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Privacy

ACA Health Exchange Contractors Have History of Security Failures 144

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the inflated-insurance-rates-now-with-identity-theft dept.
Lucas123 writes "Two of the contractors involved in developing online health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, which have been plagued by technical problems since launching this month, have had serious data security issues in the past. Quality Software Services developed the software for the Affordable Care Act's data services hub and oversaw development of tools to connect the hub to the databases of other federal agencies. Last June, an audit report by the Health and Human Services Inspector General found QSS failed to adhere to federal security standards (PDF) in delivering IT testing services for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Additionally, services firm Serco suffered a major security breach in 2012. Serco won a five-year $1.3 billion contract to process and verify paper applications for health insurance via the online exchanges. Serco's breach exposed sensitive data of more than 123,000 members of the Thrift Savings Plan, a $313 billion retirement plan run by the U.S. Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. The exposed data included full names, addresses, Social Security Numbers, financial account information, and bank routing information."
Space

How Does the Tiny Waterbear Survive In Outer Space? 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the must-be-their-tiny-space-program dept.
DevotedSkeptic sends this excerpt from SmithsonianMag: "The humble tardigrade, also known as a 'waterbear' or 'moss piglet,' is an aquatic eight-legged animal that typically grows no longer than one millimeter in length. Most tardigrades (there are more than 1,000 identified species) have a fairly humdrum existence, living out their days on a moist piece of moss or in the sediment at the bottom of a lake and feeding on bacteria or plant life. In 2007, a group of European researchers pushed the resilience of this extraordinary animal even further, exposing a sample of dehydrated tardigrades to the vacuum and solar radiation of outer space for 10 full days. When the specimens were returned to earth and rehydrated, 68 percent of those that were shielded from the radiation survived, and even a handful of those with no radiation protection came back to life and produced viable offspring. How do the little tardigrades survive such a harsh environment? Although amateur tardigrade enthusiast Mike Shaw recently made waves by postulating that the animals may be equipped to survive in outer space because they originally came from other planets, scientists are certain that the creatures developed their uncommon toughness here on earth."
Math

Possible Proof of ABC Conjecture 102

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the lord-of-the-proof dept.
submeta writes "Shinichi Mochizuki of Kyoto University has released a paper which claims to prove the decades-old ABC conjecture, which involves the relationship between prime numbers, addition, and multiplication. His solution involves thinking of numbers not as members of sets (the standard interpretation), but instead as objects which exist in 'new, conceptual universes.' As one would expect, the proof is extremely dense and difficult to understand, even for experts in the field, so it may take a while to verify. However, Mochizuki has a strong reputation, so this is likely to get attention. Proof of the conjecture could potentially lead to a revolution in number theory, including a greatly simplified proof of Fermat's Last Theorem."
Microsoft

Microsoft Buys Yammer For $1.2 Billion 72

Posted by timothy
from the pretty-soon-you're-talking-real-money dept.
itwbennett writes "Confirming the rumor that emerged earlier this month, Microsoft has bought enterprise social networking software maker Yammer for $1.2 billion. Yammer will become part of Microsoft's Office Division." If you're not familiar with Yammer, it's essentially a messaging system that gives more control to administrators than does using an outside company's service, like AOL's AIM. "Enterprise social networking software," as Wikipedia explains it, means that Yammer "is used for private communication within organizations or between organizational members and pre-designated groups, making it an example of enterprise social software. ... Access to a Yammer network is determined by a user's Internet domain, so only those with appropriate email addresses may join their respective networks."
Education

Ask Slashdot: What To Do Before College? 335

Posted by timothy
from the buy-a-house-with-the-tuition dept.
First time accepted submitter MtownNaylor writes "I graduated high school two days ago and am currently enrolled to attend college for studying Computer Science. I spent last summer working as a contractor, programming in Java doing work for a single company. I am looking to further either my career, my education, or both this summer. The problem is that I have found it difficult to find summer employment or internships programming for a multitude of reasons (lack of opportunities, lack of experience, lack of degree.) So what is a high school graduate who wants to work as a programmer to do?"
Idle

Apocalypse Tourism: Where To Celebrate Doomsday? 233

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it dept.
PolygamousRanchKid writes "December 21, 2012 marks the end of the current cycle of the Mayan 'Long Count' calendar. And while this has had some fearful types preparing for the end of the world, others have been preparing to travel. The Mexican government is expecting 52 million tourists as part of their "Mundo Maya 2012," campaign to visit the five regions — Chiapas, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Campeche, over the next 12 months. So, if you're wondering where to spend the last tourist dollars you'll have as a breathing human being or just want to see the looks on those faces when December 21 comes and goes uneventfully, President Felipe Calderon hopes you'll choose Mexico."
HP

HP Reviving the $99 Touch Pad On December 11th 121

Posted by timothy
from the this-too-shall-pass dept.
Frankie70 writes "Starting Sunday, December 11th at 6:00 p.m. Central time, 16GB and 32GB Touchpads will be available on HP's ebay store. A $79 accessory bundle will also be available, which includes a case, charging dock and wireless keyboard. The caveat with this deal is that these are refurbished TouchPads rather than the brand new models sold during the first firesale."
Transportation

NYC Mayor Wants Traffic Camera On Every Corner 262

Posted by samzenpus
from the here's-looking-at-you-citizen dept.
Mr_Blank writes "New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made it clear that he wants to see more traffic light cameras in the Big Apple, saying that he'd have the devices on every street corner if possible. According to The New York Daily News, the city brought in $52 million in fines generated by red light cameras last year alone. Bloomberg doesn't just want a jump in the number of cameras, however. He also wants to publish the names of those who blow through the stop lights in local papers to help shame wrongdoers into changing their ways. What's more, the mayor wants to look into the possibility of adding speed cameras to the mix. Big brother is coming to NYC."
Transportation

8 Grams of Thorium Could Replace Gasoline In Cars 937

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-cheap-on-the-auction-house-too dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Thorium, an abundant and radioactive rare earth mineral, could be used in conjunction with a laser and mini turbines to easily produce enough electricity to power a vehicle. When thorium is heated, it generates further heat surges, allowing it to be coupled with mini turbines to produce steam that can then be used to generate electricity. Combining a laser, radioactive material, and mini-turbines might sound like a complicated alternative solution to filling your gas tank, but there's one feature that sells it as a great alternative solution: 1 gram of thorium produces the equivalent energy of 7,500 gallons of gasoline."
Security

What LulzSec Logins Reveal About Bookworms, and Passwords 136

Posted by timothy
from the keeping-them-straight-does-get-tricky dept.
Barence writes "Today the hacking group LulzSec posted 62,000 hacked email usernames and passwords online. PC Pro's Darien Graham-Smith has analysed the passwords stolen — which are believed to have come from a website for writers — and found some interesting patterns. Aside from 'password' and obvious numerical patterns (i.e. '12345') the most common passwords share a literary theme: 'romance,' 'mystery,' 'shadow' and 'bookworm' are all commonly used passwords. 'Clearly, this is a back-of-an-envelope breakdown of a mixed mass of unverified data,' said Graham-Smith. 'But it gives an interesting insight into the way people choose their passwords: in this case, apparently, on a theme that reflects the nature of the site they're visiting.'"

Stellar rays prove fibbing never pays. Embezzlement is another matter.

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