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Submission + - What data mining firms know about you ( 1

storagedude writes: "Time writer Joel Stein spent three months learning what data mining companies know about him. After learning everything the companies had profiled about him (some of it inaccurate) — social security number, age, marital status, religion, income, debt, interests, browsing and spending habits — he had a surprising reaction: complacency.

"... oddly, the more I learned about data mining, the less concerned I was. Sure, I was surprised that all these companies are actually keeping permanent files on me. But I don't think they will do anything with them that does me any harm. There should be protections for vulnerable groups, and a government-enforced opt-out mechanism would be great for accountability. But I'm pretty sure that, like me, most people won't use that option. Of the people who actually find the Ads Preferences page — and these must be people pretty into privacy — only 1 in 8 asks to opt out of being tracked. The rest, apparently, just like to read privacy rules."


Submission + - Google Draws Fire From Congress (

bonch writes: Democrat Herb Kohl, the Senate's leading antitrust legislator, has vowed an antitrust probe into Google as one of his top priorities. Others in Congress are criticizing the search giant over several flubs, including scanning personal data over neighborhood WiFi, collecting Social Security information from children in a doodling contest, and sidestepping net neutrality rules through a deal with Verizon. They're also concerned over ties with the administration--Eric Schmidt is a technology advisor to President Obama, Andrew McLaughlin serves as Obama's deputy chief technology officer, and Sonal Shah leads the White House Office of Social Innovation. Google spent $5.2 million last year on federal lobbying, but critics say their increased Washington presence has made more enemies than friends.

Submission + - Prepare for Massive Wave of Earthquake Scams (

wiredmikey writes: Today’s tragic events of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and resulting Tsunami, as sad as it is, is a dream for scammers and fraudsters around the world. Tragic events are always something scammers use to their advantage, helping them prey on and exploit innocent victims.

Scams are already spreading across Facebook, which started in a matter of minutes after the news broke of the earthquake in Japan. As I write this, scammers are hard at work, registering new domains and cranking out templates for their fake donation sites. This will be followed with massive volumes of email spam, Tweets through Twitter, and Facebook posts, as scammers gear up to solicit donations from around the world. Users also need to be aware that cybercriminals also use these events to help spread malware, via malicious links via spam, twitter and other fake Web sites.


Submission + - Google Introduces Block Domain To Search

An anonymous reader writes: Aimed at stripping search results of pages from 'low-quality' sites, a new Google Chrome extension was introduced to block specified websites from appearing in search results. Now, Google has introduced a new feature that hide results from unwanted domains. This is yet another way to find more of what you want on Google by blocking the sites you don’t want to see at all in search result. This was frequently requested by many slashdotters. The so-called "experts exchange" or "online eHow to guide" would be first on my blocked list.

Submission + - Novell Sale Delayed Until April Due to Patents ( 1

darthcamaro writes: Novell's $2.2 billion dollar acquisition by Attachmate isn't going to close as soon as first expected. A key part of the deal is the sale of 882 patents to a consortium of vendors led by Microsoft. The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the patent deal and is now pushing out the close until at least April 12th. Does this mean the deal is in trouble?

Submission + - US Lawyers Target Swedish Pirate And His Unicorn (

Chaonici writes: When a Swedish citizen identified as Ryan heard about US movie studio Liberty Media's plan to get copyright infringers to confess and voluntarily pay up, he couldn't stop himself from sending them a satirical email promising that he will pay 'from the pot of gold I got at the leprechaun at the end of the rainbow', regardless of scathing criticism of the studio from his unicorn. However, despite his location, the jesting nature of the email, and his insistence that he has never downloaded anything for which the studio is suing, Liberty Media's lawyers have taken the 'confession' seriously, and have issued a subpoena to Google for personal information related to Ryan's Gmail account. In a phone call, the legal team affirmed their determination to 'hunt him down, all the way to Sweden if need be.'

Submission + - Anonymous Git Hosting for PS3 Tools (

Anonymous Coward writes: " maintains a decentralized git server for all the code and tools Sony has been trying to remove off the internet. No logs are kept of user access, ip, etc and no owner names are given out. We hope to provide the PS3 Homebrew community with a comprehensive list of software and tools for hacking the PS3 all hosted in one place."

Comment Typical usage habits don't suggest replacement (Score 2) 449

I don't believe that the majority of these shipped app device units are being used in a true computing capacity. In my day to day exposure, smart phones in particular don't tend to be used for much beyond the capabilities of earlier cell phones.

Especially among the younger crowd, who now seem to think that owning an iPhone 4 is the new minimum requirement for acceptance by their peers, the typical use seems to mostly comprise texting and music playback, with the occasional use of the camera for taking pictures of their friends while drunk. Facebook has definitely made significant inroads, but not too many people are using advanced features of Facebook or using more complex web applications from their smartphones. Some games are present, which are definitely more impressive than what previously existed as games on cell phones, but which mostly fill the same role: idle time wasters when on the go.

In my office environment, everyone has a smart phone. No one uses one as a primary email device, a primary web browsing device or a general office productivity device. The dominant use is scheduling, which requires syncronization with their computer-based scheduling, and email & web browsing while not in the office.

iPads have made some inroads as a computer replacement, with a few people using them as laptop-replacements for meeting notetaking and presentations, but still they're not being used as a primary productivity device.

I see these mobile devices, currently, as a supplement to personal computers which can be omni-present. Because they fit in a pocket and combine functionality with a required gadget (cell phones), more people are web browsing on the go or performing some tasks that previously may have required access to a computer. They still have syncing relationships to computers that are critical to many of their functions, and most functions still work better from a real computer. I doubt that any time soon you will see someone replacing their work PC with a smart phone, and the consumers that might replace a home PC with one probably didn't use that home PC very much.

Comment Re:Great platform security there... (Score 1) 71

This is the continuation of Facebook's rubber-band of privacy policy. First, they open up a grievous hole. Then, there's an inevitable tide of user outrage, usually coinciding with a Facebook group complaining about it and threatening mass exodus, creating tension on the rubber band. Eventually, the tension overcomes Facebook's inertia and motivates them to fix the hole they created, jerking things forward to be briefly in sync with sensible standards, until they make the next grievous hole and start the stretching process again.

It's a game of seeing how much they can get away with and for how long, only addressing their own problems with minimal efforts when a snapping point nears. Eventually, there will be an API-level prevention of this sort of behaviour, only to be replaced with a new massive security hole.

Most users will just continue blissfully onward posting photos of themselves and friends engaged in compromising situations while under the influence of a wide array of intoxicants, with every sordid detail shared freely with prospective employers. Even iron-tight platform security can't cure the kind of stupid that is Facebook's bread and butter.

Comment Re:This is news? (Score 2, Insightful) 182

It's interesting in that it's one of the cases where pursuit of an aesthetic has undermined functionality.

I work at a university where its Industrial Design program is a pretty big deal, but it's plagued with projects that completely fail in usability (ie, a brushed metal and fogged glass "chair" that will explode into twisted shrapnel if more than 20lbs of load is applied). Strangely, the completely nonfunctional pieces tend to be awarded higher grades because they're more "daring" or have more "vision". The mindset is often that concept of the design is most important, and it will be someone else's job to work out the crippling problems presented by the unrealistic choices made by the designer.

The odd piece is quite complete and very functional, but usually gets awarded a B for not having enough time spent obsessing over the finishing, because a critical design requirement is to spend dozens of hours sanding.

Comment Re:The real question (Score 2, Insightful) 182

White with iPhones is a way of advertising that you have the more expensive model, as it historically only exists as an option for the top-end model. All of the people who know the difference will be totally impressed when they see it and will respect you and/or want to have sex with you.

It's like wearing a fancy watch or paying for a drink with a hundred dollar bill at the bar. Visible signs of wealth trump personality and good looks.

Comment Re:No (Score 1) 175

There are a lot of different things that make people quit... for example, I didn't care much for the original herding-massive-quantities-of-cats-into-gigantic-raids-to-get-a-chance-at-one-piece-of-loot model that they used in the original and quit after becoming frustrated with the end game. Some of the changes that have been made since then might have convinced me to stick around if they'd come earlier.

There seems to be a rotating focus on some alienated portion of the player-base with each iteration, now with some bones being thrown back to the uberhardcore raid nuts, the very same group that the original version of WoW catered to and then abandoned progressively with each expansion. While attempting to juggle all of the competing interests of a diverse playerbase, they're definitely dropping some balls. Maybe the next expansion will have something that rekindles your interest, or maybe you'll remain free of the addiction like me and marvel at how much extra time you have to waste on other equally meaningless pursuits.

I took up alcohol.

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