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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


+ - Ex-NSA agent claims NSA wiretapped Obama before presidency and others in US gov ->

Submitted by so.dan
so.dan (939602) writes "This is as bad as wiretapping can get. If you wiretap lawmakers, judges, and future presidents, you can blackmail them later to get them to do whatever you want.

FTA: " 'In the summer of 2004, one of the papers that I held in my hand was to wiretap a bunch of numbers associated with a forty-some-year-old senator from Illinois.'

Tice added that he also saw orders to spy on Hillary Clinton, Senators John McCain and Diane Feinstein, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, Gen. David Petraeus, and a current Supreme Court Justice.""

Link to Original Source

Interviews: James Randi Answers Your Questions 217

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-can't-handle-the-truth dept.
A while ago you had the chance to ask James Randi, the founder of The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), about exposing hucksters, frauds, and fakers. Below you'll find his answers to your questions. In addition to his writings below, Randi was nice enough to sit down and talk to us about his life and his foundation. Keep an eye out for those videos coming soon.
Input Devices

The Lytro Camera: Impressive Technology and Some Big Drawbacks 220

Posted by timothy
from the light-field-of-dreams dept.
waderoush writes "The venture backers behind Lytro, the Silicon Valley startup that just released its new light field camera, say the device will upend consumer photography the way the iPhone upended the mobile business. This review takes that assertion at face value, enumerating the features that made the iPhone an overnight success and asking whether the Lytro camera and its refocusable 'living pictures' offer consumers an equivalent set of advantages. The verdict: not yet. But while the first Lytro model may not an overnight success, light field cameras and refocusable images are just the first taste of a revolution in computational photography that's going to change the way consumers think about pictures."

Comment: Re:I thought that we were not getting sued... (Score 1) 159

by so.dan (#37381106) Attached to: <em>Hurt Locker</em> Lawsuits May Reach Canadians, Too
Oh! This may account for my confusion. I had thought we were protected from all such suits because of Canadian privacy laws, but perhaps it's just something specific about music in our copyright legislation that protects just from music suits. Thanks for the info!

+ - MAFIAA lawsuits may finally affect Canadians->

Submitted by so.dan
so.dan (939602) writes "Canadian copyright guru Michael Geist reports that the "File sharing lawsuits involving the movie the Hurt Locker [that] have been big news in the United States for months... are coming to Canada as the Federal Court of Canada has paved the way for the identification of subscribers at Bell Canada, Cogeco, and Videotron who are alleged to have copied the movie." This is the first I've ever heard of MAFIAA lawsuits beginning to succeed in Canada. The move seems to target larger ISPs. Are subscribers of smaller ISPs — who must lease their lines from the larger ones such as Bell — relatively protected from such invasions of privacy due to some sort of technical difficulty in determining the names of subscribers? (Please excuse my technical ignorance). And if so, should Canadians opt for smaller ISPs to aid the protection of their privacy?"
Link to Original Source

+ - Wikipedia to use large donation to change articles->

Submitted by so.dan
so.dan (939602) writes "Wikipedia will be using a $1.2M grant donated by the Stanton Foundation — founded by Frank Stanton, ex-chairman of the policy think-tank The RAND Corporation — to "improve" articles dealing with public policy. The Stanton Foundation still sponsors RAND and other research institutions. It frightens me that such a large donation would be accepted by a single donor to change articles which educate the public on political issues from a group which is itself so focused on these issues. I thought that Wikipedia's political articles gained some credibility from the extent to which contributions to these pages were decentralized."
Link to Original Source

+ - Elections Canada Push for Laws for Online Voting->

Submitted by so.dan
so.dan (939602) writes "The CBC is reporting that Elections Canada will push for legislation to allow online voting and voter registration to increase the percentage of Canadians who vote. Is there any way to make such a system secure, both from "hackers" and from corruption in government? Is it possible to make it transparently secure, at least to those with some basic knowledge of electronic security?

The CBC notes one argument in favor of such a change to the electoral process in a recent report by Elections Canada: "only 58.8 per cent of registered voters actually cast ballots during last October's federal election — the worst-ever voter turnout in Canadian history". Aside from the fact many I knew didn't vote for the (irrational) reason that they felt they had "just voted" for the previous federal government (which was prematurely "dissolved" by our Governor General), this argument seems flawed for another reason: High voter turnout in a country is a substantial piece of evidence that the population feels their vote will make a difference, and thus is a testament to the extent to which the country is democratic. So long as everyone who wants to vote has the means to do so (note that in Canada employers are required by law to give employees time off to vote), high voter turnout is not, however, (much of) a cause of democracy. Accordingly, increasing voter turnout in a manner other than through real increased enfranchisement of a population, when the method of increase involves (what I fear is) a substantial threat to democracy, seems wrong-headed in the extreme.

Even if the elections process can be made transparently secure, there is also the frightening prospect that some time after electronic voting has become accepted in the general population as normal and nothing to worry about, some change could be made to the system which (unintentionally or not) undermines its security or transparency."

Link to Original Source

+ - Canadian Govt Asks For Feedback On Open Source

Submitted by so.dan
so.dan (939602) writes "The deadline is quickly approaching to respond to a Request for Information (RFI) from the Government of Canada on creating adoption policies on "no charge licensed software" (which includes OSS) for use across federal agencies. The RFI includes a questionnaire and asks for comments on the how well such software meets the specific criteria which the Government considers when evaluating commercial software. It might benefit us Canadians if some members of the knowledgeable Slashdot community could respond to the RFI. Ars technica has more details. The deadline, according to Michael Geist, is February 19th, 2009."

+ - Canadian Govt Requests Feedback on Open Source->

Submitted by so.dan
so.dan (939602) writes "The Government of Canada has apparently put out a "Request For Information" on the development of "common guidelines" for the use of Open Source Software within the Govt of Canada.

From the article (via Digg): "The objective of the RFI is to provide an opportunity for those interested to provide information they feel Canada should be aware of when developing internal guidelines related to the planning, usage and disposal of No Charge Licensed Software" within the Government of Canada.

The government has put out a list of specific questions, the answers to which will be used to come up with the guidelines. It would be great if the knowledgeable folks at Slashdot could provide some feedback."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Huh (Score 1) 722

by so.dan (#24497409) Attached to: New Olympics Scoring: No More Perfect 10.0
CmdrTaco: If a disproportionate number of people of race X committed crimes or were not going through higher education (for whatever reason), would it be okay to add in comments to summaries which mention "Your race-X friends might be more interested in the armed robberies which can be more easily performed with this high-tech weapon." or "Your race-X friends might not be able to appreciate this cool advance in materials science which will allow faster processors soon (which we, with our good educations, are able to understand and appreciate), but maybe they'll be interested in the pretty graphics this new development enables!"? I understand that there's nothing wrong with appreciating gymnastics so the analogy to my first (armed robberies) example may not appear to hold, but there is certainly an implication that gymnastics is 'not a real sport' (maybe it is, maybe it isn't... that's not relevant to my argument here), and thus there is something wrong with those who like/appreciate it... and thus the analogy holds when we are considering not the value of those who like gymnastics but the likely implication (of CmdrTaco) regarding the value of those who like gymnastics. And regarding my second analogy: Whatever the reason for differences in interests in the two sexes (biological, or environmental (eg, privilege, encouragement)), why not make fun of people who like something (gymnastics or pretty graphics) only if (a) the thing they like is somehow stupid to like, and (b) (nearly) every member of that group likes the (stupid) thing in question? For example, if I want to make fun of people who like monster car truck races in a post about some tech advance which will both change the efficiency of fuel-efficient cars and will also impact some aspect of monster truck races (where, say, the impact is both relevant to the tech advance, but also something which I hope/think is considered stupid by the readers), would it be acceptable to make a comment at the end of a post saying something like "But men may be more interested in [insert something I'm implying it's stupid to find interesting and is in the area of monster truck races?". I don't know. Maybe you think it's okay. But I believe that's based on an emotion that depends on the fact that on slashdot, most people will be resistant to being sexist against men, because people are more likely to be (a) rational, (b) caring about social/moral issues, (c) men... and you know this. And thus, even those who are neither very _rational_ nor _caring_ about what's right/wrong (either factually or morally) when it comes to social issues (I'm sure there are some readers on slashdot who are like this), are likely to be men. And history has shown that people without properties (a) and (b) are likely to be prejudiced against those not in their own group, regardless of whether the group in question actually picks out the qualities which are sufficient for determining superiority over those outside the group.

Thankfully for me, I find that (at least highly-modded) posters on slashdot seem to have properties (a) and (b) in spades, and thus although for one depressing moment I felt not at home on slashdot, I felt at home again, after reading some posters' responses. Thank-you to those of you (especially to the men, who have nothing to gain from being outraged at sexism against women (except living in a more just society!)). Please know that I have, in the past, admonished my feminazi friends from being sexist assholes on matter of principle too. (I no longer do this because I've learned to choose better friends).

Gates Explains Microsoft's Need for Yahoo 271

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the let-me-explan-my-need-for-a-fresh-cup-of-coffee dept.
eldavojohn writes "Perhaps it's obvious to you and perhaps you'll be pleasantly surprised by his answer but Gates revealed to CNet why Microsoft needs Yahoo. From his response, "We have a strategy for competing in the search space that Google dominates today, that we'll pursue that we had before we made the Yahoo offer, and that we can pursue without that. It involves breakthrough engineering. We think that the combination with Yahoo would accelerate things in a very exciting way, because they do have great engineers, they have done a lot of great work. So, if you combine their work and our work, the speed at which you can innovate and get things done is just dramatically more rapid. So, it's really about the people there that want to join in and create a better search, better portal for a very broad set of customers. That's the vision that's behind saying, hey, wouldn't this be a great combination.""

Ramanujian's Deathbed Problem Cracked 205

Posted by kdawson
from the mock-theta-soup dept.
Jake's Mom sends word of the serendipitous solution to a decades-old mathematical mystery. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin have unraveled a major number theory puzzle left at the death of one of the twentieth century's greatest mathematicians, Srinivasa Ramanujan. From the press release: "Mathematicians have finally laid to rest the legendary mystery surrounding an elusive group of numerical expressions known as the 'mock theta functions.' Number theorists have struggled to understand the functions ever since... Ramanujan first alluded to them in a letter written [to G. H. Hardy] on his deathbed, in 1920. Now, using mathematical techniques that emerged well after Ramanujan's death, two number theorists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have pieced together an explanatory framework that for the first time illustrates what mock theta functions are, and exactly how to derive them."

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