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Submission + - Researchers divulge the price of personal data (

An anonymous reader writes: A recent INRIA project shows the price of user's data at which it is sold off to advertisers is about $0.0005. The price is highly user-specific as advertisers use sophisticated targeting techniques.
The money paid for displaying ads and acquiring users' data is detected using Firefox and Chrome plugins and users can see their own value.

The project is able to unveil this monetary values by leveraging mechanisms in Real-time bidding auctions. Real-time bidding (RTB) is an enticing option in display advertising where advertising space is sold in real time. The winning advertiser is notified about the paid money with encrypted prices. However, for some RTB systems this information is sent in clear-text, which allowed the discovery of value of private data from the advertisers' perspectives.


Wikileaks and Iceland MPs Propose Journalism Haven 153

geegel sends word that Iceland could become a journalism haven if a proposal put forward by some Icelandic MPs, aided by Wikileaks, succeeds. Julian Assange, editor of Wikileaks, said that the idea is to "try and reform Iceland's media law to be a very attractive jurisdiction for investigative journalists." The article notes one area in which supporters of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative need to tread carefully: "...the troubles of the financial sector may lead some Icelanders to be sceptical of efforts to transform their country and [one supporter] is aware of the need not to make exaggerated claims." A British opponent of the idea (and supporter of the UK's draconian libel laws) is quoted: "The provisions allowing defendants to counter-sue 'libel tourists' in their home courts could transform the humble Icelander into a legal superman, virtually untouchable abroad for comment written — and uploaded — at home."

Space Photos Taken From Shed Stun Astronomers 149

krou writes "Amateur astronomer Peter Shah has stunned astronomers around the world with amazing photos of the universe taken from his garden shed. Shah spent £20,000 on the equipment, hooking up a telescope in his shed to his home computer, and the results are being compared to images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. 'Most men like to putter about in their garden shed,' said Shah, 'but mine is a bit more high tech than most. I have fitted it with a sliding roof so I can sit in comfort and look at the heavens. I have a very modest set up, but it just goes to show that a window to the universe is there for all of us – even with the smallest budgets. I had to be patient and take the images over a period of several months because the skies in Britain are often clouded over and you need clear conditions.' His images include the Monkey's head nebula, M33 Pinwheel Galaxy, Andromeda Galaxy and the Flaming Star Nebula, and are being put together for a book."
Data Storage

LackRack Makes Home Colocation More Affordable 4

An anonymous reader writes "The LackRack is the ultimate, low-cost, high shinyness solution for your modular datacenter-in-the-living-room. Featuring the LACK side table from Ikea, the LackRack is an easy-to-implement, exact-fit datacenter building block. It provides superior mounting for up to 8 U of 19" hardware, such as switches and other professional gear. Multi-shiny LackRack can also be painted to your specific preferences and the airflow is unprecedented."

Homeland Security Changes Laptop Search Policy 273

IronicToo writes "The US Government has updated its policy on the search and seizure of laptops at border crossing. 'The long-criticized practice of searching travelers' electronic devices will continue, but a supervisor now would need to approve holding a device for more than five days. Any copies of information taken from travelers' machines would be destroyed within days if there were no legal reason to hold the information.'"

Submission + - Inhaled Chocolate: Crazy idea or boon to dieters? ( 1

Chienne Folle writes: Harvard professor David Edwards usually works on inhaled medicines, but his latest invention is a way to inhale something that, while regarded by many as a medicine, is technically a food: chocolate. That's right — a Harvard professor wants you to inhale chocolate. The chocolate pieces are too large to get into the lungs but too small to have much in the way of calories, so for those who want the taste without the substance, Dr. Edwards has an inhaler for you.

Read more at the Boston Globe:


Submission + - Living organism triple solar cell efficiency (

An anonymous reader writes: By harnessing the shells of living organisms in the sea--microscopic algae called diatoms--engineers have tripled the efficiency of experimental dye-sensitized solar cells. The diatoms were fed a diet of titanium dioxide--the main ingredient for thin film solar cells--instead of their usual meal which is silica (silicon dioxide). As a result, their shells became photovoltaic when coated with dyes. The result is a thin-film dye-sensitized solar cell that is three times more efficient than those without the diatoms.

Submission + - Are open source virutual worlds ready? (

anomalous cohort writes: "I recently attended a conference sponsored by IBM on Second Life about virtual worlds. The second day of the conference focused on virtual worlds behind the firewall. One of the speakers was a developer for the Open Simulator Project which is an open source project for a virtual worlds server application similar to Second Life. In fact, you use the Second Life HUD to connect to it. He also talked about the Open Source Metaverse which is a grid of open source virtual world servers.

My question is this. How mature are these open source offerings? Are they ready for the enterprise? I gave open sim a test drive. It did run but not smoothly. When you enter the world, you are a topless girl in a red leotard on a really small island.

Is there some way to create content without having to use the editor in the Second Life HUD? Open Sim uses a relational database backend which can be configured to be MySql. Has anyone studied the database schema? How hard would it be to just write to the database directly to create content? Is there an API that open sim supports?"


Submission + - Voting machines and 'calibration drift'

An anonymous reader writes: Tuesday saw elections for school boards and city officials throughout Kansas, In Salina, ES&S voting machines in several locations were "miscalibrated," and when the voter touched next to one candidates' name, the 'x' appeared next to another one. One person I talked to said he tried to vote three times before going to the 80-something year old election worker, who told him "It was doing that earlier, but I thought I fixed it."

From the story in today's Salina Journal:

"The iVotronic machines used in Saline County are sold by Elections Systems and Software. In October, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law notified 16 secretaries of state, including Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh, that the machines are known to record votes to the wrong candidate."

The county does calibrate the machines the day before each election...but...

"But in conversations with ES&S on Thursday, [the county clerk] was told that the calibration might change during the day.

"What they've seen is calibration drift on a unit," Merriman said. "They're fine in the morning, but by afternoon they're starting to lose their calibration."

There was also this story two days ago about the problem.

Submission + - Hacking at Random 1

gmc2000 writes: "On their site, the people behind Hacking at Random (the successor of What the Hack, a four day outdoor hackers conference) announced a date and location: "On August 13-16, 2009 the 20th anniversary edition of the four-yearly Dutch outdoor technology-conference will take place near Vierhouten, NL". This event promises "four days of technology, ideological debates and hands-on tinkering". Given that these events happen only once every four years, I wouldn't want to miss it for the world!"

Nintendo's Homebrew-Blocking Update Hacked 157

ElementC writes "Team Twiizers, the group behind almost all of the Wii Homebrew scene, has released an update to the Homebrew Channel (and installer) that allows for installation on a Wii with the most recent update installed. While the team still recommends against installing the Nintendo update, those who accidentally updated or purchase games that require the update are no longer left out to dry. This update to the Homebrew Channel also adds SDHC support, a feature Nintendo has not implemented in vanilla Wiis. The community has also created an app that updates just the Wii Shop Channel — allowing users to purchase Wiiware and Virtual Console games without losing their homebrew. It took the team only two days to get the fix out."

PHP Gets Namespace Separators, With a Twist 523

jeevesbond writes "PHP is finally getting support for namespaces. However, after a couple hours of conversation, the developers picked '\' as the separator, instead of the more popular '::'. Fredrik Holmström points out some problems with this approach. The criteria for selection were ease of typing and parsing, how hard it was to make a typo, IDE compatibility, and the number of characters."

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