls from collapsing under blast effects.
Link to Original Source
Transportation

Volvo Self-Parking Car Hits People Because Owner Didn't Pay For Extra Feature 388

Posted by Soulskill
from the problem-exists-between-keyboard-and-car dept.
schwit1 writes: A video that recently went viral shows a demonstration of a Volvo XC60's self-parking feature. It reverses itself, waits, and then confidently drives into a group of people at a non-negligible speed. (Two were hit, and while both were bruised, they were otherwise OK.) The situation was presumed to have resulted from a malfunction with the car — but the car might not have had the ability to recognize a human at all. A Volvo representative said the car was not equipped with the "Pedestrian detection" feature. That feature is sold as a separate package.

+ - Elon Musk Creates Ad Astra, An Exclusive, Private School

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com writes: Jessica Hannan writes at I4U that Elon Musk pulled his children out of an established school after discovering they weren't receiving the quality of education that catered to their abilities and built his own school with only 14 students whose parents are primarily SpaceX employees. Musk wants to eliminate grades so there's no distinction between students in 1st grade and 3rd and students focus on the important elements of each subject. By integrating the thinking process to include a progressive step-by-step approach, children will be challenged and able to understand result through a systemic pattern. "Let's say you're trying to teach people about how engines work. A more traditional approach would be saying, 'we're going to teach all about screwdrivers and wrenches.' This is a very difficult way to do it." Instead, Musk says it makes more sense to give students an engine and then work to disassemble it. "How are we going to take it apart? You need a screwdriver." When you show "what the screwdriver is for," Musk explains "a very important thing happens" because students then witness the relevancy of task, tool, and solution in a long term application."

According to Hannah, Musk’s approach to delete grade level numbers and focus on aptitude may take the pressure off non-linear students and creates a more balanced assessment of ingenuity. Admitting books were "comforting" to him as a child and to reading everything from science fiction to the encyclopedia and philosophers from “morning to night," Musk points out that not everyone will be strong in every subject, or be able to retain regurgitated standardized aptitude facts beyond the test. "It makes more sense to cater the education to match their aptitudes and abilities." So far, Ad Astra "seems to be going pretty well," according to Musk. "The kids really love going to school."
Businesses

Hot Topic To Buy ThinkGeek Parent Company Geeknet 106

Posted by timothy
from the timmy-salute dept.
jones_supa points out the news (also at Ars Technica, and -- paywalled -- at the Wall Street Journal) that clothing and music retailer Hot Topic has announced plans to buy Geeknet, parent company of ThinkGeek and ThinkGeek Solutions, for $117.3 million. ThinkGeek Solutions is a distributor of video-game themed merchandise through licensed web stores. Hot Topic Inc. will pay $17.50 per Geeknet share. Privately held Hot Topic, based in Los Angeles, has more than 650 stores in the U.S. and Canada. Geeknet will become a Hot Topic subsidiary. This news inspires some nostalgia here; ThinkGeek was for a long time one of Slashdot's sister sites under the umbrella of VA Linux, and I had some fun years back helping to set up the ThinkGeek booth at LinuxWorld in New York.
Businesses

Charter Strikes $56B Deal For Time Warner Cable 187

Posted by timothy
from the shaky-nervous-laughter dept.
mpicpp writes with word that Charter Communications has struck a $56 billion deal to buy Time Warner Cable; if the deal goes through (which the article says is likely, according to Macquarie Research analyst Amy Yong -- at least more likely than the recently scotched Comcast-Time Warner deal), it would mean that the second- and third-largest U.S. cable companies would share a letterhead, and more than 20 percent of the country's ISP market. From the linked Reuters article: The Federal Communications Commission immediately served notice that it would closely scrutinize the deal, focusing not only on absence of harm but benefits to the public. Charter, in which Malone-chaired Liberty Broadband Corp owns about 26 percent, is offering about $195.71 in cash-and-stock for each Time Warner Cable share, based on Charter's closing price on May 20. Including debt, the deal values Time Warner Cable at $78.7 billion. A key area of regulatory concern would be competition in broadband Internet.

+ - NSA wants to hijack Android Store->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy writes: NSA wants to exploit app store servers, — as part of a pilot project codenamed IRRITANT HORN, — using the servers to launch so-called "man-in-the-middle" attacks to infect phones with spying malwares

A surveillance project was launched by a joint electronic eavesdropping unit called the Network Tradecraft Advancement Team, which includes spies from the "Five Eyes" alliance — the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia, — developed a method to hack and hijack phone users' connections to app stores so that they would be able to send malicious "implants" to targeted devices

The implants could then be used to collect data from the phones without their users noticing

The agencies used the Internet spying system XKEYSCORE to identify smartphone traffic flowing across Internet cables and then to track down smartphone connections to app marketplace servers operated by Samsung and Google

Google declined to comment for this story. Samsung said it would not be commenting "at this time


Link to Original Source

+ - Why Tesla's purported liability 'fix' is technically and legally questionable->

Submitted by pRobotika
pRobotika writes: An interesting article in last week’s Wall Street Journal spawned a series of unfortunate headlines (in a variety of publications) suggesting that Tesla had somehow “solved” the “problem” of “liability” by requiring that human drivers manually instruct the company’s autopilot to complete otherwise-automated lane changes.

(I have not asked Tesla what specifically it plans for its autopilot or what technical and legal analyses underlie its design decisions. The initial report may not and should not be the full story.)

For many reasons, these are silly headlines.

Link to Original Source

+ - Student photographer threatened with suspension for sports photos->

Submitted by sandbagger
sandbagger writes: Anthony Mazur is a senior at Flower Mound High School in Texas who photographed school sports games and other events. Naturally he posted them on line. A few days ago he was summoned to the principal's office and threatened with a suspension and 'reporting to the IRS' if he didn't take those 4000 photos down. Reportedly, the principle's rationale was that the school has copyright on the images and not him.
Link to Original Source

+ - Worms From Space!!!->

Submitted by LeadSongDog
LeadSongDog writes: The Dragon capsule launched by SpaceX on April 14 has splashed down safely in the Pacific with 1.5 tonnes of cargo, including an experiment on roundworm aging in microgravity.
Link to Original Source

+ - Australian defence controls could criminalise teaching encryption

Submitted by Presto Vivace
Presto Vivace writes: How the DSGL covers encryption

The DSGL contains detailed technical specifications. Very roughly, it covers encryption above a certain “strength” level, as measured by technical parameters such as “key length” or “field size”.

The practical question is how high the bar is set: how powerful must encryption be in order to be classified as dual-use?

The bar is currently set low. For instance, software engineers debate whether they should use 2,048 or 4,096 bits for the RSA algorithm. But the DSGL classifies anything over 512 bits as dual-use. In reality, the only cryptography not covered by the DSGL is cryptography so weak that it would be imprudent to use.

Moreover, the DSGL doesn’t just cover encryption software: it also covers systems, electronics and equipment used to implement, develop, produce or test it.

In short, the DSGL casts an extremely wide net, potentially catching open source privacy software, information security research and education, and the entire computer security industry in its snare.

Most ridiculous, though, are some badly flawed technicalities. As I have argued before, the specifications are so imprecise that they potentially include a little algorithm you learned at primary school called division. If so, then division has become a potential weapon, and your calculator (or smartphone, computer, or any electronic device) is a potential delivery system for it.

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