Slashgear reports that many state-run internet links in Venezuela have been shut down by that country's government, as censorship efforts there step up along with widespread turmoil, partly in the form of widespread anti-government protests. The article begins: "Don’t expect one whole heck of a lot of tweets coming out of Venezuela in the immediate future as President Nicolas Maduro’s government has shut down the internet and select TV channels. Having shut down Twitter access for the area this past week, Venezuela’s state-run ISP CANTV has been cut in areas such as San Cristobal. This area is a regional capital in the west of the country and CANTV controls the vast majority of internet connectivity in the area. The Electronic Frontier Foundation made note that Venezuelans working with several different ISPs lost all connectivity on Thursday of this past week. Users lost connectivity to the major content delivery network Edgecast and the IP address which provides access to Twitter’s image hosting service while another block stopped Venezuelan access to the text-based site Pastebin."
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coondoggie writes "Microsoft's Lync communications platform gathers enough readily analyzable data to let corporations spy on their employees like the NSA can on U.S. citizens, and it's based on the same type of information — call details. At Microsoft's Lync 2014 conference, software developer Event Zero detailed just how easy it would be, for instance, to figure out who is dating whom within the company and pinpoint people looking for another job."
First time accepted submitter ssasa writes "A Virginia Tech researcher is proposing a new naming system for all life on earth [based on each organism's] genetic fingerprint — basically something like a hash function of an organism. Hash functions are in common use in software development. Hopefully it will pass some time before we see a hash collision between a cat and some dinosaur."
An anonymous reader writes "On Friday, Chrome 33 was shipped out the everyone on the stable channel. Among other things, it removes the developer flag to disable the "Instant Extended API", which powers an updated New Tab page. The new New Tab page receieved a large amount of backlash from users, particularly due to strange behavior when Google wasn't set as the default search engine. It also moves the apps section to a separate page and puts the button to reopen recently closed tabs in the Chrome menu. With the option to disable this change removed, there has been tremendous backlash on Google Chrome's official forum. The official suggestion from Google as well as OMG! Chrome is to try some New Tab page changing extensions, such as Replace New Tab, Modern New Tab Page, or iChrome."
Trailrunner7 writes "The certificate-validation vulnerability that Apple patched in iOS yesterday also affects Mac OS X up to 10.9.1, the current version. Several security researchers analyzed the patch and looked at the code in question in OS X and found that the same error exists there as in iOS. Researcher Adam Langley did an analysis of the vulnerable code in OS X and said that the issue lies in the way that the code handles a pair of failures in a row. The bug affects the signature verification process in such a way that a server could send a valid certificate chain to the client and not have to sign the handshake at all, Langley found. Some users are reporting that Apple is rolling out a patch for his vulnerability in OS X, but it has not shown up for all users as yet. Langley has published a test site that will show OS X users whether their machines are vulnerable."
theodp writes "If you don't have kids of school age, you may not be aware that Data Walls — typically a low-tech "dashboard" of color-coded sticky notes on a wall bearing the names of pupils to highlight their achievement level, absences, or discipline problems — are apparently quite the rage. This is much to the chagrin of some teachers, including Peter A. Greene, who rails against the walls-of-shame in Up Against the Data Wall. Why stop there, Greene asks, tongue-in-cheek. Why not have data-driven dress codes? Data-driven recess? Pooh-poohing concerns of teachers who think Data Walls are mean but feel pressure to create them, the Supt. of Holyoke Public Schools said, "It's not a mandate whatsoever." Still, he went on to add, "I would say 99 percent of teachers see the benefit of it," which some might take as an implicit mandate. In other student privacy news, New York's Supreme Court has ruled that parental permission is not required to disclose student data to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded inBloom, perhaps paving the way for the Great Data Wall of the U.S."
An anonymous reader writes "Enter decentralized, open source mining with the first scientific proof of work. Riecoin is a decentralized (p2p), open source digital currency. Proof of work is about finding Hardy-Littlewood k-tuples. Ultimately miners are verifying the Riemann hypothesis. Unlike for Primecoin the probability of accepting a false positive goes to zero as the network grows. Primecoin uses Fermat Test which runs the risk of accepting so called Carmichael numbers. Riecoin uses a stronger test to ensure correctness."
kc123 writes with this except from Bloomberg News: "Microsoft is cutting the price of Windows 8.1 by 70 percent for makers of low-cost computers and tablets as they try to fend off cheaper rivals like Google's Chromebooks, people familiar with the program said. Manufacturers will be charged $15 to license Windows 8.1 and preinstall it on devices that retail for less than $250, instead of the usual fee of $50. The discount will apply to any products that meet the price limit, with no restrictions on the size or type of device."
itwbennett writes "Starting this week, a new, clearly marked 'unsubscribe' link will appear at the top of the header field in marketers' emails. Previously only appearing for a small percentage of users, the feature will now be made available for most promotional messages with unsubscribe options, Google said on Thursday. Email recipients do not need to take action for the links to appear."
Lasrick writes "Dawn Stover looks at the incredibly successful Megatons to Megawatts program, which turned dismantled Russian nuclear warheads into lower-grade uranium fuel that can be used to produce electricity. The 1993 agreement between the U.S. and Russia not only eliminated 500 tons of weapons-grade uranium, but generated nearly 10% of U.S. electricity consumption. The Megatons to Megawatts program ended in December, but Stover points out that the U.S. has plenty of surplus nuclear weapons that could keep the program going, without the added risk of shipping it over such huge distances. A domestic Megatons to Megawatts, if you will. This would be very cost effective and have the added benefit of keeping USEC, the only American company in the uranium enrichment field, in business."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Steven Musil writes at Cnet that the US Postal Service hopes Steve Jobs can do for it what he once did for Apple as the late Apple co-founder will be featured on a commemorative US postage stamp along with Johnny Carson, Ingrid Bergman, Elvis Presley, and James Brown. The former Apple CEO's stamp is still in the design stages and will be released at some point in 2015. Jobs, who passed away in 2011 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, has also been posthumously honored for his visionary achievements with a special Grammy Merit Award and a Disney Legends Award. Jobs was also inducted into the Bay Area Business Hall of Fame, has had a building at Pixar named after him, and was featured in an exhibit at the US Patent Office Museum. "The profitable first class mail business has been decimated by email over the past decade, thanks in no small part to the contributions of Steve Jobs and Apple," writes Derek Kessler. "It's no small feat to be so impactful that the USPS feels compelled to honor you despite the fact that the work that you've done is dismantling the core of their business.""
Eloquence writes "Pitivi is perhaps the most mature, stable and actually usable open source video editor out there. They're now looking to raise funds to support the project's ongoing development. The lack of decent open source video editors has been one of the things keeping people locked into proprietary platforms, and video editing has been identified as a high priority project by the Free Software Foundation. 2014 may still not be the fabled year of the Linux desktop, but here's hoping it'll be the year of open source video editing." Work continues as well on the crowdfunded transition to cross-platform, open-source video editing with OpenShot, and developer Jonathan Thomas is presenting the work done so far at SCALE this weekend.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Dropbox has renewed access to the Chinese market for the first time in four years. But why? The Chinese government first blocked access to Dropbox in 2010, most likely to prevent people within China from sharing data via the cloud. Now Dropbox is back online in China, albeit at slower speeds. Despite repeated queries from Slashdot, however, Dropbox has declined to comment on why China may have dropped the in-country restrictions to its services. "We still have nothing to share," the company responded after the third email. Dropbox isn't the only foreign cloud service available on the Chinese market (although Google Drive remains blocked): in late 2013, Amazon announced it would open an Amazon Web Services (AWS) region in the country; at the time, the Amazon Web Services Blog alluded to the "legal and regulatory requirements" that this new AWS region will obey. So questions remain: Did Dropbox know it would regain entry to the Chinese market? If so, did it need to agree to certain conditions before the Chinese government would "flip the switch," as it were?"
wiredmikey writes "Users of iOS devices will find themselves with a new software update to install, thanks to a certificate validation flaw in the mobile popular OS. While Apple provides very little information when disclosing security issues, the company said that an attacker with a 'privileged network position could capture or modify data in sessions protected by SSL/TLS.' 'While this flaw itself does not allow an attacker to compromise a vulnerable device, it is still a very serious threat to the privacy of users as it can be exploited through Man-in-the-Middle attack,' VUPEN's Chaouki Bekrar told SecurityWeek. For example, when connecting to an untrusted WiFi network, attackers could spy on user connections to websites and services that are supposed to be using encrypted communications, Bekrar said. Users should update their iOS devices to iOS 7.0.6 as soon as possible." Adds reader Trailrunner7: "The wording of the description is interesting, as it suggests that the proper certificate-validation checks were in place at some point in iOS but were later removed somehow. The effect of an exploit against this vulnerability would be for an attacker with a man-in-the-middle position on the victim's network would be able to read supposedly secure communications. It's not clear when the vulnerability was introduced, but the CVE entry for the bug was reserved on Jan. 8."
PolygamousRanchKid writes "The Khaleej Times of Dubai reports that a fatwa committee has forbidden Muslims from taking a one-way trip to the Red Planet. At the moment, there is no technology available that would allow for a return trip from Mars, so it is truly a one-way ticket for the colonists, who may also become reality TV stars in the process. The committee of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the United Arab Emirates that issued the fatwa against such a journey doesn't have anything against space exploration, Elon Musk's Mars visions, or anything like that. Rather, the religious leaders argue that making the trip would be tantamount to committing suicide, which all religions tend to frown upon."
barlevg writes "Each fall, a team led by Virginia Tech Professor of Entomology Thomas Kuhar gathers brown marmorated stink bugs from around campus and plops them into ventilated and insulated five-gallon buckets designed to simulate the habitats in which the bugs naturally wait out the winter. While previous lab tests have shown the insects capable of surviving chills of -20 C, last month's polar vortex proved too much for the little guys, with only 5% surviving the sustained cold conditions. This suggests that the DC area's population of stink bugs and other overwintering insects should be much lower come spring than in previous years."