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Comment The WORST scenario? Really? (Score 1) 2

The worst thing that director can think of happening is a single psychopath using that information to attack people? Maybe my tin foil hat is showing, but isn't it a lot more scary to have detailed demographic lists in the hands of a government or an organization like RIAA? Target has already got their statisticians working on minority report like predictions. What if some bureau discovers that some demographic is much more likely to (insert some society destroying activity) and decides to pre-emptively (search/incarcerate/re-educate) them?


Submission + - Stellar 'Speed Bumps' Could Shape Baby Star Systems (

astroengine writes: "As a vast cloud of gas collapses under its mutual gravity and seeds the birth of a young star, the process of planetary formation begins. But far from it being a neat and tidy formation process, astronomers have uncovered a mechanism that determines why some orbits around the new star may be devoid of planets, whereas others become jammed with planets. And it all begins when the star system is very young — stellar radiation kickstarts a mechanism called photoevaporation, carving out cavities in the protoplanetary disk that can trap gas giant planets as the migrate closer to their parent star."

Submission + - What is the Value of something that can never be sold? (

ryzvonusef writes: Robert Maas tells us an interesting story about the craziness of the IRS.

The late Ileana Sonnabend recently died, leaving her will's executor's with a dilemma. In her possession was a collage by Robert Rauschenberg called "Canyon", which unfortunately contains a bald eagle, and thus illegal to sale or even transfer abroad, from the United States.

Three independent art valuers have all agreed that this particular problem render the art has having a nil value (basically, worth $0), since it cannot be priced. The IRS disagree.

The insist that, apparently, that the executors should be able to find "a reclusive Chinese billionaire who would buy the artwork on the black market and smuggle it out of the USA in order to hide it away".

This mythical Chinese billionaire recluse would value the art at $65 million in the IRS's estimate, which means IRS is entitled to $29 million of taxes on this illegal sale. The IRS is also penalising $11.7 million for “gross valuation misstatement” in accepting the unanimous view of the three separate professional valuers that the artwork had a nil value.

All this, after paying $471million in estate taxes.


Submission + - Google Steps In To Defend Hotfile From "Overbroad And Ill-Conceived" MPAA Lawsui (

An anonymous reader writes: Google has once again stood up in court for the rights of users and services online, this time defending Hotfile from copyright infringement accusations.

Google takes a sort of hard-line approach via the DMCA, telling the court that however the MPAA may try to mislead them, Hotfile is in fact protected under safe harbor provisions. And furthermore, Google suggests that the MPAA’s approach is contrary to the language in and precedents surrounding the DMCA. The onus is on copyright holders to alert a service to the nature and location of an infringement, and the service’s responsibility is to alert the user if possible and remove the material within a reasonable period of time.


Submission + - Chrome beats IE for first time ever ( 2

Kjella writes: Sunday 18th of March should go down in browser history. For the first in many years IE is no longer then #1 web browser, with Chrome narrowly beating IE with 32.71% to 32.50% while Firefox on third with 24.81%. As the figures are substantially higher for Chrome and lower for IE on weekends it's only for a day but it's another big milestone. While IE still is in a clear lead in North America and Oceania, it is tied with Firefox in Europe while Chrome now leads in Asia and South America and Firefox leads in Africa.

Comment It's a cost/benefit thing (Score 2) 730

My guess is that this is a problem with an automated system trying to deal with roughly 800 million videos generating so many false positives that the cost of having a human look at every disputed video is cost prohibitive. Until Rumblefish sees a consequence, I doubt they're going to change their process. It's offensive to me that they don't treat other people's copyrighted works as well as they would like their client's work to be treated, but they probably see inserting ads as harmless.

I did send both Rumblefish and YouTube an e-mail expressing my disappointment. YouTube is now removed from my ad blocker exclusion list.

There are alternatives to YouTube : YouTube/Google may see their advertisers as their customers, but you have to have a worthwhile demographic looking at the ads to make them worth anything.

I started poking around Vimeo and was impressed. No Tosh.0 material, but quite a bit of interesting viewing. Of course the amount of content can't compare with YouTube, so I'm probably still stuck with it when I'm looking for something specific, but when you're looking for something randomly interesting it's worth a visit.

Comment My employer takes the opposite tack (Score 2) 364

My employer has an electronic communications policy that forbids employee's from participating in the company's social networking sites unless it is their job to do so. We can't "like" their posts, or respond to tweets etc. I work in the financial industry, and the company is very protective of their credibility. We do have an internal social networking site to promote collaboration.

I think any company that tries to "stuff the ballot box" by making employees sign up for accounts is barking up the wrong tree. They'll have an active looking social networking presence, but it won't yield the benefits that having a real community of clients will.


Submission + - Kinect The Ultimate Security Device (

mikejuk writes: A Lithuanian company has a prototype security system based on a Kinect that indicates how we might interact with the cash dispensers of the future. Instead of having to go through an elaborate authentication procedure involving passwords and pins you simply stand in front of the machine and say a few words. The voice, face and body recognition software do the rest. It is just like the old days when you walked into a bank and were recognized as a regular customer.
With Kinect being so cheap there is no reason why this couldn't be built into cash machines and become a standard security method.
The next question is — how to spoof it? Perhaps this is what 3D printers were invented for?


Submission + - New Cheap & Easy Password Cracking Service (

wiredmikey writes: A new service from security researcher Moxie Marlinspike, expands on the platform developed for WPACracker and offers a way to run billions of words against a given password to test its strength at a low cost.

For just $17, lets anyone run their WPA-PSK hashes against a dictionary of 604 million words, or step-up to 1.2 billion words for $34. If one wanted to throw everything at a given hash, including the kitchen sink, then there is an option for $136 that will use 4.8 billion words. Aside from WPA-PSK, CloudCracker can also tackle LAN Manager and NT LAN Manager hashes for a cost of $0.50 per recovered password.
The service is great for penetration testers and network auditors who need to check the security of WPA2-PSK protected wireless networks, crack password hashes, or break document encryption.

Marlinspike now works for Twitter as a result of an acquisition of Whisper Systems in late 2011, a mobile security company he founded.


Submission + - Experts Explain How to Choose a School by the Numbers (

garthsundem writes: I wrote a post that got Slashdotted last week, suggesting three somewhat half-baked metrics that parents can use to pick and elementary school (the first two were solid!). Due to the ensuing comment war, I thought it best to call around and get the REAL take on education statistics. Wired just pubbed the result, and here's the scoop from the Journal of Ed Stats and the Dept of Ed Stats.

First, be wary of "high performing" schools — the best schools will show a nice, linear gain in test scores from year to year. A 10-20 percent jump should make you question scores' validity.

Second, classrooms increasingly include a mix of student abilities — a concerned parent might do well to look for a classroom with a more restricted range. (Warning: massively controversial.)

Finally and most importantly, my Ed Stats sources point to a Harvard/Columbia study of teachers' value added. A good teacher is HUGELY important, but currently no metrics exist to *predict* teacher quality — you can only see it in hindsight.

The best thing a parent can do: until an objective measure of teacher quality crawls from the Petri dish, gather *subjective* information about your child's potential teachers.


Submission + - Invasive species turn parasites into hosts (

ananyo writes: The arrival of an alien species can turn an ecosystem on its head. Researchers have found an invasive mussel that has caused a complete ecological role reversal, turning a host into a parasite and vice versa. In a new study (abstract, the team focused on ecosystems involving European bitterling (Rhodeus amarus) — small, pale-silver freshwater fish that lay their eggs in the gills of mussels. But an invasive Chinese mussel species, Anodonta woodiana, turns the tables on the would-be-parasite, ejecting bitterling eggs laid in them but colonizing the fish with its larvae.

Submission + - Optimizing your caffeine intake with an app (

MrSeb writes: "Two doctors at Penn State University have developed Caffeine Zone, a free iOS app that tells you the perfect time to take a coffee break to maintain an optimal amount of caffeine in your blood — and, perhaps more importantly, it also tells you when to stop drinking tea and coffee, so that caffeine doesn’t interrupt your sleep. By reading through lots of peer-reviewed studies, doctors Frank E. Ritter and Kuo-Chuan Yeh found that a caffeine level of between 200 and 400mg in your bloodstream provides optimal mental alertness, and that you should be below 100mg when you try to sleep. Caffeine Zone plots your caffeination level after you consume caffeine, and warns you if that big afternoon coffee will keep you up at night. It also lets you change the 'optimal' and 'sleep' values if you're particularly resistant or weak to caffeine."

Submission + - Amateur Radio Gets Secondary MF Allocation at WRC-12 1

dtmos writes: The ARRL is reporting that "delegates attending the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12) in Geneva have approved a new 7-kilohertz-wide secondary allocation between 472-479 kHz for the Amateur Radio Service." This band, below the AM broadcast band, will retain its primary ship-to-shore and radionavigation beacon allocation. Due to the unique propagation characteristics of this part of the spectrum, an allocation has long been desired by the amateur radio community. Much as moonbounce and meteor scatter have produced their own amateur digital communication protocols (OSS under the Gnu GPL, of course), I expect the unique channel impairments of this band will lead to the development of dedicated digital communication schemes (beyond QRSS).

Submission + - NASA shuts down last ever mainframe (

hypnosec writes: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has ended a remarkable chapter in the organization's information technology history, by shutting down the IBM Z9 mainframe computer — the last one of its kind in NASA. NASA's CIO, Linda Cureton, has stated that the last mainframe computer used by NASA was located at the Marshall Space Flight Center, and after pondering over its future for a prolonged period, the authorities had finally decided in favor of relieving it from its duties. IBM Z9 was an important piece of hardware for NASA, when it came to calculating and solving complicated numerical problems relating to space flight. At the time it was shut down, the IBM Z9 was more or less the same size as a regular refrigerator.

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