itwbennett writes "The Wall Street Journal has a handy online calculator to help you sort out which phone plan is best for you. But one thing you'll notice is that shared or 'family' plans rarely offer any real savings, or benefits beyond the convenience of having a single bill, says blogger Kevin Purdy, who is bracing himself to propose a phone plan separation with his wife."
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An anonymous reader writes "The Pirate Bay, arguably the most resilient file sharing website, was first founded on August 9, 2003, although it didn't launch until September 15, 2003. Nevertheless, the group considers the former date to be its start, so today The Pirate Bay is 10 years old. From their blog: 'We really didn't think we'd make it this far. Not because of cops, mafiaa or corrupt politicians. But because we thought that we'd eventually be to old for this shit. But hey, running this ship makes us feel young.'"
kdryer39 writes "Germany's leading telecom provider announced on Friday that it will only use German servers to handle any email traffic over its systems, citing privacy concerns arising from the recent PRISM leak and its 'public outrage over U.S. spy programs accessing citizens' private messages.' In a related move, DT has also announced that they will be providing email services over SSL to further secure their customers' communications. Sandro Gaycken, a professor of cyber security at Berlin's Free University, said 'This will make a big difference...Of course the NSA could still break in if they wanted to, but the mass encryption of emails would make it harder and more expensive for them to do so.'"
New submitter meglon writes "NASA will lose access to important real-time information on tracking orbital debris if the order of Gen. William Shelton, commander of Air Force Space Command, is carried out. The Space Fence, the only monitoring system of its kind, will cease to function on October 1st. 'Deployed in the 1960s, the VHF Space Fence includes three transmitter sites and six receiving stations. It is responsible for approximately 40 percent of all observations performed by the Air Force-run Space Surveillance Network, which includes other ground-and space-based sensor assets, said Brian Weeden, technical adviser at the Secure World Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to space sustainability. ... A full-scale development contract for an updated version of the Space Fence had been expected in 2012 or early 2013, but on July 16, Shelton said the multibillion-dollar project is being held up due to a wide-ranging Pentagon review that includes major acquisition programs. The review is examining scenarios under which the Pentagon’s budget is cut by $150 billion, $250 billion and $500 billion during the next decade.'"
New submitter Jim_Austin writes "A note inadvertently left in the 'supplemental information' of a journal article appears to instruct a subordinate scientist to fabricate data. Quoting: 'The first author of the article, "Synthesis, Structure, and Catalytic Studies of Palladium and Platinum Bis-Sulfoxide Complexes," published online ahead of print in the American Chemical Society (ACS) journal Organometallics, is Emma E. Drinkel of the University of Zurich in Switzerland. The online version of the article includes a link to this supporting information file. The bottom of page 12 of the document contains this instruction: "Emma, please insert NMR data here! where are they? and for this compound, just make up an elemental analysis ..." We are making no judgments here. We don't know who wrote this, and some commenters have noted that "just make up" could be an awkward choice of words by a non-native speaker of English who intended to instruct his student to make up a sample and then conduct the elemental analysis. Other commenters aren't buying it.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Microsoft plans to raise the price of the Datacenter edition of the upcoming R2 release of Windows Server 2012 by 28 percent, adding to what analysts call a record number of price increases for enterprise software products from Redmond. According to licensing data sheets available for download from the Windows Server 2012 R2 Website (PDF), the price of a single license of Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter will be $6,155, compared to $4,809 today—plus the cost of a Client Access Licenses for every user or device connecting to the server. News of the increase was posted yesterday by datacenter virtualization and security specialist Aidan Finn, a six-time Microsoft MVP who works for Dublin-based value added reseller MicroWarehouse Ltd. and has done work for clients including Amdahl, Fujitsu and Barclays. The increase caps off a year filled with a record number of price increases for Microsoft enterprise software, according to a Tweet yesterday from Microsoft software licensing analyst Paul DeGroot of Pica Communications."
An anonymous reader writes "At Rough Type, Nicholas Carr examines the surprisingly sharp drop in the growth rate for e-book sales. In the U.S., the biggest e-book market, annual sales growth dropped to just 5% in the first quarter of this year, according to the Association of American Publishers, while the worldwide e-book market actually shrank slightly, according to Nielsen. E-books now account for about 25% of total U.S. book sales — still a long way from the dominance most people expected. Carr speculates about various reasons e-books may be losing steam. He wonders in particular about 'the possible link between the decline in dedicated e-readers (as multitasking tablets take over) and the softening of e-book sales. Are tablets less conducive to book buying and reading than e-readers were?' He suggests that the e-book may end up playing a role more like the audiobook — a complement to printed books rather than a replacement."
Today President Obama held a press conference to address the situation surrounding the NSA's surveillance activities. (Here is the full transcript.) He announced four actions the administration is undertaking to restore the public's confidence in the intelligence community. Obama plans to work with Congress to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to give greater weight to civil liberties, and to revisit section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which is the section that allowed bulk collection of phone records. (Of course, "will work with Congress" is a vague term, and Congress isn't known for getting things done lately. Thus, it remains to be seen if anything substantive happens.) Obama is ordering the Dept. of Justice to make public their legal rationale for data collection, and there will be a new NSA official dedicated to transparency efforts. There will also be a new website for citizens to learn about transparency in intelligence agencies. Lastly, a group of outside experts will be convened to review the government's surveillance capabilities. Their job will include figuring out how to maintain the public's trust and prevent abuse, and to consider how the intelligence community's actions will affect foreign policy. In addition to these initiatives, President Obama made his position very clear about several different aspects of this controversy. While acknowledging that "we have significant capabilities," he said, "America is not interested in spying on ordinary people." He added that the people who have raised concerns about privacy and government overreach in a lawful manner are "patriots." This is in stark contrast to his view of leakers like Edward Snowden: "I don't think Mr. Snowden was a patriot." (For his part, Snowden says the recent shut down of encrypted email services is 'inspiring.') When asked about how his opinion of the surveillance programs have changed, he said his perception of them has not evolved since the story broke worldwide. "What you're not seeing is people actually abusing these programs." Obama also endorsed finding technological solutions that will protect privacy regardless of what government agencies want to do.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Turnout for local elections in New York City was 33.7 percent in 2010, according to Fair Vote. And while some apps and startups are looking to resurrect turnouts in future elections, most candidates still couldn't tell you how they work or why they might be necessary. Benjamin Kallos is a candidate for New York City Council's fifth district, which includes the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island, and has his sights on modernizing the electoral process. He's campaigning on a high-tech platform that he says aims to deepen technology's role in promoting transparency, inclusion, and accountability within pockets of New York City's voting pool that remain largely disengaged."
theodp writes "Bret Victor's The Future of Programming (YouTube video; Vimeo version) should probably be required viewing this fall for all CS majors — and their professors. For his recent DBX Conference talk, Victor took attendees back to the year 1973, donning the uniform of an IBM systems engineer of the times, delivering his presentation on an overhead projector. The '60s and early '70s were a fertile time for CS ideas, reminds Victor, but even more importantly, it was a time of unfettered thinking, unconstrained by programming dogma, authority, and tradition. 'The most dangerous thought that you can have as a creative person is to think that you know what you're doing,' explains Victor. 'Because once you think you know what you're doing you stop looking around for other ways of doing things and you stop being able to see other ways of doing things. You become blind.' He concludes, 'I think you have to say: "We don't know what programming is. We don't know what computing is. We don't even know what a computer is." And once you truly understand that, and once you truly believe that, then you're free, and you can think anything.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Time Magazine reports that in and effort to involve non-rocket scientists in the next mission to the Red Planet, NASA invited the public in May to submit haiku, three line poems where 'the first and last lines must have exactly five syllables each and the middle line must have exactly seven syllables.' NASA promised to select five winners that will be adhered to the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) before it is launched towards Martian airspace. 'The Going to Mars campaign offers people worldwide a way to make a personal connection to space, space exploration, and science in general, and share in our excitement about the MAVEN mission,' said Stephanie Renfrow, lead for the MAVEN Education and Public Outreach program at CU/LASP. More than 15,000 entries were submitted by space geeks and poets the world over. A couple thousand were disqualified as too long, too short, or totally inappropriate, leaving about 12,500. The public voted online, and the five top vote-getters have been announced." The winner:
It's funny, they named
Mars after the God of War
Have a look at Earth
It's funny, they named
Mars after the God of War
Have a look at Earth
barlevg sends this excerpt from an article at MotherJones: "It was a stunning figure: $60 trillion. Such could be the cost, according to a recent commentary in Nature, of 'the release of methane from thawing permafrost beneath the East Siberian Sea, off northern Russia... a figure comparable to the size of the world economy in 2012.' More specifically, the paper described a scenario in which rapid Arctic warming and sea ice retreat lead to a pulse of undersea methane being released into the atmosphere. How much methane? The paper modeled a release of 50 gigatons of this hard-hitting greenhouse gas (a gigaton is equal to a billion metric tons) between 2015 and 2025. This, in turn, would trigger still more warming and gargantuan damage and adaptation costs. ... According to the Nature commentary, that methane 'is likely to be emitted as the seabed warms, either steadily over 50 years or suddenly.' Such are the scientific assumptions behind the paper's economic analysis. But are those assumptions realistic—and could that much methane really be released suddenly from the Arctic? A number of prominent scientists and methane experts interviewed for this article voiced strong skepticism about the Nature paper.'"
Lucas123 writes "With 3D NAND flash going into high production and one startup demonstrating a resistive NAND (RRAM) flash array, it may not be long before mobile devices have hundreds of gigabytes of capacity, even a terabyte, with performance only limited by the bus. Samsung announced it is now mass producing three-dimensional (3D) Vertical NAND (V-NAND) chips, and start-up Crossbar said it has created a prototype of its RRAM chip. Both technologies offer many times what current NAND flash chips offer today in capacity and performance. Which technology will prevail is still up in the air, and experts believe it will be years before RRAM can challenge NAND, but it's almost inevitable that RRAM will overtake NAND as even 3D NAND heads for an inevitable dead end. Others believe 3D NAND, currently at 24 layers, could reach more than 100, giving it a lifespan of five or more years."
sl4shd0rk writes "NSA Director Keith Alexander has decided that the best way to prevent illegal data leaks is to reduce the number of ears and eyes involved. During a talk at a cybersecurity conference in New York this week, Alexander revealed his plans to cut 90% of the System Administration workforce at the NSA. 'What we're in the process of doing — not fast enough — is reducing our system administrators by about 90 percent,' he said. Alluding to an issue of mistrust, Alexander further clarified: 'At the end of the day it's about people and trust ... if they misuse that trust they can cause huge damage.' Apparently, breaking the law and lying about it leaves one without a sense of irony when speaking in public."
sciencehabit writes "A new study suggests that all the reviews you read on Yelp and Amazon are easily manipulated. It's not that companies are stacking the deck, necessarily, it's that a few positive comments early on can influence future commenters. In fact, when researchers gamed the system on a real news aggregation site, the items received fake positive votes from the researchers were 32% more likely to receive more positive votes compared with a control (abstract). And those comments were no more likely than the control to be down-voted by the next viewer to see them. By the end of the study, positively manipulated comments got an overall boost of about 25%. However, the same did not hold true for negative manipulation. The ratings of comments that got a fake down vote were usually negated by an up vote by the next user to see them."
hypnosec writes "Raynaldo Rivera, who went by the online moniker 'neuron', has been sentenced to a one-year prison term, 13 months of home detention, 1,000 hours of community service and has been ordered to pay over $600,000 in restitution. Rivera pleaded guilty in October 2012 to charges of conspiring to cause damage to a protected computer after participating in the attack on Sony Pictures in 2011. The court documents note that the main motive of the Lulzsec hacking collective, and offshoot of Anonymous, during its two-month hacking rampage and attacks on corporate and government entities like the Sony Pictures, was to see the 'raw, uninterrupted, chaotic thrill of entertainment and anarchy.'"
Okian Warrior writes "Silent Circle shuttered its encrypted e-mail service on Thursday, in an apparent attempt to avoid government scrutiny that may threaten its customers' privacy. The company announced that it could 'see the writing on the wall' and decided it would be best to shut down its Silent Mail feature. 'We’ve been debating this for weeks, and had changes planned starting next Monday. We’d considered phasing the service out, continuing service for existing customers, and a variety of other things up until today. It is always better to be safe than sorry, and with your safety we decided that the worst decision is always no decision.' The company said it was inspired by the closure earlier Thursday of Lavabit, another encrypted e-mail service provider that alluded to a possible national security investigation." Does anyone have replacement recommendations for people who used these services?
SmartAboutThings writes "More bad news for Microsoft: Acer is apparently rethinking their Windows strategy, planning to offer fewer Microsoft products and focus more on products delivered by Redmond's rival Google, in the form of Chromebooks and Android devices. This comes after Acer's second-quarter earnings call, where the Taiwanese company posted a surprise second-quarter loss, having unexpected lower sales and rising expenses. Acer's change of plans comes not long after Asus' CEO announced that the company would no longer make Windows RT products until Microsoft proves there's real demand."
colin_faber writes "Right on the heels of the Bill Gates BusinessWeek article discussing the importance of disease prevention and cure over technological deployment is news from CNN that U.S. researchers may have a viable vaccine for malaria. If true, this could change the lives of up to 3.3 billion people living in malaria danger zones and allow us to do away with this disease, which kills hundreds of thousands of people."
kdryer39 writes "Retailers in Richmond upon Thames are among the first to allow shoppers to leave their wallets at home and pay for items using just the PayPal app and their profile picture. The app for iOS, Windows OS and Android phones highlights nearby shops and restaurants that accept PayPal before the customer checks in by clicking on the required retailer and sliding an animated pin down on their screen. At present, only 12 merchants are using the system but it expects more than 2,000 locations will have the ability to use the app by the end of 2013."
ancientribe writes "Hackers who hack insulin pumps, heart monitors, HVAC systems, home automation systems, and cars are finding some life-threatening security flaws in these newly networked consumer devices, but their work is often dismissed or demonized by those industries and the policymakers who govern their safety. A grass-roots movement is now under way to help bridge this dangerous gap between the researcher community and consumer product policymakers and manufacturers. The security experts driving this effort appealed to the DEF CON 21 hacking conference audience to help them recruit intermediaries who can speak both hacker and consumer product and policy."
Zothecula writes "Some of the most advanced work in autonomous aerial robotics is not done by DARPA, or by massive corporations. Rather, it is accomplished by teams of university students who participate in the International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC). For the past 23 years, the IARC has challenged college teams with missions requiring complex autonomous robotic behaviors that are often beyond the capabilities of even the most sophisticated military robots. This year's competition, which was held in China and the United States over the past week, saw the team from Tsinghua University in Beijing successfully complete the current mission – an elaborate espionage operation known as Mission Six."