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The Internet

How a Grandmother Pioneered a Home Shopping Revolution 94

eionmac writes in with a story about the humble beginnings of an industry that is worth over $186.1 billion in the UK alone. "Grandmother Jane Snowball, 72, sat down in an armchair in her Gateshead home in May 1984, picked up a television remote control and used it to order the groceries from her local supermarket. She was part of a council initiative to help the elderly. What she - and everyone else with her at the time - didn't realise was that her simple shopping list was arguably the world's first home online shop. With her remote control she used a piece of computer technology called Videotex. It sent the order down her phone line to the local Tesco - the goods were then packaged and delivered to her door. Mrs Snowball never saw a computer - her television linked her to the shop. 'What we effectively did was to take a domestic TV in a home and turn it into a computer terminal,' says Michael Aldrich, the man behind the technology for the system. 'That was the big leap.'"
Biotech

DoD Declassifies Flu Pandemic Plan Containing Sobering Assumptions 337

An anonymous reader writes "The Department of Defense has just declassified a copy of its 2009 Concept of Operations Plan for an Influenza Pandemic. Among the Plan's scary yet reasonable assumptions are that in the United States, such a pandemic will kill 2 percent of the infected population, or about 2 million people. The plan also assumes that a vaccine won't be available for at least 4 to 6 months after confirmation of sustained human transmission, and that the weekly vaccine manufacturing capability will only produce 1 percent of the total US vaccine required. State and local governments will be overwhelmed, and civilian mortuary operations will require military augmentation. Measures such as limiting public gatherings, closing schools, social distancing, protective sequestration and masking will be required to limit transmission and reduce illness and death. International and interstate transportation will be restricted to contain the spread of the virus. If a pandemic starts outside the US, it will enter the country at multiple locations and spread quickly to other parts of the country. A related document, CONPLAN 3591-09, was released by DoD in 2010."
Government

FISA Court Will Release More Opinions Because of Snowden 179

cold fjord sends this news from the Washington Post: "Call it the Edward Snowden effect: 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." Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that Snowden's information leaks started conversations that should have happened a long time ago. Also, the privacy reform panel created by President Obama met for the first time earlier this week. It did not discuss the NSA's surveillance activities. [Two attendees of the Monday meeting said the discussion was dominated by the interests of major technology firms, and the session did not address making any substantive changes to the controversial mass collection of Americans' phone data and foreigners' internet communications, which can include conversations with Americans."
Crime

Student Arrested For Using Phone App To 'Shoot' Classmates 706

New submitter Lord_Breetai sends word that a Louisiana high school student has been arrested for using a mobile app to simulate shooting his classmates. The app overlays an FPS-style gun and UI over a real background seen through the device's camera. The student tried it out and then unwisely posted a video of it on YouTube. Another student's parent saw the video and reported it to authorities. Major Wolfe of the local police said, "You can't ignore it. We don't know at what time that game becomes reality. He said it was a result of him being frustrated and tired of being bullied. He said that he had no intentions of hurting anybody. We have to take all threats seriously and we have no way of knowing that without investigating and getting to the bottom of it. With all the school shooting we've had in the United States, it's just not a very good game to be playing at this time." The boy is now facing criminal charges for terrorizing and interference of the operation of a school.
Privacy

NYC Is Tracking RFID Toll Collection Tags All Over the City 314

In the northeast U.S., most of the tolls people encounter when driving make use of a system called E-ZPass to let them pay the tolls electronically. Drivers are given small RFID transponders that are scanned in tollbooths, at which point the toll is automatically deducted from a pre-paid account. One hacker got curious whether the RFID tags were being scanned elsewhere, so he tweaked his E-ZPass to blink a light and make a noise every time it was read. He tested the streets of New York City, and wasn't surprised to see it light up in plenty of places where there were no tollbooths to be found. From the article: "It’s part of Midtown in Motion, an initiative to feed information from lots of sensors into New York’s traffic management center. A spokesperson for the New York Department of Transportation, Scott Gastel, says the E-Z Pass readers are on highways across the city, and on streets in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island, and have been in use for years. The city uses the data from the readers to provide real-time traffic information, as for this tool. The DoT was not forthcoming about what exactly was read from the passes or how long geolocation information from the passes was kept. Notably, the fact that E-ZPasses will be used as a tracking device outside of toll payment, is not disclosed anywhere that I could see in the terms and conditions. When I talked to the E-ZPass Inter-agency Group — the umbrella association that oversees the use of the pay-toll-paying tags in 15 different states — it said New York is the only state that is employing this inventive re-use of the tags. ... 'If NYDOT can put up readers, says [the hacker], 'other agencies could as well.'"

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