hypnosec writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has started accepting donations in the form of Bitcoins again after a two year hiatus, stating that the legal uncertainty hovering over the digital currency has all but disappeared. On their blog the EFF noted that a report from U.S. Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), in addition to their own findings, 'have confirmed that, as a user of Bitcoin or any virtual currency, EFF itself is likely not subject to regulation.'"
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Cbs228 writes "During last week's Google I/O conference, the company announced a replacement for its aging Talk instant messenger: Google Hangouts. Hangouts, which is only available for Android, iOS, and Chrome, offers closer integration with Google+. Unfortunately, the new product drops support for the XMPP instant messaging protocol, which has been an integral part of Talk for over ten years. XMPP delivers instant messages to desktop clients, like Pidgin, and enables communication between users on different instant messaging networks. Hangouts users attempting to communicate with contacts on non-Google servers, such as jabber.org, have found that all communications have been suddenly and inexplicably severed. A Google account is now required to communicate with Hangouts users. Google Hangouts joins the ranks of an already-crowded ecosystem of closed, incompatible chat products like Skype." Interesting, because Google Wave was based on XMPP and Google was integral to the creation of the Jingle extension that enabled video chatting over XMPP. Note that no end date has been set for Talk yet, but the end must surely be nigh given Google's recent history of axing products like Reader and CalDAV support from their calendar app without much notice.
rudy_wayne writes with news that the Prenda lawyers recently sanctioned by a federal judge are starting to face consequences. From the article: "On Friday, Paul Hansmeier, a Minnesota attorney who has been pointed to as one of the masterminds of the Prenda copyright-trolling scheme, filed an emergency motion to stay the $81,000 sanctions order while he and his colleagues could mount an appeal. Today the appeals court flatly denied his motion. Two appellate judges signed this order, and it gives Hansmeier the option to make a plea for delay with the district court judge. That would be U.S. District Judge Otis Wright, the judge who sanctioned Hansmeier in the first place. Hansmeier is also getting kicked off a case he was working on that was totally unrelated to Prenda's scheme of making copyright accusations over alleged pornography downloads. On Friday, the 9th Circuit Commissioner ordered Hansmeier, in no uncertain terms, to withdraw from a case involving Groupon since he has been referred to the Minnesota State Bar for investigation. The commissioner has delayed Hansmeier's admission to the 9th Circuit because of Wright's order, which refers to Wright's finding of 'moral turpitude.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Location is everything when choosing the site of a data center. Firms such as Microsoft and Google and Facebook spend a lot of time looking into the costs of land, power, regulation and taxes before placing their respective data centers in a particular place. Sometimes, that local tax bill comes into play in a big way. Just ask the National Security Agency which learned it faces a multimillion-dollar annual state tax on the power consumed by its new data center in Camp Williams, south of Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake Tribune obtained a series of email exchanges between the feds and the state, with the NSA protesting a $2.4 million tax on its annual power expenditure, pegged at about $40 million. Harvey Davis, director of installations and logistics for the NSA, sent a letter (subsequently quoted by the newspaper) to state officials that made the logistics argument: 'Long-term stability in the utility rates was a major factor in Utah being selected as our site for our $1.5bn construction at Camp Williams. HP325 [the new law] runs counter to what we expected.'" This would be the data center William Binney et al claim is logging almost all domestic communication.
ananyo writes "Researchers have discovered that animal mucus — ' whether from humans, fish or corals' — is loaded with bacteria-killing viruses called phages. These protect their hosts from infection by destroying incoming bacteria. In return, the phages are exposed to a steady torrent of microbes in which to reproduce. Mucus mainly consists of huge molecular complexes called mucins, which are made up of thousands of glycan sugars attached to a central protein backbone. The team showed that phages stick to these sugars, reducing the number of bacteria that can attach to mucus by more than 10,000 times."
colinneagle writes "Scripps News reporters discovered 170,000 records online of customers of Lifeline, a government program offering affordable phone service for low-income citizens, that contained everything needed for identity theft . Last year, the FCC 'tightened' the rules for the program by requiring Lifeline phone carriers to document applicants' eligibility, which led to collecting more sensitive information from citizens. A Scripps News investigative team claims it 'Googled' the phone companies TerraCom Inc. and YourTel America Inc. to discover all of the files. A Scripps reporter asked for an on-camera interview with the COO of TerraCom and YourTel after explaining the files were freely available online. That did not happen, but shortly thereafter the customer records disappeared from the internet. Then, the blame-the-messenger hacker accusations and mudslinging began. Although the Scripps reporters videotaped the process showing how they found the documents, attorney Jonathon Lee for both telecoms threatened the 'Scripps Hackers' with violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)."
First time accepted submitter ectoman writes "A third party steps into a financial transaction to make sure all parties exchange funds at the same time and as expected. Can you patent this process? What if the third party is a computer? Rob Tiller, vice president and general counsel for Red Hat, details a recent court ruling on this very matter—one that has critical implications for the future of software patents, and one that divided the judges involved. Tiller writes that: 'The judges mostly agreed that the idea of managing settlement risk with a third party was abstract such that by itself it could not be patented. They differed, though, on whether using a general purpose computer for managing settlement risk meant that the patents avoided invalidity based on abstraction.' Interestingly, some judges suggested that a computer becomes a 'new machine' every time it loads different software."
game designer Steve Jackson and a bunch of friends building Lego trains and tracks and scenery, including buildings and other props. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? The group calls itself the Texas Brick Railroad. A lot of members have children, so their meetings tend to be family affairs. Plus, as they're doing here, they often display their train sets at public events where -- yes -- their trains attract children like crazy. This video shows off both current Lego trains and some of the classic, no-longer-sold Lego trains that members have collected over the years, including the highly-prized monorails. There's a transcript, but face it: This is basically visual material, and worth checking out on a computer or handheld that runs Flash if your normal one doesn't. (We've requested an upgrade from Flash-only video, but don't hold your breath. It might be a good while before we get it.)
benrothke writes "Had Locked Down: Information Security for Lawyers not been published by the American Bar Association (ABA) and 2 of its 3 authors not been attorneys; one would have thought the book is a reproach against attorneys for their obliviousness towards information security and privacy. In numerous places, the book notes that lawyers are often clueless when it comes to digital security. With that, the book is a long-overdue and valuable information security reference for anyone, not just lawyers." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
itwbennett writes "Last week, Dell said that it would be 'refining' its OpenStack plans. Now we know that 'refining' means 'backing away from'. Although the company wouldn't answer direct questions on the subject, a press release spells it out like this: 'Sales of Dell's current in-house multi-tenant public cloud IaaS will be discontinued in the U.S. in favor of best-in-class partner offerings.' Interestingly, none of Dell's initial partners, including Joyent, ScaleMatrix and ZeroLag, have platforms built on OpenStack."
sciencehabit writes "Archaeologists have long debated when early humans began hurling stone-tipped spears and darts at large prey. By throwing a spear, instead of thrusting it, humans could hunt buffalo and other dangerous game from a safe distance, with less risk of a goring or mauling. But direct evidence of this hunting technique in early sites has been lacking. A new study of impact marks on the bones of ancient prey shows that such sophisticated killing techniques go back at least 90,000 years ago in Africa and offers a new method of determining how prehistoric hunters made their kills."
jyosim writes "Hundreds of people are spending 20 or 30 hours a week just taking free Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. They're not looking for credit, just the challenge of learning. This Chronicle of Higher Ed story looks at whether these MOOC addicts think they're learning as much as they would in a traditional college course. From the article: 'Consider Anna Nachesa, a 42-year-old single mother in a village near Amsterdam who logs on to MOOCs for several hours each night after dinner with her teenage kids. She has always found TV boring, she says, and for her, MOOCs replace reading books. She is a physicist by training, with a degree from Moscow State University, and she works as a software developer. "This stuff is actually addictive," she says. In some ways the lure is like Everest: Some want to climb it to see if they can. "The Dutch have the proverb 'If you never shoot, you already missed,'" she says.'"
kkleiner writes "The FDA is finalizing its review of the antibacterial agent triclosan common to many soaps and other health/household products after four decades of use. Recent studies suggest the chemical may be harmful to animals and could interfere with the human immune system along with increasing the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The agency has been slow to cast a verdict, to much criticism considering its widespread use."
judgecorp writes "Government institutions are among the targets of an attack on Pakistani bodies, which originates in India, according to reports. The campaign is using vulnerabilities in Microsoft software to install the HangOver malware, according to Norwegian security firm Norman Shark (PDF). From the article: 'In the attacks on Pakistani organizations, spear phishing emails were sent out purporting to contain information on "ongoing conflicts in the region, regional culture and religious matters," according to Norman. Norman could not provide direct attribution to the attacks, but its report did note the following: "The continued targeting of Pakistani interests and origins suggested that the attacker was of Indian origin." Snorre Fagerland, principal security researcher in the Malware Detection Team at Norman, told TechWeekEurope it appeared Pakistani government bodies had been attacked.'"
x_IamSpartacus_x writes "Jolla, the Finnish company that continued Nokia's work on the MeeGo mobile platform, announced details of its first smartphone on Monday. Availability for the Jolla device is expected by year end and can be pre-ordered now; the phone will be priced at no more than €399 (US $512.26). The Jolla hardware looks similar to that of Nokia's Lumia, with a clean, button-less front face that houses the 4.5-inch touchcscreen. The phone will use a dual-core processor and support 4G LTE in some regions. Internal storage tops out at 16 GB, but can be expanded via microSD card. The phone also includes an 8 megapixel rear camera with auto focus. The phone is also 'Android app compliant' which, in a move similar to that of BlackBerry, can help with available apps at launch."