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Submission + - Phase 1 of TrueCrypt Audit Turns up No Backdoors (

msm1267 writes: A initial audit of the popular open source encryption software TrueCrypt turned up fewer than a dozen vulnerabilities, none of which so far point toward a backdoor surreptitiously inserted into the codebase.

A report on the first phase of the audit was released today by iSEC Partners, which was contracted by the Open Crypto Audit Project (OCAP), a grassroots effort that not only conducted a successful fundraising effort to initiate the audit, but raised important questions about the integrity of the software.

The first phase of the audit focused on the TrueCrypt bootloader and Windows kernel driver; architecture and code reviews were performed, as well as penetration tests including fuzzing interfaces, said Kenneth White, senior security engineer at Social & Scientific Systems. The second phase of the audit will look at whether the various encryption cipher suites, random number generators and critical key algorithms have been implemented correctly.

Submission + - Microsoft unleashes Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers

DroidJason1 writes: Microsoft has released the highly-anticipated Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers. Microsoft's mobile offering now has a Siri-competitor with Cortana, along with new features such as an Action Center, lock screen customization, Start Screen wallpapers, and much more. You can read a full review of the update, or learn how to download it right now! This update marks Microsoft’s biggest effort yet to bring its mobile platform closer in line with iOS and Android.

Submission + - IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay A Relative's Debt

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Just in time for the April 15 IRS filing deadline comes news from the Washington Post that hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who are expecting refunds are instead getting letters informing them that because of a debt they never knew about — often a debt incurred by their parents — the government has confiscated their check — sometimes on debts 20 or 30 years old. For example, when Mary Grice was 4, back in 1960, her father died, leaving her mother with five children to raise. Until the kids turned 18, Sadie Grice got survivor benefits from Social Security to help feed and clothe them. Now, Social Security claims it overpaid someone in the Grice family — it’s not sure who — in 1977. After 37 years of silence, four years after Sadie Grice died, the government is coming after her daughter. “It was a shock,” says Grice, 58. “What incenses me is the way they went about this. They gave me no notice, they can’t prove that I received any overpayment, and they use intimidation tactics, threatening to report this to the credit bureaus.”

The Treasury Department has intercepted $1.9 billion in tax refunds already this year — $75 million of that on debts delinquent for more than 10 years, says Jeffrey Schramek, assistant commissioner of the department’s debt management service. The aggressive effort to collect old debts started three years ago — the result of a single sentence tucked into the farm bill lifting the 10-year statute of limitations on old debts to Uncle Sam. The Federal Trade Commission, on its Web site, advises Americans that “family members typically are not obligated to pay the debts of a deceased relative from their own assets.” But Social Security officials say that if children indirectly received assistance from public dollars paid to a parent, the children’s money can be taken, no matter how long ago any overpayment occurred. Many of the taxpayers whose refunds have been taken say they’ve been unable to contest the confiscations because of the cost, because Social Security cannot provide records detailing the original overpayment, and because the citizens, following advice from the IRS to keep financial documents for just three years, had long since trashed their own records. More than 1,200 appeals have been filed on the old cases but only about 10 percent of taxpayers have won those appeals. "The government took the money first and then they sent us the letter," says Brenda Samonds.." We could never get one sentence from them explaining why the money was taken.”

Submission + - The Comcast merger isn't about lines on a map,it's about controlling information (

An anonymous reader writes: Comcast and proposed merger partner Time Warner Cable claim they donâ(TM)t compete because their service areas donâ(TM)t overlap, and that a combined company would happily divest itself of a few million customers to keeps its pay-TV market share below 30%, allowing other companies that donâ(TM)t currently compete with Comcast to keep not competing with Comcast. This narrow, shortsighted view fails to take into account the full breadth of whatâ(TM)s involved in this merger â" broadcast TV, cable TV, network technology, in-home technology, access to the Internet, and much more. In addition to asking whether or not regulators should permit Comcast to add 10-12 million customers, there is a more important question at the core of this deal: Should Comcast be allowed to control both what content you consume and how you get to consume it?

Submission + - PC Gaming Alive and Dominant (

An anonymous reader writes: Ars reports on a panel at PAX East which delved into the strength of the PC as a platform for games, and what its future looks like. The outlook is positive: 'Even as major computer OEMs produce numbers showing falling sales, the PC as a platform (and especially a gaming platform) actually shows strong aggregate growth.' The panelists said that while consoles get a lot of the headlines, the PC platform remains the only and/or best option for a lot of developers and gamers. They briefly addressed piracy, as well: 'Piracy, [Matt Higby] said, is an availability and distribution problem. The more games are crowdfunded and digitally delivered and the less a "store" figures into buying games, the less of a problem piracy becomes. [Chris Roberts] was quick to agree, and he noted that the shift to digital distribution also helps the developers make more money—they ostensibly don't have everyone along the way from retailers to publishers to distributors taking their cut from the sale.'

Submission + - Natural Selection Found in Non-Living Organisms 3

Hugh Pickens writes: "Lab Spaces reports that researchers have determined for the first time that bits of infectious protein devoid of DNA or RNA called prions are capable of Darwinian evolution. "On the face of it, you have exactly the same process of mutation and adaptive change in prions as you see in viruses," said Charles Weissmann, M.D., Ph.D. "This means that this pattern of Darwinian evolution appears to be universally active. In viruses, mutation is linked to changes in nucleic acid sequence that leads to resistance. Now, this adaptability has moved one level down – to prions and protein folding – and it's clear that you do not need nucleic acid for the process of evolution." Infectious prions are associated with some 20 different diseases in humans and animals, all of them untreatable and eventually fatal including mad cow disease and a rare human form, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The researchers transferred prion populations from infected brain cells to culture cells. When transplanted, cell-adapted prions developed and out-competed their brain-adapted counterparts, confirming prions' ability to adapt to new surroundings, a hallmark of Darwinian evolution. When returned to brain, brain-adapted prions again took over the population. "We know that mutation and natural selection occur in living organisms and now we know that they also occur in a non-living organism," says Weissmann. "I suppose anything that can't do that wouldn't stand much of a chance of survival.""

Submission + - Oldest footprints on Earth

mindbrane writes: CNN has an piece that ups the ante in bets per millions of years ago that the first tetrapods walked the earth. The discovery of the footprints in a former quarry in the Holy Cross Mountains in south-eastern Poland are thought to be 395-million years old — 18 million years older than the earliest tetrapod (a vertebrate with limbs rather than fins) body fossils." The footprints about 26 centimeters wide suggest an animal around 2.5 meters in length. The find pushes back the presumed date tetrapods walked the earth by 18 million years. It also shows evidence of a gait more like that of a salamander with front and back legs and no evidence of a dragging body. Unfortunately no fossils have been found to date but the fossilized footprints provides a powerful impetus to substantiate the findings and implications with fossils.

Submission + - Prion proteins capable of evolution despite no DNA 1

An anonymous reader writes: Scientists from the Scripps Research Institute have shown for the first time that "lifeless" organic substances with no genetic material are capable of evolving just like any higher form of life. The discovery could reshape the definition of life and have revolutionary impacts on how certain diseases are treated.

Comment Demo Presentation (Score 5, Informative) 72

Looks like they are part of the presentation & demo sessions at the UIST (User Interface Software and Technology) being hosted by ACM next week.

More details here:

And a schedule of events:

I hope to see additional project details and possibly some additional demonstration videos come from this event.


A 3D Curve Sketching System For Tablets 72

dominique_cimafranca writes "The Dynamic Graphics Project of the University of Toronto has released a pretty nifty 3D curve sketching system. Apart from the large drawing area, the tablet software looks very intuitive to artists. From the site: 'The system coherently integrates existing techniques of sketch-based interaction with a number of novel and enhanced features. Novel contributions of the system include automatic view rotation to improve curve sketchability, an axis widget for sketch surface selection, and implicitly inferred changes between sketching techniques. We also improve on a number of existing ideas such as a virtual sketchbook, simplified 2D and 3D view navigation, multi-stroke NURBS curve creation, and a cohesive gesture vocabulary.'"

Open Office Plans To Party Like It's Version 3.0 396

penguin_dance writes "The Register reports that ' is throwing a launch party in Paris on 13 October' to celebrate eight years, and hopefully announce the release of version 3.0. Some notes: [ 3.0] will support the OpenDocument Format 1.2 standard, and be able to open files created by MS Office 2007 and Office 2008 for Mac OS X." As maj_id10t notes, though the OO.o site does not yet carry an announcement, "Lifehacker has posted an entry stating the final release of OpenOffice 3.0 is available for download via their distribution mirrors."

Did Amazon Induce Vista's Premature Birth? 296

theodp writes "A recent Amazon SEC filing sheds light on the puzzling departure of Microsoft Sr. VP Brian Valentine in Sept. 2006. Valentine is the Gen. George Patton-like figure charged with pushing Vista developers, who dumped the still not-ready-for-prime-time OS into RC1 status as he bolted for a new gig at Amazon. Having repeatedly assured everyone that Valentine was staying with the company post-Vista, Microsoft backpedaled and explained that Valentine decided to leave since the company had shipped a near-final version of Vista. Not so. Although analysts fell for the PR line, it seems Valentine had actually signed an Employment Agreement way back in June calling for him to be on board at Amazon on Sept. 11 if he wanted to pick up a $1.7M signing bonus, $150K base salary, another $500K bonus, and 400K shares of Amazon stock (now worth almost $30M). Who says you have to shell out $999.95 for MS-Project to come up with accurate planned completion dates?"

Ohloh Tracks Open Source Developers 115

eldavojohn writes "The startup company Ohloh has a database listing 70,000 developers working on 11,000 open source projects. Their aim is to 'rank' open source developers, which raises some interesting questions about exactly how useful this tracking company is. Questions like, 'Is there an accurate way beyond word of mouth to measure the importance and skill of a developer?' I found it slightly alarming that, to this site, the number of commits (with input from the number of kudos) tells how good a developer you are."

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