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NASA

Submission + - US Manned Space Flight Gutted

An anonymous reader writes: Congress has quietly begun dismantling NASA's manned space flight program. Thankfully the failure that has been manned space flight will be replaced by 'Earth science' at NASA.
Social Networks

Submission + - Blog is Dead

The Narrative Fallacy writes: "Douglas Quenqua reports in the NY Times that according to a 2008 survey only 7.4 million out of the 133 million blogs the company tracks had been updated in the past 120 days meaning that "95 percent of blogs being essentially abandoned, left to lie fallow on the Web, where they become public remnants of a dream — or at least an ambition — unfulfilled." Richard Jalichandra, chief executive of Technorati, said that at any given time there are 7 million to 10 million active blogs on the Internet, but it's probably between 50,000 and 100,000 blogs that are generating most of the page views. "There's a joke within the blogging community that most blogs have an audience of one." Many people who think blogging is a fast path to financial independence also find themselves discouraged. "I did some Craigslist postings to advertise it, and I very quickly got an audience of about 50,000 viewers a month," says Matt Goodman, an advertising executive in Atlanta who had no trouble attracting an audience to his site, Things My Dog Ate, leading to some small advertising deals. "I think I made about $20 from readers clicking on the ads.""

Feed Techdirt: New Study Shows Massive Error Rates In E-Voting Machines (techdirt.com)

Just as e-voting firm Sequoia is resisting having its machines reviewed independently, the Brookings Institute has put a bunch of e-voting machines to the test, and found error rates around 3% on some of the machines. These weren't errors due to software problems, but usability problems, where the design of the system resulted in people voting for a candidate they did not want. 3% is a huge number, and could easily change the results of an election. While the study found that people generally like e-voting technology, that still doesn't mean it's particularly effective. One other interesting part of the finding: when there was a voter-verified paper trail, it didn't cut down on errors. This suggests that many voters were either confused or didn't even bother to verify their vote. This should all be very worrisome. Even ignoring the technology problems that these machines have been shown to have, the fact that the design tends to create so many mistake votes should lead people to seriously question the use of e-voting machines.

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The Courts

Submission + - Inventor Sues OLTC Gains Victory in Nigerian Crt (philanthropy.com)

BigVig209 writes: "One Laptop Per Child, a charity that provides inexpensive computers to children in developing countries, has been sued by a company whose founder argues that the nonprofit group stole his designs for a Nigerian keyboard, reports [link=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/03/17/BUN6VJKB8.DTL&hw=nonprofit&sn=001&sc=796]the Associated Press[/link]."
The Courts

Submission + - SPAM: FTC fines annoying online ad firm record $2.9M

coondoggie writes: "It probably won't do away with those annoying "YOU HAVE WON" banner ads but online advertiser ValueClick, today agreed to pay a record $2.9 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that its advertising claims and e-mails were deceptive and violated federal law. Aside from being deceptive and generally annoying, the FTC also charged that ValueClick and its subsidiaries, Hi-Speed Media and E-Babylon failed to secure consumers' sensitive financial information, despite their claims to do so. The FTC alleged the companies published online privacy policies claiming they encrypted customer information, but either failed to encrypt the information at all or used a non-standard and insecure form of encryption. [spam URL stripped]"
Link to Original Source
Privacy

Submission + - FBI Privacy Violations Confirmed (myway.com)

johnsonav writes: The AP reports, "An audit by the inspector general last year found the FBI demanded personal records without official authorization or otherwise collected more data than allowed in dozens of cases between 2003 and 2005." Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI Director Robert Mueller said the breaches occurred before the FBI enacted reforms in 2007 to prevent abuse. A previous audit by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine, "blamed agent error and shoddy record-keeping for the bulk of the problems and did not find any indication of criminal misconduct." Far from unusual, more than 5% of requests are unauthorized, "In 2005, for example, Fine's office found more than 1,000 violations within 19,000 FBI requests to obtain 47,000 records."
Businesses

Submission + - Staples Tries To Charge Senior $390 for Basic work (consumerist.com)

Joe The Dragon writes: Staples Tries To Charge Senior Citizen $390 For Basic Computer Repair
http://consumerist.com/362708/staples-tries-to-charge-senior-citizen-390-for-basic-computer-repair

"Reader Michael watched incredulously as a Staples tech tried to convince a senior citizen that his computer wouldn't work properly without repairs costing almost $400.The senior, who had been lulled into Staples for a free tune up that suddenly cost $39.99, didn't understand why he needed to spend money on a "diagnostic screening ($49.99), virus removal services ($150), and more RAM (~$150)." Michael intervened and offered to look at the computer free of charge. He couldn't believe what he found when he popped open the computer."

That is what you get when you hire salesmen over real techs and you cut the hours of the people who know what they are doing and don't try to push unnecessary stuff.

Any ways Staples prices are a big ripoff in the first place.

Just look at this discussion about there prices best buy has better prices then staples.
http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r17864165-What-a-joke

And that also leads to people looking at that you worked for places like Geek Squad and just push over you thinking that you where just ripping people off and your where not a real tech.

Microsoft

Submission + - Microsoft internal e-mails show dismay with Vista (brucefwebster.com)

bfwebster writes: "Microsoft is currently facing a class-action suit over its designation of allegedly under-powered hardware as being "Vista Capable." The discovery process of that lawsuit has now compelled Microsoft to produce some internal e-mails discussing those issues. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has published extracts of some of those e-mails, along with a link to a PDF file containing a more extensive e-mail exchange.

The e-mails reflect a lot of frustration among senior Microsoft personnel about Vista's performance problems and hardware incompatibilities. They also appear to indicate that Microsoft lowered the hardware requirements for "Vista Capable" in order to include certain lower-end Intel chipsets, apparently as a favor to Intel: "In the end, we lowered the requirement to help Intel make their quarterly earnings so they could continue to sell motherboards with 915 graphics embedded." Read the whole PDF; it is informative, interesting, and at time (though unintentionally) funny. ..bruce.."

Government

Submission + - City of L.A. Wrongfully Deports a US Citizen (aclu.org) 1

An anonymous reader writes: Pedro Guzman 30-year-old cognitively impaired American citizen illegally deported to Mexico after he was arrested on misdemeanor charges and sent to Los Angeles County jail.
Security

Submission + - Cambridge researchers break chip-and-pin... again (lightbluetouchpaper.org)

An anonymous reader writes: Now-infamous University of Cambridge security researchers Ross Anderson, Saar Drimer, and Steven Murdoch, who last year showed us Tetris on a payment terminal, have now shown how a paperclip can be used to bypass the UK banks' snake-oil "tamper-resistance" in their paper at the IEEE Security and Privacy conference. Why does this matter? Because the banks were sticking their customers with the bills when cloned cards were used, since the system was supposed to be invulnerable. Despite the banks' claims, the devices weren't even certified! The BBC featured the attack on the news last night. Hopefully this will lead to thousands of customers getting their money back.
It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - Computers still Confused by Apostrophes in Names

Hugh van Pickens writes: "More than 50 years into the Information Age, computers are still getting confused by the apostrophe in names like O'Connor, D'Angelos, N'Dour and D'Artagnan and it's not just the bad luck o' the Irish as Dutch surnames with "van" and a space in them can befuddle computer systems, too. Dutch-American proofreader Jessica van Campen has seen her name listed as Jessica Vancampen, Jessica Van, Jessicavan Campen, Jessica Campen and Jessican Kampen by uncertain computer systems. "It's standard shortsightedness," says Michael Rais. "Most programs set a rule for first name and last name. They don't think of foreign-sounding names." The trouble can happen in two ways: Online forms typically have a filter that looks for unfamiliar terms that might be put in by mistake or as a joke and will block a name with an apostrophe, a hyphen or a gap in a last name. But even if the computer system is sophisticated enough to welcome an O'Brien or Al-Kurd, the name must be stored in the database, where a hyphen or apostrophe is often mistaken for a piece of computer code, corrupting the system. All of this confusion has prompted some people to surrender to technology. Iraqi immigrant Lina Alathari was once known as Lina Al-Athari, but dropped the hyphen in America. "There is no pronunciation difference, so I'm fine with it," she said."

Feed Techdirt: Why We Should All Want Politicians Who Plagiarize (techdirt.com)

There's been a rather bizarre debate about plagiarism kicked off by charges from Hillary Clinton's campaign that Barack Obama has "plagiarized" some of his speeches. This isn't a political blog, and I won't get into the politics of this, but we do talk about plagiarism here, and it's a ridiculous claim. In the past, we've noted that it's time to rethink the concept of plagiarism, and even pointed to Jonathan Lethem's fantastic defense of plagiarism, which was entirely plagiarized itself. Many people wrongly confuse copyright and plagiarism -- even though they are two separate things. Copyright has nothing to do with making sure someone gets credit for their work. What some people want to call plagiarism, others are realizing is actually a form of collaboration. Ideas and words do not come to us uniquely as a burst of inspiration -- but are built on what we have all learned from others. When anyone speaks, they are "plagiarizing" others in some form or another. Name a political candidate who has only uttered his or her own words, not taking anything from anyone else and improving on it in their own way.

Thankfully, various speechwriters have come forward to ridicule the charges of plagiarism, noting that all political speeches pull from others, and when is the last time you heard a politician credit his or her own speechwriter for a speech he or she had just given? Copyright expert William Patry has blasted the charges as well. In fact, most of the commentary seems to be about what a lame tactic it is. Most amusing of all, perhaps, are the false claims by one news organization that it broke the story. Think about that for a second: a news organization is demanding undeserved credit for breaking a story on a politician who, by omission, failed to credit where his ideas came from. Which is worse? Claiming credit for something you did not do, or failing to credit a friend and advisor who provided you with an idea you built on?

But the key point here is that I want a politician who plagiarizes. I want a politician who takes the ideas of others, mixes them around and comes out with something better. I want a politician who doesn't think that all good ideas spring from his or her head alone, but knows that by listening to others, and by internalizing those ideas, remixing those ideas and building on top of those ideas something better, something more profound, something more meaningful can be produced. Any politician who chooses not to build on the ideas of others and who insists that only he or she creates the speeches and policies put forth is not a politician worth following.

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Censorship

Submission + - Scientology given direct access to eBay database (realitybasedcommunity.net) 2

An anonymous reader writes: The Church of Scientology can delete auctions from eBay with no supervision under the VeRO program, and has used this to delete all resale of the e-meters Scientologists use. This is to stop members from buying used units from ex-members instead of buying from the official (and very expensive) source. Given Scientology's record of fraud and abuse, should eBay give them this level of trust? Will this set a precedent for other companies who want to stop the aftermarket resale of its products?

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