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United States

The Path Toward Improved Biosurveillance 25

Lasrick writes "Interesting opinion piece that explains successes and holes in the U.S. system of detecting and responding to pandemics: 'In April 2009, following an experimental protocol, staff members at a Navy lab in San Diego tested specimens from two patients using a new diagnostic device. Both tested positive for influenza, but, oddly, neither specimen matched the influenza A subtypes that are known to infect humans. This finding raised suspicions, and so the samples were sent to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Further tests would reveal that these two patients were the first reported cases of a novel H1N1 influenza virus that would cause a global pandemic in 2009. In many respects, the Navy lab's discovery of H1N1 is a success story for US efforts to boost its biosurveillance capabilities.'"
Java

Love and Hate For Java 8 434

snydeq writes "Java 8 brings exciting developments, but as with any new technology, you can count on the good, the bad, and the headaches, writes Andrew C. Oliver. 'Java 8 is trying to "innovate," according to the Microsoft meaning of the word. This means stealing a lot of things that have typically been handled by other frameworks and languages, then incorporating them into the language or runtime (aka standardization). Ahead of the next release, the Java community is talking about Project Lambda, streams, functional interfaces, and all sorts of other goodies. So let's dive into what's great — and what we can hate.'"
Cloud

Why Netflix Is One of the Most Important Cloud Computing Companies 111

Brandon Butler writes "Netflix, yes the video rental company Netflix, is changing the cloud game. During the past two years the company has pulled back the curtains through its Netflix OSS program to provide a behind-the-scenes look into how it runs one of the largest deployments of Amazon Web Services cloud-based resources. In doing so, the company is creating tools that can be used by both entire business-size scale cloud deployments and even smaller test environments. The Simian Army, for example randomly kills off VMs or entire availability zones in Amazon's cloud to test fault tolerance, Asgard is a cloud resource dashboard and Lipstick on (Apache) Pig, is a data visualization tool for the Hadoop program; there are dozens of others that help deploy, manage and monitor the tens of thousands of VM instances the company company can be running at any single time. Netflix is also creating a cadre of developers who are experts in managing cloud deployments, and already its former employees are popping up at other companies to bring their expertise on how to run a large-scale cloud resources. Meanwhile, Netflix does this all in AWS's cloud, which raises some questions of how good of a job it's actually doing when it can be massively impacted by cloud outages, such as the one on Christmas Eve last year that brought down Netflix's services but, interestingly, not Amazon's own video streaming system, which is a competitor to the company."
United States

US Lawmakers Want Sanctions On Any Country Taking In Snowden 650

An anonymous reader points out this story about the latest effort by the U.S. to get Edward Snowden back in the country. "A U.S. Senate panel voted unanimously on Thursday to seek trade or other sanctions against Russia or any other country that offers asylum to former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, who has been holed up for weeks at a Moscow airport. The 30-member Senate Appropriations Committee adopted by consensus an amendment to a spending bill that would direct Secretary of State John Kerry to meet with congressional committees to come up with sanctions against any country that takes Snowden in."
Facebook

Zuckerberg: Ads On Instagram "When the Right Time Comes" 51

An anonymous reader writes "During his company's quarterly earnings call, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg discussed how Instagram will be monetized. The answer isn't too surprising: there is a big expectation for the app to one day be profitable, and advertising will be the name of the game. 'Kevin [Systrom] has always been clear that we're building Instagram to be a business,' Zuckerberg said. 'We expect over time to generate a lot of profit from it. We think the right focus for now is to continue increasing the footprint of Instagram and, when the right time comes, we'll think about advertising.'"
Transportation

Hackers Reveal Nasty New Car Attacks 390

schwit1 writes "Stomping on the brakes of a 3,500-pound Ford Escape that refuses to stop–or even slow down–produces a unique feeling of anxiety. In this case it also produces a deep groaning sound, like an angry water buffalo bellowing somewhere under the SUV's chassis. The more I pound the pedal, the louder the groan gets–along with the delighted cackling of the two hackers sitting behind me in the backseat. Luckily, all of this is happening at less than 5mph. So the Escape merely plows into a stand of 6-foot-high weeds growing in the abandoned parking lot of a South Bend, Ind. strip mall that Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek have chosen as the testing grounds for the day's experiments, a few of which are shown in the video below. (When Miller discovered the brake-disabling trick, he wasn't so lucky: The soccer-mom mobile barreled through his garage, crushing his lawn mower and inflicting $150 worth of damage to the rear wall.) The duo plans to release their findings and the attack software they developed at the hacker conference Defcon in Las Vegas next month–the better, they say, to help other researchers find and fix the auto industry's security problems before malicious hackers get under the hoods of unsuspecting drivers."
The Internet

MIT's "Hot Or Not" Site For Neighborhoods Could Help Shape Cities 103

Daniel_Stuckey writes "When you walk around a city, there are things you can just sense, like if you've wandered into a dodgy neighborhood, or where the new happening spot is. Intuitively, we know that a city's more intangible characteristics, like class or uniqueness, play a big role in what it’s like to live there, but until now there was no way to actually quantify that idea. Researchers from MIT Media Lab may have found a way to measure this 'aesthetic capital' of cities, with their website Place Pulse, a tool to crowdsource people's perception of cities by judging digital snapshots—a sort of 'hot or not' for urban neighborhoods. Some 4,000 geotagged Google Streetview images and 8,000 participants later, the team found that by using digital images and crowdsourced feedback, they can accurately quantify the diverse vibes within a city (pdf), which in turn can help us better understand issues like inequality and safety."
United States

After LinkedIn Clues, FOIA Nets New Details On NSA's ANCHORY Program 75

v3rgEz writes "After the ACLU's Christopher Soghoian highlighted NSA programs listed on LinkedIn, Jason Gulledge filed a request for details about the program — and turned up lucky. The NSA released 7 pages of database descriptions of its ANCHORY program, an open-source intelligence data gathering effort. The NSA's FOIA office said it would pony up more, but only if Gulledge could prove he was requesting the documents as part of a news gathering effort or if he would agree to pay associated fees."
United States

Study Questions H-1B Policies 361

An anonymous reader writes "One of the arguments for continuing and even expanding the H1-B visa program (pdf) is that it enables highly-skilled immigrants to work in the U.S. and grow the U.S. economy. Counterarguments state that the H1-B visa program does not bring in the 'best and brightest' and is used to drive down wages, particularly in the STEM fields. This Bloomberg article, discussing pending H1-B legislation, quotes some of the salaries of current workers in the U.S. on H1-B visas: $4,800/month and $5,500/month which work out to $57,600/year and $66,000/year; only slightly higher than the average entry-level salaries of newly-graduated engineering or computer science majors."
Earth

Norwegian Town Using Sun-Tracking Mirrors To Light Up Dark Winter Days 143

oritonic1 writes "During their long, cold winters, the Norwegian town of Rjukan doesn't enjoy much by way of daylight—so the town (population 3,386), installed three giant sun-tracking mirrors to shine a steady light over a 2000 square foot circle of the town square. From Popular Mechanics: 'Call it a mood enhancer. Or a tourist attraction. But the mirrors, which will be carried in via helicopter, will provide an oasis of light in an otherwise bleak location at the center of the 3500-population town. Three mirrors with a total surface area of about 538 square feet will sit at an angle to redirect winter sun down into the town, lighting up over 2150 square feet of concentrated space in the town square. A similar idea exists in the Italian village of Viganella, which has used brushed steel to reflect light since 2006.'"
Japan

Fukushima Decontamination Cost Estimated $50bn, With Questionable Effectiveness 221

AmiMoJo writes "Experts from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology studied the cost of decontamination for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, estimating it at $50 billion. They estimate that decontamination in no-entry zones will cost up to 20 billion dollars, and in other areas, 31 billion dollars. It includes the cost of removing, transporting and storing radioactive waste such as contaminated soil. The central government has so far allocated about 11 billion dollars and the project is already substantially behind schedule. Meanwhile the effectiveness of the decontamination is being questioned. NHK compared data from before and after decontamination at 43 districts in 21 municipalities across Fukushima Prefecture. In 33 of the districts, or 77 percent of the total, radiation levels were still higher than the government-set standard of one millisievert per year. In areas near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where decontamination has been carried out on an experimental basis, radiation levels remain 10 to 60 times higher than the official limit."
Privacy

NSA Utah Data Center Blueprints Reveal It Holds Less Than Thought 197

cold fjord writes "Break out the tin foil hats, and make them double thick. Forbes reports, 'The NSA will soon cut the ribbon on a facility in Utah ... the center will be up and running by the "end of the fiscal year," ....Brewster Kahle is the engineering genius behind the Internet Archive,... Kahle estimates that a space of that size could hold 10,000 racks of servers .... "So we are talking $1 billion in machines." Kahle estimates each rack would be capable of storing 1.2 petabytes of data. ... all the phone calls made in the U.S. in a year would take up about 272 petabytes, ... If Kahle's estimations and assumptions are correct, the facility could hold up to 12,000 petabytes, or 12 exabytes – ... but is not of the scale previously reported. Previous estimates would allow the data center to easily hold hypothetical 24-hour video and audio recordings of every person in the United States for a full year. The data center's capacity as calculated by Kahle would only allow the NSA to create archives for the 13 million people living in the Los Angeles metro area. Even that reduced number struck Internet infrastructure expert Paul Vixie as high given the space allocated for data in the facility. ... he came up with an estimate of less than 3 exabytes of data capacity for the facility. That would only allow for 24-hour recordings of what every one of Philadelphia's 1.5 million residents was up to for a year. Still, he says that's a lot of data pointing to a 2009 article about Google planning multiple data centers for a single exabyte of info. '" Update: 07/25 16:33 GMT by T : For even more, see this story.
Television

Court Upholds Ruling On Dish Network's 'Hopper' 248

An anonymous reader writes "The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's ruling in favor of Dish Network, allowing the company to continue forward with it ad-skipping "Hopper" technology. From the article: 'Last year, Fox Broadcasting Company, with the support of other broadcast networks, sued Dish for its "Hopper" DVR and its "Auto Hop" feature, which automatically skips over commercials. According to the Fox, the Hopper automatically records eight days' worth of prime time programming on the four major networks that subscribers can play back on request. Beginning a few hours after the broadcast, viewers can choose to watch a program without ads. As we observed when the it started, this litigation was yet another in a long and ignominious series of efforts by content owners to use copyright law to control the features of personal electronic devices, and to capture for themselves the value of new technologies no matter who invents them.'"
United States

HAARP Ionospheric Research Program Set To Continue 112

cylonlover writes "Reports that the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) had been shut down permanently were apparently a bit premature. According to HAARP program manager James Keeney, the facility is only temporarily off the air while operating contractors are changed. So why does anyone care? Despite being associated with various natural disasters over the past two decades by the conspiracy fringe, HAARP is in reality a facility for studying the ionosphere. Gizmag takes a look at the goings on at HAARP – past, present, and future."

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