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Government

Submission + - The sequestration process is not transparent (correntewire.com)

Presto Vivace writes: "A close examination of the the OMB's Report Pursuant to the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 reveals that is it totally opaque. Corrente Wire offers a Appendix B Preliminary Sequestrable / Excempt Classicafication and turned it into a handy online spreadsheet. Slashdotters who are civil servants and/or scripting enthusiasts are particularly invited to comment."
Privacy

Submission + - Requiring backdoors to enable surveillance on all sorts of systems (techdirt.com)

Presto Vivace writes: "How The FBI's Desire To Wiretap Every New Technology Makes Us Less Safe

But they're forgetting something: the FBI isn't necessarily the only one who will get access to those backdoors. In fact, by requiring backdoors to enable surveillance on all sorts of systems, the FBI is almost guaranteeing that the bad guys will use those backdoors for their own nefarious purposes. It's not security, it's anti-security.

I often think that lack of privacy is itself a security vultnerability."

Education

Submission + - US Educational Scores Not So Abysmal (phys.org)

DavidHumus writes: The much-publicized international rankings of student test scores — PISA — rank the US lower than it ought to be for two reasons: a sampling bias that includes a higher proportion of lower socio-economic classes from the US than are in the general population and a higher proportion of of US students than non-US who are in the lower socio-economic classes.

If one were to rank comparable classes between the US and the rest of the world, US scores would rise to 4th from 14th in reading and to 10th from 25th in math.

Submission + - Adobe's "Mystery" CS2 Software Giveaway (adobe.com)

dryriver writes: Yesterday, Adobe put up a mysterious webpage from which it's now 7 year old CS2 line of products (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, Premiere and others) could be freely downloaded by anyone. (http://www.adobe.com/downloads/cs2_downloads/index.html) The page even included valid serial numbers that will unlock the CS2 apps for anyone who wants to. This strange "giveaways" page at Adobe.com quickly went viral on the internet after a few tech bloggers reported on it. An Adobe spokesman said initially that the CS2 downloads are for existing owners of Adobe CS2 software only, who may not be able to activate their software anymore, due to the CS2 activation servers having been shut down by Adobe. But the internet at large took this webpage as meaning "Free Adobe CS2 Software for Everyone", which was probably not what Adobe had in mind initially. It seems that at this point, hundreds of thousands of people have downloaded their "free" CS2 products and installed them, and started using them. So Adobe is in a bit of a PR "pinch" now because of this — Do you tell all the thousands of people who have downloaded CS2 products in the last 48 hours that "you cannot use these products without paying us". Or do you accept that hundreds of thousands of people now have free access to 7 year old Adobe CS2 products, and try to encourage some of them to "upgrade to the new CS6 products"?
Privacy

Submission + - Disney Wants to Track You With RFID (nbcnews.com) 3

Antipater writes: Disney parks and resorts have long had a system that combined your room key, credit card, and park ticket into a single card. Now, they're taking it a step further by turning the card into an RFID wristband (called a "MagicBand"), tracking you, and personalizing your park experience, targeted-ad style.

"Imagine booking guaranteed ride times for your favorite shows and attractions even before setting foot in the park," wrote Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, in a blog posting on Monday. "With MyMagic+, guests will be able to do that and more, enabling them to spend more time together and creating an experience that’s better for everyone."

Disney does go on to talk about all the things you can opt out of if you have privacy concerns, and the whole system seems to be voluntary or even premium.

Encryption

Submission + - Encrypt secret messages into silence on Skype (venturebeat.com)

Presto Vivace writes: "Polish prof discovers way to encrypt secret messages into silence on Skype (even if the FBI is listening)

Wojciech Mazurczyk (10 points if you can pronounce that name) has found a way to hide data in the 70-bit packets that Skype sends by default when it’s detecting silence when you’re not talking. Skype itself does nothing with these packets when it receives them, but Mazurczyk’s team has discovered a way to intercept and decode them anyway, according to New Scientist.

"

Crime

Submission + - Leaded Gasoline Linked to the Rise and Fall of Violent Crime (medicaldaily.com)

An anonymous reader writes: For years the rate of violent crime has fallen in the United States. It's good news, but experts have never been able to explain why crime rates spiked in the 1980s and 1990s but then dramatically dropped in the 2000s. Theories ranging from improved police techniques to the "crack epidemic" to the legalization of abortion have all been proposed by researchers, but none seem to quite fit the facts.
Now, researchers say they may have found the perfect scapegoat for violent crime: leaded gasoline.
A new study has revealed that the rise and fall of leaded gasoline strongly correlates with the pattern of violent crime rates in America.

Data Storage

Submission + - Kingston Announces World's First 1TB Thumb Drive (techgage.com) 2

Deathspawner writes: "If there's one thing that each CES can bring, it's a handful or products that manage to drop jaws everywhere. Kingston's latest flash drive series, DataTraveler HyperX Predator 3.0, manages to be one of those. It's aimed at folks who actually need mass storage on the go at speeds that mechanical hard drives cannot offer. Available soon will be a 512GB model, followed by the 1TB later this quarter. The drive features read speeds of 240MB/s and write speeds of 160MB/s — not quite desktop SSD speeds, but much faster than a mechanical hard drive, and with vastly reduced latencies due to it being flash storage. Not surprisingly, pricing has not yet been discussed."

Submission + - Giant Squid Caught on Film (discovery.com)

Edgewood_Dirk writes: "From the Article: "Scientists and broadcasters have captured footage of an elusive giant squid, up to eight meters (26 feet) long that roams the depths of the Pacific Ocean.
Japan's National Science Museum succeeded in filming the deep-sea creature in its natural habitat for the first time, working with Japanese public broadcaster NHK and the US Discovery Channel.

The massive invertebrate is the stuff of legend, with sightings of a huge ocean-dwelling beast reported by sailors for centuries.""

Government

Submission + - The Trillion Dollar Platinum Coin, from bloggers to mainstream (correntewire.com)

Presto Vivace writes: "How did the idea of using coin seigniorage to sideline the debt ceiling debate travel from economics and political bloggers to mainstream news media? A timeline, History of the Proof Platinum Coin Concept, 2010-2013 documents the discussion with links. Origin and Early History of Platinum Coin Seigniorage In the Blogosphere gives the background."
Science

Submission + - America's Real Criminal Element: Lead (motherjones.com) 1

2muchcoffeeman writes: The cause of the great increase in violent crime that started in the 1960s and peaked in the 1990s may have been isolated: lead (chemical symbol Pb). This leads directly to the reason for the sharp decline in violent crime since then: lead abatement programs and especially the ban of tetraethyl lead as an anti-knock agent in gasoline starting in 1996.

There are three reasons why this makes sense. First, the statistics correlate almost perfectly. Second, it holds true worldwide with no exceptions. Every country studied has shown this same strong correlation between leaded gasoline and violent crime rates. Third, the chemistry and neuroscience of lead gives us good reason to believe the connection. Decades of research has shown that lead poisoning causes significant and probably irreversible damage to the brain. Not only does lead degrade cognitive abilities and lower intelligence, it also degrades a person’s ability to make decisions by damaging areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation, impulse control, attention, verbal reasoning, and mental flexibility.

Another thing that stands out: if you overlay a map showing areas with higher incidence of violent crime with one showing lead contamination, there's a strikingly high correlation.

The Internet

Submission + - Community owned ISPs offer better service (bloomberg.com)

Presto Vivace writes: "U.S. Internet Users Pay More for Slower Service

In 2004, the Lafayette utilities system decided to provide a fiber-to-the-home service. The new network, called LUS Fiber, would give everyone in Lafayette a very fast Internet connection, enabling them to lower their electricity costs by monitoring and adjusting their usage. Push-back from the local telephone company, BellSouth Corp., and the local cable company, Cox Communications Inc., was immediate. They tried to get laws passed to stop the network, sued the city, even forced the town to hold a referendum on the project — in which the people voted 62 percent in favor. Finally, in February 2007, after five civil lawsuits, the Louisiana Supreme Court voted, 7-0, to allow the network.

The service has saved Lafayette citizens millions of dollars."

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