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Submission + - "Father of Chinese Pinyin" Dies at the Age of 111 (

An anonymous reader writes: Chinese economist and self-taught linguist Zhou Youguang died on Jan 14, reports the BBC. Prof. Zhou was the leading inventor of the Pinyin phonetic transcription system for the standard Chinese language, based on 26 letters of the Latin alphabet. Developed in the 1950s and now officially adopted by China, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia and used by most West-based libraries, press and educational institutions, it paved way the widespread availability of pinyin-based computer input methods (IMEs) available today on virtually all operating systems and mobile platforms.

The pinyin was first developed as a superior alternative to earlier Chinese romanization systems such as Wade--Giles. It has since proved helpful for combating the illiteracy problem in Communist China, as well as for foreign learners of the Chinese language. The availability of pinyin in Chinese elementary schools significantly lowered the average Chinese's learning curve toward computer literacy.

Mr. Zhou survived forced labor and persecution during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960--70s and became a vocal critic of Chinese politics despite his great age, publishing 10 books after turning 100. Among his other achievements, he was responsible for overseeing the Chinese translation of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Submission + - Millenials' renewed interest in zines fueled by freedom from surveillance

An anonymous reader writes: Jonno Revanche writes for the Guardian why he is still into zines: being the "new teen rebellion", zines offer "escape [from] surveillance and clickbait." He writes:

The trustworthiness of a physical object in our current age is strangely compelling. Links shared via Facebook or messenger apps can be intercepted, logged, or dispersed otherwise into the ether. Especially for teenagers, zines counter the anxiety and subsequent frantic deletion of browser history so that your family can’t see it.

Now, my fascination is on an emerging strain of self-publishing, one that specifically acts as a way of navigating (and circumventing) online surveillance. Just months ago I put out a zine focused on "cyborgs": a loose metaphor for the way we have become socially and physically inseparable from technology, and the implications that has.

Zines have long been used as a method of political organising in activist cultures and sub-cultures, so this is not exactly new – it’s more a continuation of a tactic that in recent years has become important once again.

Mia Van Den Bos is a researcher and curator of Sister Gallery in Adelaide, a space for new technologies and communication within art. She says that part of the appeal of zines is that "printed zines aren’t networked, so there’s no logging on IP addresses and the ability to track where information has come from and who has accessed it."

In contrast, I recall an 2011 article from the NYT on the resurgence of zines. Back then, mainstream media's interest in the phenomenon mostly focused on its role as an intimate, artisan, and exclusive mode of personal expression. One can hardly fail to notice the growing general awareness and concern about the societal domination by the looming menance of surveillance and control.

Submission + - Checking the positional invariance of Planck's Consant using GPS ( 1

gzipped_tar writes: Whether the fundamental constants really stay the same is always a question worth asking. In particular, the constancy of Planck's Constant is something that cannot be simply ignored owing to its universal importance in linking the quantum and classical pictures of our world. Using publicly available GPS data and terrestrial clocks, researchers form the California State University were able to verify that the value of h indeed stays the same across different positions in the vicinity of our Earth. Their result says the local position invariance of h is satisfied within a limit of 0.007. The paper is published in the journal Physical Review Letters (paywalled), and a free-to-read preprint is available on arXiv. tl;dr version for slashdotters: by the well-known formula E = h * f, a hypothetical variation on h induces changes in f, the transition frequency that keeps the time in atomic clocks, both on earth and aboard the satellites. When taking account of other time variations such as general relativistic time dilation, and assuming the invariance of E (atomic transition energy) on physical grounds, we can figure out an upper bound on the variation of h reflected in the measured variation in f.

Submission + - Chinese developer web forum stores and leaks 6 mil (

gzipped_tar writes: The "Chinese Software Developer Network" (CSDN), operated by Bailian Midami Digital Technology Co., Ltd., is one of the largest networks of software developers in China. A text file with 6 million CSDN user credentials including user names, password, emails, all in clear text, got leaked to the Internet.

The CSDN has issued a letter of apology to its users. In the letter, it is explained that passwords created before April 2009 had been stored in plain text, while later passwords were encrypted. Users created between September 2010 and January 2011 may still suffer from email address leaks.

A summary of the most frequent passwords without the corresponding usernames is available at GitHub. Somewhat surprisingly, the cryptic sounding password "dearbook" ranks 4th with 46053 accounts using it.

United States

Submission + - US defunds UNESCO after Palestine vote, what's nex ( 2

gzipped_tar writes: The US withdrew funding after UNESCO's Palestine membership vote yesterday. The decision was triggered by a 1994 US law that requires financial ties to be cut with any UN agency that accords the Palestinians full membership. As Palestine actively pursues entrance to other UN agencies, the defunding list could grow. Interestingly, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) could also be among Palestine's next target, and US is the big supported of WIPO. A much more disturbing scenario is Palestine joining the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), cutting American funding to the organization that monitors nuclear proliferation in states like Iran.

Submission + - XML Encryption Broken, Need to Fix W3C Standard (

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 + - London Conference on Cyberspace to be held on Nov (

gzipped_tar writes: British Foreign Secretary William Hague has invited representatives from governments, civil society and business to the London Conference on Cyberspace on Nov. 1-2. The aim of the conference is "[to] launch a focused and inclusive dialogue to help guide the behaviour of all in cyberspace. " In a guest editorial for the German paper Spiegel, Hague says that "The Internet has fostered transparency and allowed individuals to hold their governments to account", citing recent examples of the Arab Spring. However, he identifies three major threats to the future cyberspace: criminals who use the Net to rip off the society, terrorists who use the Net for planning and propaganda, and oppressive governments that try to control the Net, to violate citizens' rights and to launch cyberattacks. "Nobody controls the Internet; and we can't leave its future to chance," says Hague.

Submission + - German Justice Minister speaks of government spywa (

gzipped_tar writes: In an interview by Severin Weiland of Spiegel Online, German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger talks about the spyware from the German government recently dissected by the Chaos Computer Club. Having met with the CCC, she admits that the affair is "a very real possibility of a significant disaster." Apparently, the spyware scandal has brought new political impetus for her Free Democratic Party, self-labeled as "an energetic guardian of the private sphere", but she is careful in the choice of words not to offend the governing coalition. On the Pirate Party, she says "[they] has certainly enlivened things", referring to the civil right issues.

Submission + - Teacher Cannot Be Sued For Denying Creationism (

gzipped_tar writes: A federal appeals court ruled on Friday that a public high school teacher in Mission Viejo, California may not be sued for making hostile remarks about religion in his classroom. The decision stems from a lawsuit filed by a student charging that the teacher’s hostile remarks about creationism and religious faith violated a First Amendment mandate that the government remain neutral in matters of religion. A three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the lawsuit against an advanced placement history teacher must be thrown out of court because the teacher was entitled to immunity.

Submission + - Right-Wing Extremists Tricked by Trojan Shirts (

gzipped_tar writes: Fans at a recent right-wing extremist rock festival in Germany thought they were getting free T-shirts that reflected their nationalistic worldview. But after the garment's first wash they discovered otherwise. The original image rinsed away to reveal a hidden message from an activist group. It reads: "If your T-shirt can do it, so can you. We'll help to free you from right-wing extremism."
United States

Submission + - Spiegel Interviews Tea Party Co-Founder (

gzipped_tar writes: Mark Meckler, 49, the co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots in the United States, talks to SPIEGEL about the US debt ceiling, the radical right's uncompromising fight against the national debt and the "complete economic disaster" he claims President Barack Obama has created.

Submission + - Spiegel interviews Tea Party co-founder (

gzipped_tar writes: Mark Meckler, 49, the co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots in the United States, talks to SPIEGEL about the US debt ceiling, the radical right's uncompromising fight against the national debt and the "complete economic disaster" he claims President Barack Obama has created.
First Person Shooters (Games)

Submission + - 'Death Strip' Game Sparks Controversy in Germany (

gzipped_tar writes: A new computer game where players assume the roles of border guards and shoot people trying to escape from communist East Germany has unleashed a storm of controversy in Germany. The game's creator says he wanted to teach young people about history, but he has been accused of glorifying violence.

The name of the multi-player FPS game, "1,378 (kilometers)", was inspired by the length of the border between East and West Germany. Players choose between the roles of the border guards or would-be escapees: the escapee only has one goal — to get over the wall, but the border guard has more options, and can shoot or capture the escapee. He can also swap sides and try to clamber over the border defenses himself. By choosing to play the boarder guard and kill the escapee, the player would won an in-game medal from the government of East Germany. But then the guard would time-travel forward to the year 2000, where he would have to stand trial.

Jens Stober, 23, designed the game as a media art student at the University of Design, Media and Arts in Karlsruhe. He said that his intention was to teach young people about German history. "In the game, you ask yourself: 'What would I do?'" explained Stober. "You may come to the conclusion that you would not shoot at your fellow countrymen and women." But others disagree. "Basically you are just picking off people, as if you were shooting rabbits," said Axel Klausmeier, director of the Berlin Wall Foundation. Hubertus Knabe, head of the Berlin-Hohenschoenhausen Memorial to the victims of the Stasi secret police, has even filed criminal charges. He wants the Berlin public prosecutor to investigate whether the game glorifies violence. Rainer Wagner, from former East Germany, said it was like a punch in the face. "It feels like I'm being shot at again, emotionally," said Wagner, who was arrested by border guards during his escape attempt.

Initially, Stober's university and Professor Michael Bielicky, who had supervised Stober's work, defended the student. However, on Thursday a university spokesman said that the game will not be released on Sunday, the anniversary of German reunification, after all. Instead, the release is being postponed until December.


Submission + - EFF Sues US Govt Over Social Network Tapping ( 1

gzipped_tar writes: Has the federal government overreached in tapping social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to investigate possible criminal activity? The non-profit civil liberties' group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) doesn't know, but it has filed suit to find out the scope of the government's investigations.

The lawsuit, filed at the Northern District of California's San Francisco division court, seeks information from a number of federal agencies under the Freedom of Information Act who are listed as defendants in the case. These agencies include EFF the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury, the CIA, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

"An agency normally has 20 working days, about a month, to respond to a request for documents but that rarely happens," said Marcia Hoffman, staff attorney for the EFF, in an interview by "Considering these agencies have violated the law by not responding by the deadline, we want to get the courts involved. Once we get the information we'll make it available to the public on our Web site."

"Internet users deserve to know what information is collected, under what circumstances, and who has access to it," said Shane Witnov, a law student also working on the case. "These agencies need to abide by the law and release their records on social networking surveillance."

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