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Submission + - FTC targets group that made billions of robocalls (

coondoggie writes: Given the amount of time the FTC and others have put into curing the robocall problem, it is disheartening to hear that a group of companies for almost a year have been making billions of illegal robocalls. The Federal Trade Commission and 10 state attorneys general today said they have settled charges against a Florida-based cruise line company and seven other companies that averaged 12 million to 15 million illegal sales calls a day between October 2011 through July 2012, according to the joint complaint filed by the FTC and the states

Submission + - Volunteer work for for-profit companies is illegal in California

billrp writes: It seems it's illegal to provide volunteer work for a for-profit company in California. You must be compensated for your time, and of course taxes must be withheld. Here's a story about a small winery that was recently busted:

But what about all the user data that is collected by Facebook, Google, etc.without compensation and then sold to advertisers?

Submission + - Microsoft Wants To Keep The NSA Out Of Your OneDrive And Outlook Accounts (

MojoKid writes: Ever since Edward Snowden leaked details on how the government had forced various IT companies to disclose information (or secured their willing cooperation), companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have been desperate to regain their users' trust. Six months ago, Microsoft announced that it would re-engineer its products and services to provide a much higher level of security — today, the company revealed that it has reached an important milestone in that process. As of now, uses TLS (Transport Layer Security) to provide end-to-end encryption for inbound and outbound email — assuming that the provider on the other end also uses TLS. The TLS standard has been in the news fairly recently after discovery of a major security flaw in one popular package (gnuTLS), but Microsoft notes that it worked with multiple international companies to secure its version of the standard. Second, OneDrive now uses Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS). Microsoft refers to this as a type of encryption, but PFS isn't a standard like AES or 3DES — instead, it's a particular method of ensuring that an attacker who intercepts a particular key cannot use that information to break the entire key sequence. Even if you manage to gain access to one file or folder, in other words, that information can't be used to compromise the entire account.

Submission + - Wichita Lineman 2.0: Bill Gates Wants Accelerometers on Power Lines

theodp writes: GeekWire reports that Bill Gates is listed as an inventor on a newly surfaced patent filing that proposes putting accelerometers on power lines to understand how far they move in wind and other conditions, and monitor how close they come to trees and other nearby objects. The idea is to detect issues with power lines before they cause serious problems. Gates and power go way back — a legacy system BillG worked on as a teen that helped manage the electrical grid for the Bonneville Power Administration was just retired after keeping the lights on for 38 years.

Submission + - White House urges 'geeks' to get healthcare coverage, launch start-ups ( 1

dcblogs writes: The White House is urging tech workers, or "geeks," to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and said having the coverage will give them the "freedom and security" to start their own businesses. "There is strong evidence that when affordable healthcare isn't exclusively tied to employment, in more instances people choose to start their own companies," wrote White House CTO Todd Park in a post to launch its #GeeksGetCovered campaign.Bruce Bachenheimer, a professor of management at Pace University and director of its Entrepreneurship Lab, said the effort is part of a broader appeal by the White House to get younger and healthier people to sign-up for Obamacare, and is in the same vein as President Obama's recent appearance on Between Two Ferns,

Submission + - Stamp of Approval For New Living Cell Printing Technique ( 1

Zothecula writes: Researchers in Houston have developed a cost effective method for printing living cells, claiming almost a 100 percent survival rate. The method, which is akin to a modern version of ancient Chinese wood block printing, allow cells to be printed on any surface and in virtually any two dimensional shape. And while current inkjet printers adapted to print living cells can cost upwards of US$10,000 with a cell survival rate of around 50 percent, this simple new technique could see the cell stamps produced for around $1.

Submission + - Google Wants to Develop $50 Modular Smartphones For Next Year (

An anonymous reader writes: Google‘s Motorola announced the Project Ara in October last year as company’s open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones. How much will a modular smartphone set you back? To start, if Google gets its way, about $50. The key phrase there is “to start,” however, as this smartphone with swappable components could get a lot pricier, very quickly.

Submission + - Target has major credit card breach ( 2

JoeyRox writes: Target experienced a system-wide breach of credit card numbers over the Black Friday holiday shopping season. What's unique about this massive breach is that it didn't involve compromising a centralized data center or website but instead represented a distributed attack at individual Target stores across the country. Investigators believe customer account numbers were lifted via software installed on card readers at checkout.

Submission + - Ancient Canaanite enjoyed sophisticated drinks (

Taco Cowboy writes: Scientists have uncovered a 3,700-year-old wine cellar in the ruins of a Canaanite palace in Israel, chemical analysis from the samples from the ceramic jars suggest they held a luxurious beverage that was evidently reserved for banquets.

The good stuff contains a blend of ingredients that may have included honey, mint, cedar, tree resins and cinnamon bark.

The discovery confirms how sophisticated wines were at that time, something suggested only by ancient texts.

The wine cellar was found this summer in palace ruins near the modern town of Nahariya in northern Israel. Researchers found 40 ceramic jars, each big enough to hold about 13 gallons, in a single room. There may be more wine stored elsewhere, but the amount found so far wouldn't be enough to supply the local population, which is why the researchers believe it was reserved for palace use. The unmarked jars are all similar as if made by the same potter, chemical analysis indicates that the jars held red wine and possibly white wine. There was no liquid left, analysis were done on residues removed from the jars.

An expert in ancient winemaking said the discovery "sheds important new light" on the development of winemaking in ancient Canaan, from which it later spread to Egypt and across the Mediterranean.

Submission + - The Quietest Place on Earth Will Cause You to Hallucinate in 45 Minutes

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Industry Tap reports that there is a place so quiet you can hear your heart beat, your lungs breathe and your stomach digest. It's the anechoic chamber at Orfield Labs in Minnesota where 3ft of sound-proofing fiberglass wedges and insulated steel and concrete absorbs 99.99% of sound, making it the quietest place in the world. "When it’s quiet, ears will adapt," says the company’s founder and president, Steven Orfield. "The quieter the room, the more things you hear. You'll hear your heart beating, sometimes you can hear your lungs, hear your stomach gurgling loudly. In the anechoic chamber, you become the sound." The chamber is used by a multitude of manufacturers, to test how loud their products are and the space normally rents for $300 to $400 an hour. "It's used for formal product testing, for research into the sound of different things — heart valves, the sound of the display of a cellphone, the sound of a switch on a car dashboard." But the strangest thing about the chamber is that sensory deprivation makes the room extremely disorienting, and people can rarely stay in the dark space for long. As the minutes tick by in absolute quiet, the human mind begins to lose its grip, causing test subjects to experience visual and aural hallucinations. "We challenge people to sit in the chamber in the dark — one reporter stayed in there for 45 minutes," says Orfield who says even he can't stand the quiet for more than about 30 minutes. Nasa uses a similar chamber to test its astronauts putting them in a water-filled tank inside the room to see "how long it takes before hallucinations take place and whether they could work through it".

Submission + - No, Sh*t, Sherlock: Poop-Snooping DNA Detectives (

Nerval's Lobster writes: News changes during holidays. It gets thinner and lighter and weirder as the hordes of writers and editors who produce the overwhelming flood of news, updates and infotainments go home to annoy friends and family rather than readers and advertisers. Top points in ridiculousness, however, go to the condo- and apartment-complex managers in Braintree, MA, who were inspired to become amateur zoo-geneticists by resident pet owners who not only refused to clean up after their pets, but challenged the apartment managers to prove it was their pets contributing the increasingly hazardous, unpleasant piles of doggie doo on apartment properties. Rather than put up with a neverending supply of potential EcoBot fuel on marring the landscaping, facilities managers took cheek swabs of all the dogs on the property and sent them to A Knoxville, Tenn. that provided DNA profiles under a program with the dignified name “PooPrints.” Now, for a fee of only $60 per pooch, residential managers can confirm the provider of a pile of PooPrintable material by comparing the DNA in the dog with the DNA in the pile. “Now you don’t really have to worry about dog poop,” said one fan of the practical application of zoological genetic analysis. “The grass is now ours again, we don’t have to worry about it [poop], and that’s a good thing.” Restraint is just as important as innovation, of course, so the building managers made a point of telling the AP reporter who wrote the story that they wouldn’t extend the effort to identifying which pooch peed on which bush and when. “That’s a little more difficult. We are not going to tackle that.” Finally, in this holiday season, something to be thankful for.

Submission + - Progvember: A month dedicated to coding (

An anonymous reader writes: This year, for the first time, writers who prefer to write in code rather than words can participate in a challenge of their own: Progvember.

Submission + - New Headphones Generate Sound With Carbon Nanotubes (

MTorrice writes: A new type of headphone heats up carbon nanotubes to crank out tunes. The tiny speaker doesn’t rely on moving parts and instead produces sound through the thermoacoustic effect. When an alternating current passes through the nanotubes, the material heats and cools the air around it; as the air warms, it expands, and as it cools, it contracts. This expansion and contraction creates sound waves. The new nanotube speaker could be manufactured at low cost in the same facilities used to make computer chips, the researchers say.

Submission + - Silent Circle Moving Away From NIST Cipher Suites After NSA Revelations

Trailrunner7 writes: The first major domino to fall in the crypto world after the NSA leaks by Edward Snowden began was the decision by Lavabit, a secure email provider, to shut down in August rather than comply with a government order. Shortly thereafter, Silent Circle, another provider of secure email and other services, said it was discontinuing its Silent Mail offering, as well. Now, Silent Circle is going a step further, saying that it plans to replace the NIST-related cipher suites in its products with independently designed ones, not because the company distrusts NIST, but because its executives are worried about the NSA’s influence on NIST’s development of ciphers in the last couple of decades.

Jon Callas, one of the founders of Silent Circle and a respected cryptographer, said Monday that the company has been watching all of the developments and revelations coming out of the NSA leaks and has come to the decision that it’s in the best interest of the company and its customers to replace the AES cipher and the SHA-2 hash function and give customers other options. Those options, Callas said, will include non-NIST ciphers such as Twofish and Skein.

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