capedgirardeau writes: A little-noticed bill moving through the US Congress would allow companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing or risk paying a penalty of thousands of dollars, and would let employers see that genetic and other health information. Giving employers such power is now prohibited by US law, including the 2008 genetic privacy and nondiscrimination law known as GINA. The new bill gets around that landmark law by stating explicitly that GINA and other protections do not apply when genetic tests are part of a 'workplace wellness' program.
Collaborate with Citizen and Global Cartographers in Open Mapping
Engaging communities to use open mapping platforms ensures the widest possible benefit of geographic data and improved public services for individuals and communities using that data. The Administration will expand interagency collaboration and coordination with the open mapping community to promote the use of open mapping data in both domestic and international applications
In May the US State Department had this to say about open map data:
Governments can engage smart, innovative, and resourceful citizens to support urgent efforts — nothing demonstrates this better than the recent OpenStreetMap response to the Nepal earthquake. Through remote mapping and shared satellite imagery, citizens, government, the private sector, and academics are demonstrating the power of collaborative, open innovation, helping to solve challenges, create opportunities, or respond in the face of tragedy such as the Nepal Earthquake.
capedgirardeau writes: Microsoft’s Windows Store is a mess. It’s full of apps that exist only to scam people and take their money. Why doesn’t Microsoft care that their flagship app store is such a cesspool?... It’s now been more than two years since Windows 8 was released, and this has been a problem the entire time, and it is getting worse. If Microsoft was trying to offer a safe app store to Windows users, they’ve failed. Searching for most popular apps will return a list of many scam clones that charge a fee for what is a free app from the official publisher and you have to hope there is no malware installed as well. Worse yet, the Windows Store is now integrated with the system search feature. Search for an application using the Start screen search or search charm and these garbage apps from the Windows Store will appear. The article points out the reason is probably "Microsoft hasn’t been encouraging quality apps. Instead, they just want quantity. In March, 2013, Microsoft ran a promotion where they paid developers $100 for each app they submitted to the Windows Store or Windows Phone Store."
capedgirardeau writes: An update to the Google Play store now groups app permissions into collections of related permissions making them much less fine grained and potentially misleading for users. For example the SMS permissions group would allow an app access to both reading and sending SMS messages. The problem is that once an app has access to the group of permissions, it can make use of any of the allowed actions at anytime without ever informing the user. As Google explains: "It’s a good idea to review permissions groups before downloading an app. Once you’ve allowed an app to access a permissions group, the app may use any of the individual permissions that are part of that group. You won’t need to manually approve individual permissions updates that belong to a permissions group you’ve already accepted."
capedgirardeau writes: Caleb Kraft of the well known Hack-A-Day site noticed that game controllers and alternate keyboard for people with physical challenges were very expensive. Simple switches for buttons that could be made for a few dollars were running USD$60 or $70 apiece. Working with a young man he knew who loved gaming and has muscular dystrophy, Caleb created a do-it-yourself controller for people with physical challenges using a 3D printer, a super cheap micro-controller board and some simple keyboard emulation software. He is freely releasing all the 3d printer files and tutorials to make his and other controllers on a new site, http://thecontrollerproject.com/ and encourages people to also checkout The AbleGamers Foundation
capedgirardeau writes: Via Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing:
Ars Technica's Jon Brodkin has an in-depth look at the "Defensive Patent License," a kind of judo for the patent system created by... EFF's Jason Schultz (who started EFF's Patent Busting Project) and... Jen Urban (who co-created the ChillingEffects clearinghouse). As you'd expect from two such killer legal freedom fighters, the DPL is audacious, exciting, and wicked cool. It's a license pool that companies opt into, and members of the pool pledge not to sue one another for infringement. If you're ever being sued for patent infringement, you can get an automatic license to a conflicting patent just by throwing your patents into the pool. The more patent trolls threaten people, the more incentive there is to join the league of Internet patent freedom fighters.
capedgirardeau writes: AP:...with [a] retired Bozeman engineer's 70th birthday approaching, disabled gamers say they fear there will be no one to replace Yankelevitz, who has sustained quadriplegic game controllers for 30 years almost entirely by himself. The retired aerospace engineer hand makes the controllers with custom parts in his Montana workshop, offering them at a price just enough to cover parts.
capedgirardeau writes: I noticed that SparkFun has a very detailed dissection of the Wii remote with a description of all the ICs on the internal board. They even went so far as to remove the main EEPROM and squeeze out the binary information from the thing, the first step to effective hacking on the Wii-mote. This is for the serious geek who has a little electrical engineering experience or interest.
capedgirardeau writes: By way of Declan McCullagh's Politech mailing this comes what many have suspected for a long time: The FBI can listen in on you via your turned off cell phone's mic. From his mailing list quoting a news.com.com story:
The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone's microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations. The technique is called a "roving bug," and was approved by top U.S. Department of Justice officials for use against members of a New York organized crime family who were wary of conventional surveillance techniques such as tailing a suspect or wiretapping him. The U.S. Commerce Department's security office warns that "a cellular telephone can be turned into a microphone and transmitter for the purpose of listening to conversations in the vicinity of the phone." An article in the Financial Times last year said mobile providers can "remotely install a piece of software on to any handset, without the owner's knowledge, which will activate the microphone even when its owner is not making a call."