HonorPoncaCityDotCom writes "AP reports that while confined to the basement of a CIA secret prison in Romania about a decade ago, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the admitted mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, asked his jailers whether he could design a vacuum cleaner. After all KSM earned his bachelor's in mechanical engineering, the agency had no long-term plan for him, but might thought he might someday prove useful and might even stand trial one day and for that, he'd need to be sane. They were concerned that his long imprisonment might do so much psychological damage that he would no longer be useful as source for information. "We didn't want them to go nuts," said a former senior CIA official. So, using schematics from the Internet as his guide, Mohammed began re-engineering one of the most mundane of household appliances. It remains a mystery how far Mohammed got with his designs or whether the plans still exist and even Mohammed's military lawyer, Jason Wright, says he is prohibited from discussing his client's interest in vacuums. 'It sounds ridiculous, but answering this question, or confirming or denying the very existence of a vacuum cleaner design, a Swiffer design, or even a design for a better hand towel would apparently expose the U.S. government and its citizens to exceptionally grave danger,' says Wright. So now, says Doug Mataconis, if you happen to start seeing ads for the CIA's revolutionary new home cleaning device, you'll know where it came from." Sounds perfect for In-Q-Tel.
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grahamsaa writes "I work at medium sized company that offers a number of products that rely fairly heavily on backend databases, some of which are hundreds of gigabytes and deal with hundreds or thousands of queries per second. Currently, we're using a mix of Postgres, Oracle, and MySQL, though we're working hard to move everything to Postgres. The products that are still on MySQL and Oracle were acquisitions, so we didn't get to choose the RDBMS at the time these products were designed. So far, we've been very happy with Postgres, but I know next to nothing about Oracle. It's expensive and has a long history of use in large enterprises, but I'm curious about what it offers that Postgres might not — I'm not saying this because I think that sticking with Oracle would be a good idea (because in our case, it probably isn't), but I'm curious as to how some companies justify the cost — especially considering that EnterpriseDB makes transitioning from Oracle to Postgres feasible (though not painless) in most cases. For those that use Oracle — is it worth the money? What's keeping you from switching?"
hypnosec writes "The Linux 3.11 merge window is about to close, most probably this Sunday, and most of the pull requests have been merged, including feature additions and improvements to disk & file system, CPU, graphics and other hardware. Some notable merges are: LZ4 compression; Zswap for compressed swap caching; inclusion of a Lustre file-system client for the first time; Dynamic Power Management (DPM) support for R600 GPUs; KVM and Xen virtualization on 64-bit hardware (AArch64); and a new DRM (Direct Rendering Manager) driver for the Renesas R-Car SoC."
puddingebola writes "A number of different websites are commenting on NPD's consumer research numbers that claim Chromebooks are getting 20-25% of the sub-$300 PC market. From the article: 'The NPD says that Google's Chromebook has now gained 20 to 25 percent of the sub-$300 laptop market in the U.S. That's a huge gain for a computer that's only been on the market for two years. It's even more impressive when you consider that Chromebooks were seen as nothing but a self-serving experiment on the part of Google for the first year of their existence.' Stephen Vaughan-Nichols is also blogging about this over at ZDnet. While the PC market shrank again in the second quarter of 2013, Chromebooks seem to have grown."
countach44 writes with the news that Amar Bose, founder of the electronics company that bears his name, has died at age 83. "Dr. Bose founded Bose Corporation almost 50 years ago with a set of guiding principles centered on research and innovation. That focus has never changed, and never will," said Bob Maresca, president of Bose Corporation. "Bose Corporation will remain privately held, and stay true to Dr. Bose's ideals. We are as committed to this as he was to us. Today and every day going forward, our hearts are with Dr. Bose; and we will do everything we can to make him proud of the company he built." The slideshow that accompanies the MIT posting shows some of his sound-related inventions over the years.
Cliff Stoll writes "Along with 7000 containers, ship MOL Comfort broke in half in high seas in the Indian Ocean. The aft section floated for a week, then sank on June 27th. The forward section was towed most of the way to port, but burned and sank on July 10th. This post-panamax ship was 316 meters long and only 5 years old. With a typical value of $40,000 per container (PDF), this amounts to a quarter billion dollar loss. The cause is unknown, but may be structural or perhaps due to overfilled containers that are declared as underweight. Of course, the software used to calculate ship stability relies upon these incorrect physical parameters."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Who could forget Steve Ballmer's defining moment, that infamous 'Developers! Developers! Developers!' rant that became a YouTube hit? Or the reports of frighteningly accurate chair-throwing? Who could miss the tech media and investors blaming him for everything from Microsoft's largely stagnant stock price over the past decade to its inability to get in front of trends such as mobile devices? But tech columnist (and Kernel editor-in-chief) Milo Yiannopoulos talked to a bunch of Ballmer's friends and colleagues, picked through Microsoft's history, and came away with the argument that the man deserves a second look as an effective leader. 'He stands accused of running one of the greatest companies in American history into the ground, even as its stock price remains remarkably resilient and the company continues to turn a healthy profit,' he writes. 'The mature verdict on Steve Ballmer is that he has made only one major strategic error: not combining his own brilliance for sales and detail with a visionary product leader who has the authority to create bold new revenue streams for the company.' Do you agree? Or does Ballmer deserve his reputation as a bad CEO?"
An anonymous reader writes "It turns out Amazon has its own sketchy method of snooping on all your browser traffic — even SSL traffic — through their one-click extension for Chrome. As designed, the extension reports every URL you visit, including HTTPS ones, to Amazon. It uses XSS to provide some of its functionality. It also reports contents of some website visits to Alexa. The Amazon extension has also been exploited to allow an attacker to gain access to SSL traffic on browsers that have it installed."
itwbennett writes "An official at Japan's Ministry of the Environment created a Google Group to share email and documents related to Japan's negotiations during a meeting held in Geneva in January, but used the default privacy settings, which left the exchanges wide open. According to Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, over 6,000 items, including private contact information of government officials, was publicly accessible. Michihiru Oi, a ministry official, said the ministry has its own system for creating groups and sharing documents, but it doesn't always function well outside of Japan, sometimes leading to 'poor connections' and a 'bad working environment.'"
snydeq writes "The U.S. health care industry is undergoing several massive transformations, not the least of which is the shift to interoperable EHR (electronic health records) systems. The ONC's Doug Fridsma discusses the various issues that many health care IT and medical providers have raised regarding use of these systems, which are mandated for 2014 under the HITECH Act of 2004, and are all the more important in light of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Key to the transition, says Fridsma, is transforming health IT for EHRs into something more akin to the Internet, and less like traditional ERP and IT systems. 'I think what we're trying to do is the equivalent of what you've got in the Internet, which is horizontal integration rather than vertical integration,' Fridsma says. 'We've done a lot of work looking at what other countries have done, and we've tried to learn from those experiences. Rather than trying to build this top down and create restrictions, we're really trying to ask, "What's the path of least regret in what we need to do?"'"
New submitter paavo512 writes "Server-side source code used for electronic voting was made fully public by Estonian officials on July 11 (in Estonian). The aim is to encourage more specialists to get involved in the technical analysis of the software. It is hoped that public overview will help to ensure the security of the system. E-voting has been successfully used five times in Estonia since 2007. It facilitates national ID cards which are obligatory for all citizens. In the next municipal elections later this year it is planned to test an experimental feature where the voter can check via a physically separate channel (smart phone) if his or her vote has been registered correctly. The publicized source code is available at GitHub."
ananyo writes "Natural-gas extraction, geothermal-energy production and other activities that inject fluid underground have caused numerous earthquakes in the United States, scientists have reported in a trio of papers in Science (abstracts here, here and here). Most of these quakes have been small, but some have exceeded magnitude 5.0. They include a magnitude-5.6 event that hit Oklahoma on 6 November 2011, damaging 14 homes and injuring two people."
Antipater writes "It looks like there's more trouble afoot for Boeing's 787 Dreamliner: London's Heathrow Airport was shut down for over an hour as fire crews attended to a 'suspected fire' on a Dreamliner owned by Ethiopia Airlines. 'Aerial pictures of the scene on the U.K.'s Sky News showed the new plane — which was not carrying passengers at the time — had been sprayed by foam, but there were no signs of fire. The aircraft was not blocking either runway, but with all the airport's fire crews tackling the Boeing 787 incident, authorities were forced to suspend departures and arrivals because of safety rules.'"
HonorPoncaCityDotCom writes "Alex Altman reports at Time Magazine that Google recently hosted a fundraiser for Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, one of the Senate's most conservative Republicans and a staunch opponent of EPA regulations. Inhofe authored a treatise called 'The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future,' thinks the Bible disproves global warming, and once denounced the 'arrogance' of scientists who suggest that 'we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate.' What prompted Google to host a fund raiser where attendees shelled out up to $2,500 for lunch with Inhofe? A data center that Google operates in Pryor, Oklahoma. 'Google runs a significant operation that provides around 100 jobs,' says Rusty Appleton, Inhofe's campaign manager. 'The Senator had an opportunity to tour the facilities in May of last year, and is committed to ensuring that Oklahoma remains a great place to do business.' A Google spokesperson says the company regularly hosts fundraisers for candidates of all stripes, even when Google disagrees with some of their policies — as it does with Inhofe on climate change. This explanation didn't wash with the activists outside Google's D.C. headquarters near K Street. "
MojoKid writes "A few weeks ago, the analyst company ABI Research published a report claiming that Intel's new CloverTrail+ platform (dual-core Medfield) for smartphones was significantly faster and more power efficient than anything ARM's various partners were shipping. If you follow the smartphone market, that was a very surprising claim. Medfield was a decent midrange platform when it launched in 2012, but Intel made it clear that its goal for Medfield was to compete with other platforms in its division — not seize the performance crown outright. Further investigation by other analysts has blown serious holes in the ABI Research report. Not only does it focus on a single, highly questionable benchmark (AnTuTu), the x86 version of that benchmark is running different code than the ARM flavors. Furthermore, the recently released Version 3.3 of the test is much faster on Intel hardware than on any of the other platforms. But even with those caveats in place, the ABI Research report is bad science. Single-source performance comparisons almost inevitably are."
New submitter tchernobog writes "An Italian team funded by Telethon and S. Raffaele of Milan, was able to cure six kids affected by lethal genetic diseases (in Italian, English video): the Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome and the metachromatic leukodystrophy. This is the culmination of a project lasted 15 years, and which cost more than 30M €; the researchers published some preliminary results last year in Nature, and are waiting for the results on more patients to submit another. The really interesting part is: they used a mix of advanced genetic techniques to achieve this result. Firstly, the DNA of a defective cell is corrected with a gene assembled in the lab. This procedure has been very dangerous for the past 20 years: that it can even be used is a good achievement alone. Secondly, the corrected DNA is propagated in the patient's body using a stripped-down version of HIV, of which less than 10% of its original genome remains. Might the feared HIV in reality prove to be salvation for some?"
schwit1 writes with news that the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, has resigned her post. Napolitano entered the office at the beginning of President Obama's first term, and she was only the third person to hold the position since it was created in response to the September 11th attacks. In a statement, she said the Department of Homeland Security "has improved the safety of travelers; implemented smart steps that make our immigration system more fair and focused while deploying record resources to protect our nation's borders; worked with states to build resiliency and make our nation's emergency and disaster response capabilities more robust; and partnered with the private sector to improve our cybersecurity." Napolitano will be taking over the presidency of the University of California's 10-campus education system. "UC officials believe that her Cabinet experiences –- which include helping to lead responses to hurricanes and tornadoes and overseeing some anti-terrorism measures — will help UC administer its federal energy and nuclear weapons labs and aid its federally funded research in medicine and other areas."
Koreantoast writes "As a recent Slashdot article showed, interest in Malcolm Gladwell's theory on the impact of culture on airline crashes has come up again following the tragic accident of Asiana Flight 214. Yet how good was Gladwell's analysis of the Korean Air Flight 801 accident which is the basis of his theory? A recent analysis by the popular Ask a Korean! blog shows serious flaws in Gladwell's presentation: ignorance of the power dynamics amongst the flight crew, mischaracterizations of Korean Air's flight accident record (three of the seven deadly incidents characterized as 'accidents' were actually military attacks or terrorism) and manipulative omissions in the pilot transcripts to falsely portray the situation. 'Even under the most kindly light, Gladwell is guilty of reckless and gross negligence. Under a harsher light, Gladwell's work on the connection between culture and plane crashes is a shoddy fraud.' Perhaps Gladwell should have asked a Korean before writing the chapter."
An anonymous reader writes "Australian telecommunications giant Telstra has for a decade been storing huge volumes of electronic communications carried between Asia and America for surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies. This includes not just the metadata, but the actual content of emails, online messages and phone calls. With the blessing of the Australian government Telstra agreed to route data through a 'U.S. point of contact through a secure storage facility on U.S. soil that was staffed exclusively by U.S. citizens.' The contract was prompted by Telstra's decision to expand its business in Asia by taking control of hundreds of kilometers of undersea telecommunications cables. The deal started under the Liberal Party and continued under Labor. The Greens have demanded an explanation."
dcblogs writes "The number of electrical engineers in the workforce has declined over the last decade. It's not a steady decline, and it moves up and down, but the overall trend is not positive. In 2002 the U.S. had 385,000 employed electrical engineers; in 2004, post dot.com bubble, it was at 343,000. It reached 382,000 in 2006, but has not risen above 350,000 since then, according to U.S. Labor Data. In 2012, there were 335,000 electrical engineers in the workforce. Of the situation, one unemployed electrical engineer said: 'I am getting interviews but, they have numerous candidates to choose from. The employers are very fussy. They are really only interested in a perfect match to their needs. They don't want the cost to develop talent internally. They are even trying to combine positions to save money. I came across one employer trying to combine a mechanical and electrical engineer.'"
jfruh writes "M-Pesa is a wildly popular mobile payment system in Kenya, which allows citizens of a country with a poor banking infrastructure to easily transfer money to each other using ubiquitous dumbphones. Currently the system only works in the local currency, but there are plans afoot to allow users to transfer Bitcoin — which would help Kenyans working abroad send money back home without paying high international bank transfer fees."
PolygamousRanchKid writes "Pope Francis overhauled the laws that govern the Vatican City State on Thursday, criminalizing leaks of Vatican information and specifically listing sexual violence, prostitution and possession of child pornography as crimes against children that can be punished by up to 12 years in prison. But without the leaks, how would we find out about those crimes against children? Many of the new provisions were necessary to bring the city state's legal system up to date after the Holy See signed international treaties, such as the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. Others were necessary to comply with international norms to fight money-laundering, part of the Vatican's push toward financial transparency. One new crime stands out, though, as an obvious response to the leaks of papal documents last year that represented one of the gravest Vatican security breaches in recent times. Paolo Gabriele, the butler for then-Pope Benedict XVI, was tried and convicted by a Vatican court of stealing Benedict's personal papers and giving them to an Italian journalist, Gianluigi Nuzzi. Using the documents, Nuzzi published a blockbuster book on the petty turf wars, bureaucratic dysfunction and allegations of corruption and homosexual liaisons that afflict the highest levels of Catholic Church governance. Gabriele, who said he wanted to expose the 'evil and corruption' that plagued the Holy See, was convicted of aggravated theft and sentenced to 18 months in the Vatican's police barracks."