An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from ABC News: "A former student was sentenced to a year in prison for rigging his school elections at California State University-San Marcos so he could become student president, court documents show. Matthew Weaver, 22, was charged in January with wire fraud, access device fraud and unauthorized access to a computer. He pleaded guilty in March, admitting that he had stolen the email passwords of more than 740 students and used them to vote for himself 630 times during the student elections in March 2012... Right before the voting ended, on March 15, 2012, officials noticed 259 votes coming from another IP address. Officials tracked the IP address to a classroom, and found Weaver sitting there. There was only one other student in the lab, according to court documents. A university police officer arrested Weaver and seized his bag, subsequently discovering that he had stashed the keyloggers there."
Bruce Schneier points out on his blog a proposal to use electronic randomizers at airport security checkpoints. Schneier writes there: "I've seen something like this at customs in, I think, India. Every passenger walks up to a kiosk and presses a button. If the green light turns on, he walks through. If the red light turns on, his bags get searched. Presumably the customs officials can set the search percentage. Automatic randomized screening is a good idea. It's free from bias or profiling. It can't be gamed. These both make it more secure. Note that this is just an RFI from the TSA. An actual program might be years away, and it might not be implemented well. But it's certainly a start." In this case, the proposal is for randomizers that direct passengers to particular conveyor-belt lines for screening.
Vigile writes "While 4K displays have been popping up all over the place recently with noticeably lower prices, one thing that kind of limits them all is a 30 Hz refresh rate panel. Sony is selling 4K consumer HDTVs for $5000 and new-comer SEIKI has a 50-in model going for under $1000 but they all share that trait — HDMI 1.4 supporting 3840x2160 at 30 Hz. The new ASUS PQ321Q monitor is a 31.5-in 4K display built on the same platform as the Sharp PN-K321 and utilizes a DisplayPort 1.2 connection capable of MST (multi-stream transport). This allows the screen to include two display heads internally, showing up as two independent monitors to some PCs that can then be merged into a single panel via AMD Eyefinity or NVIDIA Surround. Thus, with dual 1920x2160 60 Hz signals, the PQ321Q can offer 3840x2160 at 60 Hz for a much better viewing experience. PC Perspective got one of the monitors in for testing and review and found that the while there were some hurdles during initial setup (especially with NVIDIA hardware), the advantage of a higher refresh rate made the 4K resolution that much better."
An anonymous reader writes "This article is an eye opening perspective on another side effect of power generation — water usage: 'More than 40 percent of fresh water used in the United States is withdrawn to cool power plants. Renewable energy generally uses far less water, but there are glaring exceptions, such as geothermal and concentrating solar.' The article also mentions that power plants have to shut down if the incoming water is too warm to cool the plant. 'Also, even though some newer plants might use far less water, they could find that there’s far less water available as water temperatures go up and water flows go down. Another study found that nearly half of 423 U.S. plants were at risk of lower power output during droughts because their intake pipes for water were less than 3 meters below the surface.'"
vikingpower writes "A Dutch newspaper has a digital version of the letter Mr. Opstelten, Secretary of Justice and Security, sent to Dutch Parliament (PDF in Dutch), in which he quietly admits to 56,825 phone taps (a 3% rise in one year) and to 16,676 internet taps in 2012, a 400% rise, or a fivefold increase, in one year. An older report already exposed the Netherlands as one of the biggest wiretappers in the western world. Slate also knew, back in 2006, that Europeans actually love wiretapping and internet tapping. In the Netherlands, a country with a population of only 16 million, the practice has risen to the level of a staggering 1 in 1,000 phones being tapped."
RoccamOccam sends this news from the Associated Press: "A landmark federal study on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers at a western Pennsylvania drilling site. After a year of monitoring, the researchers found that the chemical-laced fluids used to free gas trapped deep below the surface stayed thousands of feet below the shallower areas that supply drinking water."
dryriver writes "I am an intermediate-level programmer who works mostly in C# NET. I have a couple of image/video processing algorithms that are highly parallelizable — running them on a GPU instead of a CPU should result in a considerable speedup (anywhere from 10x times to perhaps 30x or 40x times speedup, depending on the quality of the implementation). Now here is my question: What, currently, is the most painless way to start playing with GPU programming? Do I have to learn CUDA/OpenCL — which seems a daunting task to me — or is there a simpler way? Perhaps a Visual Programming Language or 'VPL' that lets you connect boxes/nodes and access the GPU very simply? I should mention that I am on Windows, and that the GPU computing prototypes I want to build should be able to run on Windows. Surely there must a be a 'relatively painless' way out there, with which one can begin to learn how to harness the GPU?"
New submitter LFSim writes "It's not the Turing test just yet, but in one more domain, AI is becoming increasingly competitive with humans. This time around, it's in interplanetary trajectory optimization. From the European Space Agency comes the news that researchers from its Advanced Concepts Team have recently won the Gold 'Humies' award for their use of Evolutionary Algorithms to design a spacecraft's trajectory for exploring the Galilean moons of Jupiter (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto). The problem addressed in the awarded article (PDF) was put forward by NASA/JPL in the latest edition of the Global Trajectory Optimization Competition. The team from ESA was able to automatically evolve a solution that outperforms all the entries submitted to the competition by human experts from across the world. Interestingly, as noted in the presentation to the award's jury (PDF), the team conducted their work on top of open-source tools (PaGMO / PyGMO and PyKEP)."
New submitter ulatekh writes "San Jose State University is suspending a highly touted collaboration with online provider Udacity to offer low-cost, for-credit online courses after finding that more than half of the students failed to pass the classes. 'Preliminary results from a spring pilot project found student pass rates of 20% to 44% in remedial math, college-level algebra and elementary statistics courses. In a somewhat more promising outcome, 83% of students completed the classes.'"
An anonymous reader writes "On Thursday, the board of O-Net gave approval for residents to get access to [full gigabit bandwidth] for the same price that they currently pay for a guaranteed download speed of 100 megabits per second — $57 to $90 a month, depending on whether they have bundled their internet with TV and phone service. ... the town realized that it couldn't attract technology-based businesses and that bandwidth was a challenge even to ordinary businesses. It came up with a plan — it would install a fibre network throughout the town that would connect to the larger inter-community network being built by the government at that time — the Alberta Supernet."
willith writes "The folks at Bezos Expeditions have confirmed that faintly visible serial numbers on one of the large engine components they lifted from three miles below the ocean's surface match the serial number of F-1 engine F-6044, which flew in the center position on Saturn V number SA-506 — Apollo 11. With the 44th anniversary of the first lunar landing coming up tomorrow, the confirmation comes at an auspicious time. The F-1 engine remains to this day the largest single-chamber liquid fueled engine ever produced — although NASA is considering using a newer uprated design designated as the F-1B to help boost future heavy-lift rockets into orbit."
coolnumbr12 writes "When Yahoo purchased Tumblr in May, Tumblr founder David Karp said Tumblr wouldn't be changing, and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said, 'Part of our strategy here is to let Tumblr be Tumblr.' But a new search policy went into effect Thursday that excludes all adult blogs from Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines by disabling indexing of anything it tags as 'adult.' The policy effectively makes the content and 10 percent of Tumblr users completely invisible."
New submitter ciotog writes "The town of Deer Trail, Colorado (population approximately 550) will be voting next month on whether to offer licenses for drone hunting. Furthermore, a bounty of $100 for each drone shot down will be offered (upon offering proof that the drone was potentially owned by the U.S. government). Is this just a fun gimmick, or a serious commentary on an increasingly surveillance based society?"
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton proposes a new use for online, anonymous voting: helping sort skill from luck in the cheek-by-jowl world of best-selling (and would-be best-selling) authors: "J.K. Rowling recently confirmed that she was the author of a book she had published under a pseudonym, which spiked in sales after she was outed as the true author. Perhaps she was doing an experiment to see how much luck had played a role in propelling her to worldwide success, and whether she could recreate anything close to that success when starting from scratch. But a better way to answer that question would be to strike a deal with an amateur-fiction-hosting site and use the random-sample-voting algorithm that I've written so much about, to test how her writing stacks up against other writers in the same genre." Read on for more. Update: 07/20 01:23 GMT by T : Note: An editorial goof (mine) swapped out the word "confirmed" for "revealed" (above) in an earlier rendering of this story.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Last fall, Microsoft launched its Surface RT tablet with high hopes. The sleek touch-screen ran Windows RT, a version of Windows 8 designed for hardware powered by the ARM architecture, which dominates the mobile-device market; it also included a flexible keyboard that doubled as a screen cover. Microsoft executives told any journalist who would listen that Surface RT would position their company as a major player in the tablet arena, ready to battle toe-to-toe with Apple and various Android device manufacturers. Fast-forward to this week, and Microsoft announcing its financial results for the quarter ended June 30. Amidst metrics such as operating income and diluted earnings per share, one number stood out: a $900 million charge (the equivalent of $0.07 per share) related to what Microsoft called 'Surface RT inventory adjustments.' Microsoft had already slashed Surface RT prices by $150, so that nearly-billion-dollar charge wasn't a total surprise — but it did underscore that Surface RT is a bomb. From the outset, Surface RT had an issue with the potential to mightily trip up Microsoft: While Windows RT looks exactly like Windows 8, it can't run legacy Windows programs built for x86 processors, limiting users to what they can download from the built-in Windows Store app hub. While the Windows Store launched with 10,000 apps, that seemed paltry in comparison to the well-developed Android and iOS ecosystems. There's likely nothing that Microsoft could have done about this—every platform has to start somewhere, after all—but the relative lack of apps put Surface RT between the proverbial rock and the hard place: it couldn't rely on Windows' extensive legacy, and it didn't have enough content to make it a true contender from the outset against the iPad and Android tablets. Then there was the matter of price. Microsoft could have taken the Amazon route and sold Surface RT at a relative pittance in order to drive adoption—something that made the Kindle Fire a sizable hit. However, that sort of pricing scheme isn't in Microsoft's corporate DNA: it only cut Surface RT's price several months after release, as a defensive maneuver, when it's likely to do much less good."
New submitter Ron024 sends this news from Nature: "After 69 years, one of the longest-running laboratory investigations in the world has finally captured the fall of a drop of tar pitch on camera for the first time. A similar, better-known and older experiment in Australia missed filming its latest drop in 2000 because the camera was offline at the time. The Dublin pitch-drop experiment was set up in 1944 at Trinity College Dublin to demonstrate the high viscosity or low fluidity of pitch — also known as bitumen or asphalt — a material that appears to be solid at room temperature, but is in fact flowing, albeit extremely slowly. ... The Trinity College team has estimated the viscosity of the pitch by monitoring the evolution of this one drop, and puts it in the region of 2 million times more viscous than honey, or 20 billion times the viscosity of water. The speed of formation of the drop can depend on the exact composition of the pitch, and environmental conditions such as temperature and vibration."
TexasDex writes "After years of providing great news reporting to the open source community, including interviews, great Linux kernel update summaries, and even breaking the Skype spying story well before it was leaked, The H Online is closing down due to lack of profitability. I've checked them daily for years, so it's sad to see them go."
schwit1 writes "Laurie Iacuzza walked to her waiting car at the Greater Rochester International Airport after returning from a trip and that's when she found it — a notice saying her car was inspected after she left for her flight. She said, 'I was furious. They never mentioned it to me when I booked the valet or when I picked up the car or when I dropped it off.' Iacuzza's car was inspected by valet attendants on orders from the TSA."
An anonymous reader sends this quote from the NY Times: "Staking out new ground in the noisy debate about technology and privacy in law enforcement, the New Jersey Supreme Court on Thursday ordered that the police will now have to get a search warrant before obtaining tracking information from cellphone providers. The ruling (PDF) puts the state at the forefront of efforts to define the boundaries around a law enforcement practice that a national survey last year showed was routine, and typically done without court oversight or public awareness. With lower courts divided on the use of cellphone tracking data, legal experts say, the issue is likely to end up before the United States Supreme Court. The New Jersey decision also underscores the extent of the battles over government intrusion into personal data in a quickly advancing digital age, from small town police departments to the National Security Agency's surveillance of e-mail and cellphone conversations."
Dputiger writes "In the wake of activist Aaron Swartz's suicide, MIT launched an investigation into the circumstances that led to his initial arrest and felony charges. It's now clear that the move was nothing but a face-saving gesture. Moments before the court-ordered release of Swartz's Secret Service file under the Freedom of Information Act, MIT intervened, asking the judge to block the release. Supposedly this is to protect the identities of MIT staff who might be harassed — but government policy is to redact such information already."
jfruh writes "When blogger Dan Tynan started seeing lots of Latvians in his LinkedIn People You May Know list, it was pretty funny, considering he'd never been to Latvia or ever met anyone from there. But now that shadowy spy agencies are using algorithms similar to LinkedIn's to see if we're terrorists, mistakes like this are a lot scarier. From the article: 'More than ever -- and online in particular -- who you know can be more important than who you are. In fact, who somebody thinks you know may be more important than who you are, especially if that somebody is a faceless government bureaucracy with limitless power to izjaukt savu dzvi (mess up your life).'"
snydeq writes "Andrew Oliver offers further proof that drunk driving and on-site servers don't mix. Oliver, who had earlier announced a New Year's resolution to go all-in on cloud services, had that business strategy expedited when a drunk driver, fleeing a hit-and-run, drove his SUV directly into the beauty shop next door to his company's main offices. 'Our servers were down for eight hours, and various services were intermittent for at least 12 hours. Had things been worse, we could have lost everything. Like our customers, we needed HA and DR. Moreover, we thought, maybe our critical services like email, our website, and Jira should be in a real data center. This made going all-cloud a top priority for us rather than "when we get to it."' Oliver writes, detailing his company's resultant hurry-up migration plan to 100 percent cloud services."
wiredmikey writes "Despite fevered arguments that iOS is more secure than Android, and that Android offers developers more options than iOS, a study has found that both platforms are equally as invasive and curious when it comes to collecting user data. Security firm BitDefender analyzed more than 522,000 apps over the past year and focused on the 'intrusive behaviors' the app developer may have included in the product, such as tracking location, reading contact lists, and leaking your email address or device ID. According to Catalin Cosi, iOS applications appear to be more focused on harvesting private data than the ones designed for Android. Cosi did acknowledge that Android apps state all the permissions needed at installation time and there is no way to change the settings afterwards, while iOS permissions are requested at run-time, as the specific resource is used, making iOS a little bit more secure in practice."
DavidGilbert99 writes "Microsoft took everyone by surprise last year with the Surface tablet. It was something completely new from the company everyone knew as a software company. However nine months later and the sheen has worn off the Surface tablet and Microsoft's financial results on Thursday revealed it has taken a $900 million write down on the Surface RT tablets, leading David Gilbert in IBTimes to estimate it is sitting on a stockpile of six million unsold tablets."
gbrumfiel writes "Researchers in France have discovered the world's largest virus and given it a terrifying name: Pandoravirus. NPR reports it doesn't pose a threat to people, but its genetic code could hint at an unusual origin. The team believes that the virus may carry the genes from a long-dead branch of the tree of life, one that possibly even started on Mars or somewhere else. Other scientists are skeptical, but everyone agrees that the new giant virus is pretty cool."