An anonymous reader writes "Since the NSA's phone metadata program broke last summer, politicians have trivialized the privacy implications. It's 'just metadata,' Dianne Feinstein and others have repeatedly emphasized. That view is no longer tenable: Stanford researchers crowdsourced phone metadata from real users, and easily identified calls to 'Alcoholics Anonymous, gun stores, NARAL Pro-Choice, labor unions, divorce lawyers, sexually transmitted disease clinics, a Canadian import pharmacy, strip clubs, and much more.' Looking at patterns in call metadata, they correctly diagnosed a cardiac condition and outed an assault rifle owner. 'Reasonable minds can disagree about the policy and legal constraints,' the authors conclude. 'The science, however, is clear: phone metadata is highly sensitive.'"
jfruh writes "Android apps sold through the Google Play app store require the user to enter their username and password before making an in-app purchase — but once they've done that, they can continue to do so for half an hour without re-authenticating. Now a lawsuit is claiming this loophole allows children to run up in-app purchases on their parents' credit cards, 'causing Google to pocket millions of dollars.'"
sciencehabit writes "A 40 micrometer crystal trapped inside a diamond unearthed by magma in Brazil could help settle a long-standing debate about the amount of water in Earth's mantle. Spectroscopic analysis reveal that the crystal contains hydrogen-oxygen bonds, which suggests it's composed of at least 1.4% water. The place where the diamond was produced--Earth's lower mantle--may not be typical of the entire lower mantle, but if it is then there could be a lot of water down there. This would be important, as changes in the temperature in the mantle could cause it to expel highly pressurized steam, which could lead to volcanic eruptions."
astroengine writes "NASA's baseline budget for the year beginning Oct. 1 pulls the plug on the 10-year-old Mars rover Opportunity, newly released details of the agency's fiscal 2015 spending plan show. The plan, which requires Congressional approval, also anticipates ending the orbiting Mars Odyssey mission on Sept. 30, 2016. 'There are pressures all over the place,' NASA's planetary science division director Jim Green said during an advisory council committee teleconference call on Wednesday."
itwbennett writes "Researchers at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano in Italy have found that happier programmers (or, more specifically, computer science students at the university) were significantly more likely to score higher on a problem solving assessment. The researchers first measured the emotional states of study participants using a measure devised by psychologists called the Scale of Positive and Negative Experience Affect Balance (SPANE-B) score. They then tested participants' creativity (ability to write creative photo captions) and problem-solving ability (playing the Tower of London game). The results: happiness didn't affect creativity, but did improve problem-solving ability."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Jose Pagliery reports at CNN that the 68-year-old rock star unveiled his startup, Pono, at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas raising $1.4 million in a single day. Young has developed a portable music player that stores high-resolution recordings and promises to deliver all the delicate details that get chopped out of modern-day formats, like MP3s and CDs. 'Pono' is Hawaiian for righteous. 'What righteous means to our founder Neil Young is honoring the artist's intention, and the soul of music. That's why he's been on a quest, for a few years now, to revive the magic that has been squeezed out of digital music.' With 128 GB of space, the PonoPlayer can carry about 3,200 tracks of high-resolution recordings while an MP3 player of the same size can hold maybe 10 times that many songs. Young says the MP3 files we're all listening to actually are pretty poor from an audio-quality standpoint and only contains about five percent of the audio from an original recording. But isn't FLAC already lossless? What makes Pono better?"
MojoKid writes "The power efficiency of NVIDA's Maxwell architecture make it ideal for mobile applications, so today's announcement by NVIDIA of a new top-to-bottom line-up of mobile GPUs—most of them featuring the Maxwell architecture—should come as no surprise. Though a couple of Kepler and even Fermi-based GPUs still exist in NVIDIA's new line-up, the heart of the product stack leverages Maxwell. The entry-level parts in the GeForce 800M series consist of the GeForce GT 820M, 830M, and 840M. The 820M is a Fermi-based GPU, but the 830M and 840M are new chips that leverage Maxwell. The meat of the GeForce GTX 800M series consist of Kepler-based GPUs, though Maxwell is employed in the more mainstream parts. NVIDIA is claiming the GeForce GTX 880M will be fastest mobile GPU available, but the entire GTX line-up will offer significantly higher performance then any integrated graphics solution. The GeForce GTX 860M and 850M are essentially identical to the desktop GeForce GTX 750 Ti, save for different frequencies and memory configurations. There are a number of notebooks featuring NVIDIA's GeForce 800M series GPUs coming down the pipeline from companies like Alienware, Asus, Gigabyte, Lenovo, MSI and Razer, though others are sure the follow suit. Some of the machines will be available immediately."
Former chairman of VA Software and venture capitalist, Larry Augustin, co-founded VA Research in 1993 and was one of the driving forces behind the creation of Sourceforge. VA bought Andover.net in 2000, acquiring a number of media sites, including Slashdot. He serves on the board of several companies and is currently the CEO of SugarCRM. Larry has agreed to take some time and answer your questions about the world of venture capital, open source software, and surviving the dotcom bubble. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post
sciencehabit writes "Whether we realize it, African elephants are listening to us. The pachyderms can tell certain human languages apart and even determine our gender, relative age, and whether we're a threat, according to a new study. The work illustrates how elephants can sometimes protect themselves from human actions. The work may be helpful in preventing 'human-elephant conflicts where the species co-exist,' says Joshua Plotnik, a behavioral ecologist at Mahidol University, Kanchanaburi, in Thailand. For instance, elephants might be deterred from entering farmland or encouraged to stick to the corridors designed for their use. 'The trouble is elephants are too smart to be fooled by us for long.'"
KentuckyFC writes "One of the more ambitious projects at the South Pole is the Askaryan Radio Array, a set of radio antennas under the ice that will listen for the tell tale signals of high energy neutrinos passing by. This array will eventually be over a thousand times bigger than the current largest neutrino detector: Icecube, which monitors a cubic kilometer of ice next door to the planned new observatory. But there's a problem. How do you supply 24/7 power to dozens of detectors spread over such a vast area in the middle of the Antarctic? The answer is renewable energy power stations that exploit the sun during the summer and the wind all year round. The first of these stations is now up and running at the South Pole and producing power. It is also helping to uncover and iron out the various problems that these stations are likely to encounter. For example; where to put the batteries needed to supply continuous power when all else fails. The team's current approach is to bury the battery to protect it from temperature extremes. That works well but makes maintenance so difficult that scaling this approach to dozens of power stations doesn't seem feasible. That's a problem for the future but for the moment, green power has finally come to the white continent."
colinneagle writes "Speaking at the SXSW Conference recently, Dr. Peter W. Singer, director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, recalled one U.S. official who was 'about to negotiate cybersecurity with China' asking him to explain what the term 'ISP' (Internet Service Provider) means. This wasn't the only example of this lack of awareness. 'That's like going to negotiate with the Soviets and not knowing what "ICBM" means,' Dr. Singer said. 'And I've had similar experiences with officials from the UK, China and Abu Dhabi.' Similarly, Dr. Singer recalled one account in which Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of the U.S. Homeland Security Department from 2009 to 2013, admitted that she didn't use email 'because she just didn't think it was useful.' 'A Supreme Court justice also told me "I haven't got round to email yet" — and this is someone who will get to vote on everything from net neutrality to the NSA negotiations,' Dr. Singer said."
EwanPalmer writes "China has begun using its orbiting satellites in a bid to find the missing Malaysian Airlines flight. The Xi'an Satellite Monitor and Control Center is said to have launched an emergency response to search for Flight MH370 after it went off radar over the South China Sea in the early hours of Saturday. The center is reported to have adjusted up to 10 of its high-res satellites to help search for the plane."
jones_supa writes "From last summer you might remember the Sony & Panasonic plans to bring next generation optical discs with recording capacity of at least 300GB. Various next-gen optical discs from different companies have been proposed, but this joint effort seems to be still moving forward. The disc is called simply Archival Disc and, roadmap and key specifications are out. First-wave ADs are slated to launch in summer of 2015 and will be able to hold up to 300GB of data. Archival Discs will be double-sided, so this works out to 150GB of data per side. Future versions of the technology will improve storage density, increasing to 500GB (or 250GB per side) and 1TB (500GB per side) as the standard matures."
Nerval's Lobster writes "In a Google Hangout with an auditorium full of South by Southwest attendees, government whistleblower (and former NSA employee) Edward Snowden suggested that encrypted communication should become more ubiquitous and easier to use for the majority of Internet denizens. 'The way we interact with [encrypted email and communications] is not good,' he said from somewhere within Russia, where he resides under the conditions of a one-year asylum. 'It needs to be out there, it needs to happen automatically, it needs to happen seamlessly.' For his part, Snowden still believes that companies should store user data that contributes directly to their respective business: 'It's not that you can't collect any data, you should only collect the data and hold it as long as necessary for the operation of the business.' He also couldn't resist some choice swipes at his former employer, accusing high-ranking intelligence officials Michael Hayden and Keith Alexander of harming the world's cyber-security—and by extension, United States national security—by emphasizing offensive operations over the defense of communications. 'America has more to lose than anyone else when every attack succeeds,' Snowden said. 'When you are the one country that has sort of a vault that's more full than anyone else's, it makes no sense to be attacking all day.'"
An anonymous reader writes "USA Today reports, "Ukraine may have to arm itself with nuclear weapons if the United States and other world powers refuse to enforce a security pact that obligates them to reverse the Moscow-backed takeover of Crimea, a member of the Ukraine parliament told USA TODAY. The United States, Great Britain and Russia agreed in a pact 'to assure Ukraine's territorial integrity' in return for Ukraine giving up a nuclear arsenal it inherited from the Soviet Union after declaring independence in 1991, said Pavlo Rizanenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament. ... Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the commitments in the agreement are not relevant to Crimea because a 'coup' in Kiev has created 'a new state with which we have signed no binding agreements.' The U.S. and U.K. have said that the agreement remains binding and that they expect it to be treated 'with utmost seriousness, and expect Russia to, as well.'"