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Submission + - The Hidden FM Radio Inside Your Pocket (

mr crypto writes: Data providers would probably prefer you not know that most smart phones contain an FM chip that lets you listen to broadcasts for free: "But the FM chip is not activated on two-thirds of devices. That's because mobile makers have the FM capability switched off." The National Association of Broadcasters, National Public Radio, and American Public Media — have launched a lobbying campaign to get those radios switched on.

Submission + - Plant Breeders Release First 'Open Source Seeds' (

mr crypto writes: Ag with an OSS twist: "A group of scientists and food activists is launching a campaign Thursday to change the rules that govern seeds. They're releasing 29 new varieties of crops under a new "open source pledge" that's intended to safeguard the ability of farmers, gardeners and plant breeders to share those seeds freely."

Submission + - Platform Providers to be Super Cookie Monsters (

mr crypto writes: Microsoft, Google and Facebook in the last month said they are developing systems to monitor users on mobile devices and web sites. They would become the middle man between between users and marketers, using mechanisms more sophisticated than cookies to provide finer grained information. From the article: "The Silicon Valley trio, which produce browsers, email services and operating systems used by billions across many devices, are positioned to potentially learn far more about people's activities than cookies ever could."

Submission + - Exploit bought for $500,000 (

mr crypto writes: Companies offer bounties for zero days, but "...increasingly the businesses are being outbid by countries with the goal of exploiting the flaws ... bounties pale in comparison to what the government pays.” The military establishment, he said, “created Frankenstein by feeding the market.”

Submission + - Election hacked, drunken robot elected to school board (next .. POTUS?) (

mr crypto writes: In 2010 the Washington DC election board announced it had set up an e-voting system for absentee ballots and was planning to use it in an election. However, to test the system, it invited the security community and members of the public to try and hack it three weeks before the election.

"It was too good an opportunity to pass up," explained Professor Alex Halderman from the University of Michigan. "How often do you get the chance to hack a government network without the possibility of going to jail?"

With the help of two graduate students, Halderman started to examine the software. Despite it being a relatively clean Ruby on Rails build, they spotted a shell injection vulnerability within a few hours


Submission + - Kinda Anti-Competitive ( 1

mr crypto writes: When Google created Places it had an eminently sensible type of crowd-sourcing in mind. The site contains millions of listings, and when owners close without updating their profile, the job falls to customers to keep information current. But like any open system, this one can be abused. Search engine consultants say that closing a business on Google has become an increasingly common tactic among unscrupulous competitors.


Submission + - $20,000 for Finding Women and Children (

mr crypto writes: From Wired: With the “Remote Human Demographic Characterization” challenge, the Air Force is looking for descriptions of a system “that can determine approximate age (adult, teen, child) and gender of small groups of people at a distance.” The challenge “requires a written proposal only.” So if your idea works and you can get the technical details right, you could walk away with $20,000.

(And of course the government would only ever use this on other people...)


Submission + - Humanities Scholars Adopting Digital Tools (

mr crypto writes: The NY Times is reporting how computers are being used to study subjects whose size and depth have previously made analysis daunting.

From the article: These researchers are digitally mapping Civil War battlefields to understand what role topography played in victory, using databases of thousands of jam sessions to track how musical collaborations influenced jazz, and searching through large numbers of scientific texts and textbooks to track where concepts first appeared and how they spread.

This alliance of geeks and poets has generated exhilaration and also anxiety. The humanities, after all, deal with elusive questions of aesthetics, existence and meaning, the words that bring tears or the melody that raises goose bumps. Are these elements that can be measured?

The Internet

Submission + - How to be Evil (

mr crypto writes: DarkPatterns gives a nice overview of nasty things that web sites do — an especially handy guide with examples for your friends that use the web but are a little less tech savvy (assuming Slashdotters have such friends). From the site: "This pattern library is dedicated to Dark Patterns: user interfaces that have been designed to trick users into doing things they wouldn't otherwise have done."

Submission + - Name That Element - Think Heavy (

mr crypto writes: A team of Russian and American scientists has discovered a new element that has long stood as a missing link among the heaviest bits of atomic matter ever produced. The element, still nameless, appears to point the way toward a brew of still more massive elements with chemical properties no one can predict.

Submission + - Custom Textbook in 11 Days (

mr crypto writes: It can be tough for instructors to find "just the right book", so why not make it? By blending open copyright material with his own, Chuck Severance did exactly that in 11 days resulting in Python for Informatics. Is plug-n-play the future of textbooks?
From his blog:
"It is quite natural for academics who are continuously told to .publish or perish to want to always create something from scratch that is their own contribution. This book is an for me experiment in "re-mixing" an book titled Think Python: How to Think Like a Computer Scientist written by Allen B. Downey, Jeff Elkner and others.

Submission + - French Differ with Google on Fair Use (

mr crypto writes: Google Loses in French Copyright Case : From the article: PARIS (Reuters) — A Paris court on Friday found the Internet giant Google guilty of violating copyright by digitizing books and putting extracts online, following a legal challenge by French publishers.

Submission + - MS beats Linux, Google in Michigan govt. ( 1

mr crypto writes: MS beats Linux, Google for Michigan Department of Information Technology infrastructure. Article is light on technical details, mentioning "...weren't robust enough and they lacked the full functionality...". Seems like the consolidation of data centers and to a single platform would save money regardless of which was chosen.

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You mean you didn't *know* she was off making lots of little phone companies?