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Government

California Governor Vetoes Bill Requiring Warrants For Drone Surveillance 101

Posted by Soulskill
from the quis-custodiet-ipsos-drones? dept.
schwit1 sends word that California governor Jerry Brown has vetoed legislation that would have required warrants for surveillance using unmanned drones. In his veto message (PDF), Brown said, "This bill prohibits law enforcement from using a drone without obtaining a search warrant, except in limited circumstances. There are undoubtedly circumstances where a warrant is appropriate. The bill's exceptions, however, appear to be too narrow and could impose requirements beyond what is required by either the 4th Amendment or the privacy provisions in the California Constitution."

The article notes that 10 other states already require a warrant for routine surveillance with a drone (Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin). Further, Brown's claims about the bill's exceptions are overstated — according to Slate, "California's drone bill is not draconian. It includes exceptions for emergency situations, search-and-rescue efforts, traffic first responders, and inspection of wildfires. It allows other public agencies to use drones for other purposes — just not law enforcement."
Power

Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power 450

Posted by Soulskill
from the fortunate-sun dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Incremental improvements have been slowly but surely pushing solar power toward mainstream viability for a few decades now. It's getting to the point where the established utilities are worried about the financial hit they're likely to take — and they're working to prevent it. "These solar households are now buying less and less electricity, but the utilities still have to manage the costs of connecting them to the grid. Indeed, a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory argues that this trend could put utilities in dire financial straits. If rooftop solar were to grab 10 percent of the market over the next decade, utility earnings could decline as much as 41 percent." The utilities are throwing their weight behind political groups seeking to end subsidies for solar and make "net metering" policies go away. Studies suggest that if solar adoption continues growing at its current rate, incumbents will be forced to raise their prices, which will only persuade more people to switch to solar (PDF).
Handhelds

Court Rules Nokia Must Pay Damages To Buyers of Faulty Phones In Mexico 25

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-the-people dept.
An anonymous reader writes Nokia must pay damages to consumers in Mexico who reported malfunctioning handsets, following a court ruling for a trial that has lasted four years. The case was brought to court by Mexican watchdog Profeco in 2010, before the Finnish manufacturer was acquired by Microsoft – that deal was only completed earlier this year. Profeco added that the court has ordered Nokia to either replace the faulty handsets and/or reimburse their cost. On top of that, Nokia must also pay compensation totaling at least 20 percent of the damages resulting from malfunctioning. Customers that had been affected by faulty Nokia equipment would be able to seek damages even if they had not yet presented complaints.
Earth

Study Links Pacific Coastal Warming To Changing Winds 207

Posted by Soulskill
from the any-way-the-wind-blows dept.
tranquilidad writes: In a paper published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, two authors ascribe the majority of northeast pacific coastal warming to natural atmospheric circulation and not to anthropogenic forcing. In AP's reporting, Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist with the Carnegie Institution for Science, says the paper's authors, "...have not established the causes of these atmospheric pressure variations. Thus, claims that the observed temperature increases are due primarily to 'natural' processes are suspect and premature, at best." The paper's authors, on the other hand, state, "...clearly, there are other factors stronger than the greenhouse forcing that is affecting...temperatures," and that there is a "surprising degree to which the winds can explain all the wiggles in the temperature curve."
Government

To Fight $5.2B In Identity Theft, IRS May Need To Change the Way You File Taxes 405

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-tax-dollars-at-work dept.
coondoggie writes: Based on preliminary analysis, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) estimates it paid $5.2 billion in fraudulent identity theft refunds in filing season 2013 while preventing an additional $24.2 billion (based on what it could detect). As a result, the IRS needs to implement changes (PDF) in a system that apparently can't begin verifying refund information until July, months after the tax deadline. Such changes could impact legitimate taxpayers by delaying refunds, extending tax season and likely adding costs to the IRS.
Handhelds

Phablet Reviews: Before and After the iPhone 6 277

Posted by timothy
from the but-that-was-different dept.
Velcroman1 writes Bigger is better. No, wait, bigger is worse. Well, which is it? Apple's newly supersized 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the jumbo, 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus are a marked departure for the company, which has clung to the same, small screen size for years. It has gone so far as to publicly deride larger phones from competitors, notably Samsung, even as their sales grew to record highs. Tech reviewers over the years have tended to side with Apple, in general saddling reviews of the Samsung Galaxy Note – a 5.3-inch device that kicked off the phablet push in 2012 – with asides about how big the darn thing was. Are tech reviewers being fair when they review the iPhone 6 Plus? Here's what some of them said today, compared with how they reviewed earlier phablets and big phones from the competition.
The Courts

Anonymous Peer-review Comments May Spark Legal Battle 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the jig-is-up dept.
sciencehabit writes: The power of anonymous comments — and the liability of those who make them — is at the heart of a possible legal battle embroiling PubPeer, an online forum launched in October 2012 for anonymous, postpublication peer review. A researcher who claims that comments on PubPeer caused him to lose a tenured faculty job offer now intends to press legal charges against the person or people behind these posts — provided he can uncover their identities, his lawyer says.
Medicine

New MRI Studies Show SSRIs Bring Rapid Changes to Brain Function 138

Posted by timothy
from the depressing-thought-or-perhaps-not dept.
A story at the Los Angeles Times reports that researchers at the Max Planck Institute have found that Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, various of which are widely used in anti-depressant medications, cause changes in healthy subjects' brain architecture just hours after ingestion. As the article mentions, one reason that this rapid change is surprising is that patients taking SSRIs to treat depression typically take considerably longer (weeks) to perceive a change in mood. A slice from the story: When more serotonin was available, this resting state functional connectivity decreased on a broad scale, the study found. This finding was not particularly surprising -- other studies have shown a similar effect in brain regions strongly associated with mood regulation. But there was a two-fold shock: Some areas of the brain appeared to buck the trend and become more interdependent. And all the changes were evident only three hours after the single dosage. ... The rapid connectivity shifts noted by the study might therefore be precursors to longer-term changes, perhaps starting with remodeling of synapses, the microscopic gaps where chemical neurotransmitters such as serotonin flood across to an adjacent brain cell, the study suggests. But this type of brain scanning can’t pick up changes at such a scale, so the hypothesis will have to be tested other ways[.] ... Study subjects did not have diagnoses of depression, so researchers will need to generate similar maps among those diagnosed with depression, and re-map them during and after depressive episodes, as well as after treatment, Sacher said. Comparisons might then show whether a certain initial architecture predicts treatment success.
Businesses

Is Alibaba Comparable To a US Company? 122

Posted by timothy
from the well-the-name-is-magical-to-start dept.
lpress writes Alibaba is this week's hot news — they have had a lengthy PR campaign (preceded by a documentary film) followed by a record-setting stock offering. After a day of trading Alibaba's market capitalization was comparable to that of established tech giants. But, there are cultural and structural differences between Alibaba and U.S. companies. Alibaba is tightly woven into a complex fabric of personal, corporate and government organization relationships. The same can be said of information technology companies in Singapore. Is owning a share of, say, Apple, conceptually the same as owning a share of Alibaba?

Comment: Re: So everything is protected by a 4 digit passco (Score 1) 504

by zugmeister (#47941193) Attached to: Apple Will No Longer Unlock Most iPhones, iPads For Police

Additionally, there’s no known way to make the boot loader just dump an image of the encrypted flash for you to start brute forcing on. You’d need to disassemble the phone, desolder the flash chips, and read them out in another circuit.

As I understand it, if they're serious about getting the contents of your phone and it's not unlocked / trivially made available, they just get your backup files and hack the information out of those. Encrypt your backups!

Canada

Drone-Based Businesses: Growing In Canada, Grounded In the US 94

Posted by Soulskill
from the looking-forward-to-hockey-drones dept.
An anonymous reader writes: As small drones become affordable, and as clever people come up with ideas on how to use them, we've been hearing about more and more plans for drone-based business. In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration was quick to shut down such ideas in order to give themselves time to regulate the nascent industry. Not so, in Canada. Thanks to a simple permit system, anyone wanting to use a drone for commercial purposes can do so in Canada by simply applying and waiting a few weeks. Around 1,500 of these permits have been granted already, and Canada's private drone industry is flourishing as a result. Drones have been used for agriculture analysis, TV production, real estate photography, law enforcement, and many other tasks.

Comment: Re:missing 0 option (Score 1) 260

by zugmeister (#47723769) Attached to: How many devices are connected to your home Wi-Fi?

"Makes the Nook tablets unable to connect to the 'net at home, but, at home, I don't need them connected, anyway, since I feed them by SD card."

E-readers gently sip at the battery, until you turn on the wireless radio. By leaving my Paperwhite in airplane mode I get about double the battery life, about 2-3 weeks of heavy reading.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. -- John Muir

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