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Submission + - Paperless Statements Not Always Best Choice Says New Report

HughPickens.com writes: Ann Carrns reports at the NYT that despite a push by financial institutions to switch customers to digital statements from paper, the traditional hard-copy version may work better for some people, in particuar particular, older, less educated and lower-income consumers who may lack fast Internet connections at home. According to a new report from the National Consumer Law Center, even consumers who know the Internet may simply prefer paper, because statement notifications can easily be overlooked in a deluge of email. Also unlike paper statements, which can be neatly collected and filed away, going paperless on multiple accounts will mean having that information scattered under different user names and passwords. You may also be surprised to learn you have to pay for copies of some older statements. "If you have a system for organizing your paper statements, you should think about how that's going to translate online," says Jim Bruene. Finally you may not be able to go back as far with paperless statements. At Verizon, cellphone customers get up to 12 months of past statements. Customers can also request older statements dating back seven years for $5 per copy.

Under federal law, banks must obtain consent from consumers to deliver statements electronically. But banks are sometimes aggressive in encouraging customers to opt out of receiving paper statements. Last summer, holders of some Chase credit cards received pop-up ads when they logged into their accounts online, asking them to switch to electronic statements. The notice said “Action Required,” even though no action was necessary if cardholders simply wanted to continue receiving paper statements. The screen showed buttons for “accept” and “manage my preferences,” but not for “decline.”

Submission + - Former Stanford dean explains why helicopter parenting is ruining children (washingtonpost.com)

schwit1 writes: Julie Lythcott-Haims noticed a disturbing trend during her decade as a dean of freshmen at Stanford University. Incoming students were brilliant and accomplished and virtually flawless, on paper. But with each year, more of them seemed incapable of taking care of themselves.

At the same time, parents were becoming more and more involved in their children's lives. They talked to their children multiple times a day and swooped in to personally intervene anytime something difficult happened.

From her position at one of the world's most prestigious schools, Lythcott-Haims came to believe that mothers and fathers in affluent communities have been hobbling their children by trying so hard to make sure they succeed, and by working so diligently to protect them from disappointment and failure and hardship.

Submission + - Giant Survival Ball Will Help Explorer Survive a Year on an Iceberg

HughPickens.com writes: Ben Yeager writes in Outside Magazine that Italian explorer Alex Bellini plans to travel to Greenland’s west coast, pick an iceberg, and live on it for a year as it melts out in the Atlantic. But it is a precarious idea. Bellini will be completely isolated, and his adopted dwelling is liable to roll or fall apart at any moment, thrusting him into the icy sea or crushing him under hundreds of tons of ice. His solution: an indestructible survival capsule built by an aeronautics company that specializes in tsunami-proof escape pods. " I knew since the beginning I needed to minimize the risk. An iceberg can flip over, and those events can be catastrophic.” Bellini plans to use a lightweight, indestructible floating capsules, or “personal safety systems" made from aircraft-grade aluminum in what’s called a continuous monocoque structure, an interlocking frame of aluminum spars that evenly distribute force, underneath a brightly painted and highly visible aluminum shell. The inner frame can be stationary or mounted on roller balls so it rotates, allowing the passengers to remain upright at all times.

Aeronautical engineer Julian Sharpe, founder of Survival Capsule, got the idea for his capsules after the 2004 Indonesian tsunami. He believes fewer people would have died had some sort of escape pod existed. Sharpe hopes the products will be universal—in schools, retirement homes, and private residences, anywhere there is severe weather. The product appeals to Bellini because it’s strong enough to survive a storm at sea or getting crushed between two icebergs. Bellini will spend almost all of his time in the capsule with the hatch closed, which will pose major challenges because he'll have to stay active without venturing out onto a slippery, unstable iceberg. If it flips, he’ll have no time to react. “Any step away from [the iceberg] will be in unknown territory,” says Bellini. “You want to stretch your body. But then you risk your life.”

Submission + - MH370 Beacon Battery May Have Been Expired (cnbc.com)

Limekiller42 writes: Malaysia's transport ministry released its preliminary report on the disappearance of MH370 that disappeared almost a year ago during flight and has yet to be located. The report states that the maintenance records for the solid state flight data recorder underwater locater beacon expired in December of 2012 and there is no evidence it was replaced prior to aircraft going missing.

Submission + - Anonymous Social App Raises Controversy on College Campuses

HughPickens.com writes: Jonathon Mahler writes in the NYT that in much the same way that Facebook swept through the dorm rooms of America’s college students a decade ago, the social app Yik Yak, which shows anonymous messages from users within a 1.5-mile radius is now taking college campuses by storm. "Think of it as a virtual community bulletin board — or maybe a virtual bathroom wall at the student union," writes Mahler. "It has become the go-to social feed for college students across the country to commiserate about finals, to find a party or to crack a joke about a rival school." And while much of the chatter is harmless, some of it is not. “Yik Yak is the Wild West of anonymous social apps,” says Danielle Keats Citron. “It is being increasingly used by young people in a really intimidating and destructive way.” Since the app’s introduction a little more than a year ago, Yik Yak has been used to issue threats of mass violence on more than a dozen college campuses, including the University of North Carolina, Michigan State University and Penn State. Racist, homophobic and misogynist “yaks” have generated controversy at many more, among them Clemson, Emory, Colgate and the University of Texas. At Kenyon College, a “yakker” proposed a gang rape at the school’s women’s center.

Colleges are largely powerless to deal with the havoc Yik Yak is wreaking. The app’s privacy policy prevents schools from identifying users without a subpoena, court order or search warrant, or an emergency request from a law-enforcement official with a compelling claim of imminent harm. Esha Bhandari, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, argues that "banning Yik Yak on campuses might be unconstitutional," especially at public universities or private colleges in California where the so-called Leonard Law protects free speech. She said it would be like banning all bulletin boards in a school just because someone posted a racist comment on one of the boards. In one sense, the problem with Yik Yak is a familiar one. Anyone who has browsed the comments of an Internet post is familiar with the sorts of intolerant, impulsive rhetoric that the cover of anonymity tends to invite. But Yik Yak’s particular design can produce especially harmful consequences, its critics say. “It’s a problem with the Internet culture in general, but when you add this hyper-local dimension to it, it takes on a more disturbing dimension,” says Elias Aboujaoude.” “You don’t know where the aggression is coming from, but you know it’s very close to you.”

Submission + - Secrecy around police surveillance equipment proves a case's undoing (washingtonpost.com)

schwit1 writes: The case against Tadrae McKenzie looked like an easy win for prosecutors. He and two buddies robbed a small-time pot dealer of $130 worth of weed using BB guns. Under Florida law, that was robbery with a deadly weapon, with a sentence of at least four years in prison.

But before trial, his defense team detected investigators' use of a secret surveillance tool, one that raises significant privacy concerns. In an unprecedented move, a state judge ordered the police to show the device — a cell-tower simulator sometimes called a StingRay — to the attorneys.

Rather than show the equipment, the state offered McKenzie a plea bargain.

Today, 20-year-old McKenzie is serving six months' probation after pleading guilty to a second-degree misdemeanor. He got, as one civil liberties advocate said, the deal of the century.

Submission + - Japan refused to help NSA tap Asia's Internet (japantimes.co.jp)

An anonymous reader writes: The NSA sought the Japanese government’s cooperation to wiretap fiber-optic cables carrying phone and data across the Asia-Pacific region but the request was rejected. The NSA wanted to intercept personal information including Internet activity and phone calls passing through Japan from Asia including China. The Japanese government refused because it was illegal and would need to involve a massive number of private sector workers. Article 35 of the Japanese Constitution protects against illegal search and seizure.

Submission + - Why Johnny Can't Speak: A Cost of Paywalled Research

theodp writes: That there's no easy way for her to get timely, affordable access to taxpayer-funded research that could help her patients leaves speech-language pathologist Cortney Grove, well, speechless. In a cruel twist, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who prosecuted Aaron Swartz, enjoy free, all-they-can-eat access to JSTOR-paywalled research, a perk of an elite education that's paid for by their alma maters. "Cortney's frustration," writes the EFF's Adi Kamdar, "is not uncommon. Much of the research that guides health-related progress is funded by taxpayer dollars through government grants, and yet those who need this information most-practitioners and their patients-cannot afford to access it."

Submission + - Skype Terminating Desktop API (i-programmer.info) 1

mikejuk writes: Developers are waking up to the fact that the Sykpe Desktop API is to be withdrawn at the end of December 2013 — and are trying to reverse the decision with a petition.
Although the decision to "de-commission" the Desktop API was communicated to Sky partners in July, it didn't get much attention at the time. Now notices announcing that apps and devices will stop working in December have started to appear when users download the latest version of Skype and try to start a third party app.
So what are developers expected to use to create future apps — for mobile, web and desktop apps?
Currently the replacement URI API hardly justifies the name. It is a Rest-style API that provides very few facilities — place a call or start a chat and that's about it. This limits what you can now do and the idea that you can bring existing applications up-to-date is laughable.
Developers whose apps are affected are blaming Microsoft, which acquired Skype in 2011, and certainly it can be seen as part of Microsoft overall policy of deprecating the desktop while promoting mobile devices. By killing the API Skype is killing existing apps and existing add-on hardware.
If you want to make your voice heard sign the petition:http://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/skype-microsoft-provide-continued-support-for-third-party-skype-utilities-that-have-become-mission-critical-to-skype-s-users

Submission + - KickStarter continuing to be abused, despite new TOS? (kickstarter.com)

ElementOfDestruction writes: Seemingly every week or two, there is a new story about how the once-great KickStarter is being taken further and further down a path — fake projects, continually pushed-back dates, etc. The ACME Corporation Poster has effectively turned KickStarter into a glorified shopping cart. KickStarter makes $1.50 for every poster sold, the Project Founder doesn't have to print a single poster extra. Does KickStarter have enough to lose by allowing projects to do this? At this point, they stand to make $4500 on this project alone.

Submission + - "Printer Bomb" Malware Spread Via Compromised .htaccess Files (securityweek.com) 2

wiredmikey writes: In late June, security researchers discovered malware that had been launching junk print jobs that waste paper until the printer runs out. Symantec calls the printer malware Milicenso, or the “Printer Bomb”, and code examination marks it as a variant of a malware delivery system discovered in 2010.

Today, after conducting additional research on Trojan.Milicenso, researchers determined that the threat is propagated by a compromised .htaccess file that launches a redirection Web attack. So far, Symantec has been able to count at least 4,000 websites that have been compromised by the cybercriminal(s) behind the attacks.

Research shows that the attack dated back to at least 2010, and the attacker(s) used different domain names to prevent them from being blocked or blacklisted. According to Symantec, “In 2010 and 2011, the gang moved to a new domain every few months. But in 2012, they changed domains almost every day."


Submission + - XML Encryption Broken, Need to Fix W3C Standard (ruhr-uni-bochum.de)

gzipped_tar writes: Researchers from Ruhr University Bochum demonstrated the insecurity of XML encryption standard at ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security in Chicago this week. "Everything is insecure", is the uncomfortable message from Bochum.

As pointed out by the Ars Technica article, XML Encryption is used widely as part of server-to-server Web services connections to transmit secure information mixed with non-sensitive data, based on cipher-block chaining. But it is apparently too weak, as demonstrated by Juraj Somorovsky and Tibor Jager. They were able to decrypt data by sending modified ciphertexts to the serve by gathering information from the received error messages. The attack was tested against a popular open source implementation of XML Encrytion, and against the implementations of companies that responded to the responsible disclosure — in all cases the result was the same: the attack worked.

Fixing the vulnerability will require a revision of the W3C XML encryption standard, Somorovsky said. The researchers informed all possibly affected companies through the mailing list of W3C, following a clear responsible disclosure process.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot - would you really want to live to 15 (theage.com.au) 3

Macgrrl writes: It was reported today in The Age newspaper that scientists believe that they will have a drug within the next 5-10 years that will extend the average human lifespan to 150 years.

Given the retirement age in Australia is 65, that would give you an extra 95 years past the current reitrment age, meaning you would probably have to extend the average working life to 100 or 120 years to prevent the economy becoming totally unbalanced and pensions running out.

That assumes that the life extension is all 'good years', and not a prolonged period of dementia and physical decline.

Would you want to live to 150? What do you see as being the most likely issues and what do you think you would do with all the extra years?


Submission + - Businesses dodge DRM to keep using MYOB software (pcpro.co.uk) 1

nk497 writes: "In 2008, MYOB pulled out of the UK, handing its customer base to local rival Mamut. That firm has told UK-based MYOB users the accounting software will move into read-only mode at the end of the year, making use of its built-in DRM to artificially push users to change to its own product.

A user group has sprung up with a solution: crack the DRM. A software developer has come up with a way to create new "reconfirmation" numbers that mean users will be able to keep using MYOB. “I don’t know if we’re allowed to do it or not, it’s certainly a difficult one," the user group's spokesman Mark Hill said, adding: "In our view the licence is being breached by the software house, MYOB... not the users.""


Submission + - Can the Hottest Peppers in the World Kill You? 1

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Katharine Gammon writes that last week, the Kismot Indian restaurant in Edinburgh, Scotland, held a competition to eat the extra-hot Kismot Killer curry and several ambulances were called after some of the competitive eaters were left writhing on the floor in agony, vomiting and fainting. Paul Bosland, professor of horticulture at New Mexico State University and director of the Chile Pepper Institute, says that chili peppers can indeed cause death — but most people's bodies would falter long before they reached that point. "Theoretically, one could eat enough really hot chiles to kill you," says Bosland adding that a research study in 1980 calculated that three pounds of the hottest peppers in the world — something like the Bhut Jolokia — eaten all at once could kill a 150-pound person. Chili peppers cause the eater's insides to rev up activating the sympathetic nervous system — which helps control most of the body's internal organs — to expend more energy, so the body burns more calories when the same food is eaten with chili peppers. But tissue inflammation could explain why the contestants in the Killer Curry contest said they felt like chainsaws were ripping through their insides. As for the contest, restaurant owner Abdul Ali admitted the fiery dish may have been too spicy after the Scottish Ambulance Service warned him to review his event. ‘I think we’ll tone it down, but we’ll definitely do it next year.’"

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