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Government

Submission + - Senators Try To Add Internet Sales Tax To Defense Bill (itworld.com)

jfruh writes: "A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators are working hard to make it legal for U.S. states to collect sales tax on any sales made to their residents, even if the sellers live elsewhere. They tried to add an amendment making the change to an unrelated defense appropriations bill, but the attempt was defeated. They have vowed to try again."

Submission + - Orphaned works and the requirement to preserve metadata (photo-mark.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: Orphaned works legislation promises to open older forgotten works to new uses and audiences. Groups like ASMP think it's inevitable. But it comes with the risk of defanging protection for current work when the creator cannot be located. Photographer Mark Meyer wonders if orphaned works legislation also needs language to compel organizations like Facebook to stop their practice of stripping metadata from user content in order to keep new work from becoming orphans to begin with. Should we have laws to make stripping metadata illegal?
Space

Submission + - Older Vega Mature Enough to Nurture Life (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: Shining just 25 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra, Vega is the fifth brightest star in the night sky. In 1983, astronomers discovered dust orbiting the star, suggesting it had a solar system, and Carl Sagan chose to make Vega the source of a SETI signal in his 1985 novel Contact. At the time, Vega was thought to be only about a couple hundred million years old, probably too young for any planets to have spawned life. Since then, however, estimates of Vega's age have increased to between 625 million and 850 million years old. So suitable planets have probably had sufficient time to develop primitive life.
Science

Submission + - Why Old People Get Scammed (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: Despite long experience with the ways of the world, older people are especially vulnerable to fraud. According to the Federal Trade Commission, up to 80% of scam victims are over 65. One explanation may lie in a brain region that serves as a built-in crook detector. Called the anterior insula, this structure—which fires up in response to the face of an unsavory character—is less active in older people, possibly making them less cagey than younger folks, a new study finds.
Microsoft

Submission + - Microsoft Goes after Enterprise Customers, Raises Licensing Prices (paritynews.com)

hypnosec writes: Microsoft is trying to make up for below expected earnings following Windows 8’s and Surface RT’s lack luster adoption rates by increasing the prices of its products between 8 and 400 per cent it has been revealed. Trying to make more out of its enterprise customers who are tied under its Software Assurance payment model, Microsoft has increased user CALs pricing 15 per cent; SharePoint 2013 pricing by 38 per cent; Lync Server 2013 pricing by 400 per cent; Project 2013 Server CAL by 21 per cent.
Television

Submission + - Valve Officially Launches TV-friendly Steam Big Picture Mode

An anonymous reader writes: Valve on Monday announced the public release of Big Picture, Steam’s new mode that lets gamers access their games on a TV, in over 20 languages. Big Picture lets you use a traditional gamepad (as well as a keyboard and mouse) to access the complete Steam store and Steam Community from the comfort of the couch in your living room.
Censorship

Submission + - Internet Freedom Won't Be Controlled, Says UN Telcom Chief (securityweek.com)

wiredmikey writes: The head of the UN telecommunications body, Hamadoun Toure, told an audience at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) in Dubai on Monday that Internet freedom will not be curbed or controlled.

"Nothing can stop the freedom of expression in the world today, and nothing in this conference will be about it," he said. Such claims are "completely (unfounded)," Toure, secretary general of the International Telecommunication Union, told AFP.

"We must continue to work together and find a consensus on how to most effectively keep cyberspace open, accessible, affordable and secure," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said.
Google has been vocal in warning of serious repercussions, saying that "Some proposals could permit governments to censor legitimate speech — or even cut off Internet access," noted Google’s Vint Cerf in a blog post.

Google is also arguing that the ITU is not the right body to address Internet issues. "Only governments have a vote at the ITU," he pointed out. Google claimed in a blog post Monday that preliminary talks saw some "frightening proposals" discussed, including an Arab states' proposal to have the ITU take over the allocation of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. The United States previously said that it would oppose any major revision to 24-year-old global telecommunications regulations.

Submission + - Global Warming Really Just a Statistical Fluke? (statisticsblog.com)

J Story writes: Matt Asher, a statistics wonk, in a blog posting (The surprisingly weak case for global warming) claims that: "Based solely on year-over-year changes in surface temperatures, the net increase since 1881 is fully explainable as a non-independent random walk with no trend."

For the programmer/statistics junkie, R code is provided.

Apple

Submission + - Apple "invents" wireless charging. Get ready for another patent war! (theregister.co.uk)

GabriellaKat writes: Via The Register
Apple is trying to patent wireless charging, claiming its magnetic resonance tech is new and that it can do it better than anyone else. This would be cool if its assertions were true.

Apple's application, numbered 20120303980, makes much of its ability to charge a device over the air at a distance of up to a metre, rather than requiring close proximity. The Alliance For Wireless Power, which also touts long-range juicing, will no doubt be comparing Apple's designs to its own blueprints.

Censorship

Submission + - The 61 Countries Most Vulnerable To An Internet Shutdown (forbes.com)

Sparrowvsrevolution writes: In the wake of Syria’s 52-hour digital blackout last week, the networking firm Renesys performed an analysis of which countries are most susceptible to an Internet shutdown, based simply on how many distinct entities control the connections between the country’s networks and those of the outside world. It found that for 61 countries and territories, just one or two Internet service providers maintain all external connections–a situation that could make possible a quick cutoff from the world with a well-placed government order or physical attack.

Another 72 countries have between three and ten providers that link to the outside world, a situation that makes a cutoff harder but by no means impossible. Egypt managed to black out its Internet last year despite having seven ISPs with external connections, though it took several days for it to track down and cut off all seven.

Submission + - Auto-threading compiler could restore Moore's Law gains (drdobbs.com)

Nemo the Magnificent writes: Develop in the Cloud has news about what might be a breakthrough out of Microsoft Research. A team there wrote a paper (PDF), now accepted for publication at OOPSLA, that describes how to teach a compiler to auto-thread a program that was written single-threaded in a conventional language like C#. This is the holy grail to take advantage of multiple cores — to get Moore's Law improvements back on track, after they essentially ran aground in the last decade. (Functional programming, the other great white hope, just isn't happening.) About 2004 was when Intel et al. ran into a wall and started packing multiple cores into chips instead of cranking the clock speed. The Microsoft team modified a C# compiler to use the new technique, and claim a "large project at Microsoft" have written "several million lines of code" testing out the resulting "safe parallelism."
Open Source

Submission + - Researcher Discloses New Batch of MySQL Vulnerabilities (securityweek.com)

wiredmikey writes: Over the weekend, a security researcher disclosed seven security vulnerabilities related to MySQL. Of the flaws disclosed, CVE assignments have been issued for five of them. The Red Hat Security Team has opened tracking reports, and according to comments on the Full Disclosure mailing list, Oracle is aware of the zero-days, but has not yet commented on them directly.

Researchers who have tested the vulnerabilities themselves state that all of them require that the system administrator failed to properly setup the MySQL server, or the firewall installed in front of it. Yet, they admit that the disclosures are legitimate, and they need to be fixed. One disclosure included details of a user privilege elevation vulnerability, which if exploited could allow an attacker with file permissions the ability to elevate its permissions to that of the Mysql admin user.

Given that MySQL is mission critical in many environments, the vulnerabilities are worth examining, especially given that the the disclosures were published with working proof-of-concept scripts.

Privacy

Submission + - Who owns your health data? (wsj.com)

porsche911 writes: The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article about how the data from Implanted health devices is managed and the limitations patients run into when they want to see the data. Companies like Medtronic plan to sell the data but won't provide it to the person who generated it.

Submission + - Electroluminescent plastic bulbs to replace CCFLs? (bbc.co.uk)

hattig writes: US researchers say they have developed a new type of lighting that could replace fluorescent bulbs. The new light source is called field-induced polymer electroluminescent (Fipel) technology. It is made from three layers of white-emitting polymer that contain a small volume of nanomaterials that glow when electric current is passed through them. The developer is promising cheap, hard-to-break, mercury-free, highly efficient bulbs from 2013.

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