Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


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Submission + - Asl Slashdot: How Hard Is It To Have a Smart Home That's Not 'In The Cloud'? 1

An anonymous reader writes: It's beginning to seem like everything related to home (and much other) automation is basically remote control 'in the cloud' feeding information about you to somebody's advertising system. In principle, this should not be the case, but it is in practice. So how hard is it, really, to do 'home automation' without sending all your data to Google, Samsung, or whoever — just keep it to yourself and share only what you want to share? How hard would it be, for instance, to hack a Nest thermostat so it talks to a home server rather than Google? Or is there something already out there that would do the same thing as a Nest but without 'the cloud' as part of the requirement? Yes, a standard programmable thermostat does 90% of what a Nest does, but there are certain things that it won't do like respond to your comings and goings at odd hours, or be remotely switchable to a different mode (VPN to your own server from your phone and deal with it locally, perhaps?). Fundamentally, is there a way to get the convenience and not expose my entire life and home to unknown actors who by definition (read the terms of service) do not have my best interest in mind?

Submission + - New Surveillance System May Let Cops Use All of the Cameras (

An anonymous reader writes: The system, which is just a proof of concept, alarms privacy advocates who worry that prudent surveillance could easily lead to government overreach, or worse, unauthorized use. It relies upon two tools developed independently at Purdue. The Visual Analytics Law Enforcement Toolkit superimposes the rate and location of crimes and the location of police surveillance cameras. CAM2 reveals the location and orientation of public network cameras, like the one outside your apartment. You could do the same thing with a search engine like Shodan, but CAM2 makes the job far easier, which is the scary part. Aggregating all these individual feeds makes it potentially much more invasive.

Submission + - Medical errors third leading cause of death in United States

sittingnut writes: According to a new study by patient safety researchers, led by Martin Makary, a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, published in BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal) and referred to in Washington Post, "medical errors" in hospitals and other health care facilities, are now the third leading cause of deaths in the United States. At over 251,000 lives per year, number of such deaths are less than those claimed by heart decease and cancer, but more than "respiratory disease, accidents, stroke and Alzheimer's".

""It boils down to people dying from the care that they receive rather than the disease for which they are seeing care," Makary said."

Echoing others, he wants results of investigations of such deaths to be made public, to help prevent them in future; "When a plane crashes, we don’t say this is confidential proprietary information the airline company owns. We consider this part of public safety. Hospitals should be held to the same standards,"

Submission + - How Big Data Creates False Confidence (

Mr D from 63 writes: FTA

The general idea (of "big data") is to find datasets so enormous that they can reveal patterns invisible to conventional inquiry. The data are often generated by millions of real-world user actions, such as tweets or credit-card purchases, and they can take thousands of computers to collect, store, and analyze. To many companies and researchers, though, the investment is worth it because the patterns can unlock information about anything from genetic disorders to tomorrow’s stock prices.

But there’s a problem: It’s tempting to think that with such an incredible volume of data behind them, studies relying on big data couldn’t be wrong. But the bigness of the data can imbue the results with a false sense of certainty. Many of them are probably bogus—and the reasons why should give us pause about any research that blindly trusts big data.

So rather than succumb to “big data hubris,” the rest of us would do well to keep our skeptic hats on—even when someone points to billions of words.

Submission + - Is The iPhone Encryption Debate A Distraction?

An anonymous reader writes: Given Apple's past participation in surveillance programs like Prism, Qntra wonders whether the entire iPhone encryption debate is a distraction unrelated to the actual fate of that poor little iPhone. Possible motivations for this social engineering effort include bolstering Apple's reputation and building and excess of confidence in iDevice security.

Submission + - Judge Slams Anthem, Rules That Breach Constitutes Harm To Customers (

chicksdaddy writes: You would think that the "damages" caused by massive online thefts, like those leveled against Target, Home Depot and Anthem Healthcare are self evident. But companies are arguing hard that they can't be sued for damages resulting from data breaches because the "victims" can't show that they were harmed by the theft. That was the case back in June, when lawyers for Home Depot filed a motion to have a case linked to the compromise at that company dropped. The case was brought by customers whose data was stolen in the attack, but Home Depot's attorneys argued that those customers could't prove that they were harmed by the theft of their credit card information. (

Now a judge in San Francisco has dealt a blow to would-be defendants,finding against the health insurer Anthem in a case brought by customers whose data was stolen in that attack. n an opinion released on Sunday, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh found that the loss of personal information in the breach of Anthem constitutes harm under New York’s General Business Law. The ruling rejected arguments from Anthem and its lawyers that no direct harm resulted from the breach, which was first disclosed in February, 2015, The Recorder reported this week. (

In her decision in the Anthem case, Koh reasoned that the theft of personal identification information is harm to consumers in itself, regardless of whether any subsequent misuse of it can be proven. Allegations of a “concrete and imminent threat of future harm" are enough to establish an injury and standing in the early stages of a breach suit, she said.(

Submission + - Samsung Returns to 2D, releases 250GB 750 EVO for $75

Vigile writes: Even with Samsung pushing forward into 3D NAND with 32-layer technologies used in SSDs like the 850 Pro and the recently released M.2 PCIe NVMe 950 Pro, there is still plenty of traditional 2D planar memory being fabbed on production lines. To utilize that inventory Samsung is shifting its low capacity SSDs back to it, announcing the 750 EVO drives today available in 120GB and 250GB capacities. Though based largely on the very popular, but sometimes troubled, 840 EVO specs, the new drives are faster and start with some impressively low prices. The starting MSRP for the 250GB 750 EVO will be just $75.

Submission + - Kentucky Bill: Wait an Hour Before Posting Injuries To Social Media (

An anonymous reader writes: The Kentucky state representative is developing an unusual piece of legislation. It would impose a delay on people posting about an event on social media if the event resulted in serious injury. Users caught violating this law would face fines ranging from $20-$100, and it wouldn't restrict media, victims, or first responders — just bystanders. Representative John Carney says, "It’s purely my intent to get a discussion going out there, asking people to be more respectful about what they put on social media. We’ve had some incidents, including one in my community, and I’d hate for anyone to learn about the loss of a loved one through social media." Opponents of the bill point out the difficulty in determining who qualifies as "media" in the age of social networks, not to mention the potential conflict with the First Amendment. Carney recognizes the difficulty, and says he doesn't intend to push the bill immediately, but notes that he's trying to solve a real problem. Tiger Robinson, a local public safety director, said, "There have been times we’ve been pulling bodies out of cars and these people are standing there, snapping pictures on their phones to post on Facebook. It’s just not right."

Submission + - Chemical evidence shows the Nazis weren't at all close to having the bomb (

TheAlexKnapp writes: The Nazis winning World War II by getting the bomb first is a staple of alt-history and it's the reason why James T. Kirk lost the love of his life, Edith Keeler. Einstein also noted possible German efforts to build one in his letter to FDR urging the U.S. develop an atomic weapon. But it turns out there really wasn't a race to build a bomb at all. Materials from Germany's atomic weapons program have been studied by an international team of researchers, who determined that Germany never achieved a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction — something that Fermi and his colleagues had accomplished in 1942 — which was a key step to actually building an atomic weapon. This chemical evidence supports other historical accounts that the German atomic program never achieved this result.

Submission + - Silk Road 2.0 Deputy Arrested

An anonymous reader writes: With the Ulbricht trial ongoing in a case over the original Silk Road, Homeland Security agents have made another arrest in the Silk Road 2.0 a more than two and a half months after the site was shut down. This time they arrested Defcon's deputy who went by the moniker "DoctorClu."

Submission + - Spanish CyberSquat Raided in "Counter-Terror" Operation

MrBingoBoingo writes: An anarchist center in Spain at Kasa de la Muntanya associated with techo libertarian projects was raided under the guise of of "Counter-Terrorism" operation. The squat had been continually occupied since 1989 and served as a social senter for the local community in addition to serving as a haven to technological and libertarian projects.

Submission + - Electric eel shocks like a Taser (

Science_afficionado writes: After a nine month study, a Vanderbilt biologist has determined that the electric eel emits series of millisecond, high-voltage pulses to paralyze its prey just before it attacks. The high-voltage pulses cause the motor neurons in its target to violently contract, leaving it temporarily immobilized in the same fashion as the high-voltage pulses produced by a Taser. He documented this effect using high-speed video. The eel, which is nocturnal and has very poor eyesight, also uses closely spaced pairs of high-voltage pulses when hunting for hidden prey. He determined that the pulses cause the prey's body to twitch which produces water movements that the eel uses to locate its position even when it's hidden from view.

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