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Submission + - Five Things We've Already Forgotten About Snowden's NSA Leaks (vice.com)

Daniel_Stuckey writes: The Edward Snowden saga is coming to a close. As a final act, Glenn Greenwald, who's been working closely with the whistleblower to publish leaked information about the National Security Agency, has said he will reveal a list of Americans that have been targeted by the NSA. And tonight, Snowden will be giving his first American television interview to NBC. It’s been a dizzying year of revelations about US government spying. Programs like PRISM—the ones capable of mass surveillance—have received the most media attention, and in some cases even become household names. But there are other things exposed in the string of leaks that have received relatively little media attention, despite presenting serious threats to privacy, freedom of speech, and the way we use the web. Here's a look back at some of those forgotten discoveries.

Submission + - Samsung preparing Context keylogger, spyware in upcoming Galaxy S phones 1

jmcbain writes: According to the technology blog The Verge, Samsung is preparing new smartphone software that acts as a keylogger and spyware in their future phones, like the upcoming Galaxy S 5. "Samsung has been developing a service called Context that would collect what a person types, what apps they use, and what data their phone's sensors pick up, and then allow developers to tap into that pool of data to enrich their apps." The article suggests a scenario where "by using Context a video service might be able to automatically display sports videos to someone who frequently searches for sports." Looks similar to the Google Now service, but still scary stuff in the age of the NSA.

Submission + - How Kentucky Built The Country's Best Obamacare Website

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Dylan Scott writes at TPM that Kentucky, with its deeply conservative congressional delegation, might seem like an unlikely place for Obamacare to find success but the state's online health insurance web sites has become one of the best marketplaces since its launch and shown that the marketplace concept can work in practice. Kentucky routinely ranks toward the bottom in overall health, and better health coverage is one step toward reversing that norm. Whatever the federal website seems to have failed to do to ensure its success on the Oct. 1 launch, Kentucky did. It started with the commitment to build the state's own website rather than default to the federal version. On July 17, 2012, a few weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear created the exchange via executive order, over the objections of a Republican-controlled state legislature, which sought other means — including an effort to prevent the exchange from finding office space — to block the site's creation. The recipe for success in Kentucky was: A pared-down website engineered to perform the basic functions well and a concerted effort to test it as frequently as possible to work out glitches before the Oct. 1 launch. Testing was undertaken throughout every step of the process, says Carrie Banahan, kynect's executive director, and it was crucial because it allowed state officials to identify problems early in the process. She laid out the timeline like this: From January 2013 to March, they developed the system; from April to June, they built it; from July to September, they tested it. From a design standpoint, Kentucky made the conscious choice to stick to the basics, rather than seeking to blow users away with a state-of-the-art consumer interface. It “doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that other states tried to incorporate,” like interactive features, says Jennifer Tolbert. “It’s very straightforward in allowing consumers to browse plans without first creating an account.” A big part of that was knowing their demographics: A simpler site would make it easer to access for people without broadband Internet access, and the content was written at a sixth-grade reading level so it would be as easy to understand as possible. "What we've found in Kentucky when we started talking with people was that there was a huge amount of misinformation and misunderstanding. People were very confused," says Beshear . "What I've been telling them is: Look, you don't have to like the president, and you don't have to like me. It's not about the president and it's not about me. It's about you, it's about your family, it's about your children."

Submission + - Growing Up Poor Is Bad for Your Brain (vice.com)

Daniel_Stuckey writes: Poverty sucks so much that it may literally rewire the brains of those who have the misfortune to be born poor. This is a doubly important finding in our era of unchecked income inequality, where the poverty rate is actually rising in the US despite economic gains for the rich. “Our findings suggest that the stress-burden of growing up poor may be an underlying mechanism that accounts for the relationship between poverty as a child and how well your brain works as an adult,” said Dr. K Luan Phan, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois, Chicago College of Medicine, who led a team of researchers that just published a paper revealing the poverty-brain dysfunction link.

Submission + - Ouya developers share their experiences (gamasutra.com)

RogueyWon writes: Four months after the launch of the Ouya micro-console, Gamasutra has pulled together a round up of the experiences of indie developers who have brought their games to the platform. There's both positive and negative news; developers seem to like the ease of porting to the platform, but have concerns regarding the approach that its marketplace takes. Perhaps most crucially, sales of games on the platform are far from stellar.

Submission + - Americans Dumber Than World Average (theatlantic.com)

rwise2112 writes: A new global report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development finds that Americans rank well below the worldwide average in just about every measure of skill. In math, reading, and technology-driven problem-solving, the United States performed worse than nearly every other country in the group of developed nations.

Submission + - Google's Open Source Director says open source world can be "brutal"

Lemeowski writes: A crowded Sun workstation lab with poor ventilation and smelly "coder odor" ultimately led Chris DiBona to give Linux a shot, and he says it was his "best decision ever." These days DiBona is the Director of Open Source for Google. In this interview, DiBona talks about his favorite Linux distribution and why he once called open source "brutal," saying that "survival of the fittest as practiced in the open source world is a pretty brutal mechanism, but it works very very well for producing quality software."

Submission + - Questions about DRM? Visit Defective by Design's new FAQ (defectivebydesign.org)

william_at_FSF writes: Defective by Design has compiled an FAQ to address the most common misconceptions regarding Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). We hope this will serve as a reference material for those working to educate others about DRM and digital media. Even seasoned anti-DRM activists can learn something new about what DRM does and why it is so harmful to software users. Give it a read through and use this resource heavily in online discussions around DRM!

Submission + - The Internet is Finished as a Global Network

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: John Naughton writes in the Guardian that the insight them seems to have escaped most of the world's mainstream media regarding the revelations from Edward Snowden is how the US has been able to bend nine US internet companies to its demands for access to their users' data proving that no US-based internet company can be trusted to protect our privacy or data. "The fact is that Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are all integral components of the US cyber-surveillance system," writes Naughton. "Nothing, but nothing, that is stored in their "cloud" services can be guaranteed to be safe from surveillance or from illicit downloading by employees of the consultancies employed by the NSA." This spells the end of the internet as a truly global network. "It was always a possibility that the system would eventually be Balkanised, ie divided into a number of geographical or jurisdiction-determined subnets as societies such as China, Russia, Iran and other Islamic states decided that they needed to control how their citizens communicated. Now, Balkanisation is a certainty." Naughton adds that given what we now know about how the US has been abusing its privileged position in the global infrastructure, the idea that the western powers can be allowed to continue to control it has become untenable. "Why would you pay someone else to hold your commercial or other secrets, if you suspect or know they are being shared against your wishes?" writes Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the European Commission. "Front or back door – it doesn’t matter – any smart person doesn’t want the information shared at all. Customers will act rationally, and providers will miss out on a great opportunity."

Submission + - Forget Apple: Samsung Could Be Google's Next Big Rival (slashdot.org)

Nerval's Lobster writes: The idea of Samsung as a Google rival isn’t unprecedented. For the past several quarters, Samsung has progressively molded Android to its own vision: layered with TouchWiz and sprinkled with all sorts of Samsung-centric apps, the software interface on Samsung devices is deviating rapidly away from the “stock” Android that runs on other manufacturers’ devices. During this year’s unveiling of the Samsung Galaxy S4 at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, Samsung executives onstage barely mentioned the word “Android,” and played up features designed specifically for the device. Establishing its own brand identity by moving away from “stock” Android has done Samsung a lot of good: its smartphones and tablets not only stand out from the flood of Android devices on the market, but it’s given the company an opportunity to position itself as the one true rival to iOS. While other Android manufacturers struggle, Samsung has profited. If Samsung continues to gain strength, it could become a huge issue for Google, which has its own eye on the hardware segment. Although Google purchased Motorola in 2011 for $12.5 billion, it hasn’t yet remolded the brand in its own image, claiming that the subsidiary’s existing pipeline of products first needs to be flushed into the ecosystem. But that reluctance could be coming to an end: reports suggest that Google will pump $500 million into marketing the Moto X, an upcoming “hero” smartphone meant to reestablish Motorola’s dominance of the Android space. If the Moto X succeeds, and Google decides to push aggressively into the branded hardware space, it could drive Samsung even further away from core Android. Never mind issuing TouchWiz updates until the original Android interface is virtually unrecognizable—with its industry heft, Samsung could potentially boot Google Play from the home-screen and substitute it with an apps-and-content hub of its own design. That would take a lot of work, of course: first, Samsung would need to build a substantial developer ecosystem, and then it would need to score great deals with movie studios and other content providers. But as Amazon and Apple have shown, such things aren’t impossible. The only questions are whether (a) Samsung has the will to devote the necessary time and resources to such a project, and (b) if it’s willing to transform its symbiotic relationship with Google into an antagonistic one.

Submission + - The Black Underbelly Of Windows 8.1 'Blue' 3

snydeq writes: Changes in Microsoft's forthcoming upgrade to Windows 8 reveal the dark underbelly of Microsoft's evolving agenda, one that finds pieces of Windows 8 inexplicably disappearing and a new feature that allows Microsoft to track your local searches cropping up, InfoWorld's Woody Leonhard reports. 'As Windows 8.1 Milestone Preview testers push and prod their way into the dark corners of Windows 8.1 "Blue," they're finding a bunch of things that go bump in the night. From new and likely unwelcome features, to nudges into the Microsoft data tracking sphere, to entire lopped-off pieces of Windows 8, it looks like Microsoft is changing Windows to further its own agenda.'

Submission + - Terrible advice from a great scientist

Shipud writes: E.O. Wilson is the renowned father of sociobiology, a professor (emeritus) at Harvard, two time pulitzer prize winner, and a popularizer of science. In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Wilson provides controversial advice to aspiring young scientists. Wilson claims that math literacy is not essential, and that scientific models in biology, intuitively generated, can later be formalized by a specialized statistician. One blogger calls out Wilson on his article, arguing that knowing mathematics is essential to generating models, and that lacking what Darwin called the "extra sense" is essentially limiting to any scientist.
The Media

What Does It Actually Cost To Publish a Scientific Paper? 166

ananyo writes "Nature has published an investigation into the real costs of publishing research after delving into the secretive, murky world of science publishing. Few publishers (open access or otherwise-including Nature Publishing Group) would reveal their profit margins, but they've pieced together a picture of how much it really costs to publish a paper by talking to analysts and insiders. Quoting from the piece: '"The costs of research publishing can be much lower than people think," agrees Peter Binfield, co-founder of one of the newest open-access journals, PeerJ, and formerly a publisher at PLoS. But publishers of subscription journals insist that such views are misguided — born of a failure to appreciate the value they add to the papers they publish, and to the research community as a whole. They say that their commercial operations are in fact quite efficient, so that if a switch to open-access publishing led scientists to drive down fees by choosing cheaper journals, it would undermine important values such as editorial quality.' There's also a comment piece by three open access advocates setting out what they think needs to happen next to push forward the movement as well as a piece arguing that 'Objections to the Creative Commons attribution license are straw men raised by parties who want open access to be as closed as possible.'"
Android

Submission + - Embedded Developers Prefer Linux, Love Android (linuxgizmos.com)

DeviceGuru writes: In a recent EE Times 2013 Embedded Market study, Android was the OS of choice for future embedded projects among 16 percent of the survey's participants, second only to 'in-house/custom' (at 28 percent). But if a spectrum of disparate approaches can be lumped together as a single option, why not aggregate the various shades of Linux to see how they compare? Parsing the EE Times data that way makes it abundantly clear that Linux truly dominates the embedded market.

Submission + - Torvalds clarifies Linux's Windows 8 Secure Boot position (zdnet.com)

An anonymous reader writes: No one, but no one, in the Linux community likes Microsoft's mandated deployment of the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) Secure Boot option in Windows 8 certified PCs. But, how Linux should handle the fixes required to deal with this problem remains a hot-button issue. Now, as the debate continues hot and heavy, Linus Torvalds, Linux's founder and de facto leader, spells out how he thinks Linux should deal with Secure Boot keys.

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