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Submission + - Raspberry Pi Zero: the $5 computer

drinkypoo writes: Today Eben Upton and the Raspberry Pi foundation announced the Raspberry Pi Zero, an even tinier Pi with a BCM2835 1GHz ARM11 core allegedly 40% faster than Raspberry Pi 1, 512MB of LPDDR2 SDRAM, micro-SD and an unpopulated 40-pin GPIO header with the classic pinout — priced at just five dollars. In spite of being shrunk to just 65mm x 30mm x 5mm, it retains [mini-]HDMI output (and there is an unpopulated header for composite video output as well.) At this price and size, the Zero competes handily with the $9 C.H.I.P. computer discussed here previously.

Submission + - Cuba's report urging the UN to condemn the embargo is flawed.

lpress writes: On October 27th, the United Nations General Assembly is expected to vote on a resolution urging the United States to end its economic embargo on Cuba. Last June, Cuba issued a report arguing against the embargo and claiming that it has cost the Cuban people $833.7 billion — $57,122,900 of that in the sector of "communications and informatics, including telecommunications." The communications and informatics claims are one-sided and invalid. Cuba has introduced resolutions condeming the embargo 24 times. Last year only Israel and the US voted no and the Guardian has reported that the US has decided to vote against the resolution again because it does not fully reflect the new spirit of engagement between the US and Cuba and the Cubans were unwilling to revise it.

Submission + - Apple Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over iOS Wi-Fi Assist (appleinsider.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A class-action suit has been filed against Apple in U.S. District Court over Wi-Fi assist being turned on by default in iOS 9. Wi-Fi assist is designed to switch to cellular data when a user is trying to perform an action over the internet on a poor Wi-Fi signal. This has the natural side effect of using cellular data. Since iOS 9 turned it on for many users, they weren't necessarily expecting that extra use, causing some of them to exceed their data caps. A former Apple employee who was in a leadership position for Mac OS X Wi-Fi software has commented on the issue, saying that the Wi-Fi Assist mess was unavoidable given how Apple's management treats that part of the business. Quoting :"[O]ne particular directorial edict which I pushed back against at the end of my tenure sticks out as not just particularly telling, but deeply misguided: 'Make it self-healing.' Self healing in this context meaning that the networking system, Wi-Fi in particular, should try to correct problems that caused the network to fail, which, if you have spent any time trying to diagnose networking issues is a clear misunderstanding of the issues involved. ... Asking the devices which connect to this vast complex network of networks to detect, and then transparently fix problems in the infrastructure without the permission of the administrators is, well, it’s absolutely the pinnacle of buzzword driven product management. Real pointy-haired boss territory."

Submission + - Cisa amendment would allow US to jail foreigners for crimes committed abroad (theguardian.com)

An anonymous reader writes: An amendment to a controversial cybersecurity bill will allow US courts to pursue and jail foreign nationals even if the crimes they commit are against other foreigners and on foreign soil.

The main aim of the amendment to the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (Cisa), which passed a key Senate hurdle on Thursday, is to lower the barrier for prosecuting crimes committed abroad. But the amended law would make it a crime punishable by US prison time not merely to clone the credit card or steal the Netflix password of an American citizen, but to take unauthorized information from any American company, no matter where it happens.

In other words, if a French national hacks a Spanish national’s MasterCard, she could be subject to 10 years in US prison under laws changed by the bill.

Submission + - Mimic, The Evil Script That Will Drive Programmers To Insanity (github.com)

JustAnotherOldGuy writes: Mimic implements a devilishly sick idea floated on Twitter by Peter Ritchie: "Replace a semicolon (;) with a Greek question mark (;) in your friend's C# code and watch them pull their hair out over the syntax error." There are quite a few characters in the Unicode character set that look, to some extent or another, like others – homoglyphs. Mimic substitutes common ASCII characters for obscure homoglyphs. Caution: using this script may get you fired and/or beaten to a pulp.

Submission + - Mysterious piece of space junk to hit Earth

schwit1 writes: A piece of unidentified space junk, discovered in a long elliptical orbit going out far beyond the Moon, has been calculated to hit the Earth over the Indian Ocean on November 13.

WT1190F was detected by the Catalina Sky Survey, a program aimed at discovering asteroids and comets that swing close to Earth. At first scientists didn’t know what to make of this weird body. But they quickly computed its trajectory, after collecting more observations and unearthing 2012 and 2013 sightings from telescope archives, says independent astronomy software developer Bill Gray, who has been working to track the debris with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

WT1190F travels a highly elliptical orbit, swinging out twice as far as the Earth-Moon distance, Gray says. Gray’s calculations show that it will hit the Earth at 6:20 UTC, falling about 65 kilometres off the southern tip of Sri Lanka. Much if not all of it will burn up in the atmosphere, but “I would not necessarily want to be going fishing directly underneath it,” Gray says.

What makes the object interesting is that they don’t know when it was launched or how it got in the orbit it is in. It could even be something from the Apollo lunar missions.

Submission + - Judge: School's Facebook post a campaign contribution (coloradoan.com)

schwit1 writes: A state judge has ruled that a Facebook post by Liberty Common School amounts to an illegal campaign contribution to a Thompson School District board candidate.

In August, the Fort Collins charter school shared with its Facebook followers a newspaper article about a parent of a student running for a board seat in the neighboring school district. Liberty Common’s principal, former Colorado Congressman Bob Schaffer, then shared the post and called candidate Tomi Grundvig an “excellent education leader” who would provide “sensible stewardship” of Thompson.

Liberty Common has 566 followers to its Facebook page. Schaffer, who lost a 2004 bid for U.S. Senate, has more than 3,900 “friends” on his personal page.

Administrative law judge Matthew E. Norwood called the violation “minor,” and ruled that “no government money of any significant amount was spent to make the contribution.” He also focused on the post to the school’s specific page, not Schaffer’s personal page.

“The school’s action was the giving of a thing of value to the candidate, namely favorable publicity,” Norwood wrote in his Oct. 14 ruling, which became public Wednesday. “It was given indirectly to her for the purpose of promoting her election.”

University of Colorado law professor Scott Moss called that point “troubling” for its implications on political speech.

Submission + - Mozilla Giving $1 Million To Open Source Projects It Relies On (mozilla.org)

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla has been a big part of the open source community for a long time, and their main projects rely heavily on independent open source work. They've now announced the Mozilla Open Source Support program, which aims to give back to the projects they rely on, and to also reward other projects that make the community stronger. Mozilla has allocated $1 million to award to these projects — to start. This appears to be Mozilla's efforts to fix a problem we've become painfully aware over the past year and a half: huge portions of the modern web rely on critical bits of open source software that have minimal resources. The company has already begun to compile a list of the projects they rely on. Hopefully it will inspire other organizations to support the open source software they rely on as well.

Submission + - Judge tosses Wikimedia's anti-NSA lawsuit because Wikipedia isn't big enough (arstechnica.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Wikimedia Foundation, Amnesty International, and others against the NSA and other U.S. intelligence agencies for their surveillance of internet communications. The judge used some odd reasoning in his ruling to absolve the NSA of any constitutional violations. He said that since the plaintiffs couldn't prove that all upstream internet communications were monitored, they didn't have standing to challenge whatever communications were monitored. This is curious, given that tech companies are known to be under gag orders preventing them from discussing certain types of government data collection. The judge also made a strange argument about Wikipedia's size: "For one thing, plaintiffs insist that Wikipedia's over one trillion annual Internet communications is significant in volume. But plaintiffs provide no context for assessing the significance of this figure. One trillion is plainly a large number, but size is always relative. For example, one trillion dollars are of enormous value, whereas one trillion grains of sand are but a small patch of beach."

Submission + - New Algorithm Provides Huge Speedups For Optimization Problems (mit.edu)

An anonymous reader writes: MIT graduate students have developed a new “cutting-plane" algorithm, a general-purpose algorithm for solving optimization problems. They’ve also developed a new way to apply their algorithm to specific problems, yielding orders-of-magnitude efficiency gains. Optimization problems look to find the best set of values for a group of disparate parameters. For example, the cost function around designing a new smartphone would reward battery life, speed, and durability while penalizing thickness, cost, and overheating. Finding the optimal arrangement of values is a difficult problem, but the new algorithm shaves a significant amount of operations (PDF) off those calculations. Satoru Iwata, professor of mathematical informatics at the University of Tokyo, said, "This is indeed an astonishing paper. For this problem, the running time bounds derived with the aid of discrete geometry and combinatorial techniques are by far better than what I could imagine."

Submission + - Mozilla offers $1 million to support open source and free software movement (betanews.com)

Mark Wilson writes: Mozilla is starting an open source-supporting award program with an initial allocation of $1 million. The company has long been a proponent of open source software, and now wants to give something back to the community on which it so heavily relies.

The Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS) is described as a way of both giving back to the community, but also giving forward to up and coming projects that could benefit others. A key feature of the program is a focus on improving the security of open source software, and Mozilla is looking to identify up to ten projects to help fund by the middle of December.

The company has revealed a list of open source software that it itself relies on, and says that it is now time to "formalize a systematic way to provide a new level of support to this community".

Submission + - Man Targeted in Polygraph Sting Calls on Government to "Stop the Madness"

George Maschke writes: Doug Williams, who was targeted in a sting operation by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection polygraph unit for teaching people how to pass or beat polygraph examinations, will be reporting to prison to begin serving a two-year sentence on October 30, 2015. Williams has released a final video statement calling on the U.S. government to terminate its reliance on polygraph "testing," which is widely dismissed as pseudoscience by the scientific community, and yet is widely embraced by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies. While the government may have succeeded in silencing Doug Williams, information about the shortcomings of polygraph testing, and how the test can be beaten, remains readily available to any who seek it.

Submission + - A Tower of Molten Salt Will Deliver Solar Power After Sunset (ieee.org)

schwit1 writes: For the first time, solar thermal can compete with natural gas during nighttime peak demand

Solar power projects intended to turn solar heat into steam to generate electricity have struggled to compete amid tumbling prices for solar energy from solid-state photovoltaic (PV) panels. But the first commercial-scale implementation of an innovative solar thermal design could turn the tide. Engineered from the ground up to store some of its solar energy, the 110-megawatt plant is nearing completion in the Crescent Dunes near Tonopah, Nev. It aims to simultaneously produce the cheapest solar thermal power and to dispatch that power for up to 10 hours after the setting sun has idled photovoltaics.

Submission + - Do Not Call 911! The Life and Death of an Amazon Warehouse Temp

theodp writes: Earlier this week, Amazon sicced former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on the NY Times and the ex-Amazon employees that were interviewed for the NYT's brutal August 2015 article about Amazon’s white-collar workplace culture. So, one can hardly wait to see how Amazon and Carney will respond to The Life and Death of an Amazon Warehouse Temp, Dave Jamieson's epic new HuffPo piece on what the future of low-wage work really looks like. Jamieson tells the heartbreaking tale of Jeff Lockhart Jr., who through some workforce sleight-of-hand was working-at-Amazon-but-not-entitled-to-Amazon-benefits when he met his maker after he collapsed in aisle A-215 of Amazon's Chester, VA fulfillment center and laid unconscious beneath shelves stocked with Tupperware and heating pads, Lockhart, whose white work badge distinguished him as a member of the Integrity Staffing Solutions temp worker caste as opposed to a blue-badged Amazon employee (Google yellow-badged its benefits-less temp workers), sadly left behind a wife and three kids, the oldest of which is legally blind. Jamieson writes, "Whoever found Jeff on the third floor apparently alerted Amcare, Amazon's in-house medical team, which is staffed with EMTs and other medical personnel. In the event of a health issue, Amazon instructs workers to notify security before calling emergency services. An employee brochure from a facility in Tennessee, obtained through a public records request, reads: 'In the event of a medical emergency, contact Security. Do Not call 911! Tell Security the nature of the medical emergency and location. Security and/or Amcare will provide emergency response.'" If you're pressed for reading time, Salon's Scott Timberg has a nice TL;DR recap.

Submission + - "We screwed up," says Reddit CEO in formal apology

An anonymous reader writes: After moderators locked up some of Reddit's most popular pages in protest against the dismissal of Victoria Taylor, and an online petition asking the company to fire CEO Ellen Pao reached more than 175,000 signatures over the weekend, Pao has issued an apology. The statement reads in part: "We screwed up. Not just on July 2, but also over the past several years. We haven’t communicated well, and we have surprised moderators and the community with big changes. We have apologized and made promises to you, the moderators and the community, over many years, but time and again, we haven’t delivered on them. When you’ve had feedback or requests, we haven’t always been responsive. The mods and the community have lost trust in me and in us, the administrators of reddit. Today, we acknowledge this long history of mistakes. We are grateful for all you do for reddit, and the buck stops with me."

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