Hacker Helps Family Recover Minivan After Losing One-Of-A-Kind Car Key ( 169

An anonymous reader writes: A hacker and a mechanic have helped a family regain access to their hybrid car after they've lost their one-of-a-kind car key while on vacation. The car in question is a Toyota Estima minivan, which a Canadian family bought reused and imported from Japan. When they did so, they received only one key, which the father says he lost when he bent down to tie his son's shoelaces.

Because it was a hybrid and the on-board computer was synced to the battery recharge cycles, the car owner couldn't simply replace the car key without risking the car battery to overcharge and catch fire. After offering a reward, going viral on Facebook, in Canadian media, and attempting to find the lost keys using crows, the family finally accepted the help of a local hacker who stripped the car apart and reprogrammed the car immobilizer with new car keys. The whole ordeal cost the family two months of their lives and around $3,500.


Google Cancels Town Hall To Discuss Diversity In Its Ranks ( 786

NBC News originally reported: Google employees will gather for a town hall meeting Thursday afternoon to discuss the tensions ignited by a memo circulated inside the company that claimed to explain why more women are not engineers. Town hall meetings are nothing new at Google, but this one will likely be different after the so-called "Google Manifesto" went viral over the weekend, adding fresh fuel to the debate around gender bias in Silicon Valley. Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees in an email earlier this week that he would cut his family vacation short in order to facilitate the forum. "The past few days have been very difficult for many at the company, and we need to find a way to debate issues on which we might disagree -- while doing so in line with our Code of Conduct," he wrote. "I'd encourage each of you to make an effort over the coming days to reach out to those who might have different perspectives from your own. I will be doing the same." The town hall comes amid a report from The Guardian that as many as 60 women are considering filing a class action lawsuit against Google, alleging sexism and wage disparity.
UPDATE: NBC News now reports the event has been cancelled, with Google CEO Sundar Pichai saying "Googlers are writing in, concerned about their safety and worried they may be 'outed' publicly for asking a question in the Town Hall... we need to step back and create a better set of conditions for us to have the discussion." Instead of the company-wide format, Google will now hold several smaller forums "to gather and engage with Googlers, where people can feel comfortable to speak freely," Pichai wrote.


Mark Zuckerberg Drops Lawsuits To Force Hundreds of Hawaiians To Sell Him Land ( 75

Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg filed a lawsuit to force owners of several small parcels of land to sell to the highest bidder since these property owners are surrounded by Zuckerberg's land holdings and therefore have lawful easement to cross his private property. Ever since the story broke, Zuckerberg has faced major backlash from people all over the world, especially those living on the Hawaiian islands. On Wednesday, said he was "reconsidering" the set of lawsuits; today he announced that he will drop the lawsuits altogether. The Guardian reports: "Upon reflection, I regret that I did not take the time to fully understand the quiet title process and its history before we moved ahead," Zuckerberg wrote. "Now that I understand the issues better, it's clear we made a mistake." The process is controversial in Hawaii, where many view it as a tool of dispossession first employed by sugar barons, but later adopted by the wealthy malihini (newcomers) seeking vacation homes. Hawaii state representative Kaniela Ing, who emerged as one of the key critics of the lawsuits, said that he was "happy" and "humbled" by Zuckerberg's announcement. "It's not everyday where you face off with one of the most influential billionaires, best PR professionals and best attorneys in the world and win," he said. "It's a victory for everyone who shared the story on social media, for native Hawaiians, and for people everywhere. The parcels at stake in the Zuckerberg case were kuleana -- land granted to native Hawaiians in the 1850s after land was privatized for the first time in Hawaii -- contained within the boundaries of his 700-acre, $100m estate. Kuleana lands are especially important, law professor Kapua Sproat explained to the Guardian, because native Hawaiians view land as an "ancestor" or family member, rather than as a possession. "We understand that for native Hawaiians, kuleana are sacred and the quiet title process can be difficult," he wrote. "We want to make this right, talk with the community, and find a better approach." The CEO promised to hold discussion with "community leaders" representing native Hawaiians and environmentalists, and added that he is "looking for more ways to support the community as neighbors."

SurveyMonkey's CEO Dies While Vacationing With Wife Sheryl Sandberg 176

McGruber writes: Dave Goldberg, the chief executive of SurveyMonkey and spouse of Facebook COO Sheryl K. Sandberg, died on Friday night. He was 47. 'We are heartbroken by this news,' Facebook said in a statement. Mark Zuckerberg, a friend of the family, said that Mr. Goldberg died while on vacation abroad with Ms. Sandberg. Goldberg built Surveymonkey into a provider of web surveys on almost every topic imaginable, with 500 employees and 25 million surveys created. News reports said it was valued at nearly $2 billion when it raised a round of funding last year.

Interview: John McAfee Answers Your Questions 124

A while ago you had a chance to ask John McAfee about his past, politics, and what he has planned for the future. As usual, John answered with extreme frankness, with some interesting advice for anyone stuck at a checkpoint in the third world. Below you can read all his answers to your questions.
Christmas Cheer

Surge In Online Orders Overwhelms UPS Christmas Deliveries 378

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Reuters reports that the high volume of online orders of holiday packages overwhelmed shipping and logistics company UPS delaying the arrival of Christmas presents around the globe and sending angry consumers to social media to vent. The company projected 132 million deliveries last week "and obviously we exceeded that," said UPS spokeswoman Natalie Black without disclosing how many packages had been sent. "For now, UPS is really focused on delivering the remaining packages. You might not see trucks, but people are working." Asked why the company underestimated the volume of air packages it would receive, Black noted that previous severe weather in the Dallas area had already created a backlog. Then came "excess holiday volume" during a compressed time frame, since the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas was shorter than usual this year. responded with an email to affected customers offering shipping refunds and $20 gift cards to compensate. Packages shipped via UPS for by Prime customers, who pay $79 a year for two-day shipping, may be eligible for additional refunds. Amazon's stated policy for missed deliveries is to offer a free one-month extension of Prime. Frustrated consumers took to social media, with some complaining that gifts purchased for their children would not arrive in time to make it under the tree by Christmas morning. '"A lot of these employees keep saying 'It's the weather' or 'It's some kind of a backlog,' said Barry Tesh. 'Well then why, all the way up until the 23rd, were they offering next-day delivery? That guaranteed delivery was 80% of my decision to buy the gift."' However, others on social media urged shoppers to be more appreciative of the delivery company's work during the holiday season. 'While others take vacation and time off in December, remember we aren't allowed ever to be off in December. Ever,' said a 20-year veteran UPS driver on the UPS Facebook page. 'So when you see your family and complain that your package is held up, everyone who moves your package is working and doesn't get the Xmas experience you get, Be thankful for that.'"

Proposed Posting of Clients List In Prostitution Case Raises Privacy Concerns 533

An anonymous reader writes "An interesting case touching on privacy in the Internet age has erupted in Kennebunk, Maine, the coastal town where the Bush family has a vacation home. When a fitness instructor who maintained a private studio was arrested for prostitution, she turned out to have maintained meticulous billing records on some 150 clients, and had secretly recorded the proceedings on video files stored in her computer. Local police have begun issuing summons to her alleged johns, and have announced intentions to publish the list, as is customary in such cases. Police believe such publication has a deterrent effect on future incidents of the kind. However, the notoriety of the case has some, including newspaper editors, wondering whether the lives of the accused johns may be disproportionately scarred (obtaining or keeping a job, treatment of members of their families within the community) for a the mere accusation of having committed a misdemeanor. Also, the list of names will be permanently archived and indexed by search engines essentially forever."

When Flying Was a Thrill 382

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Bob Greene writes that flying, with jammed-to-the-groaning-point cabins and torture-rack legroom; fees for everything from checking your bags to being handed a paltry package of food; and the endless, we'll-X-ray-you-to-within-an-inch-of-your-dignity security lines, is too often such a dreary, joy-sapping slog that it's difficult to remember that it was ever any other way. But back in the 1930s, '40s and '50s — even the 60s, flying was a big deal. When a family went on vacation by air, it was a major life event. 'Traveling by air in those years wasn't like boarding a flying bus, the way it is today,' says Christopher Lynch, author of "When Hollywood Landed at Chicago's Midway Airport," a celebration of the golden years of commercial air travel in the United States. 'People didn't travel in flip-flops. I mean, no offense, Mister, but I don't want to see your toes.' The trains were still king in those years and the airlines wanted to convince people that flying was safe. 'People were afraid to fly,' Lynch says. 'And it was expensive. The airlines had to make people think it was something they should try.' That's where Mike Rotunno came in, photographer-for-hire at Midway Airport in Chicago where cross-country flights in those years had to stop to refuel. His pictures of Hollywood stars as they got off the planes made air travel seem to be glamorous, sophisticated, civilized, and thrilling. 'Think of his photos the next time you're shoehorned into a seat next to a fellow who's dripping the sloppy innards of his carry-on submarine sandwich onto your sleeve,' writes Greene. 'Air travel was once a treasured experience, exciting, exotic, something never to be forgotten. You, too, could travel like Elizabeth Taylor.'"

GPS Tracking of State Worker Raises Privacy Issues 173

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from a Times Union article: "How far can state government go in keeping tabs on its employees? That's the question a mid-level appeals court will consider in the wake of a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union against the state Labor Department, in the case of a fired state worker who was tracked with a GPS device that investigators secretly attached to his personal car. ... State officials tracked Cunningham's whereabouts by secretly attaching a GPS device to his BMW. The electronic tailing went beyond what would normally be termed Cunningham's work hours, since the device was on for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They even tracked him on a multi-day family vacation."

Securing the Smart Grid 97

brothke writes "Securing the Smart Grid: Next Generation Power Grid Security, authors Tony Flick and Justin Morehouse provide a comprehensive and first-rate overview of smart grid technology and what is needed to ensure that it is developed and deployed in a secure and safe manner. An issue is that smart grid has significant amount of hype around it, including the promise that it will make energy more affordable, effective and green. With that, promises around security and privacy are often hard to obtain." Read on for the rest of Ben's review.

Steve Jobs Tries To Sneak Shurikens On a Plane Screenshot-sm 661

An anonymous reader writes "Steve Jobs, while on a family vacation to Japan in July, picked himself up some Shuriken, otherwise known as Ninja throwing stars, as a souvenir. In his wisdom he decided to put them in his carry on luggage for the return journey. As it was a private plane he probably thought there would be no issue, but he was wrong. Even private plane passengers have to have all their baggage scanned, and the throwing stars were detected and deemed a hazard. It's alleged that Jobs argued that he could take them on the plane as no one could steal them on his private jet and use them. Security at the airport disagreed and demanded he remove the stars. Jobs, clearly angry at losing his throwing weapons, stated he would not be returning to the country." Undoubtedly this is part of the iNinja project.

Hotmailers Hawking Hoax Hunan Half-Offs 135

Frequent Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes "An estimated 200,000 Hotmail users currently have their auto-reply set to a message spamming an advertisement for Chinese scam websites, which sell "discounted" electronics. Presumably the spammers compromised a large number of Hotmail accounts to pull this off, but wouldn't it be pretty easy for Hotmail to query for which users have that set as their auto-reply, and turn the auto-reply off for them?" Read below for Bennett's thoughts.

Windows vs. Linux Study Author Replies 501

Last week you submitted questions for Dr. Herb Thompson, author of the latest Microsoft-sponsored Windows vs. Linux study. Here are his answers. Please feel free to ask follow-up questions. Dr. Thompson says he'll respond to as many as he can. He's registered a new Slashdot username, FFE4, specifically to participate in this discussion. All others claiming to be him are imposters. So read, post, ask, and enjoy.

Moving a Business to Canada? 105

An anonymous reader asks: "I am an independent consultant working in Sweden. After working over here for nearly 10 years, I'm considering moving my family back to Canada. I enjoy working through my own company and the freedom it offers. One of the concerns I have is whether it is feasible for me to even try to work as an independent consultant in Canada, since I have no contact network over there to speak of. I'm also considering the idea of working as a regular employee for a consultancy company until I can build up a contact net. The major disadvantage of doing so is the lack of freedom and vacation time. Over here in Sweden, 5 weeks vacation is standard and 6 weeks isn't that uncommon. As we have relatives in Sweden we would like to spend a few weeks here a year, and still have some vacation left over to do something else. How hard is it to negotiate a 5 week vacation at an employer even if 3 weeks are unpaid? Is going through a company, that charges a commission for finding consultants work, a viable option? What cities in Ontario have a large enough customer base to support independent consultants? As much as I like Toronto, I don't want to raise my family there, nor do I want to spend hours commuting to it everyday."

Indian Techies Answer About 'Onshore Insourcing' 839

This is an unusual Slashdot Interview, since instead of using email I asked all the questions in person last week either at LinuxAsia2004 or in casual meetings with local LUG members and other techies I met during the conference. Some of your questions were answered quite well by other Slashdot readers in the original post. (Slashdot has many readers both in and from India.) I also inserted a number of personal observations, which I usually don't do in these interviews, because it seemed to be the best way to answer some of the questions. And some questions were nearly unanswerable, as you'll see when you read the rest of this article.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dr. Larry Niven 484

Several Slashdot staff people are major Larry Niven fans, so we feel he needs no introduction. You asked. He answered. Enough said. Read and enjoy.
The Internet

Making Vacation Plans Over the 'Net? 21

rice_burners_suck asks: "For some reason beyond my comprehension, a whole bunch of family members are coming in to visit over the next month. The busiest weekend will take place when I'll have six guests to entertain, and I don't know where I'll take them or stay with them. I'd like to have a good time without breaking the piggy bank. Where, on the Internet, can I find good vacation places and compute a budget? I'm thinking of a service similar to AAA, but online. If something like this doesn't exist, how could I go about implementing one myself?"

Are American Vacation Policies Outdated? 105

GiorgioG asks: "Am I the only one who sees US vacation policies as outdated compared to Europe? If I have 3-4 weeks of vacation time, why is it that most companies won't allow you to take more than 1 or 2 consecutive weeks of time off - especially if you aren't performing a 'mission-critical' function. I find it quite frustrating, considering I only want to take 1 long vacation a year (to visit family in Europe.)" This depends, of course, on the types of vacation policies found in Europe and those types found here in the US. So what do both sides of the fence have to say about what they have seen on the other side when it comes to vacation time?
It's funny.  Laugh.

Three Books From Plan 9 22

Chromatic has done it again, with his tripartite review below -- this time, he presents a trio of books designed for easy digestion. They won't teach you to program in obscure languages, how to track down (and hopefully garrote) abusive kiddies, or make better looking web sites. But hopefully, these three books from the pens of Ian McDonald, Peter Abrams and Bill Holbrook (and all from the network-aware Plan 9 publishing house) will still lighten your day.


Carl Kadie Responds 51

Carl Kadie has returned his responses to our interview questions. He covers a wide array of topics regarding computers and academic freedom - my guess is that this interview will answer about 5% of all questions submitted to Ask Slashdot. :)

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