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Submission + - Evolution in Science Textbooks for Texas Schools ( 1

windwalker13th writes: Recently the New York Times ran an article highlighting the pull that a State Board in Texas holds over that state and rest of the Nation. Because of the unique way in which Texas picks school textbooks (purchasing large volumes of textbooks at once to be used for the next decade) publishers pander to this board to get their books approved. The board currently holds several members (6 of 28 who are known to reject evolution) who hold creationist views and actively work to ensure that the science textbooks do not use as strong language or must include "critical thinking" about possible alternate explanations for evolution. The 'Theory of Evolution' as currently set forth while a "theory" is more FACT/LAW (Like Newtown’s Three Laws of Motion). So while our exact understanding of humans origins, if we evolved from monkeys as most evidence indicate or, were created a little while ago on the geological time frame by an all knowing creator, or were a planet seeded by aliens is still somewhat up for debate evolution is not. What can we as a society do to ensure that K-12 schools are teaching our kids that the change in features of Galapagos finches is the result of natural selection driven by changing environmental conditions and the process of evolution?

Submission + - Amazon: A Crazy Place to Work (

Rambo Tribble writes: The BBC is reporting that an investigation into a UK-based Amazon facility has uncovered conditions that experts believe foster mental illness. At the root of the problem seems to be unreasonable performance expectations combined with a fundamentally dehumanizing environment.

Submission + - BlackBerry's CFO, CMO, and COO Leave Company

cagraham writes: In a pretty major executive shakeup, BlackBerry's Chief Financial Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, and Chief Operating Officer have all left the company. It's unclear whether the changes were brought about by new interim-CEO John Chen in order to facilitate company change, or represent an abandon-ship style exit after BlackBerry's failed bid to go private. The company announced that the CFO position would be filled by current SVP James Yersch, but gave no word on the other vacancies.

Submission + - FDA Tells Google-Backed 23andMe to Halt DNA Test Service

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Bloomberg reports that 23andMe Inc., the Google-backed DNA analysis company, has been told by US regulators to halt sales of its main product, the Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service, or PGS that tells users whether they carry a disease, are at risk of a disease and would respond to a drug because the kit is being sold without FDA's marketing clearance or approval. “FDA is concerned about the public health consequences of inaccurate results from the PGS device,” says the agency. “The main purpose of compliance with FDA’s regulatory requirements is to ensure that the tests work." 23andMe was founded six years ago by Anne Wojcicki, who recently separated from her husband, Google co-founder Sergey Brin. The FDA decided in 2010 that services claiming to evaluate a customer’s risk of disease must be cleared by regulators if the companies sell directly to consumers. Most FDA-cleared genetic tests are for a single disease while 23andMe’s would be the first to test for multiple conditions. 23andMe submitted FDA applications in July and September of 2012 for the least stringent of two types of medical device reviews but the FDA said the company failed to address “the issues described during previous interactions.”

Submission + - Researchers present covert acoustical mesh networks in air (

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers at Fraunhofer FKIE, Germany have presented a paper on covert acoustical communications between laptop computers.
In their paper "On Covert Acoustical Mesh Networks in Air", they describe how acoustical communication can be used to secretly bridge air gaps between computers and connect computers and networks that are thought to be completely isolated from each other. By using ad-hoc routing protocols, they are able to build up a complete mesh network of infected computers that leaks data over multiple hops. A multi-hop acoustical keylogger is also presented where keystrokes are forwarded to an attacker over multiple hops between different office rooms. The fundamental part of the communication system is a piece of software that has originally been developed for acoustic underwater communications. The researchers also provide different countermeasures against malicious participation in a covert acoustical network.

The limitations of air gaps have been discussed recently in the context of a highly advanced malware, although reports on this so-called badBIOS malware could not yet be confirmed.

Submission + - Only 25% of Yahoo staff "eat their own dog food" (

nk497 writes: Only 25% of Yahoo staff have obeyed the company's request to "eat their own dog food" and switch to Yahoo Mail, a colourful internal memo has revealed. The leaked email, acquired by All Things Digital, implores staff to move over to the corporate version of Yahoo's webmail system, gently lambasting staff who refuse to part with Microsoft Outlook.

The message goes on to take a swipe at what appears to be Yahoo employees' preferred mail client, Microsoft Outlook, describing it as "anachronism of the now defunct 90s PC era, a pre-web program written at a time when NT Server terrorised the data centre landscape with the confidence of a T-Rex born to yuppie dinosaur parents who fully bought into the illusion of their son’s utter uniqueness because the big-mouthed, tiny-armed monster infant could mimic the gestures of The Itsy-Bitsy Pterodactyl".

Submission + - Vint Cerf Thinks Privacy is the Anomaly (

Nerval's Lobster writes: Vint Cerf, widely considered one of the “founders of the Internet,” told an audience at the Federal Trade Commission’s Internet of Things workshop that privacy could be considered “an anomaly.” That workshop, held Nov. 19 in Washington, DC, explored (via speeches and panel discussions) how the proliferation of sensors on everything from cars to household devices is fundamentally changing how people live and work—while raising questions of how to best maintain privacy and security in an environment where more and more things are “watchers.” “The technology that we use today has far outraced our social intuition, our headlights,” he added. “[There's a] need to develop social conventions that are more respectful of people’s privacy.” Current social behaviors, such as instantly posting images from smartphones to social networks, can result in a whole lot of embarrassment—and maybe even penalties, if data and media happens to catch someone in the act of doing something illegal. Cerf currently works at Google as chief Internet evangelist, which would make him uniquely positioned to comment on these sorts of issues even if he hadn’t co-created the TCP/IP backbone that supports the modern Web. (Back in April, he told an audience that, if he had to do it all over again, he’d construct the Internet in the mold of Software-Defined Networking—but that’s a whole different, tangled discussion.)

Submission + - Software Patent Reform Stalls Thanks To IBM and Microsoft Lobbying (

An anonymous reader writes: The Washington post reports on the progress of a piece of legislation many hoped would address the glut of meaningless software patents used as weapons by patent trolls. Unfortunately, the provision that would have helped the USPTO nix these patents has been nixed itself. The article credits IBM, Microsoft, and other companies with huge patent portfolios for the change, citing an 'aggressive lobbying campaign' that apparently succeeded. Quoting: 'A September letter signed by IBM, Microsoft and several dozen other firms made the case against expanding the program. The proposal, they wrote, "could harm U.S. innovators by unnecessarily undermining the rights of patent holders. Subjecting data processing patents to the CBM program would create uncertainty and risk that discourage investment in any number of fields where we should be trying to spur continued innovation." ... Last week, IBM escalated its campaign against expanding the CBM program. An IBM spokesman told Politico, "While we support what Mr. Goodlatte’s trying to do on trolls, if the CBM is included, we’d be forced to oppose the bill."
Insiders say the campaign against the CBM provisions of the Goodlatte bill has succeeded. The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a markup of the legislation Wednesday, and Goodlatte will introduce a "manager's amendment" to remove the CBM language from his own bill. IBM hailed that change in a Monday letter to Goodlatte.'

Submission + - Pupils tracked in UK college via ultrawideband RFID for 1-3 years (

wendyg writes: As part of redeveloping its three-site campus and without consultation with parents or the Information Commissioner, the UK's West Cheshire College installed a highly detailed tracking system using ultrawideband RFID tags handed out to its 14 to 17-year-old students. The system, which cost up approximately £1 million, was abandoned earlier this year because of escalating costs and lack of the functionality the college wanted. The college has been reluctant to answer questions, dubbing privacy campaigner and persistent questioner Pippa King "vexatious", and material relating to the trial has been vanishing off the Net. The law requiring parental consent for the use of biometrics in schools (for things like taking attendance and paying for meals) came into force last month. It seems it already needs to be updated.

Submission + - Glut in Stolen Identities Forces Price Cut (

CowboyRobot writes: The price of a stolen identity has dropped as much as 37 percent in the cybercrime underground: to $25 for a U.S. identity, and $40 for an overseas identity. For $300 or less, you can acquire credentials for a bank account with a balance of $70,000 to $150,000, and $400 is all it takes to get a rival or targeted business knocked offline with a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS)-for-hire attack. Meanwhile, ID theft and bank account credentials are getting cheaper because there is just so much inventory (a.k.a. stolen personal information) out there. Bots are cheap, too: 1,000 bots go for $20, and 15,000, for $250.

Submission + - Crowdsourcing goes mainstream in typhoon response (

ananyo writes: Nature has an article up about how crowdsourcing and social media were integrated as never before by the United Nations, the Red Cross and Doctors without Borders in the relief efforts following typhoon Haiyan:
After typhoon Haiyan smashed into the Philippines on 8 November, an army of volunteers mobilized and worked around the clock to help guide relief efforts. But these were no boots on the ground. Instead, they were citizens from around the world who quickly analysed satellite imagery and other data, generating maps to provide relief agencies with invaluable crowdsourced information.
Crowdsourced disaster response, until a few years ago informal and often haphazard, is now getting more organized, and is being embraced by official humanitarian organizations and integrated into relief operations. Volunteer efforts have multiplied thanks to the arrival of online mapping tools, the increasing popularity of social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, and the spread of mobile phones. A suite of volunteer groups are emerging that contribute to disaster response in tight coordination with conventional relief organizations.

Submission + - Macy's Uses iBeacon for New In-Store Rewards Program

cagraham writes: Macy's is preparing to test a new in-store rewards program using Apple's iBeacon standard, reports the WSJ's Digits blog. The program, run through rewards company Shopkick, will detect nearby customers and send them targeted discount offers based on which department they're in. iBeacon currently works with Apple devices and Samsung's Android phones. If the initial tests in New York and San Francisco prove successful, the program will be rolled out nationwide.

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