Daniel_Stuckey writes "Huawei has invested billions of dollars in Africa over the last two decades, providing affordable cell phones, internet access, and telecommunications networks to the continent. Over the last few months Huawei has closed major deals in Africa to get more areas on the grid. The company says it's bridging the digital divide, but others suspect it's wiring the continent for surveillance."
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MojoKid writes "Fuel3D Inc. is a new start-up that recently arrived to Kickstarter, promising an 'affordable point-and-shoot 3D scanner' that will allow anyone to easily take 3D images for rendering and ultimately production on standard 3D printing platforms. The Fuel3D is a fully 3D surface scanner that samples a large number of physical and color measurements including geometric stereo and photometric stereo data, which it then combines to create the image. The kicker is that the device—which kind of resembles a Roomba--costs under $1,000, and it works just like a point-and-shoot camera. You simply attach a tag called a target to the person or object you want to scan and snap the picture. Then, you can work with the image and export it in a variety of formats."
laejoh writes "An aeroplane enthusiast has taken his obsession a step further than most after using his son's bedroom to build a Boeing 737 flight simulator that exactly mimics the real thing. Laurent Aigon, 40, from Lacanau in France, has spent the last five years collecting and buying components from around the world with best friend and fellow enthusiast (obviously) Jean-Paul Dupuy. The pair spent thousands of euros on internet orders for bits and pieces to construct the simulator – which is so realistic that the Institute of Aircraft Maintenance at Bordeaux-Merignac Airport asked him to give a lecture on his achievement. Mr Aigon has since schooled himself in all the procedures for take off and landing and says he is able to fly his 'plane' just like a real-life pilot."
Nerval's Lobster writes "This year's Black Hat conference wasn't just about the NSA director defending his agency's surveillance practices (and getting a bit heckled in the process). Other topics included hacking iOS devices via a modified charging station, eavesdropping on smartphones via compromised femtocells, demonstrating a password-security testing tools that leverage AWS (and 9TB of rainbow tables) to crush weak passwords, and compromising RFID tags with impunity. What was your favorite news out of Black Hat?"
dcblogs writes "The founder of the UpTime Institute, Kenneth G. Brill, 69, died Tuesday, the institute's parent company announced. Brill, an electrical engineer by training, is credited with playing an enormous role in shaping the modern data center industry. 'He singled-handedly crafted an industry out of nothing,' said Mike Manos, the chief technology officer at AOL, who had known Brill since the late 1990s. Until Brill's efforts, enterprises had been defining and measuring data centers in their own way, said Manos. 'There was no commonality.' Today, 'you can't go anywhere in the world without people talking about tier 1, tier 2, tier 3 data centers — it's that fundamental,' he said. In 2011, following Amazon's prolong outage, Brill warned that the perceived reliability of large cloud providers was going to lead to problems. 'There will always be an advocate for how it can be done cheaper, [but] if you haven't had a failure for five years — who is the advocate for reliability?' said Brill. 'My prediction is that in the years ahead, we will see more failures than we have been seeing, because people have forgotten what we had to do to get to where we are.'"
adeelarshad82 writes "After months of speculation, leaks, and cryptic tweets, Motorola's new flagship smartphone is upon us. The Moto X runs Android 4.2.2 and is powered by the new Motorola X8 mobile computing system that includes several chips: a 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, as well as a natural language processor and a contextual computing processor that handles the sensors. The phone carries a 4.7-inch, 1,280-by-720 display with 316 pixels per inch. Also since the phone features an active display, time and other selected alerts — text messages, missed calls, etc. — are shown without having to wake up your phone. Among the other features that Motorola talked up was the touchless control. Once activated, you can talk to your Moto X from up to 15 feet away. The Moto X differentiates itself from the other droid phones with customization options, and since Motorola is assembling the Moto X in Fort Worth, Texas, the company expects users to have their customized Moto X within four days of placing an order."
The EFF posted a biting response to yesterday's Ninth Circuit ruling that heavily weights celebrities' right to privacy, and construes that right very broadly. From the EFF summary of the case: "The plaintiff, Sam Keller, brought the case to challenge Electronic Art (EA)'s use of his likeness in its videogame NCAA Football. This game includes realistic digital avatars of thousands of college players. The game never used Keller’s name, but it included an avatar with his jersey number, basic biographical information, and statistics. Keller sued EA claiming that the game infringed his right of publicity — an offshoot of privacy law that gives a person the right to limit the public use of her name, likeness and/or identity for commercial purposes. ... Two judges on the panel found that EA’s depiction of Keller was not transformative. They reasoned that the 'use does not qualify for First Amendment protection as a matter of law because it literally recreates Keller in the very setting in which he has achieved renown.'" The piece later notes that this reasoning "could impact an extraordinary range of protected speech."
DavidGilbert99 writes "Apple's iOs has been known as a bastion of security for many years, but three researchers have now shown iPhones and iPads can be hacked in just under 60 seconds using nothing more than a charger. OK, so it's not just a charger — but the Mactans charger does delete an official app (say Facebook) replacing it with an official-looking one which is actually malware which could access your contacts, messages, emails, phone calls and even capture your passwords. Apple says it will fix the flaw, but not until the release of iOS 7, the date of which hasn't been confirmed yet. So watch out for chargers left lying around ..." (For less in the way of auto-playing video ads with sound, check out the Mac Observer's take, which concludes "[I]t's nifty that Apple is addressing the issue in iOS 7. We'd also like to see it fixed in iOS 6. Apple has historically seen iPhone users upgrade to the newest version iOS in staggeringly high numbers, but eliminating this problem across the board seems the wiser choice.")
EzInKy writes "This BBC article provides details of the script the United Kingdom's Queen was to deliver in the event of a nuclear holocaust. The document, released by the government under the 30-year rule, was drawn up as part of a war-gaming exercise in the spring of 1983, working through potential scenarios. In it, the Queen was expected to urge the people of the United Kingdom to 'pray' in the event of a nuclear war. Although it was only a simulation, the text of the Queen's address — written as if broadcast at midday on Friday 4 March 1983 — seeks to prepare the country for the ordeal of World War III. The script reads: 'Now this madness of war is once more spreading through the world and our brave country must again prepare itself to survive against great odds. I have never forgotten the sorrow and the pride I felt as my sister and I huddled around the nursery wireless set listening to my father's inspiring words on that fateful day in 1939. Not for a single moment did I imagine that this solemn and awful duty would one day fall to me. But whatever terrors lie in wait for us all, the qualities that have helped to keep our freedom intact twice already during this sad century will once more be our strength.'" I prefer Tom Lehrer's approach.
First time accepted submitter rjmarvin writes "Digital marketing company FLLU, hired by Samsung to promote SSAC, offered $500 to StackOverflow users to pose 'casual and organic' questions over the next month about the 2013 Challenge. Android developer Delyan Kratunov turned them down, then posted the whole exchange on his blog. Outrage, of course, ensued." Sorry, no bounty on the comments below.
ckwu writes "Researchers in Hong Kong have found a beneficial new use for the electronic waste from discarded cell phones, computers, and other gadgets. Ground up into a powder, printed circuit boards from these products could sponge up another type of pollution — toxic heavy metals in water. The researchers processed the nonmetallic fraction of waste circuit boards into a powder and found that it adsorbed metals like copper, lead, and zinc more efficiently than commercially available industrial adsorbents."
Sumall CEO Dane Atkinson is not only a William Gibson fan, but actually knows Mr. Gibson rather well. For another, he soon jumped off the business topic, let his inner idealist take the stage, and started talking about how we, as individuals, can use Sumall's (free) service to track ourselves much the way NSA and big businesses do, and how we can see at least some of what they know about us. Then we started talking about how political candidates, parties, and even revolutionaries can (and do) use Sumall to track results of their actions -- and how cults and dictatorships do, too. The interview moves into subversive territory at around 7:40, but if you watch/listen from the beginning you'll get a more complete grasp of how this particular Big Data subset works, whether it's for small business marketing or as a way to justify your personal paranoia level.
waderoush writes "While Santa Cruz, CA, may be most famous for its surfing, its boardwalk, and its lax marijuana laws, it was also the birthplace of big tech companies like Plantronics, Borland Software, SCO, Seagate Technologies, and Netflix. But that was all a long time ago. As entrepreneurs and city leaders in Santa Cruz work to revive the city's technology scene today, they're starting largely from scratch. In a three-part series this week, Xconomy looks at efforts in this sunny beachside town to build a thriving high-tech ecosystem with a unique identity, separate from that of nearby Silicon Valley. Part 1 surveys the products and industries that make up the Santa Cruz brand, from sports and recreation to organic food. Part 2 looks at the city's past technology successes and its crop of emerging startups, and efforts to build a strong local network of startup mentors, advisors, and investors. Part 3 details efforts to increase the local talent supply, in part by encouraging more students from UC Santa Cruz to live and work in the city after they graduate; it also looks at the city's campaign to reverse perceptions that it's an anti-business haven for beach bums and pot smokers."
ectoman writes "This week, a coalition of more than 40 companies sent a letter to Congress asking for legislation that expands the Covered Business Method (CBM) program, a move some feel would stem patent abuse in the United States. Expanding the scope of CBM—a program that grants the Patent and Trademark Office the power to challenge the validity of certain business methods patents—would expedite the patent review process and significantly cut litigation costs, they say. "The vague and sweeping scope of many business method claims covering straight forward, common sense steps has led to an explosion of patent claims against processes used every day in common technologies by thousands of businesses and millions of Americans," says the letter, signed by companies like Amazon, Netflix, Red Hat, Macy's, and Kroger)."
An anonymous reader writes "Massachusetts resident Michele Catalano was looking for information online about pressure cookers. Her husband, in the same time frame, was Googling backpacks. Wednesday morning, six men from a joint terrorism task force showed up at their house to see if they were terrorists. Which raises the question: How'd the government know what they were Googling?"
RockDoctor writes "Stuff magazine, a gadget oriented mag, is reporting that the UK's Department for Transport is planning to ban drivers from using Google Glass, using the same law (1988 Road Traffic Act) that is used to ban drivers from using hand-held mobile phones. While there are obvious parallels between the distraction potential of the mobile phone and of Glass, there are arguments in the other direction that the speech-control aspects of Glass could make it less distracting than, say, a touch-screen SatNav. So, to ban Glass while driving or not? Typical fines for using a mobile phone while driving are £60 cash plus three penalty points on the driving license; the points expire three years after the offence and if you accumulate 12 points then you've lost your license. Repeat offenders may experience higher fines and/ or more points. Around a million people have received the penalty since the mobile phone ban was introduced in 2003."
The Bad Astronomer writes "A thousand years ago, the light from the explosion of a massive star reached the Earth. We now call this supernova remnant the Crab Nebula, and a new image of the Crab taken by astronomer Adam Block shows the physical expansion of the debris, made obvious in a short video comparing his 2012 observations with some taken in 1999. The outward motion of filaments and knots in the material can be easily traced even over this relatively short time baseline."
itwbennett writes "A pair of decisions by Motorola and Ubuntu to settle for 'good enough' when it comes to screen resolution for the Ubuntu Edge and the Moto X raises the question: Have we reached the limit of resolution improvements that people with average vision can actually notice?" Phone vs. laptop vs. big wall-mounted monitor seems an important distinction; the 10-foot view really is different.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Developer and editor Jeff Cogswell asks: When it comes to implementing a CouchDB installation, do you roll your own, or go with a service that provides a hosted version of the database? He takes a look at some of the technologies present in CouchDB that can greatly influence that decision. His conclusion? Like all things, it's a little complicated. 'If you're going to be self-hosting—unless you're working on a really small system—don't use the basic CouchDB for anything,' he writes. 'If you want scalability, either go with Couchbase or BigCouch, or wait until Cloudant's BigCouch merger into CouchDB is officially available.' But going with a host also creates its own things to watch for, including potential issues with replication and eventual consistency."
sfcrazy writes "The father of Linux, Linus Torvalds, once said, 'If Microsoft ever does applications for Linux it means I've won.' Microsoft yesterday released one of its cash cows, Microsoft Office, for Android. Since Microsoft has a very vague idea of what users want and is suffering from lock-in, the app is just an Android front end of Office 365 and is accessible only by the paid users. There are already quite a lot of office suites available on Android including Office Pro, QuickOffice and KingSoft, so Microsoft will have to struggle there. Still it's a Microsoft core application coming to Linux. So, it looks like Linus has won."
AlistairCharlton writes "Facebook is continuing with plans to launch news feed video adverts, but has faced setbacks with CEO Mark Zuckerberg twice delaying the project amid fears of tainting the user experience. Reports claim Facebook will soon add 15-second video adverts to users' news feeds in a bid to lure big spenders away from traditional television ads and onto the social network." For some reason, video ads bother me little on sites like YouTube (where the content is visual, sound isn't a big surprise, and the ads are usually quickly interruptable), but otherwise they make me cringe and wish for a nuclear-enabled ad blocker.
IndoorGPSguy writes "Gigaom is reporting Boston-based startup ByteLight has launched a new product called LFC (Light Field Communication). This technology is a new alternative to NFC. It works by transmitting data through an LFC terminal, which is then picked up by the camera on any smartphone. Customers can tap their phones for mobile loyalty programs and mobile payments. It works on any smartphone with a camera, unlike NFC, which doesn't work on iPhones. Gigaom writes: "According to ByteLight, the advantage in using LFC over NFC isn't just accessibility (nearly all smartphones have cameras while NFC chips are harder to come by), but also expense and flexibility.""
New submitter kc9jud writes "The BBC is reporting that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia. According to his lawyer, Snowden has received the necessary papers to leave the transit zone at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, and the airport press office is reporting that Snowden left the airport at 14:00 local time (10:00 GMT). A tweet from Wikileaks indicates that Snowden has been granted temporary asylum and may stay in the Russian Federation for up to one year." Reader Cenan adds links to coverage at CNN, and other readers have pointed out versions of the story at Reuters and CBS.
An anonymous reader writes "There's some good news if you use NVIDIA graphics on (Ubuntu) Linux or FreeBSD with their binary graphics driver: the OpenGL performance is comparable to Windows 8. Unfortunately, that's not the same for Intel graphics and AMD doesn't even offer a Catalyst driver for FreeBSD. FreeBSD offers a binary Linux compatibility layer to run games at the same (or better) performance as Linux, but unfortunately it's capped to running Linux x86 binaries and NVIDIA is the only GPU vendor with proper BSD graphics driver support."
Bismillah writes "Australia's national science and research agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization or CSIRO, has netted hundreds of millions on developing the near-ubiquitous Wi-Fi technology — and patenting it. Now however the patent is about to expire in the United States and eighteen other markets and the question is, can CSIRO come up with anything similarly successful in the future?"
Okian Warrior writes in about a package of heroin that found its way to the door of Brian Krebs. "'Fans' of [security researcher Brian Krebs] have shown their affection in some curious ways. One called in a phony hostage situation that resulted in a dozen heavily armed police surrounding my home. Another opened a $20,000 new line of credit in my name. Others sent more than $1,000 in bogus PayPal donations from hacked accounts. Still more admirers paid my cable bill for the next three years using stolen credit cards. Malware authors have even used my name and likeness to peddle their wares. But the most recent attempt to embarrass and fluster this author easily takes the cake as the most elaborate: Earlier this month, the administrator of an exclusive cybercrime forum hatched and executed a plan to purchase heroin, have it mailed to my home, and then spoof a phone call from one of my neighbors alerting the local police. Thankfully, I had already established a presence on his forum and was able to monitor the scam in real time and alert my local police well in advance of the delivery."
Lucas123 writes "Researchers using a RepRap open source 3D printer found that the average household could save as much as $2,000 annually and recoup the cost of the printer in under a year by printing out common household items. The Michigan Technical University (MTU) research group printed just 20 items and used 'conservative' numbers to find that the average homeowner could print common products, such as shower rings or smartphone cases, for far less money than purchasing them online at discount Websites, such as Google Shopper. 'It cost us about $18 to print all  items... the lowest retail cost we could find for the same items online was $312 and the highest was $1,943,' said Joshua Pearce, an associate professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at MTU. 'The unavoidable conclusion from this study is that the RepRap [3D printers] is an economically attractive investment for the average U.S. household already.'"