Submission + - NSA: 'We're Really Screwed Now' (

cold fjord writes: Foreign Policy reports, "One of the National Security Agency's biggest defenders in Congress is suddenly at odds with the agency and calling for a top-to-bottom review ... And her long-time friends and allies are completely mystified by the switch. "We're really screwed now," one NSA official told The Cable. ... Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Dianne Feinstein said she was "totally opposed" to gathering intelligence on foreign leaders and said it was "a big problem" if President Obama didn't know the NSA was monitoring the phone calls of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. ... Perhaps most significant is her announcement that the intelligence committee "will initiate a review into all intelligence collection programs." ... If the review also touched on other intelligence agencies under the committee's jurisdiction, it could be one of the most far-reaching reviews in recent memory ... A former intelligence agency liaison to Congress said Feinstein's sudden outrage over spying on foreign leaders raised questions about how well informed she was about NSA programs and whether she'd been fully briefed by her staff. "The first question I'd ask is, what have you been doing for oversight? Second, if you've been reviewing this all along what has changed your mind?" The former official said the intelligence committees receive lengthy and detailed descriptions every year about all NSA programs, including surveillance. "They're not small books. ... They're hundreds of pages long."" — More at Lawfare

Submission + - David Cameron threatening news media

Taco Cowboy writes: British Prime Minister David Cameron has made a scary statement about the publication of Edward Snowden’s revelations.

According to David Cameron — " Newspapers which publish state secrets are giving comfort to terrorists who want to “blow up” British families "

The Prime Minister said it would be difficult for the Government to stand back if the press did not show "social responsibility" when in possession of intelligence material.

Cameron told the Commons during a statement on the EU Council: " We have a free press, it's very important the press feels it is not pre-censored from what it writes and all the rest of it. "

" The approach we have taken is to try to talk to the press and explain how damaging some of these things can be and that is why The Guardian did actually destroy some of the information and discs that they have but they've now gone on and printed further material which is damaging. "

" I don't want to have to use injunctions or D notices or the other tougher measures. I think it's much better to appeal to newspapers' sense of social responsibility.

" That is a fact. It is not a pleasant fact but it is true. We’ve seen it recently in Kenya. We saw it, whether it was Italians or British people in Amenas in Algeria. We’ve seen appalling attacks on British soil. We’ve seen it throughout Europe. "

In other words, David Cameron is blaming the news media over terrorist attacks in Kenya.

This article is compiled from the following links ---

Submission + - Both Firefox and Chrome will EOL on XP shortly after April (

Billly Gates writes: While Windows XP is still going strong the sun is rapidly setting on this old platform fast. Firefox plans to end support for XP which means no security fixes or improvements. Chrome is being discontinued a little later as well for Windows XP. Windows XP has its die hard users refusing to upgrade as they prefer the operating system or feel there is no need to change. Many of them also have been on slashdot proudly proclaiming to still use it when not running MacOSX or Linux. The story would not be as big of a deal if it were not for the feared XPopacalypse with a major Virus/worm/trojan taking down millions of systems with no patches to ever fix them and software not being patched to protect them. Does this also mean webmasters will need to write seperate versions of CSS and javascript for older versions of Chrome and Firefox like they did with IE 6 if the user base refuses to leave Windows XP?

It is time to move on whether you are a fan of Windows XP still or not. As fellow geeks how is the best way to move these people off this old platform?

Submission + - UN Mounts Asteroid Defense Plan Following Chelyabinsk Meteor (

Philip Ross writes: Astronomers have warned that our planet is long overdue for a defense plan against catastrophic asteroid collisions. When it comes to deflecting Earth-obliterating celestial bodies, short of a superhero capable of punching the approaching rock back into outer space, there is no single force dedicated to stopping cosmic bullies from striking our little blue planet straight in the eye. That’s why the United Nations said it will establish an International Asteroid Warning Group to intercept and divert dangerous asteroids.

Submission + - Dirty Secrets Of The IT industry 1

snydeq writes: IT pros blow the whistle on the less-than-white lies and dark sides of the tech business, in Dan Tynan's 'Dirty Secrets of the IT Industry': 'Do sys admins wield power far beyond the CIO's worst nightmares? Are IT employees routinely walking off with company equipment? Can the data you store in the cloud really disappear in an instant? Are you paying far too much for tech support? ... IT pros usually know where the bodies are buried. Sometimes that's because they're the ones holding the shovel.'

Submission + - UK prime minister threatens to block further Snowden revelations

Bruce66423 writes:
so that will achieve something won't it? Don't these politicians understand that blocking publication in just the UK achieves nothing? The information is held outside the UK, and will be published there; all he's doing is showing his real colours

Submission + - Robert X Cringely: How Big Data is destroying the U.S. healthcare system (

KindMind writes: Cringely writes on the idea that technological advances have changed the health care system, and not for the better. The Idea is that companies now rate individuals instead of groups, and so move to a mode of preventing giving policies that might lose money, instead of the traditional way that insurances costs were spread over a group. From the article: "Then in the 1990s something happened: the cost of computing came down to the point where it was cost-effective to calculate likely health outcomes on an individual basis. This moved the health insurance business from being based on setting rates to denying coverage. In the U.S. the health insurance business model switched from covering as many people as possible to covering as few people as possible — selling insurance only to healthy people who didn’t much need the healthcare system."

Submission + - Australia's Oldest Bird Footprints Discovered (

Philip Ross writes: Australia’s oldest bird footprints were made 100 million year ago when dinosaurs still roamed the Australian landscape. The Early Cretaceous period fossilized footprints survive today in a slab of rock recovered from the cliffs of Dinosaur Cove, a fossil-rich area on the coast of southern Victoria near Melbourne. The discovery of the prehistoric bird tracks helps paleontologists better understand Australia’s prehistoric timeline.

Submission + - HP Claims Blu-ray, DVD and CD Drive Makers Engaged in Price Fixing for Years (

Lucas123 writes: HP has filed a lawsuit against seven makers of optical disk drive technology, claiming the companies engaged in widespread price fixing in order to drive up the cost of Blu-ray, DVD and CD drives for PC and peripheral equipment makers. The suit was filed Thursday at the district court in Houston against Toshiba, Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, NEC, TEAC and Quanta Storage. The lawsuit claims the conspiracy to drive up prices took place from at least Jan. 1, 2004 through Jan. 1, 2010, when "almost all forms of home entertainment and data storage were on optical discs" and the companies controlled 90% of the optical disk market. HP alleges the companies used industry events, such as CES, as cover to communicate competitive information and hammer out anticompetitive agreements.

Submission + - Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth wins Austria's Big Brother Award (

sfcrazy writes: Austria’s Big Brother Awards has picked Ubuntu’s founder Mark Shuttleworth for the coveted Big Brother Award for their online extension to local searches. In times like these when spying by these two countries is becoming such a huge concerned there are companies like ownCloud and Kolab Systems which are building technologies to protect users from surveillance states. At the same time it’s unfortunate to see that Canonical is going in an opposite direction by building a system which will make it easier for NSA and GCHQ to reach the hard drives of users.

Submission + - NSA intercepted 60.5 million phone calls in Spain within one month

rtoz writes: Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported that it had seen an NSA document that showed the US spy agency had intercepted 60.5 ;million phone calls in Spain between 10 December 2012 and 8 January this year. According to El Mundo, the content of the calls was not monitored but the serial and phone numbers of the handsets used, the locations, sim cards and the duration of the calls were. Emails and other social media were also monitored. The Spanish prime minister has summoned the US ambassador to discuss NSA spying allegations. Last week Monday, France called in the U.S. ambassador to protest at allegations in Le Monde newspaper about large-scale spying on French citizens by NSA.

Submission + - The Telegraph Says Coding Is For Exceptionally Dull Weirdos ( 1

mikejuk writes: The UK Government is trying to figure out how to teach children to code by changing what is taught in schools. The Telegraph, a leading UK newspaper, has put the other side of the case — Coding is for "exceptionally dull weirdo(s)"
The recent blog post
  by Willard Foxton is an amazing insight into the world of the non-programming mind.
He goes on to say:
"Coding is a niche, mechanical skill, a bit like plumbing or car repair."
So coding is a mechanical skill — I guess he must be thinking of copy typing.
"As a subject, it only appeals to a limited set of people – the aforementioned dull weirdos. There’s a reason most startup co-founders are “the charming ideas guy” paired with “the tech genius”. It’s because if you leave the tech genius on his own he’ll start muttering to himself."
Why is it I feel a bout of muttering coming on?
"If a school subject is to be taught to everyone, it needs to have a vital application in everyday life – and that’s just not true of coding."
Of course it all depends on what you mean by "vital application".
The article is reactionary and designed to get people annoyed and posting comments — just over 600 at the moment- but what is worrying is that the viewpoint will ring true with anyone dumb enough not to be able to see the bigger picture. The same attitude extends not just to programming but to all STEM subjects. The next step in the argument is — why teach physics, chemistry, biology and math (as distinct from arithmetic) to any but exceptionally dumb weirdos.

Submission + - Using Computer Simulation: In Search of the Perfect Curve Ball 1

Esther Schindler writes: We tend to think of computer simulation being used for scientific and industrial purposes. What if the technology could be used to, say, improve the performance of a Major League Baseball pitcher?

Over lunch, several Convergent Science employees – who happen to include fans of the St Louis Cardinals, the National League entry in this year’s World Series – came up with the idea of using the software to simulate Wainwright’s curve ball, says Rob Kaczmarek, the company’s director of sales and marketing. “Of course, [the Cardinals fans] went on and on about how Wainwright was going to demolish [the Red Sox] with his curveball. The seeds of simulating just what’s happening in that curveball were planted that day,” he says.

The simulation starts by subdividing the 90 feet of air from the pitcher’s mound to the plate into tiny cells, then simulates the ball cutting through these cells, and calculates the effect of each cell on the ball’s motion. "Wainwright, his pitching coach, or any other pitcher could use this tool – theoretically, at least – to analyze his motion and figure out the ideal release point (to the extent, of course, that any human can repeat a motion and release to the point of perfection every time)," writes Ron Miller.

Miller explains what that one company is doing, and briefly compares it to other options (in baseball and other sports) for analyzing performance in the effort to be just that little bit better. (He does not, however, delve into the topic of whether there ought to be a limit on such efforts; Malcolm Gladwell discussed that elsewhere in MAN AND SUPERMAN: In athletic competitions, what qualifies as a sporting chance?.)

Submission + - Even the Author of the Patriot Act Is Trying to Stop the NSA (

Daniel_Stuckey writes: Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner will introduce an anti-NSA bill tomorrow in the House, and if it makes its winding way to becoming law, it will be a big step towards curtailing the NSA's bulk metadata collection. Wisconsin Rep. Sensenbrenner, along with 60 co-sponsors, aims to amend one section of the Patriot Act, Section 215, in a bill known as the United and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring Act—also known by its less-clunky acronym version, the USA Freedom Act.

Submission + - How Kentucky Built The Country's Best Obamacare Website

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Dylan Scott writes at TPM that Kentucky, with its deeply conservative congressional delegation, might seem like an unlikely place for Obamacare to find success but the state's online health insurance web sites has become one of the best marketplaces since its launch and shown that the marketplace concept can work in practice. Kentucky routinely ranks toward the bottom in overall health, and better health coverage is one step toward reversing that norm. Whatever the federal website seems to have failed to do to ensure its success on the Oct. 1 launch, Kentucky did. It started with the commitment to build the state's own website rather than default to the federal version. On July 17, 2012, a few weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear created the exchange via executive order, over the objections of a Republican-controlled state legislature, which sought other means — including an effort to prevent the exchange from finding office space — to block the site's creation. The recipe for success in Kentucky was: A pared-down website engineered to perform the basic functions well and a concerted effort to test it as frequently as possible to work out glitches before the Oct. 1 launch. Testing was undertaken throughout every step of the process, says Carrie Banahan, kynect's executive director, and it was crucial because it allowed state officials to identify problems early in the process. She laid out the timeline like this: From January 2013 to March, they developed the system; from April to June, they built it; from July to September, they tested it. From a design standpoint, Kentucky made the conscious choice to stick to the basics, rather than seeking to blow users away with a state-of-the-art consumer interface. It “doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that other states tried to incorporate,” like interactive features, says Jennifer Tolbert. “It’s very straightforward in allowing consumers to browse plans without first creating an account.” A big part of that was knowing their demographics: A simpler site would make it easer to access for people without broadband Internet access, and the content was written at a sixth-grade reading level so it would be as easy to understand as possible. "What we've found in Kentucky when we started talking with people was that there was a huge amount of misinformation and misunderstanding. People were very confused," says Beshear . "What I've been telling them is: Look, you don't have to like the president, and you don't have to like me. It's not about the president and it's not about me. It's about you, it's about your family, it's about your children."

Submission + - Israel helped NSA for spying former French President

rtoz writes: It wasn’t the US government breaking into the private communications of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, according to top secret documents unearthed by Edward Snowden and published in Le Monde – it was the Israelis.

A four-page internal précis regarding a visit to Washington by two top French intelligence officials denies the NSA or any US intelligence agency was behind the May 2012 attempted break-in – which sought to implant a monitoring device inside the Elysee Palace’s communications system – but instead fingers the Israelis, albeit indirectly:

Few days back, Le Monde reported that NSA Intercepted French Telephone Calls "On a Massive Scale"

Submission + - Dream Chaser Damaged in Landing Accident at Edwards AFB

RocketAcademy writes: The test article for Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser spacecraft suffered a landing accident on Saturday when the left main landing gear failed to deploy, causing the vehicle to flip over. NBC News quotes a Sierra Nevada engineer saying that the pilot would have walked away.

Sierra Nevada Corporation is developing the Dream Chaser to support the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo program. It is not yet known what effect the mishap will have on Dream Chaser development.

A number of rocket vehicles have suffered landing-gear mishaps in the recent past. Several years ago, concerns over spacecraft gear design led to a call for NASA to fund a technology prize for robust, light-weight landing gear concepts.

Slashdot Top Deals