jrepin writes "Which day could be better suited for publishing a set of Hurd package releases than the GNU project's 30th birthday? These new releases bundle bug fixes and enhancements done since the last releases more than a decade ago; really too many (both years and improvements) to list them individually, The GNU Hurd is the GNU project's replacement for the Unix kernel. It is a collection of servers that run on the Mach microkernel to implement file systems, network protocols, file access control, and other features that are implemented by the Unix kernel or similar kernels (such as Linux)."
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McGruber writes "Gigaom's Jeff John Roberts reports that Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (MSLO) has filed a lawsuit against Lodsys, a shell company that gained infamy two years ago by launching a wave of legal threats against small app makers, demanding they pay for using basic internet technology like in-app purchases or feedback surveys. In the complaint filed this week in federal court in Wisconsin, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia asked a judge to declare that four magazine iPad apps are not infringing Lodsys' patents, and that the patents are invalid because the so-called inventions are not new. The complaint explained how Lodsys invited the company to 'take advantage of our program' by buying licenses at $5,000 apiece. It also calls the Wisconsin court's attention to Lodsys' involvement in more than 150 Texas lawsuits. In choosing to sue Lodsys and hopefully crush its patents, Martha Stewart is choosing a far more expensive option than simply paying Lodsys to go away."
AHuxley writes "With the U.S. trying to understand the domestic role of their foreign intelligence and counterintelligence services in 2013, what can a declassified look back into the 1960s and 1970s add to the ongoing legal debate? Welcome to the world of Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel and the work done by the National Security Archive at George Washington University. Read how prominent anti-war critics and U.S. senators were tracked, and who was on the late-1960s NSA watch list, from Rev. Martin Luther King to civil rights leader Whitney Young, boxer Muhammad Ali, Tom Wicker, the Washington bureau chief and Washington Post columnist Art Buchwald, and Sen. Howard Baker (R-Tenn.). The NSA was aware of the legality of its work and removed all logos or classification markings, using the term 'For Background Use Only.' Even back then, NSA director at the time, Lew Allen noted: "appeared to be a possible violation of constitutional guarantees" (from page 86 of this PDF). What did the NSA think about signals intelligence sites in your country? See if your country makes the 'indefinite' list on page 392."
Lasrick writes "Motherboard's Africa correspondent, Amanda Sperber, has a great piece on how protesters in Sudan are getting around the government's shutdown of the internet. Quoting: 'Since Wednesday afternoon, Sudan's internet has been sporadically shut off amid a fifth day of protests against President Omar al Bashir's regime. Despite the attempt to cut off communications and limit organization and reporting on the ground, a group of tech-savvy people based in Khartoum have developed a map for recording key data about the protests that's powered by cell networks. '"
pacopico writes "About 30 years ago, a young Marine and math savant named Ramona Pierson was out for a run when she got hit by a drunk driver and had her body shattered. As Businessweek reports, Pierson ended up in coma for 18 months, came out blind and emaciated and was sent to live in an old folks home. Her remarkable story takes off from there to include bike racing through Russia, a PhD in neuroscience, a stint fixing Seattle's public schools, and now Declara, a social network run by Pierson and funded by billioniare Peter Thiel, who put the original money into Facebook. One of the more original start-up tales to have ever come out of Silicon Valley or really anywhere."
Nerval's Lobster writes "In 2012, hurricane Sandy smacked the East Coast and did significant damage to New Jersey, New York City, and other areas. Flooding knocked many datacenters in Manhattan offline, temporarily taking down a whole lot of Websites in the process. Now that fall (and the tail end of hurricane season) is upon us again, any number of datacenters and IT companies are probably looking over their disaster-preparedness checklists in case another storm comes barreling through. Ryan Murphey, who heads up design and capacity planning for PEER 1 (which kept its Manhattan datacenter running during the storm by creating a makeshift bucket brigade to carry fuel to the building's 17th floor), offers a couple basic tips for possibly mitigating damage from the next infrastructure-crushing disaster, including setting up emergency response teams and arranging contracts for maintenance and fuel in advance."
bednarz writes "In four days, the health insurance marketplaces mandated by the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act are scheduled to open for business. Yet even before the sites launch, problems are emerging. Final security testing of the federal data hub isn't slated to happen until Sept. 30, one day before the rollout. Lawmakers have raised significant concerns about the ability of the system to protect personal health records and other private information. 'Lots and lots of late nights and weekends as people get ready for go-live,' says Patrick Howard, who leads Deloitte Consulting's public sector state health care practice."
Daniel_Stuckey writes "The current test vehicle uses what Nissan calls its 'Advanced Driver Assist System,' which isn't fully autonomous, but rather can be thought of as a really advanced cruise control system. According to the company, the system can keep a car in its own lane, while automatically changing lanes to pass slower vehicles or prepare to exit a freeway, which it can also do automatically. Along with that, the car automatically slows for congestion, and — most impressively in my opinion — can automatically stop at red lights. In other words, the car isn't fully automatic in that you can't simply type in a destination and have it do all the work, but the bulk of driving load is taken care of. Curiously, Nissan's goal appears to be to take sloppy human drivers out of the equation to eliminate road fatalities."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "CNN reports that Jared James Abrahams, a 19-year-old computer science student, has been arrested for allegedly hijacking the webcams of young women — among them reigning Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf — taking nude images, then blackmailing his victims to send him more explicit material or else be exposed. Abrahams admitted he had 30 to 40 'slave computers' — or other people's electronic devices he controlled — and has had as many as 150 total. His arrest came six months after a teenager identified in court documents as C.W. alerted authorities. She has since publicly identified herself as Cassidy Wolf, the recently crowned Miss Teen USA. Wolf received messages featuring pictures of her at her Riverside County address and others apparently taken months earlier when she lived in Orange County, says the criminal complaint (PDF). The message explained 'what's going to happen' if Wolf didn't send pictures or videos or 'do what I tell you to do' in a five-minute Skype videoconference, according to the criminal complaint. 'Either you do one of the things listed below or I upload these pics and a lot more (I have a LOT more and those are better quality) on all your accounts for everybody to see and your dream of being a model will be transformed into a pornstar (sic),' wrote Abrahams. FBI agents raided Abrahams' Temecula home in June and seized computers and hardware, cellphones and hacking software, court records show. Outside the court, Abrahams' lawyer, Alan Eisner, said that his client's family feels 'profound regret and remorse' over what happened. Eisner told CNN affiliate KTLA that Abrahams is autistic. 'The family wants to apologize for the consequences of his behavior to the families who were affected.'"
Today Valve unveiled their third and final announcement about living room gaming: a Steam controller. The company made the determination that existing gamepads simply weren't good enough for bringing PC games to the living room, so they made their own. Instead of having directional pads or thumb sticks, the Steam controller has two circular trackpads. The trackpads are also clickable, and Valve claims they provide much higher fidelity than any previous controller trackpad. Valve also eschewed the traditional 'rumble' feedback mechanism: "The Steam Controller is built around a new generation of super-precise haptic feedback, employing dual linear resonant actuators. These small, strong, weighted electro-magnets are attached to each of the dual trackpads. They are capable of delivering a wide range of force and vibration, allowing precise control over frequency, amplitude, and direction of movement." The center of the controller holds a clickable touchscreen. "When programmed by game developers using our API, the touch screen can work as a scrolling menu, a radial dial, provide secondary info like a map or use other custom input modes we haven't thought of yet." The design also breaks up the common diamond-shaped button layout, instead putting the A B X Y buttons at the corners of the touchscreen. The controller is designed to be hackable, and Valve will "make tools available that will enable users to participate in all aspects of the experience, from industrial design to electrical engineering." The controller is being beta tested concurrently with the Steam Machines they announced on Wednesday, so you can expect them to be on sale in 2014.
Thirty years ago, rms wrote: "Free Unix! Starting this Thanksgiving I am going to write a complete Unix-compatible software system called GNU (for Gnu's Not Unix), and give it away free to everyone who can use it. Contributions of time, money, programs and equipment are greatly needed." And thus began the revolution. Thirty years after posting the initial announcement, it's hard to find someone who hasn't interacted with Free Software at some point, even if they didn't realize it. To celebrate, the FSF is holding an anniversary celebration and hackathon this weekend at MIT.
TinTops writes "The IT chief of supermarket giant Tesco has said he believes there is a market for 3D printing in large supermarkets, and that it will be 'good for customers.' Mike McNamara told V3: 'I think it will help Tesco as a company, I don't think it will be a bad thing. It'll be a great thing for customers, we'll have 3D printing in our stores. As retailers you'll always adapt. So new things come along — the internet came along, we adapted to that one. We kind of have the internet version two with smartphones now, which has been a bigger impact than the wired internet, we'll adapt to that, we'll adapt to 3D printing, we'll adapt to RFID. You live, you change.' McNamara thinks 3D printers will be commonplace in stores before they start showing up in significant numbers at people's homes. This could 'give shoppers a new reason to visit shops for quick access to niche items.'"
An anonymous reader sends this story from Kotaku's Jason Schreier about the downfall of LucasArts: "Over the last five months, I've talked to a dozen people connected to LucasArts, including ex-employees at the company's highest levels, in an attempt to figure out just how the studio collapsed. Some spoke off the record; others spoke under condition of anonymity. They told me about the failed deals, the drastic shifts in direction, the cancelled projects with codenames like Smuggler and Outpost. They told me the stories behind the fantastic-looking Star Wars 1313 and the multi-tiered plans for a new Battlefront starting with the multiplayer game known as Star Wars: First Assault. All of these people helped paint a single picture: Even before Disney purchased LucasFilm, the parent company of LucasArts, in November of 2012, the studio faced serious issues. LucasArts was a company paralyzed by dysfunction, apathy, and indecision from executives at the highest levels."
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft has demoed a prototype gesture-controlled PC using an augmented version of its Kinect motion sensing system. The rig detects 16 gestures and can be used to navigate Windows 8. Microsoft said it wants gestures to complement what is possible using mouse and keyboard, rather than replacing them, and the system favors simple gestures made just above the keyboard, rather than more elaborate Minority Report-style gestures. '[A] window is maximized by clenching a fist to "grab" it and then opening the hand while moving towards the top of the keyboard. Performing the same series of gestures in reverse minimize the window. Repeating the gesture while moving the hand to the left or right edge of the keyboard docks the window with the left or right edge of the screen. The same series of gestures while moving the hand to the top left and right corners of the keyboard will throw the window to the left or right of screen, but not dock it with the edge. Bringing hands together in the middle of the keyboard and then moving them to the keyboard's left and right edge with palms down and fingers splayed will show the desktop. Repeating the gesture restores the original view.'"
theodp writes "CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen notes that the assault on the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi by armed gunmen 'was the first major terrorist attack in history in which the group that mounted the operation used Twitter to announce to the world it was responsible. The group then quickly tweeted what its rationale was for the attack and also gave operational details of the assault — all in real time.' During the massacre, a Twitter account purportedly used by the Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab tweeted, 'Like it or loathe it! our mujahideen confirmed all executions were point blank range!' The group also wrote, '#Westgate: a 14-hour standoff relayed in 1400 rounds of bullets and 140 characters of vengeance and still ongoing. Good morning Kenya!' So, what's in store for our brave new world of Social Media? 'The next logical step,' fears Bergen, 'will be for terrorists to cover their deadly operations using their own real-time live video feeds linked to sites such as Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. If that happens, terrorist attacks will become a form of theater in which terrorists not only get to write the play but also act as the primary producers of the coverage of the event.'"
ananyo writes "Hormone-disrupting chemicals may be far more prevalent in lakes and rivers than previously thought. Environmental scientists have discovered that although these compounds are often broken down by sunlight, they can regenerate at night, returning to life like zombies (abstract). Endocrine disruptors — pollutants that unbalance hormone systems — are known to harm fish, and there is growing evidence linking them to health problems in humans, including infertility and various cancers 'Risk assessments have been built on the basis that light exposure is enough to break down these products,' adds Laura Vandenberg, an endocrinologist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst who was not involved in the study. 'This work undermines that idea completely.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A panel of expert climate scientists appointed by the United Nations has come to a consensus on an upper limit for greenhouse gases. The panel says we will blow past this limit in just a few decades if emissions continue at their current pace. 'To stand the best chance of keeping the planetary warming below an internationally agreed target of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels and thus avoiding the most dangerous effects of climate change, the panel found, only about 1 trillion tons of carbon can be burned and the resulting gas spewed into the atmosphere. Just over half that amount has already been emitted since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and at current rates of energy consumption, the trillionth ton will be released around 2040, according to calculations by Myles R. Allen, a scientist at the University of Oxford and one of the authors of the new report. More than 3 trillion tons of carbon are still left in the ground as fossil fuels.' You can read a summary of the report's findings online (PDF). It says plainly, 'It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming (PDF) since the mid-20th century.'"
the agent man writes "Wired Magazine is exploring how early kids should learn to code. One of the challenges is to find the proper time in schools to teach programming. Are teachers at elementary and middle school levels really able to teach this subject? The article suggests that even very young kids can learn to program and lists a couple of early experiments as well as more established ideas including the Scalable Game Design curriculum. However, the article also suggests that programming may have to come at the cost of Foreign language learning and music."
An anonymous reader writes "What do you do with old public phone boxes hardly anyone uses? Convert them into a national network of WiFi hotspots is the answer in New Zealand. While others have converted their old phone booths into libraries, toilets, showers and even smoking booths, in New Zealand 700 hotspots will be live by 7 October with a target of 2000 by the middle of 2014. 1Gb of data will be free to customers of the incumbent operator, others have to pay for monthly access."
cold fjord writes "The New York times reports that the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Vice Chairman, Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), are moving a bill forward that would 'change but preserve' the controversial NSA phone log program. Senator Feinstein believes the program is legal, but wants to improve public confidence. The bill would reduce the time the logs could be kept, require public reports on how often it is used, and require FISA court review of the numbers searched. The bill would require Senate confirmation of the NSA director. It would also give the NSA a one week grace period in applying for permission from a court to continue surveillance of someone that travels from overseas to the United States. The situation created by someone traveling from overseas to the United States has been the source of the largest number of incidents in the US in which NSA's surveillance rules were not properly complied with. The rival bill offered by Senators Wyden (D-OR) and Udall (D-CO) which imposes tougher restrictions is considered less likely to pass."
An anonymous reader writes "Recent reports from around the net suggest that SSL certificate chain for gmail has either changed this week, or has been widely compromised. Even less-than-obvious places to look for information, such as Google's Online Security Blog, are silent. The problem isn't specific to gmail, of course, which leads me to ask: What is the canonically-accepted out-of-band means by which a new SSL certificate's fingerprint may be communicated and/or verified by end users?"
sciencehabit writes "Almost all organisms, from bacteria to mammals, have a circadian clock—a mechanism in their cells which keeps them in sync with Earth's day-and-night cycle. But many organisms follow other rhythms as well. Now, new research provides the first evidence that animals have molecular cycles independent of the circadian rhythm. They include a sea louse whose swimming patterns sync up with the tides, and a marine worm that matures and spawns in concert with the phases of the moon. The discoveries suggest that noncircadian clocks might be common and could explain a variety of biological rhythms."