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Comment Re:They need to open up to the American people (Score 1) 327

What gives the impression that voters have anything to do with how the NSA operates? Sure, in theory one could try to vote someone into a position of authority who could influence their operation, but how realistic is that? The people that head up the NSA are 'technically' appointed and confirmed by elected officials, but an administration is not going to appoint someone who isn't on their side, so congress has limited options. In the end, it becomes a choice between (ultimately) identical candidates. Administrations may boast they will clean things up when elected but once they win and realize what they have, does anyone really think they are going to throw it away?

Many campaign promises get broken... those that have to do with reducing one's own power almost always get broken.

In the end, intelligence agencies and law enforcement are usually very focused on finding ways around any limitations to how they believe they can be most effective. That does include finding ways to circumvent legal barriers.

Sadly, it seems to be largely human nature... how many people can resist snooping at a diary when found, or a colleague's pay check found in a drawer while looking for a pencil, etc... This is simply on a much larger scale. Yes, it is very wrong, but if you think someone, when voted into the coveted position of being able to know most secrets, is going to give up the advantages it offers.... think again.

Submission + - Sophisticated Apache Backdoor In The Wild

An anonymous reader writes: ESET researchers, together with web security firm Sucuri, have been analyzing a new threat affecting Apache webservers. The threat is a highly advanced and stealthy backdoor being used to drive traffic to malicious websites carrying Blackhole exploit packs. Researchers have named the backdoor, Linux/Cdorked.A, and it is the most sophisticated Apache backdoor seen so far. The Linux/Cdorked.A backdoor does not leave traces on the hard-disk other than a modified "httpd" file, the daemon (or service) used by Apache. All information related to the backdoor is stored in shared memory on the server, making detection difficult and hampering analysis.

Submission + - Lawyer Loses It in Letter to Patent Office (cbsnews.com)

bizwriter writes: If innovation is fascinating and has enormous implications for business, reading patent applications themselves will make most people's eyes glaze over. But every now and then something quirky happens. Take this attorney who, angry over a patent examiner's rejection of his client's application, wondering if the examiner is drunk or just mentally slow.

Comment Location of drone command centre (Score 1) 142

And now it is also known where the drones will be controlled from, although I am not convinced that there is only a single command centre. That would be rather stupid... Anyway, so, one of the control centres will be located in Horsham, PA near Philadelphia on part of the grounds of the format naval air base, according to the following article: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20130320_Horsham_command_center_for_drones_stirs_controversy.html

Comment Re:Wait... what? (Score 3, Interesting) 164

It would actually make quite a lot of sense for a custom system where the control software (essentially the OS) is provided in the srtorage component (16MB), and things like actual programs are loaded into RAM. Since typically (as far as I recall) mindstorm programs are loaded into the brick at runtime, it makes perfect sense that no storage is used for this, other than perhaps a ramdisk.

Comment Re:Is such a contract enforceable? (Score 2) 224

There is also the notion that an EULA bears only explicit agreement from one party, which generally isn't enough to call it a true contract in writing. A unilaterally binding agreement is not really a contract in the strictest sense. When combined with the actual act of purchasing, one could try to argue that the entire transaction (that concludes with the agreement to the EULA) constitutes some form of contract, but I doubt that in a legal sense that would be held up as a broad interpretation of the contract concept.

I know of at least one situation where a contractor had a customer sign his agreement that stated that the customer would pay a certain amount for work listed on the agreement. There was a dispute over the work, the agreement was brought into evidence, and rendered invalid as a contract because (1) the customer never got a copy of the agreement he signed, and (2) the agreement did not contain a signature of the contractor or representative.

Comment The fix is obvious, yet near impossible... (Score 1) 147

> "The question becomes, what do we do to fix this so that consumers are truly protected?

Well, the obvious solution is to fix the US court system, where almost any case can be brought against a company or an individual, often even with barely any basis in law. It is much too lucrative to sue, and thus that right gets abused left and right.

So, tighten up the court system so that it becomes more about upholding established law rather than entertaining suits from attorneys who just happen to have found some interpretation of some law (or anything close enough) that they could argue to have a case against someone.

Is this realistic? Of course not. Ever since the notion of 'common sense' has been abolished in favour of law, anything even remotely sensible has become impossible. The courts now get to deal with lawsuits about stuff that should be common sense, and at the same time attorneys refuse quite obvious cases because they feel it cannot be won because despite 'common sense' there isn't enough hard evidence to show that someone was truly at fault. It's pretty much impossible to change (1) the court system, (2) the legislation, and (3) people's desire to seek monetary gain at the expense of others...


Submission + - GPL Use Declining Faster Than Ever (itworld.com) 3

bonch writes: An analysis of software licenses shows usage of GPL and other copyleft licenses declining at an accelerating rate. In their place, developers are choosing permissive licenses such as BSD, MIT, and ASL. One theory for the decline is that GPL usage was primarily driven by vendor-led projects, and with the shift to community-led projects, permissive licenses are becoming more common.

Submission + - Frogger Synchronized to Real-Life Traffic (irrelinvent.com) 1

Cerlyn writes: In order to celebrate 30 years of Frogger, Tyler DeAngelo and his friends created a version of Frogger synchronized to actual vehicles on 5th Avenue in New York City.

Unlike a previous dangerous attempt at recreating the game, this version fits safely inside of a Frogger Arcade cabinet, and pictures and videos of the construction of the game are available as well.

Comment Some usefulness, but far from ideal (Score 1) 43

The main problem with the aDesigner approach is that it is based on assumptions about how a blind individual accesses a webpage with a specific screen reader. Reality is that there are multiple screen readers that are commonly used by the blind, and they have differences in how they present a webpage. As such, a simulation of how a webpage is rendered through a screen reader would need to be configurable based on the behaviour of the various screen readers, and often even different versions of a specific screen reader. On top of that, you also have to account for the individual reading behaviour of the user, because not all users utilize the screen reader the same way when reading web pages.

Back in 2005, at the HCI International conference in Las Vegas, Ms. Asakawa confirmed that her team had not tested the accuracy of the aDesigner against input from a sufficient diverse group of blind users. Instead, it was reported to be based on an assumed standard screen reader and reading protocol.

That is not to say that ms. Asakawa has not done very impressive work. It is simply more limited in nature, and by promoting it to e.g. web developers as yet another tool that will tell them how a blind person will see the page, a possible disservice is done, because developers (especially in companies) are very good at deciding that their pages are accessible 'because they look right in aDesigner'.


Submission + - Apple offering replacement program for iPod nano 1 (apple.com)

aedil writes: Much like it did earlier in Japan, Apple, Inc. is now offering a replacement program for select iPod nano 1st gen units due to the battery manufacturing problem that poses a potential hazard if the battery overheats. This problem is apparently more likely to occur as the battery ages.

Of course, they do want the original unit to be sent in first, with a replacement to be shipped within 6 weeks, and there is no mention whether the replacement is a refurbished 1st gen nano, or some other gen nano.

Open Source

Open Source OCR That Makes Searchable PDFs 133

An anonymous reader writes "In my job all of our multifunction copiers scan to PDF but many of our users want and expect those PDFs to be text searchable. I looked around for software that would create text searchable pdfs but most are very expensive and I couldn't find any that were open source (free). I did find some open source packages like CuneiForm and Exactimage that could in theory do the job, but they were hard to install and difficult to set up and use over a network. Then I stumbled upon WatchOCR. This is a Live CD distro that can easily create a server on your network that provides an OCR service using watched folders. Now all my scanners scan to a watched folder, WatchOCR picks up those files and OCRs them, and then spits them out into another folder. It uses CuneiForm and ExactImage but it is all configured and ready to deploy. It can even be remotely managed via the Web interface. Hope this proves helpful to someone else who has this same situation."

Comment Re:PR "Stuff" from Fireeye (Score 2, Insightful) 206

I think you miss another important aspect of this "war"... As in fighting a guerilla army, you usually end up being on the less effective side of the conflict due to rules and regulations that one tends to be bound by, whereas a guerilla army usually couldn't care less about the rules. Spammers do not care about breaking rules, regulations, and protocols, so they can play very dirty whenever they want (and botnets are a clear example of that). Offensive action against them is usually still bound by some rules, and thus they have a natural advantage. Spammers do not care about any collateral damage... System administrators and othe people fighting the spammers usually do have to care about collateral damage.

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