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Patents

Patent Trolls On the Run But Not Vanquished Yet 14

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-forget-the-fire dept.
snydeq writes Strong legislation that will weaken the ability of the trolls to shake down innovators is likely to pass Congress, but more should be done, writes InfoWorld's Bill Snyder. "The Innovation Act isn't an ideal fix for the program patent system. But provisions in the proposed law, like one that will make trolls pay legal costs if their claims are rejected, will remove a good deal of the risk that smaller companies face when they decide to resist a spurious lawsuit," Snyder writes. That said, "You'd have to be wildly optimistic to think that software patents will be abolished. Although the EFF's proposals call for the idea to be studied, [EFF attorney Daniel] Nazer doesn't expect it to happen; he instead advocates several reforms not contained in the Innovation Act."

+ - How I Got My Photos From The Department of Homeland Security

Submitted by gallifreyan99
gallifreyan99 (3502381) writes "Like every foreigner who flies into the US (and an increasing number of Americans, too) Tor Project contributor Runa Sandvik is tracked by Homeland Security with a series of photos taken at the border. When she filed an FOIA request to get hold of those images, what emerged was a weird, Big Brotherish take on time lapse photography."
Facebook

Facebook's Colonies 44

Posted by Soulskill
from the sun-always-sets-on-the-facebook-empire dept.
sarahnaomi writes: Facebook this week released a major report on global internet access, as part of the company's Internet.org campaign, which aims to bring cheap internet to new markets in partnership with seven mobile companies. Facebook says 1.39 billion people used its product in December 2014, and it's natural for the company to try to corral the other four-fifths of the planet. But aside from ideals and growth markets, the report highlights a tension inherent to the question of access: When Facebook sets sail to disconnected markets, what version of the internet will it bring? In its report, Facebook advocates for closing the digital divide as quickly as we can, which is a good thing. But when Facebook argues that, "as use of the internet continues to expand, it will exert a powerful effect on the global economy, particularly in the developing world," it's arguing that any increase in access is inherently good, which isn't necessarily the case.

+ - Cable Networks are Speeding Up Shows to Fit More Ads

Submitted by WheezyJoe
WheezyJoe (1168567) writes "After trying just about every other trick to squeeze more commercials into your Law and Order binge-fix, cable networks are now resorting to speeding up older shows and reruns in an effort to capture yet more revenue. TBS used compression technology to speed up the Wizard of Oz during its airing last November, causing pop-culture writer Stephen Cox to notice that the munchkins' voices were pitched higher than normal. TBS, TNT, and TV Land have also sped up shows including Seinfeld and Friends. “It is a way to keep the revenue from going down as much as the ratings,” a top executive at one major cable programmer said. “The only way we can do it is to double down and stretch the unit load a little more.”"

+ - So. Cal. Edison's IT layoffs 'heartless,' says Sen. Grassley->

Submitted by dcblogs
dcblogs (1096431) writes "Southern California Edison's decision to cut 500 of its IT workers and replace them contractors from two large H-1B using India-based IT services firms, is getting the ire of U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). He said the case illustrates how some employers "are potentially using legal avenues to import foreign workers, lay-off qualified Americans, and then export jobs overseas.” Grassley, chair of the Sen. Judiciary Committee, said “I don't intend on allowing legislation to move through this body without reforms to the H-1B visa program that protect the American worker." Meanwhile, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Iowa), and the leader of an effort to significantly raise the H-1B cap, was critical of Grassley’s view, and told The Hill: "It's absurd to think that in this global marketplace we can maintain an insular, protectionist workforce.”"
Link to Original Source
Security

Schneier: Everyone Wants You To Have Security, But Not From Them 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Bruce Schneier has written another insightful piece about the how modern tech companies treat security. He points out that most organizations will tell you to secure your data while at the same time asking to be exempt from that security. Google and Facebook want your data to be safe — on their servers so they can analyze it. The government wants you to encrypt your communications — as long as they have the keys. Schneier says, "... we give lots of companies access to our data because it makes our lives easier. ... The reason the Internet is a worldwide mass-market phenomenon is that all the technological details are hidden from view. Someone else is taking care of it. We want strong security, but we also want companies to have access to our computers, smart devices, and data. We want someone else to manage our computers and smart phones, organize our e-mail and photos, and help us move data between our various devices. ... We want our data to be secure, but we want someone to be able to recover it all when we forget our password. We'll never solve these security problems as long as we're our own worst enemy.

+ - 3 Million Strong RAMNIT Botnet Taken Down

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The National Crime Agency’s National Cyber Crime Unit worked with law enforcement colleagues in the Netherlands, Italy and Germany, co-ordinated through Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre, to shut down command and control servers used by the RAMNIT botnet. Investigators believe that RAMNIT may have infected over three million computers worldwide, with around 33,000 of those being in the UK. It has so far largely been used to attempt to take money from bank accounts."
Star Wars Prequels

Star Wars-Style "Bionic Hand' Fitted To First Patients 72

Posted by samzenpus
from the that's-quite-a-grip dept.
schwit1 writes "Three Austrians have replaced injured hands with bionic ones that they can control using nerves and muscles transplanted into their arms from their legs. The three men are the first to undergo what doctors refer to as "bionic reconstruction," which includes a voluntary amputation, the transplantation of nerves and muscles and learning to use faint signals from them to command the hand. Previously, people with bionic hands have primarily controlled them with manual settings."

+ - CIA Wants to Increase Digital Spying Capabilities

Submitted by StikyPad
StikyPad (445176) writes "CIA Director Brennan wants to increase cyber capabilities. His plan calls for the creation of a new branch within the CIA, alongside existing operations and analysis branches, to support cyber. It's unclear to what extent the program would duplicate or expand capabilities already held by the NSA, but Brennan clearly wants to bring some of those capabilities in-house. If you find this concerning, you're not alone. The plan is so controversial within the agency that the head of the National Clandestine Service recently resigned in protest, taking several high-ranking officials along with him. This, in the same week that the Director of the NSA publicly renewed the call for backdoor encryption."
China

It's Official: NSA Spying Is Hurting the US Tech Economy 256

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-to-blame dept.
An anonymous reader writes China is backing away from U.S. tech brands for state purchases after NSA revelations, according to Reuters. This confirms what many U.S. technology companies have been saying for the past year: the activities by the NSA are harming their businesses in crucial growth markets, including China. From the article: "A new report confirmed key brands, including Cisco, Apple, Intel, and McAfee -- among others -- have been dropped from the Chinese government's list of authorized brands, a Reuters report said Wednesday. The number of approved foreign technology brands fell by a third, based on an analysis of the procurement list. Less than half of those companies with security products remain on the list."

+ - The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder to Adopt->

Submitted by Lucas123
Lucas123 (935744) writes "Distributed rooftop solar is a threat not only to fossil fuel power generation, but also to the profits of monopolistic model of utilities. While the overall amount of electrical capacity represented by distributed solar power remains miniscule for now, it's quickly becoming one of leading sources of new energy deployment. As adoption grows, fossil fuel interests and utilities are succeeding in pushing anti-net metering legislation, which places surcharges on customers who deploy rooftop solar power and sell unused power back to their utility through the power grid. Other state legislation is aimed at reducing tax credits for households or businesses installing solar or allows utilities to buy back unused power at a reduced rate, while reselling it at the full retail price."
Link to Original Source
Robotics

Should a Service Robot Bring an Alcoholic a Drink? 162

Posted by Soulskill
from the skynet-will-feed-you-booze-until-you-pass-out dept.
An anonymous reader writes: We've come to a point where care robots are being used to assist people with illnesses and mobility problems. They can bring medicine, a glass of water, food, and other items that a person may have trouble getting to on their own. But what limits should we set on these robots? Should they be able to deliver alcoholic beverages? If so, should they refuse to serve them to certain people, like children or alcoholics? The issue is complicated further because these robots may have been purchased by the patient, by the doctor or hospital (which sent it home with the patient to monitor their health), or by a concerned family member who wants to monitor their relative. The latest poll research by the Open Roboethics Initiative looked at people's attitudes about whether a care robot should prioritize its owner's wishes over those of the patient.

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