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Submission + - Your Digital Life Can Be Legally Seized at the Border 3

Toe, The writes: Quincy Larson from freeCodeCamp relates some frightening stories from U.S. citizens entering their own country, and notes that you don't have fourth and fifth amendment rights at the border. People can and have been compelled to give their phone password (or be detained indefinitely) before entering the U.S and other countries. Given what we keep on our phones, he concludes that it is now both easy and legal for customs and border control to access your whole digital life. And he provides some nice insights on how easy it is to access and store the whole thing, how widespread access would be to that data, and how easy it would be for the wrong hands to get on it. His advice: before you travel internationally, wipe your phone or bring/rent/buy a clean one.

Submission + - Pioneering Data Genius Hans Rosling Passes Away (

An anonymous reader writes: Tuesday Sweden's prime minister tweeted that Hans Rosling "made human progress across our world come alive for millions," and the professor-turned-pubic educator will probably best be remembered as the man who could condense 200 years of global history into four minutes. He was a geek's geek, a former professor of global health who "dropped out" because he wanted to help start a nonprofit about data. Specifically, it urged data-based decisions for global development policy, and the Gapminder foundation created the massive Trendalyzer tool which let users build their own data visualisations. Eventually they handed off the tool to Google who used it with open-source scientific datasets.

The BBC describes Rosling as a "public educator" with a belief that facts "could correct 'global ignorance' about the reality of the world, which 'has never been less bad.'" Rosling's TED talks include "The Best Data You've Never Seen" and "How Not To Be Ignorant About The World," and in 2015 he also gave a talk titled "How to Beat Ebola.

Hans Rosling died Tuesday at age 68.

Submission + - Phone Bot to Target Windows Support Scammers

Trailrunner7 writes: he man who developed a bot that frustrates and annoys robocallers is planning to take on the infamous Windows support scam callers head-on.

Roger Anderson last year debuted his Jolly Roger bot, a system that intercepts robocalls and puts the caller into a never-ending loop of pre-recorded phrases designed to waste their time. Anderson built the system as a way to protect his own landlines from annoying telemarketers and it worked so well that he later expanded it into a service for both consumers and businesses. Users can send telemarketing calls to the Jolly Roger bot and listen in while it chats inanely with the caller.

Now, Anderson is targeting the huge business that is the Windows fake support scam. This one takes a variety of forms, often with a pre-recorded message informing the victim that technicians have detected that his computer has a virus and that he will be connected to a Windows support specialist to help fix it. The callers have no affiliation with Microsoft and no way of detecting any malware on a target’s machine. It’s just a scare tactic to intimidate victims into paying a fee to remove the nonexistent malware, and sometimes the scammers get victims to install other unwanted apps on their PCs, as well.

Anderson plans to turn the tables on these scammers and unleash his bots on their call centers.

Submission + - Paypal disguises 13% price hike as 'Policy Update'. ( 2

turbotalon writes: In an email sent to users February 7th, Paypal is disguising a 13% rate hike as a 'Policy Update.' Roughly one quarter of the 'policy changes' are rate hikes, yet their emailed summary glosses over the rate hike, focussing instead on a few of the 'policy changes' with one sentence at the end about 'changing some of the fees we charge'.

Additionally, they have added a "non-discouragement clause" for sellers that provides:

"In representations to your customers or in public communications, you agree not to mischaracterize PayPal as a payment method. At all of your points of sale (in whatever form), you agree not to try to dissuade or inhibit your customers from using PayPal; and, if you enable your customers to pay you with PayPal, you agree to treat PayPal’s payment mark at least at par with other payment methods offered."

Reading the full text of the update reveals the following fees are increasing:
  Standard transaction fee
  International currency exchange fees
  In-store transaction fees
  Micro-payment fees
  Cross-border transaction fees

Submission + - US House Passes Bill Requiring Warrants To Search Old Emails (

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Monday to require law enforcement authorities to obtain a search warrant before seeking old emails from technology companies, a win for privacy advocates fearful the Trump administration may work to expand government surveillance powers. The House passed the measure by a voice vote. But the legislation was expected to encounter resistance in the Senate, where it failed to advance last year amid opposition by a handful of Republican lawmakers after the House passed it unanimously. Currently, agencies such as the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission only need a subpoena to seek such data from a service provider.

Submission + - Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy linked to autism (

future guy writes: "The researchers examined around 4,200 blood samples from pregnant women and their children and discovered a link between autism and low levels of vitamin D. More specifically, they found that pregnant women who were vitamin D deficient at 20 weeks gestation were more likely to have a child with autistic traits by the age of six."

Submission + - Iceland seeking "supercritical steam" for power source.

FatdogHaiku writes: Already getting over 25% of its electrical power from geothermal sources, Iceland hopes to break new ground using "supercritical steam" from a 5 km deep borehole. Is it just me, or does this sound like the start of a movie where everything that can go wrong does in fact go wrong? It's not like they are new to the tech, but working with geologic sources at 450C to ~600C is a new ball game for anyone. It should be noted that Iceland also uses direct geothermal for most of its space heating.

Submission + - Google Acquires Qwiklabs Which Provides The Training Labs For Amazon

FairAndUnbalanced writes: Google has acquired Qwiklabs a startup that Amazon has been using to provide its cloud training labs for the last few years. Though Qwiklabs founder Enis Konuk says that "Our partners who deliver instructor-led training sessions and events can continue to do so," it remains to be seen what type of response Amazon will make especially will their sold-out annual re:Invent conference coming up next week.

Submission + - Google Will Display Election Results As Soon As Polls Close (

An anonymous reader writes: Google has been highly involved with connecting U.S. voters to timely information throughout this election cycle, by offering everything from voter registration assistance to polling place information in its search result pages. Today, the company announced plans to display the results of the U.S. election directly in search, in over 30 languages, as soon as the polls close. Web searchers who query for “election results” will be able to view detailed information on the Presidential, Senatorial, Congressional, Gubernatorial races as well as state-level referenda and ballot propositions, says Google. The results will be updated continuously – every 30 seconds, as indicated by a screenshot shared by the company on its official blog post detailing the new features. Tabs across the top will let you switch to between the various races, like President, House, and Senate, for example. The results will also include information like how many more electoral votes a presidential candidate needs to win, how many seats are up for grabs in the House and Senate, and how many Gubernatorial races are underway, among other things. This data is presented in an easy-to-read format, with Democrats in blue, Republicans in red, and simple graphs, alongside the key numbers.

Submission + - Thousands Lose Money in Tesco Bank Hack

wiredmikey writes: Tesco Bank, wholly owned by the UK's largest supermarket chain Tesco, said that some of its customers' had money withdrawn fraudulently as a result of "online criminal activity."

Benny Higgins, the bank's chief executive, said 40,000 of current accounts had experienced suspicious transactions and about half had money taken from their account. Customers are reporting on social media individual thefts of £600 and £700. One report quotes a customer complaint: "Spoke to Tesco after 1 hour 20 minutes on hold, like others, just waiting for a call back and no sign of my £2,400 today. I'm taking the day off work, I can't go in feeling as low as this."

Submission + - Despite Push, 32 States Saw Fewer Than 100 Additional AP CS Exams Taken in 2016

theodp writes: In conjunction with the widely-publicized Hour of Code event at the White House in Dec. 2014 (at which President Obama learned to code), a WH Fact Sheet announced commitments to expand computer science offerings to "millions more students." So, one might have expected to see a nice bump in the number of Advanced Placement Computer Science exam takers — a measure often cited as a barometer of CS education success — in the following 2015-2016 school year. Preliminary 2016 AP data released in July was presented as evidence that AP CS is the "fastest growing course of the decade," but the number of AP CS test takers in 2016 was only 8,035 higher than the year before (there are 16+ million HS students). And state-level AP CS exam numbers released last week by the College Board showed that more than 90% of the increase was attributable to 18 states — the other 32 states registered incremental gains of fewer than 100 exams in 2016 (an average of 20 exams/state), and 6 of those actually saw slight declines. And like last year, the data again showed wide differences in adoption and success along gender and ethnicity lines (data, VBA scraping code here).

Submission + - Ask /.: Why are American tech people paid so well?

davidwr writes: Ask Slashdot:

Why are American programmers and IT professionals paid so much when many programming and IT jobs can be outsourced overseas so easily?

If I'm a mid-career programmer looking for a job, why should I expect to be paid a whole lot more than my peer in India when applying for a job that could easily be outsourced to India? If I do get the job, why should I expect to keep it more than a year or two instead of being told "your job is being outsourced" before 2020?

Is my American education and 5-25 years of experience in the American workplace really worth it to an employer?

Should we, as an industry, lower our salary expectations — and that of students entering the field — to make us more competitive with our peers in India and similar "much cheaper labor than first world" economies? If not, what should we be doing to make ourselves competitive in ways that our peers overseas cannot duplicate?

Note — I'm not talking about jobs that can't be easily outsourced like on-site tech support or "security clearance required" positions, and I'm not talking about "rock star" or "near rock star" employees (the "top 10%" of the industry). I'm also not talking about positions that aren't almost entirely technical, such as management or sales positions.

(dis)claimer: I am an American-born, American-educated mid-career IT professional who is not currently looking for work.

Submission + - All about life around an M-class star

RockDoctor writes: Arxiv has a review article on "The Habitability of Planets Orbiting M-dwarf Stars" (PDF). Although Star Trek had a minor smattering of "M-class planets" — a designation that tells one nothing of substance, "M-class star" is a much more meaningful designation of colour, with two size classes, the dwarfs and the red giants. M-class ("red") giants are not prospective for life — it's a short duration of the life of any star that gets into that state (most won't) and it ends badly for anything not made of tungsten carbide. M-class dwarfs, on the other hand "are our galaxy’s silent majority: they constitute 70% of the stars in the Milky Way and 40% of its stellar mass budget, yet not a single M dwarf is visible to the naked eye. They span nearly an order of magnitude in mass and two orders of magnitude in luminosity. [...] As a spectral class, M dwarfs span a larger range in mass than the next three spectral classes (F,G & K) combined." But probably the most important reason for paying attention to them is their persistence — an M-dwarf of 1/10 the mass of the Sun will burn for around 1000 times the time that the Sun does. No M-dwarf has ever turned into a red giant — there hasn't been enough time.

Therefore, if humanity ever meets an alien species, the odds of them coming from an M-dwarf are already high. If humanity ever meets an alien species that has been around a billion years longer than us and has technology we can't even dream of, then the odds of it coming from an M-dwarf are overwhelmingly high. Clearly, understanding these stars, and the influences of these stars range of properties on their planets and possible inhabitants (including our distant descendants) is a good idea. And this review article will keep you up to date for your next term paper. Or for keeping your SF magnum opus somewhere with a passing acquaintance with reality.

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