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Submission + - U.S. military seeking to make cyborgs a reality (cnn.com)

mmell writes: The U.S. military is spending millions on an advanced implant that would allow a human brain to communicate directly with computers. If they succeed, cyborgs will be a reality. The goal of the proposed implant is to "open the channel between the human brain and modern electronics" according to DARPA's program manager.

Ordinarily, such a headline might be considered the usual sensationalist reporting and a batch of sci-fi . . . except that this says DARPA is involved. I can remember when internetworking computers was a radical concept until DARPA came up with some serious sci-fi style communications protocols to make it all work. With only sixty-two million budgeted (so far), we can only hope that it'll be a while before they succeed — but then again, this is DARPA we're talking about.

Submission + - More H1-B Abuse by Abbot Labs (computerworld.com)

JustAnotherOldGuy writes: Abbott Labs, a global healthcare company, is laying off about 180 IT employees after signing an agreement with Wipro, a major India-based IT services firm, to take over some IT services. The workers are expecting to train their replacements, possibly workers on H-1B and other temporary visas. The IT employees at Abbott are distraught, said one IT worker who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Everybody is under tremendous pressure," the worker said, noting that colleagues are are depressed, angry and worried about losing homes and paying medical expenses. Job ads are being posted inside the company to fill IT jobs, and each ad points out that an H-1B worker may be hired for the position. "It looks like most of the jobs will go to India," the anonymous IT employee said.

Feed Techdirt: Verizon Strikes $1.35 Million Settlement With FCC Over Its Use Of Stealth 'Zombie Cookies' (google.com)

Last year you'll recall Verizon Wireless found itself in hot water after being caught modifying user packets to insert stealth tracking technology. By embedding each packet with a unique identifier traffic header, or X-UIDH. Verizon and its marketing partners were not only able to ignore user browser preferences and track their behavior around the Internet, they were then able to use this technology to build detailed user profiles. Verizon Wireless launched and operated the technology for two years before security researchers even noticed the program, and it required another six months of public pressure for Verizon to even offer an opt-out option.

According to the FCC's full press announcement (pdf), the fairly measly $1.35 million settlement doesn't stop the program, which likely won't please many privacy advocates. Verizon Wireless will however need to transparently notify users of the system and get their explicit opt-in (a rare dinosaur in online tracking rules) consent before sharing any of this data with third parties. The FCC is quick to highlight how Verizon previously proclaimed the technology couldn't be abused by third parties to build detailed profiles of users -- right before it was.

The FCC's full order (pdf) indicates that the regulator is leaning heavily on both the transparency requirement embedded in the FCC's net neutrality rules, and the agency's authority under Title II of the Communications Act to enforce the settlement:

"Section 222 of the Communications Act imposes a duty on carriers to protect their customers’ proprietary information and use such information only for authorized purposes. It also expressly prohibits carriers that obtain proprietary information from other carriers for the provision of telecommunications services to use such information for any other purpose. Section 8.3 of the Commission’s rules, known as the Open Internet Transparency Rule, requires every fixed and mobile broadband Internet access provider to publicly disclose accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of its broadband Internet access services sufficient for consumers to make informed choices regarding use of such services and for content, application, service, and device providers to develop, market, and maintain Internet offerings."
When the FCC reclassified ISPs as common carriers under Title II, ISPs became subject to Title II’s Section 222 privacy protections regarding "customer proprietary network information" (CPNI). That portion of Title II was written specifically for phone companies, so the FCC is planning (prompted in large part by Verizon's behavior) to update the CPNI rules to create new broadband consumer privacy protections. While the FCC politely lauds Verizon's cooperation in the investigation, these kinds of consumer protections are precisely what Verizon was trying to stop when it sued to cripple net neutrality (both in 2010 and again last year).

Granted Verizon could have easily avoided the new privacy rules. It has argued for years that tougher privacy protections for broadband weren't necessary because the industry could self-regulate. And regulators appeared to buy that claim for a while. But Verizon's decision to covertly fiddle with packets and track tens of millions of customers without bothering to tell any of them indicates just how well that plan actually worked in practice.

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Submission + - Online dermatology may work for eczema (mysuncoast.com)

GeorgieAuricht writes: A recent study finds virtual follow-up appointments work equally as well as office visits when it comes to treating eczema.
University of Colorado researchers studied 156 people diagnosed with eczema.

Submission + - More Than 600 Reported Chemical Exposure in Iraq, Pentagon Acknowledges (nytimes.com)

Coreyfischer writes: The Pentagon’s disclosure abruptly changed the scale and potential costs of the United States’ encounters with abandoned chemical weapons during the occupation of Iraq, episodes the military had for more than a decade kept from view. This previously untold chapter of the occupation became public after an investigation by The New York Times revealed last month that although troops did not find an active weapons of mass destruction program, they did encounter degraded chemical weapons from the 1980s that had been hidden in caches or used in makeshift bombs.

Submission + - Track status of your heart through use of this device (drugtodayonline.com)

An anonymous reader writes: It’s often said ‘matters of heart are not easy to comprehend’. No longer so! Here is a device that can help you track the status of your heart, both in medical and emotional terms. Hoping that the device will be highly beneficial for India, Srinivasan Murali, Indian researcher who is co-founder of the device, said it can track Electrocardiogram (ECG), breathing and key vital signs of users. With this invention patients can get timely feedback from the doctor.

Submission + - ALCU: NSA can't stop US citizen data if it wanted to (techdirt.com)

sandbagger writes: The American Civil Liberties Association's Freedom of Information requests have revealed this tidbit in the NSA's reasoning: "As a practical matterit is not possible to determine what communications are to or from U.S, persons nearly as readily as is the case with telephony, and often is not possible at all."

In other words, since the poor guys just have to collect everything. Not their fault.

Submission + - Scientists strip zebrafish of their stripes (washington.edu)

vinces99 writes: Within weeks of publishing surprising new insights about how zebrafish get their stripes, the same University of Washington group is now able to explain how to “erase” them. The findings – the first published Aug. 28 in Science and the latest in the Nov. 6 issue of Nature Communications – give new understanding about genes and cell behaviors that underlie pigment patterns in zebrafish that, in turn, could help unravel the workings of pigment cells in humans and other animals, skin disorders such as melanoma and cell regeneration.

“Using zebrafish as a model, we’re at the point where we have a lot of the basic mechanisms, the basic phenomenology of what’s going on, so we can start to look at some of these other species that have really different patterns and start to understand them,” said David Parichy, a UW professor of biology and corresponding author on both papers.

Zebrafish, a tropical freshwater fish about 1.5 inches long, belongs to the minnow family and is a popular addition to home aquariums. Adults have long horizontal blue stripes on their sides, hence the reference to “zebra.” These patterns have roles in schooling, mate selection and avoiding predators. Given their importance, scientists have long wanted to know where these pigment cells come from and how they make stripes and other arrangements.

Submission + - Home Depot Says Hackers Grabbed 53 Million Email Addresses (securityweek.com)

wiredmikey writes: Home Depot said on Thursday that hackers managed to access 53 million customer email addresses during the massive breach that was disclosed in September when the retail giant announced that 56 million customer payment cards were compromised in a cyber attack. The files containing the stolen email addresses did not contain passwords, payment card information or other sensitive personal information, the company said. The company also said that the hackers acquired elevated rights that allowed them to navigate portions of Home Depot’s network and to deploy unique, custom-built malware on its self-checkout systems in the U.S. and Canada.

Submission + - Growing popularity of Global Translation Services! (goarticles.com)

themultilingual writes: These days, the demand for global translation services is increasing by leaps and bounds. The reason behind this surge and popularity are several. Firstly, the world is fast becoming a global village. People have jobs, education, interest and various other reasons to visit a variety of places.

Submission + - The Other Side of Diversity In Tech (medium.com)

An anonymous reader writes: We frequently discuss diversity in the tech industry, and all the initiatives getting underway to encourage women and minorities to enter (and stay in) the field. The prevailing theme is that this will be good for companies, good for innovation, and good for the future. While that's true, greater representation will also be good for the individuals themselves. Erica Joy has been in IT for a long time, and in many of the industry hotspots. She's written an insightful article on how the lack of diversity affected her throughout her career. An excerpt: "Unfortunately, my workplace is homogenous and so are my surroundings. I feel different everywhere. I go to work and I stick out like a sore thumb. ... I feel like I've lost my entire cultural identity in effort to be part of the culture I’ve spent the majority of the last decade in."

Submission + - Government Data Requests to Facebook up by 24%

davidshenba writes: Facebook has revealed that government requests for user data has increased by 24% to nearly 35,000 during the first six months. Also content restrictions due to local laws increased by 19% in the same period. According to Facebook, they scrutinize every government request for legal sufficiency and "push back hard when we find deficiencies or are served with overly broad requests." Already Facebook is fighting its largest ever legal battle against a US court order to handover 400 users' data.

Submission + - Computer Scientists Study Effect Of Programming Language On Software Quality

HughPickens.com writes: A variety of debates ensue during discussions whether a given programming language is “the right tool for the job" and while some of these debates may appear to be tinged with an almost religious fervor, most people would agree that a programming language can impact not only the coding process, but also the properties of the resulting product. Now computer scientists at the University of California — Davis have published a study of the effect of programming languages on software quality using a very large data set from GitHub that analyzed 729 projects with 80 Million SLOC by 29,000 authors and 1.5 million commits in 17 languages. The large sample size allowed them to use a mixed-methods approach, combining multiple regression modeling with visualization and text analytics, to study the effect of language features such as static vs. dynamic typing, strong vs. weak typing on software quality. By triangulating findings from different methods, and controlling for confounding effects such as team size, project size, and project history, they report that language design does have a significant, but modest effect on software quality.

Most notably, it does appear that strong typing is modestly better than weak typing, and among functional languages, static typing is also somewhat better than dynamic typing. We also find that functional languages are somewhat better than procedural languages. It is worth noting that these modest effects arising from language design are overwhelm- ingly dominated by the process factors such as project size, team size, and commit size. However, we hasten to caution the reader that even these modest effects might quite possibly be due to other, intangible process factors, e.g., the preference of certain personality types for functional, static and strongly typed languages.

Submission + - Voter fraud in Chicago (abc7chicago.com)

Charliemopps writes: A number of city election judges received "intimidating" phone calls over the weekend that led some of them to quit the post, according to officials at the Chicago Board of Elections. More than 2,000 judges didn't show up on Tuesday. Dozens of party-affiliated judges who help oversee polling places received calls instructing them to attend additional training sessions. The callers also told them to only vote for the party for which they serve as judges. Some Chicago election judges were told in the false calls to report to a Cook County Republican Office on the Southwest Side for additional "training." A Republican operative who worked there said he made personal calls to judges, too. Robocalls also directed election judges to an address on 79th Street near another GOP office, where the deputy chairman of the Cook County Republican Party said they had a training session on Sunday. "Both parties have meetings with their election judges to work the polls, work the precincts," Darnell Macklin, vice chairman of the Cook County Republican Party, said.

Submission + - Too Many Kids Quit Science Because They Don't Think They're Smart - The Atlantic (theatlantic.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford, has done years of study on how students' attitudes affect their academic achievements. Her work began at the height of the "self-esteem movement," when parents were told to praise their kids' brainpower at every turn. But Professor Dweck found praise for intelligence or talent — relatively immutable characteristics — only turned kids off of trying subjects they perceived as difficult, like math and science. Praising effort, perseverance, and problem-solving strategies works better. She also says, "There is such a thing as too much praise, we believe." Instead, she suggests engaging with kids about the process itself, showing interest and encouragement when they talk about how they did something.

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