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Transportation

Bruce Schneier vs. the TSA 741

An anonymous reader writes "Bruce Schneier has posted a huge recap of the controversy over TSA body scanners, including more information about the lawsuit he joined to ban them. There's too much news to summarize, but it covers everything from Penn Jillette's and Dave Barry's grope stories, to Israeli experts who say this isn't needed and hasn't ever stopped a bomb, to the three-year-old girl who was traumatized by being groped and much, much more." Another reader passed along a related article, which says, "Congressman Ron Paul lashed out at the TSA yesterday and introduced a bill aimed at stopping federal abuse of passengers. Paul’s proposed legislation would pave the way for TSA employees to be sued for feeling up Americans and putting them through unsafe naked body scanners."
The Internet

Like Democracy, the Web Needs To Be Defended 108

climenole tips a great article by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in Scientific American. Quoting: "The Web evolved into a powerful, ubiquitous tool because it was built on egalitarian principles and because thousands of individuals, universities and companies have worked, both independently and together as part of the World Wide Web Consortium, to expand its capabilities based on those principles. The Web as we know it, however, is being threatened in different ways. Some of its most successful inhabitants have begun to chip away at its principles. Large social-networking sites are walling off information posted by their users from the rest of the Web. Wireless Internet providers are being tempted to slow traffic to sites with which they have not made deals. Governments — totalitarian and democratic alike — are monitoring people's online habits, endangering important human rights. If we, the Web's users, allow these and other trends to proceed unchecked, the Web could be broken into fragmented islands. We could lose the freedom to connect with whichever Web sites we want."
Patents

RuneScape Developer Victorious Over Patent Troll 89

An anonymous reader writes "Gamasutra reports that a US District Court judge has dismissed the patent infringement lawsuit brought against RuneScape developer Jagex discussed previously on Slashdot. Judge David Folsom last week dismissed online chat company Paltalk's claims that Jagex infringed on Paltalk patents relating to online network communications. The judge's ruling only resolved Jagex's case. Microsoft settled with Paltalk for an undisclosed sum in 2009 after the online communication technology company sued over the patents in a $90 million claim. That settlement opened the door to Paltalk's claims against other game companies, including Blizzard, Turbine, SOE and NCSoft. Paltalk alleged in the Jagex-related suit that it had suffered 'tens of millions of dollars' in damages. Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard said in a statement, 'It is exceedingly unfortunate that the US legal system can force a company with a sole presence in Cambridge, UK to incur a seven-digit expense and waste over a year of management time on a case with absolutely no merit,' and that Jagex 'will not hesitate to vigorously defend our position against any patent trolls who bring lawsuits against us in the future.'"
Supercomputing

Submission + - The problem with the Top500 supercomputer list (idg.com.au)

angry tapir writes: "Like Hollywood's Academy Awards, the Top500 list of supercomputers is dutifully watched by high-performance computing (HPC) participants and observers, even as they vocally doubt its fidelity to excellence. Many question the use of a single metric — Linpack — to rank the performance of something as mind-bogglingly complex as a supercomputer. During one panel at the SC2010 conference this week in New Orleans, one high-performance-computing vendor executive joked about stringing together 100,000 Android smartphones to get the largest Linpack number, thereby revealing the "stupidity" of Linpack. While grumbling about Linpack is nothing new, the discontent was pronounced this year as more systems, such as the Tianhe-1A, used GPUs (graphics processing units) to boost Linpack ratings, in effect gaming the Top500 list."
Security

TSA Pats Down 3-Year-Old 1135

3-year-old Mandy Simon started crying when her teddy bear had to go through the X-ray machine at airport security in Chattanooga, Tenn. She was so upset that she refused to go calmly through the metal detector, setting it off twice. Agents then informed her parents that she "must be hand-searched." The subsequent TSA employee pat down of the screaming child was captured by her father, who happens to be a reporter, on his cell phone. The video have left some questioning why better procedures for children aren't in place. I, for one, feel much safer knowing the TSA is protecting us from impressionable minds warped by too much Dora the Explorer.
Input Devices

USB Is the Devil's Connection 474

Jamie handed us Satan's Data Connection. You see, sane and rational human being, the USB logo is actually in the shape of a trident, and the obvious action to Evangelical Christians in Brazil is to ban its use. Hopefully they don't mispronounce SCSI and find themselves lusting after their PCs.
Government

Proposed Final ACTA Text Published 148

ciaran_o_riordan writes "The US Trade Representative has published a text which, subject only to a last legal review, is proposed to be the final text of ACTA. The differences between this text and last month's, from the Tokyo round, are mostly cosmetic but there's an important positive change giving signatories the option of excluding patents from section 2. As for software patents, most harm has been avoided. If signatories make use of the section 2 exclusion option, there might be no harm at all. Lobbying for this will be important. Meanwhile, the many problems regarding Digital Restrictions Management, and the extra powers given to businesses to obtain personal and identifying information about accused copyright infringers "in the Digital Environment" are still there (mostly section 5). Earlier texts were much worse. The improvements in recent months are surely due to public outcry, leaving us indebted to the anonymous friends who scanned and leaked the various secret versions and the activists who made text versions and spread them across the Internet. There's a chance we can still influence the text in this legal review phase, but the bigger task ahead will be working on the national implementations. It's not yet clear what procedure the US will require for its own ratification."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Video Games Found To Enhance Visual Attention 79

donniebaseball23 writes "Reporting on new research from WIREs Cognitive Science, IndustryGamers writes: 'Action games like Call of Duty and Halo can enhance visual attention, the ability that helps us focus on relevant visual information. The mental mechanism allows people to select pertinent visual information and ignore irrelevant information. It suggests that action titles can be used to augment military training, educational tools, and correct visual deficits.' Shawn Green, co-author of the study, commented, 'At the core of these action video game-induced improvements appears to be a remarkable enhancement in the ability to flexibly and precisely control attention, a finding that could have a variety of real-world applications. For example, those in professions that demand "super-normal" visual attention, such as fighter pilots, would benefit enormously from enhanced visual attention, as their performance and lives depend on their ability to react quickly and accurately to primarily visual information."
Government

National Opt-Out Day Against Virtual Strip Searches 647

An anonymous reader writes in about a protest called for the busiest airline travel day of the year. "An activist opposed to the new invasive body scanners in use at airports around the country just designated Wednesday, Nov. 24 as a National Opt-Out Day. He's encouraging airline passengers to decline the TSA's technological strip searches en masse on that day as a protest against the scanners, as well as the new 'enhanced pat-downs' inflicted on refuseniks. 'The goal of National Opt-Out Day is to send a message to our lawmakers that we demand change,' reads the call to action at OptOutDay.com, set up by Brian Sodegren. 'No naked body scanners, no government-approved groping. We have a right to privacy, and buying a plane ticket should not mean that we're guilty until proven innocent.' The US Airline Pilots Association and other pilot groups have urged their members to avoid the scanners and have also condemned the new pat-down policy as humiliating to pilots. They've advised pilots who don't feel comfortable undergoing pat-downs in front of passengers to request they be conducted in a private room. Any pilots who don't feel comfortable after undergoing a pat-down have been encouraged to 'call in sick and remove themselves from the trip.'"

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