bill_mcgonigle writes "I just bought bitcoins from the World's first Bitcoin ATM at Liberty Forum. I created an account using an Android Bitcoin client and held up its QR code to the Raspberry Pi-based device's optical scanner. After I fed in a $20 Federal Reserve Note, I got back a confirmation QR code on its display, which I then scanned and checked the third-party confirmation URL. The machine can function on any wireless network and will soon be available for purchase by merchants, who can make a commission on customers' Bitcoin purchases."
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Nerval's Lobster writes "Nate Silver, famous for applying rigorous statistical methods to U.S. political elections, has focused his predictive powers on a somewhat more lighthearted topic: this weekend's Academy Awards. As part of his predictive analysis, Silver rounded up the various awards that precede the Academy Awards, including those from the Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild; in his calculations, he gave additional weight to those awards with a higher historical success rate, and doubled the score 'for awards whose voting memberships overlap significantly with the academy.' But he isn't the only statistician predicting this year's Oscar winners: David Rothschild, a member of Microsoft's massive research division, has also developed a data-driven model. What does their number-crunching predict? That Argo will win Best Picture, and a bunch of people will win other things."
silentbrad writes sends this excerpt from a blog post about the history of working from home: "Remote working has existed for centuries. And now is the perfect time for its comeback. ... Prior to the Industrial Revolution, goods were manufactured by contracting individual craftsmen who worked out of their homes. The merchant would drum up sales, and would coordinate the production with at-home sub-contractors. ... This all changed with the Industrial Revolution: production was centralized in factories and cities. For merchant capitalists, this made sense: it was cheaper and more efficient to produce goods in one place, with machinery. ... We've been in the Information Age for at least 25 years. We've made huge leaps in technology. Many of us would describe ourselves as Knowledge Workers: we don't work in factories, we work at desks in front of glowing screens. We don't make goods with physical materials, but rather things made out of bits. The great thing about bits + the internet is that the materials and means needed for production aren't dependent on location. But here's the funny thing: the way work is organized hasn't changed. Despite all these advances, most of us still work in central offices. Employees leave their computer-equipped homes and drive long distances to work at computer-equipped offices. ... CEOs, like Yahoo's Marissa Mayer and Apple's Steve Jobs, think that a central office fosters more innovation and productivity. I think they're wrong. We're still early in the research, but recent studies seem to dispute their claim. ... Managers have developed centuries worth of habits based on the central workplace. The hallmarks of office work (meetings, cubicle workstations, colocation) need to be seen for what they are: traditions we've kept alive since the Industrial Revolution. We need to question these institutions: are they really more innovative and efficient?"
Several readers sent word of a Mozilla announcement that 18 carriers have committed to launching phones running Firefox OS. The carriers are primarily from markets in South America and Europe. They include Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, and Sprint. The devices running Firefox OS will be made by LG, ZTE, Huawei, and Alcatel, and all will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset. The new mobile operating system is built to allow HTML5 apps to run directly on the device, a solution Mozilla thinks will give it an edge when playing catch-up to all the software available for Android and iOS devices. "Developers are busy and don't have time to learn a new programming language. We believe that the only remaining eco-system is the web and there are more developers for the web than for any other platform in the world," said Jay Sullivan. According to Reuters, "Mozilla will initially look to compete in so-called 'emerging economies' in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia, where many people still use older phone models and have yet to upgrade to more expensive smartphones that feature touchscreens and high-speed Internet connections."
nbauman writes "A New York Times consumer columnist tracked down the people who run a 'This is your second and final notice" robocall operation. The calls came from Account Management Assistance, which promises to negotiate lower credit card rates with banks. One woman paid them $1,000, and all they did was give her a limited-time zero-percent credit card that she could have gotten herself. AMA has a post office box in Orlando, Florida. The Better Business Bureau has a page for Your Financial Ladder, which does business as Account Management Assistance, and as Economic Progress. According to a Florida incorporation filing, Economic Progress is operated by Brenda Helfenstine, with her husband Tony. The Arkansas attorney general has sued Your Financial Ladder for violating the Telemarketing Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services investigated Your Financial Ladder, but the investigator went to 1760 Sundance Drive, St. Cloud, which turned out to be a residence, and gave up. The Times notes that you can type their phone number (855-462-3833) into http://800notes.com/ and get lots of reports on them."
theodp writes "Before iTunes, Netflix, MySpace, Facebook, and the Kindle, 17-year-old Shawn Fanning and 18-year-old Sean Parker gave the world Napster. And it was very good. The Observer's Tom Lamont reports on VH1's soon-to-premiere Downloaded, a documentary that tells the story of the rise and fall of the file-sharing software that started the digital music revolution, and shares remembrances of how Napster rocked his world. 'I was 17,' writes Lamont, 'and the owner of an irregular music collection that numbered about 20 albums, most of them a real shame (OMC's How Bizarre, the Grease 2 soundtrack). One day I had unsupervised access to the family PC and, for reasons forgotten, an urge to hear the campy orchestral number from the film Austin Powers. I was a model Napster user: internet-equipped, impatient and mostly ignorant of the ethical and legal particulars of peer-to-peer file-sharing. I installed the software, searched Napster's vast list of MP3 files, and soon had Soul Bossa Nova plinking kilobyte by kilobyte on to my hard drive.' Sound familiar?"
An anonymous reader writes "Stephen Totilo at Kotaku has a long article detailing the exploits of an Australian hacker who calls himself SuperDaE. He managed to break into networks at Microsoft, Sony, and Epic Games, from which he retrieved information about the PS4 and next-gen Xbox 'Durango' (which turned out to be correct), and he even secured developer hardware for Durango itself. He uncovered security holes at Epic, but notified the company rather than exploiting them. He claims to have done the same with Microsoft. He hasn't done any damage or facilitated piracy with the access he's had, but simply breaching the security of those companies was enough to get the U.S. FBI to convince Australian authorities to raid his house and confiscate his belongings. In an age where many tech-related 'sources' are just empty claims, a lot of this guy's information has checked out. The article describes both SuperDaE's activities and a journalist's efforts to verify his claims."
Freshly Exhumed writes "An endorsement from Oprah Winfrey; a film deal from Steven Spielberg; a debut at the top of The New York Times bestsellers list. These are the things every author craves most. While the first two require the favor of a benevolent deity, the third can be had by anyone with the ability to write a check — a pretty big one, to ResultSource, a San Diego-based marketing consultancy — in what Forbes says is essentially a laundering operation aimed at deceiving the book-buying public into believing a title is more in-demand than it is. Soren Kaplan, a business consultant and speaker, hired ResultSource to promote his book Leapfrogging. Responding to the WSJ article on his website, Kaplan breaks out the economics of making the list. 'It's no wonder few people in the industry want to talk about bestseller campaigns,' he writes. 'Put bluntly, they allow people with enough money, contacts, and know-how to buy their way onto bestseller lists.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Dozens of fans attending a NASCAR race at Daytona Speedway were injured when a crash during the last lap triggered a chain reaction, culminating in the front section of Kyle Larson's car ricocheting into the fence in front of the stands (Larson escaped injury). While the footage accompanying the article is dramatic enough, an even more riveting clip showing the chaotic scene in the stands from up close was posted on YouTube, but was taken down after NASCAR claimed it violated their copyright . YouTube has since restored the fan's video. A NASCAR spokesman has issued a clarification, saying that the takedown request was done out of respect for those injured. The race was an opening act for the main event, the Daytona 500, which officials say will proceed as scheduled. 'With the fence being prepared tonight to our safety protocols, we expect to go racing tomorrow with no changes,' Speedway President Joie Chitwood told CNN."
An anonymous reader writes "Today version 2.0.0 of Ruby has been released. This is a stable release, and the Ruby team has done their best to make it compatible with 1.9, making it easier to migrate than it was to switch from 1.8 to 1.9. New core language features include: 'Keyword arguments, which give flexibility to API design; Module#prepend, which is a new way to extend a class; A literal %i, which creates an array of symbols easily; __dir__, which returns the dirname of the file currently being executed; and UTF-8 default encoding, which make many magic comments omissible.' There are also new built-in libraries for lazy stream and for an asynchronous exception handling API. The release includes a number of performance improvements and debug support for DTrace."
SchrodingerZ writes "A recent review of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state (where the bulk of Cold War nuclear material was created) has found that six of its underground storage tanks are leaking badly. Estimations say each tank is leaking 'anywhere from a few gallons to a few hundred gallons of radioactive material a year.' Washington's governor, Jay Inslee, said in a statement on Friday, 'Energy officials recently figured out they had been inaccurately measuring the 56 million gallons of waste in Hanford's tanks.' The Hanford cleanup project has been one of the most expensive American projects for nuclear cleanup. Plans are in place to create a treatment plant to turn the hazardous material into less hazardous glass (proposed to cost $13.4 billion), but for now officials are trying just to stop the leaking from the corroded tanks. Today the leaks do not have an immediate threat on the environment, but 'there is [only] 150 to 200 feet of dry soil between the tanks and the groundwater,' and they are just five miles from the Colombia River."
Hugh Pickens writes "The rules for papal elections are steeped in tradition. John Paul II last codified them in 1996, and Benedict XVI left the rules largely untouched. The 'Universi Dominici Gregis on the Vacancy of the Apostolic See and the Election of the Roman Pontiff' is surprisingly detailed. Now as the College of Cardinals prepares to elect a new pope, security people like Bruce Schneier wonder about the process. How does it work, and just how hard would it be to hack the vote? First, the system is entirely manual, making it immune to the sorts of technological attacks that make modern voting systems so risky. Second, the small group of voters — all of whom know each other — makes it impossible for an outsider to affect the voting in any way. The chapel is cleared and locked before voting. No one is going to dress up as a cardinal and sneak into the Sistine Chapel. In short, the voter verification process is about as good as you're ever going to find. A cardinal can't stuff ballots when he votes. Then the complicated paten-and-chalice ritual ensures that each cardinal votes once — his ballot is visible — and also keeps his hand out of the chalice holding the other votes. Ballots from previous votes are burned, which makes it harder to use one to stuff the ballot box. What are the lessons here? First, open systems conducted within a known group make voting fraud much harder. Every step of the election process is observed by everyone, and everyone knows everyone, which makes it harder for someone to get away with anything. Second, small and simple elections are easier to secure. This kind of process works to elect a pope or a club president, but quickly becomes unwieldy for a large-scale election. And third: When an election process is left to develop over the course of a couple of thousand years, you end up with something surprisingly good."
cervesaebraciator writes "U.S. Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) will be starting a new caucus with the ostensible purpose of protecting the intellectual property rights of filmmakers, musicians and other artists. The new caucus, styled the Congressional Creative Rights Caucus, will be formed along with Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC). Chu's office released a statement, including the following: 'American innovation hinges on creativity – it is what allows our kids to dream big and our artists to create works that inspire us all. The jobs that result are thanks entirely to our willingness to foster creative talent, and an environment where it can thrive and prosper. [...] The Congressional Creative Rights Caucus will serve to educate Members of Congress and the general public about the importance of preserving and protecting the rights of the creative community in the U.S. American creators of motion pictures, music, software and other creative works rely on Congress to protect their copyrights, human rights, First Amendment rights and property rights.'"
hypnosec writes "Ex-LulzSec leader Hector Xavier Monsegur, aka Sabu, has been handed another sentencing delay, possibly because of his continued cooperation with the U.S. government that led to the arrest of several Lulzsec members. Sabu plead guilty to all counts of bank fraud and identity theft offenses, and was to receive up to 124 years of imprisonment — but was granted a six-month breather back in August 2012 after the U.S. government asked the District Attorney to consider adjournment of Monsegur's trial 'in light of the defendant's ongoing cooperation with the Government.' New reports indicate that Sabu has dodged sentencing for a second time, with no dates set for the next hearing."
An anonymous reader writes "A slightly different take on Sony's PS4 semi-launch this week. This article traces the history and growing trend of capturing/recording and streaming your gameplay on the internet, from the early days of Let's Play articles with screenshots to today, where pro-gamers make money by playing live on Twitch.tv, and the technology is built into the PlayStation 4: 'Multiplayer video games have been around since the beginning — just look at Pong. Sony's real breakthrough with the PS4 might not be the specs, but its ability to turn every game you play into a multiplayer one.'"