Submission + - Any NSA moles out there? 3

Vegemite writes: With all the fuss about Snowden I recognize there are many former employees of the NSA and how these ongoing revelations are going to affect them. The only former NSA employee I met was about the same time I was putting together a crypto library to test verilog code and subsequently the security chip for my employer. Access to the code base was universal. Heck, we're all on the same team, right? Now, this former NSA person would not have willingly given out a menu selection from the NSA cafeteria nor one reason for leaving his former employer. It seems to me that while this may be ordinary behavior for a former NSA employee, it also cultivates an air of suspicion. Considering the beligerant nature of the NSA towards our privacy, it seems only natural to suspect they have planted a few moles in selected security positions. If I were producing any cryptographic hardware or software products, all former NSA employees would be re-investigated just to save my company's credibility.

Submission + - Bad Commercial Satellite Imagery Helps Sink a US Navy Ship 1

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Bob Brewin writes in Defense One that a US government agency misplaced a reef in the Philippine Islands by eight miles on its digital nautical charts, which helped cause the USS Guardian to run aground January 17 destroying the ship. Letitia Long, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, told the Chief of Naval Operations that the digital nautical chart display of the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea was wrong due to erroneous commercial satellite imagery. The error was compounded by “exclusive reliance” of the minesweeper's crew on GPS as a “single source of navigation.” The crew did not pay heed to lighthouses on the reef, according to an investigation report by the commander of US Pacific Fleet. The investigation blamed the grounding primarily on the crew’s failure to reconcile the differences between digital nautical charts of the area and more refined coastal charts. The Navy report says the grounding and destruction of the minesweeper highlights “potential systemic issues” (PDF) on ships that use the Navy’s computer based vessel management system and its electronic chart and display system. The last time a significant mapping error caused an international incident was in 1999, when the United States bombed China’s embassy in Belgrade, Serbia during the war, killing three people. Some foreign news accounts reported that the strike was deliberate, but US officials have resolutely held to the line that a mapping error occurred.

Submission + - California school district hires firm to monitor students' social media

An anonymous reader writes: A suburban Los Angeles school district is taking a novel approach to tackling the problem of cyber-bullying. It's paying a company to snoop on students' social media pages. 'The district in Glendale, California, is paying $40,500 to a firm to monitor and report on 14,000 middle and high school students' posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social media for one year. Though critics liken the monitoring to government stalking, school officials and their contractor say the purpose is student safety. As classes began this fall, the district awarded the contract after it earlier paid the firm, Geo Listening, $5,000 last spring to conduct a pilot project monitoring 9,000 students at three high schools and a middle school. Among the results was a successful intervention with a student "who was speaking of ending his life" on his social media, said Chris Frydrych, CEO of the firm.'

Submission + - Wrap That Rascal With A USB Condom, Practice Safe Charging ( 1

MojoKid writes: Yep, a USB condom. That term is mostly a dose of marketing brilliance, which is to say that grabs your attention while also serving as an apt description of the product. A little company called has developed a product—a USB condom—that blocks the data pins in your USB device while leaving the power pins free. Thus, any time you need to plug a device such as a smartphones into a USB port to charge it—let’s say at a public charging kiosk or a coworker’s computer--you don’t have to worry about compromising any data or contracting some nasty malware. It’s one of those simple solutions that seems so obvious once someone came up with it.

Submission + - NSA Spies on International Payments

jones_supa writes: The National Security Agency (NSA) widely monitors international payments, banking and credit card transactions, according to documents seen by SPIEGEL. Information acquired by the former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, show that the spying is conducted by a branch called Follow the Money (FTM). The collected information then flows into the NSA's own financial databank, called Tracfin, which in 2011 contained 180 million records. Some 84 percent of the data is from credit card transactions.

Submission + - Mitsuku wins Loebner Prize 2013 (

mikejuk writes: The final round of the 23rd annual Loebner Prize competion took place in Londonderry, Northern Ireland 24th September with four chatbots hoping to convince four judges that they were humans. Mitsuku, a chatbot that is kept busy chatting to people around the world, was awarded this year's bronze medal.
Mitsuku's botmaster, Steve Worswick, used to run a music website. Once he added a chatbot he discovered more people visited to chat than for music so he concentrated all his efforts on the bot but he still regards it as a hobby. Mitsuku uses AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup Language) and is a pandorabot, based on the free open-source-based community webservice the enables anyone who wants to, to develop and publish chatbots on the web.

Submission + - Open Source USB DAC passes CE and FCC tests (

BorgeStrand writes: The Audio Widget project has resulted in a fully functional open source USB digital-to-analog converter. The project firmware implements asynchronous USB Audio Class 1 & 2 in an Atmel MCU. Because of its recent popularity, one of the hardware implementations was subjected to CE and FCC test regimes. And it passed with flying colors. The AB-1.2 DAC from QNKTC (Quantization Noise Killed The Cat — has firmware, electrical schematics and a Windows ASIO driver which are all open source. Although it plays well out of the box, anyone so inclined is very welcome to modify its internals and share their results with the rest of the group.

Submission + - Back when patents had to be innovative

fermion writes: This weeks "Who Made That" column in The New York Times concerns the built in pencil eraser. In 1858 Hymen Lipman put a rubber plug into the wood shaft of a pencil. An investor then paid about 2 million in today's dollars for the patent. This investor might have become very rich had the supreme court not ruled that all Lipmen had dome was put together two known technologies, so the patent was not valid. The question is where has this need for patents to be innovative gone? After all there is the Amazon one-click patent which, after revision, has been upheld. Microsoft Activesync technology patent seems to simply patent copying information from one place to another. In this modern day do patents promote innovation, or simply protect firms from competition?

Submission + - German Data Protection Expert Warns Against Using iPhone5S Fingerprint Function (

dryriver writes: Translated from Der Spiegel: Hamburg Data-Protection Specialist Johannes Caspar warns against using iPhone 5S's new Fingerprint ID function. "The biometric features of your body, like your fingerprints, cannot be erased or deleted. They stay with you until the end of your life and stay constant — they cannot be changed. One should thus avoid using biometric ID technologies for non-vital or casual everyday uses like turning on a smartphone. This is especially true if a biometric ID, like your fingerprint, is stored in a data file on the electronic device you are using." Caspar finds Apple's argument that "your fingerprint is only stored on the iPhone, never transmitted over the network" weak and misleading. "The average iPhone user is not capable of checking, on a technical level, what happens to his or her fingerprint once it is on the iPhone. He or she cannot tell with any certainty or ease what kind of private data applications downloaded onto the iPhone can or cannot access. The recent disclosure of spying programs like Prism makes it riskier than ever before to share important personal data with electronic devices." Caspar adds: "As a matter of principle, one should never hand over any biometric data when it isn't strictly needed. Handing over a non-changeable biometric feature like a fingerprint for no better reason than that it provides 'some convenience' in everyday use, is ill advised and foolish. One must always be extremely cautious where and for what reasons one hands over biometric features."

Submission + - No Child Left Untableted

theodp writes: Made possible by a $30 million grant from the Dept. of Education’s Race to the Top program, the NY Times reports that every student and teacher in 18 of Guilford County's (NC) middle schools is receiving a tablet created and sold by Amplify, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. The tablets — 15,450 in all — are to be used for class work, homework, educational games — just about everything. With a total annual per unit lease cost of $214, Amplify was the low bidder of those responding to Guilford's Race-to-the-Top RFP, including Apple. Touted by Amplify as one of the largest tablet deployments in K-12 education, the deal raised some eyebrows, since Guilford's School Superintendent once reported to an Amplify EVP when the latter was the superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, coincidentally a proving ground of the Gates Foundation. Amplify and the Gates Foundation are partners on a controversial national K-12 student tracking database that counts the Guilford County Schools among its guinea pigs. Getting back to the hardware, after putting their John Hancock on a Student Tablet Agreement and the Acceptable Use Guidelines for Tablet, students are provided with an ASUS-made tablet "similar to ASUS MeMO Pad ME301T" ($279 at Wal-Mart). The News & Record reports on some glitches encountered in the first week of the program, including Internet connectivity issues affecting about 5% of the tablets.

Submission + - Two Birmingham Men Are Arrested by UK's New Intellectual Property Crime Unit (

cervesaebraciator writes: The Guardian reports that the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has arrested two men from Birmingham and have seized "suspected counterfeit DVD box sets worth around £40,000, including titles such as Game of Thrones, CSI and Vampire Diaries." The claim is that the men were buying foreign counterfeit copies and selling them online as genuine. London police commissioner Adriad Leppard offers commentary indicative of the thinking behind these efforts, saying, "Intellectual property crime is already costing our economy hundreds of millions of pounds a year and placing thousands of jobs under threat, and left unchecked and free to feed on new technology could destroy some of our most creative and productive industries." The article offers £51 billion per month as an estimate for the cost of illegal downloading to the music, film, and software industry, a figure they say will triple by 2015. To give a sense of scale here, according to IMF numbers the nominal 2012 GDP of the UK was roughly $2.4 trillion (or about £1.5 trillion at the current exchange rate). Following the estimates used here to justify the PIPCU, the total cost of piracy to the music, film, and software industry should be £1.836 trillion, i.e. larger than the British economy in 2012.

Submission + - FISA Court Will Release More Opinions Because Of Snowden (

cold fjord writes: Looks like more evidence against being a rubber stamp. The Washington Post reports, "Citing the former NSA contractor, a federal judge has ordered the government to declassify more reports from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. In an opinion from the FISC itself, Judge F. Dennis Saylor on Friday told the White House to declassify all the legal opinions relating to Section 215 of the Patriot Act written after May 2011 that aren't already the subject of FOIA litigation. The court ruled (.pdf) that the White House must identify the opinions in question by Oct. 4. "The unauthorized disclosure of in June 2013 of a Section 215 order, and government statements in response to that disclosure, have engendered considerable public interest and debate about Section 215," wrote Saylor. "Publication of FISC opinions relating to this opinion would contribute to an informed debate." The ruling comes in response to a petition by the American Civil Liberties Union seeking greater government transparency. But because the ACLU already has a similar FOIA case pending in another court, Saylor wrote that the new FISC order can only cover documents that don't relate to that case."

Submission + - Tooth Cavities May Protect Against Cancer

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: John Gever reports at MedPage Today that according to a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Buffalo, people with more cavities in their teeth are 32 percent less likely to suffer from head and neck cancers. "To our knowledge, the present study suggests, for the first time, an independent association between dental caries and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma." The researchers proposed a mechanism for the apparent protective effect: that cariogenic, lactic acid-producing bacteria prompt cell-mediated Th1 immune responses that suppress tumor formation. The team examined records of patients older than 21 seen in the university's dental and maxillofacial prosthetics department from 1999 to 2007, identifying 399 who were newly diagnosed with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Assuming that the association between caries and reduced cancer risk is real, the team suggests that one could regard the cariogenic bacteria as beneficial overall, with caries "a form of collateral damage." Therefore an appropriate strategy could be to target that effect specifically without aggressively targeting the bacteria. "Antimicrobial treatment, vaccination, or gene therapy against cariogenic bacteria may lead to more harm than good in the long run."

Submission + - Feature-Rich FreeBSD 10 Alpha Released (

An anonymous reader writes: The first alpha release of FreeBSD 10.0 is now available for download. FreeBSD 10 Features include replacing GCC with LLVM/Clang, VPS support, an AMD Radeon KMS support, Raspberry Pi support, Bhyve for HVN virtualization, and ARM EABI support.

Submission + - "Patent troll" closes controversial podcast patent deal with SanDisk (

wabrandsma writes: The patent company Personal Audio of James Logan has closed a licensing agreement with SanDisk. The company says that now "between a third and two thirds of all mp3 audio players" is made by the companies to which its patents have been licensed, including LG, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Blackberry and Amazon.

In the past Logan even went "into the lion's den," fielding a question-and-answer session at Slashdot.

The digital civil rights movement Electronic Frontier Foundation wants to fight Personal Audio's podcasting patent at the US Patent and Trademark Office. The money for the procedure, about 30,000 dollars, was brought in earlier this year through crowdfunding.

Submission + - Director of National Intelligence says Snowden prompted a needed conversation (

McGruber writes: At a Washington conference Thursday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that, while former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden's acts were egregious, those actions sparked much needed conversations that should have happened a long time ago. Clapper is also disturbed by the impact and public perception the leaks have had on NSA and the potential national security damage to come.

Agencies are focusing more on the insider threat today than they were pre-Snowden. Clapper also noted the intelligence community’s initiative to standardize IT across agencies — called ICITE — and improve security and information sharing. Had IT capabilities under ICITE been implemented, agencies might have detected Snowden, he said.

Submission + - Stephen Colbert and the Monster Truck of Tivos

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Lee Hutchinson writes at Ars Technica that when you're picking out a DVR for your home, there's a pretty short list of candidates—TiVo has its new 6-tuner DVRs, or you can get something from your cable provider, or you can roll your own. But SnapStream makes a line of 30+ channel DVRs that can record dozens of TV shows simultaneously. It's products are the monster trucks of the DVR world used by popular shows like The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, and The Soup. A SnapStream cluster can repackage, transcode, and distribute content for re-use — functionality you won't find on a consumer-grade DVR. "Being able to record, say, all of the news channels was something companies were interested in," says Aaron Thompson, SnapStream's president.. "The Daily Show, Colbert Report, and so on all use it to record a bunch of stuff, find what they want to make fun of, and quickly get it into their editing bays to get it on air." Prior to SnapStream, the big media companies were using isolated DVRs to record all the different television channels and shows like "The Colbert Report" had armies of interns to watch and catalog all the recorded TV but SnapStream can search the entire recorded library for video based on keywords in the closed captions. “We bring some of the power of ‘new media,’ the ability to search, copy and paste, and e-mail clips, to the old media of television for organizations,” says Rakesh Agrawal . “You weren’t able to search television before, but now you can. Now you can pinpoint stuff and you can hold people accountable and move at the same speed at which media works in the online world.”

Submission + - Google Execs Used Discount Code 'NASA' to Buy Jet Fuel 1

theodp writes: When Google CEO Larry Page gassed-up three of the jets he owns (with Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt) to tote guests to his brother-in-law's wedding in Croatia, Pentagon records show that the trio's corporate entity H211 bought 24,000+ gallons of jet fuel at NASA's Moffett Field just prior to the departure, paying an average of $3.33 a gallon, at least $1.10 per gallon less than the going rate. The Dept. of Defense, it turns out, only just ended a program in which it sold sharply discounted fuel to three of the world's richest men for use in their fleet of jets parked at Moffett. The move, according to the WSJ, followed discussions earlier this year between the Pentagon and NASA over whether the Google founders may have exceeded contract terms by using sharply discounted jet fuel bought from the Pentagon for non-government flights. In April, Wired reported that Google’s top three execs are expected to move their collection of jets to an $82 million private terminal at Mineta San Jose International Airport

Submission + - "Open source, open world" - Foreign Affairs on FOSS in Brazil (

Ian Grant writes: A brief, "not for the geek", look at open source software in Brazil and how it's transforming tech use in South America:

Bringing free software to Brazil, however, is not just a matter of copying North American practices. The idea of free software has also been substantially transformed through contact with Brazilian politics.

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