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Christmas Cheer

Free Software Foundation Announces 2013 Holiday Giving Guide 104

An anonymous reader writes "On Cyber Monday, millions of Americans will take to the Internet in search of the newest gadgets to bestow upon their loved ones. Most of these 'gifts' are trojan horses that will spy on their recipients, prevent them from doing what they want with their device, or maybe even block access to their favorite books or music. The Free Software Foundation is proud to introduce a map through this minefield: our 2013 Giving Guide. The Giving Guide features gifts that will not only make your recipients jump for joy; these gifts will also protect their freedom."

Submission + - Researchers Turn iPhone Into Handheld Biosensor (illinois.edu)

Jeremiah Cornelius writes: Do you remember McCoy's Medical Tricorder from classic 'Trek? The capability of this device is rapidly approaching reality, via a research team at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Using a cradle and app for the iPhone, they've developed a biosensor to detect toxins, proteins, bacteria, viruses and other molecules. The wedge-shaped cradle contains a series of optical components, similar to those in larger and more expensive laboratory devices. The cradle is able to utilize the phone’s built-in camera and processing power as a platform to replace the benchtop equipment. "We’re interested in biodetection that needs to be performed outside of the laboratory," said team leader Brian Cunningham, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and of bioengineering at the U. of I. The team demonstrated sensing of an immune system protein, but the slide could be primed for any type of biological molecule or cell type. The researchers are working to improve the manufacturing process for the iPhone cradle and are working on a cradle for Android phones as well.

Submission + - Will There Be Pizza on Mars? NASA Sponsors 3-D Printed Food

Jeremiah Cornelius writes: From the Earl-Grey-Hot Dept.
NASA granted $125,000, to Systems & Materials Research Corporation, to create a prototype universal food synthesizer. First stop? Pizza. Pizza is an obvious candidate for 3D printing because it can be printed in distinct layers, so it only requires the print head to extrude one substance at a time. If eating something produced in the same kind of 3D printers that are currently being used to make everything from jet engine parts to fine art doesn’t sound too appetizing, that’s only because you can currently afford the good stuff, says founder, Anjan Contractor. Anticipating the needs of a global population, Contractor envisions every kitchen with a 3D printer, with customized, nutritionally-appropriate meals synthesized one layer at a time, from cartridges of powder and oils they buy at the corner grocery store. The NASA award for a “pizza printer” is still at the conceptual stage. It works by first "printing" a layer of dough, which is baked at the same time it’s printed, by a heated plate at the bottom of the printer.

Submission + - Wired: Biometric Database of All Americans Proposed for Immigration Reform Law (wired.com)

Jeremiah Cornelius writes: Yesterday, the Senate began debating creation of a national biometric database including virtually every adult in the U.S. Buried in the more than 800 pages of the bipartisan legislation, is language mandating the creation of the innocuously-named “photo tool,” a massive federal database administered by the Department of Homeland Security and containing names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID. The "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act" is aimed at curbing employment of undocumented immigrants. Employers would be obliged to look up every new hire in the database to verify that they match their photo. “The most worrying aspect is that this creates a principle of permission basically to do certain activities and it can be used to restrict activities,” says David Bier, an analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “It’s like a national ID system without the card.”

Submission + - Bruce Schneier: Why Collecting More Data Doesn't Increase Safety (cnn.com) 1

Jeremiah Cornelius writes: Bruce Schneier, security expert (and rational voice in the wilderness), explains in an editorial on CNN, why "Connecting the Dots" is a "Hindsight Bias". In heeding calls to increase the amount of surveillance data gathered and shared, agencies like the FBI have impaired their ability to discover actual threats, while guaranteeing erosion of personal and civil freedom. "Piling more data onto the mix makes it harder, not easier. The best way to think of it is a needle-in-a-haystack problem; the last thing you want to do is increase the amount of hay you have to search through. The television show 'Person of Interest' is fiction, not fact."

Submission + - Global Economy Rests on Silicon Produced in Just Four Fabs (qz.com)

Jeremiah Cornelius writes: Silicon chips are unarguably at the basis for nearly every aspect driving today's global economy. The advanced fabrication technology that enables 14-nanometer etching — now poised to drive the next wave in 2014 — is held by just four companies. "The fabs in which microchips are made, ...cost billions of dollars. And they make the microchips on which all nearly all advanced smartphones, PCs, servers, and other critical pieces of IT infrastructure depend." This level of investment for nano-scale manufacturing is possible today from Intel, Samsung, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC), and GlobalFoundries, the last of which announced today that it aims to be the world’s leading contract chip manufacturer by both volume and revenue. Almost every new electronic device in the next year will use chips fabbed in one or more of these factories, meaning greater dependency than ever on just a handful of manufacturers. What does this mean for supply chain capacity and the possibility for increased risk of constraint and disruption?

Submission + - National Security Draft for Fining Tech Company "Noncompliance" on Wiretapping

Jeremiah Cornelius writes: A government task force is preparing legislation that would pressure companies such as Facebook and Google to enable law enforcement officials to intercept online communications as they occur. "The importance to us is pretty clear," says Andrew Weissmann, the FBI’s general counsel. "We don’t have the ability to go to court and say, 'We need a court order to effectuate the intercept.' Other countries have that." Under the draft proposal, a court could levy a series of escalating fines, starting at tens of thousands of dollars, on firms that fail to comply with wiretap orders, according to persons who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. "This proposal is a non-starter that would drive innovators overseas and cost American jobs," said Greg Nojeim, a senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. "They might as well call it the Cyber Insecurity and Anti-Employment Act."

Submission + - EPIC: "Justice Department Helping Private Companies Evade Wiretap Laws"

Jeremiah Cornelius writes: Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center says, "Alarm bells should be going off," after a FOIA request that returned more than 1,000 pages of internal government documents. "Those documents show the National Security Agency and the Defense Department were deeply involved in pressing for the secret legal authorization, with NSA director Keith Alexander... The Justice Department agreed to grant legal immunity to the participating network providers in the form of what participants in the confidential discussions refer to as '2511 letters', a reference to the Wiretap Act codified at 18 USC 2511 in the federal statute books. An industry representative told CNET the 2511 letters provided legal immunity to the providers by agreeing not to prosecute for criminal violations of the Wiretap Act. It's not clear how many 2511 letters were issued by the Justice Department." EPIC staff attorney Amie Stepanovich says the banner the government proposed is so broad and vague that it would allow ISPs not only to monitor the content of all communication, including private correspondence, but also potentially hand over the monitoring activity itself to the government. She also notes that the banner notice would be one-sided since it would be given only to the employees of participating companies.
Mars

4-Billion-Pixel Panorama View From Curiosity Rover 101

SternisheFan points out that there is a great new panorama made from shots from the Curiosity Rover. "Sweep your gaze around Gale Crater on Mars, where NASA's Curiosity rover is currently exploring, with this 4-billion-pixel panorama stitched together from 295 images. ...The entire image stretches 90,000 by 45,000 pixels and uses pictures taken by the rover's two MastCams. The best way to enjoy it is to go into fullscreen mode and slowly soak up the scenery — from the distant high edges of the crater to the enormous and looming Mount Sharp, the rover's eventual destination."

Submission + - Kaspersky does it again; Explorer.exe crippled by them on XP machines (kaspersky.com)

Filgy writes: In less than a week Kaspersky has done it again. This time the problem is much more severe than last weeks update that prevented internet access on XP machines. They now pushed out an update that absolutely cripples Win XP machines. It causes total system hangs, failures to reboot, failure for the login prompt to come up, failure to login, login taking 20 minutes, and explorer.exe crashes (some people experience one symptom, some others). Kaspersky's "solution" has been to release a patch (pf80) that DOES NOT fix the problem for most users. They are now closing out support request tickets saying the problem is resolved. It is not. Just like last week, their forums are now starting to be set on fire again regarding this much more severe problem: http://forum.kaspersky.com/index.php?showtopic=256312&st=0

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