another random user sends this excerpt from the BBC: "U.S. net firm Verizon has declared war on illegal downloaders, or pirates, who use technologies such as BitTorrent to steal copyrighted material. Verizon has said it will first warn repeat offenders by email and voicemail. Then it will restrict or 'throttle' their internet connection speeds. Time Warner Cable, another U.S. internet service provider pledging to tackle piracy, says it will use pop-up warnings to deter repeat offenders. After that it will restrict subscribers' web browsing activities by redirecting them to a landing page. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which campaigns for digital freedom, is highly critical of the imminent campaign, saying: 'Big media companies are launching a massive peer-to-peer surveillance scheme to snoop on subscribers.' ISPs will be acting as 'Hollywood's private enforcement arm,' it added."
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Hugh Pickens writes "For years lawmakers had heard warnings about holes in corporate and government systems that imperil U.S. economic and national security. Now Ward Carroll writes that in the face of what most experts label as a potential 'Cyber Pearl Harbor' threat, Republicans have stalled the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 with a Senate vote of 51–47 against the legislation. This drew a quick response from the staff of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta: 'The U.S. defense strategy calls for greater investments in cybersecurity measures, and we will continue to explore ways to defend the nation against cyber threats,' says DoD spokesman George Little. 'If the Congress neglects to address this security problem urgently, the consequences could be devastating.' Many Senate Republicans took their cues from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and businesses that framed the debate not as a matter of national security, but rather as a battle between free enterprise and an overreaching government. They wanted to let companies determine whether it would be more cost effective — absent liability laws around cyber attacks — to invest in the hardware, software, and manpower required to effectively prevent cyber attacks, or to simply weather attacks and fix what breaks afterwards. 'Until someone can argue both the national security and the economic parts of it, you're going to have these dividing forces,' says Melissa Hathaway, a White House cyber official in the Bush and Obama administrations. 'Most likely, big industry is going to win because at the end of the day our economy is still in trouble.'"
New submitter lebijoutier writes "According to Slate, '[Patrick] Tresset, for one, discovered a novel way to stay mentally healthy with the help of drugs and still pursue what was once his life's work: He created robots that can draw portraits. Far from a mere novelty, his research is telling us more about both the creative process in humans and how we relate emotionally to machines. ... Most of us still don't have robots in the home, but for decades now, we've been waiting for machines to do our bidding. Tresset believes that it might be a good idea to imbue all personal robots with some sort of artistic skill to encourage an emotional bond — it might allow for more trust, perhaps, though you can also see how overly identifying with a machine might create some existential questions.' The article also has a fascinating video of five of his robots sketching a single human."
ndogg writes "Netflix now works on Linux... sort of. The folks at iheartubuntu have figured out a way to get Netflix to run on the Windows version of Firefox using Wine (with a number of custom patches) and Silverlight. They plan on releasing packages for it all soon. Currently, it seems they have only had success with 32-bit, while compiling for 64-bit is tricky."
Kethinov writes "My Congresswoman, Zoe Lofgren, a prominent opponent of the infamous Stop Online Piracy Act, has introduced two bills to the U.S. House of Representatives designed to protect the free and open internet, expand the protections of the Fourth Amendment to digital communications, and protect against the introduction of any further SOPA-like bills. Since these are issues Slashdotters care deeply about, I wanted to open up the bills for discussion on Slashdot. The bills are: ECPA 2.0 and the Global Free Internet Act. Is my Congresswoman doing a good job? Is there room for improvement in the language of the bills? If you're as excited by her work as I am, please reach out to your representatives as well and ask them to work with Rep. Lofgren. It will take a big coalition to beat the pro-RIAA/MPAA establishment politics on internet regulation."
New submitter Gaildew2 writes with news that the embattled United States Postal Service has posted a $15.9 billion loss over the past fiscal year, more than three times the amount it lost the previous year. "The USPS, which relies on the sale of stamps and other products rather than taxpayer dollars, has been grappling for years with high costs and tumbling mail volumes as consumers communicate more online. In September, the Postal Service hit its $15 billion borrowing limit for the first time in its history. That leaves it with few options if it suffers an unexpected shock, such as a slowdown if lawmakers are unable to prevent the year-end tax increases and spending cuts known as the 'fiscal cliff.' ... Postal officials want Congress to pass legislation that would allow the agency to end Saturday mail delivery and run its own health plan rather than enrolling USPS employees in federal health programs, among other things."
New submitter Nagilum23 writes "It looks like Lenovo only knows of Windows and RHEL where their Thinkcentre M92p desktop is concerned. While investigating UEFI boot issues, Matthew Garrett found the PC's firmware actually checks the descriptive string for the operating system, and will prevent unlisted operating systems from booting. Garrett writes, 'Every UEFI boot entry has a descriptive string. This is used by the firmware when it's presenting a menu to users - instead of "Hard drive 0" and "USB drive 3", the firmware can list "Windows Boot Manager" and "Fedora Linux". There's no reason at all for the firmware to be parsing these strings. ... there is a function that compares the descriptive string against "Windows Boot Manager" and appears to return an error if it doesn't match. What's stranger is that it also checks for "Red Hat Enterprise Linux" and lets that one work as well. ... This is, obviously, bizarre. A vendor appears to have actually written additional code to check whether an OS claims to be Windows before it'll let it boot. Someone then presumably tested booting RHEL on it and discovered that it didn't work. Rather than take out that check, they then addded another check to let RHEL boot as well." Note that this isn't a SecureBoot issue. Lenovo is aware of the problem and looking into it.
An anonymous reader sends this quote from an IDG News report: "A German couple are not liable for the filesharing activities of their 13-year old son because they told him unauthorized downloading and sharing of copyrighted material was illegal, and they were not aware the boy violated this prohibition, the German Federal Court of Justice ruled on Thursday. ... The ruling of the Federal Court of Justice reversed a ruling of the higher regional court of Cologne, which found the parents were liable for the illegal filesharing because they failed to fulfill their parental supervision. That court said the parents could have installed a firewall on their son's computer as well as a security program that would have made it possible to only allow the child to install software with the consent of his parents. Besides that, the parents could have checked their son's PC once a month, and then the parents would have spotted the Bearshare icon on the computers' desktop, according to the Cologne court. 'The Federal Court overturned the decision of the Appeal Court and dismissed it,' the court said."
zacharye writes "Google has already conquered the software side of smartphones and now the technology giant is reportedly in talks to take over the air waves. A report on Thursday claims that Google has held talks with satellite television provider Dish Network regarding the possibility of a venture that would see Google launch its own cellular network and compete directly with the likes of Verizon and AT&T."
angry tapir writes "WordPress has said it will accept payment in bitcoins, opening up the blogging platform to payments from users in countries not supported by PayPal or credit card companies. WordPress is free, open-source software, but the company Automattic offers paid-for features such as blog designs, custom domains, hosting partnerships and anti-spam measures."
MarkWhittington writes "The Google Lunar X Prize rules of competition have a clause that reduces the $20 million grand prize to $15 million for the first private group to land a rover on the lunar surface should a government funded rover land first. The first scheduled government funded rover to land on the moon is the Chinese Chang'e 3. It is slated for a 2013 landing."
alphadogg writes "A pair of brazen crooks punched another hole in the lax JFK security when they stole a trove of new Apple iPad minis — worth $1.5 million — from the same cargo building that was the site of the 1978 Lufthansa heist featured in GoodFellas, according to the New York Post. The crooks struck shortly before midnight on Monday and used one of the airport's own forklifts to load two pallets of the tablet computers into a truck, according to law-enforcement sources. It's been a crazy year for iPad/iPhone thefts in New York City and elsewhere."
the_newsbeagle writes "Douglas Adams's fictional Babel fish, which lived in the brain and could translate any language in the universe, was so incredibly useful that it simultaneously proved and disproved the existence of God. This real-time translation app for mobile phones, offered by the Japanese telecom company NTT DoCoMo, isn't going to freak out theologians any time soon. The company admits it has lots of work to do to improve translation accuracy, and it can currently only translate between Japanese and three languages: English, Korean, and Mandarin. But by allowing phone calls to pierce the language barrier, we just might have taken a step toward the universe that Adams envisioned: one where open communication between people of different cultures leads to an onslaught of terrible bloody warfare."
sciencehabit writes "Here's a twist: Scientists have designed a flexible, yarn-like artificial muscle that can also pack a punch. It can contract in 25 milliseconds—a fraction of the time it takes to blink an eye—and can generate power 85 times as great as a similarly sized human muscle. The new muscles are made of carbon nanotubes filled with paraffin wax that can twist or stretch in response to heat or electricity. When the temperature rises, the wax melts and forces the nanotubes to contract. Such artificial muscles, the researchers say, could power smart materials, sensors, robots, and even devices inside the human body."
Dupple writes in with a story about the uncertain future of a proposed bio lab in the heart of cattle country. "Plans to build one of the world's most secure laboratories in the heart of rural America have run into difficulties. The National Bio and Agro defense facility (NBAF) would be the first US lab able to research diseases like foot and mouth in large animals. But reviews have raised worries about virus escapes in the middle of cattle country. For over fifty years the United States has carried out research on dangerous animal diseases at Plum Island, just off the coast of New York. However after 9/11 the Department of Homeland Security raised concerns about the suitability of the location and its vulnerability to terrorist attack."