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Cops With Google Glass: Horrible Idea, Or Good One?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 08 '14 at 01:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's depends-when-it's-conveniently-turned-off department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Earlier this week, news reports leaked that the NYPD is evaluating whether to give its officers Google Glass for investigations and patrols. Google, which is sensitive to accusations that it works hand-in-hand with governments or law-enforcement agencies to monitor civilians, suggested that the NYPD must have purchased the units on its own initiative, rather than partner with the company. Some pundits and many civil libertarians hate the idea of law enforcement wearing Google Glass or other electronics that can send a constant stream of video and audio to a government (or even third-party) server. But at the same time, wearing Google Glass could also compel cops (and other law-enforcement personnel) to be on their best behavior at all times, particularly when it comes to use of force; the prospect of instantly available video detailing every aspect of an officer's shift could prove a powerful incentive to behave in a courteous and professional manner. But that's a very broad assumption; the reality—if cops really do start wearing Google Glass and other video-equipped electronics in large numbers—will likely end up determined by lots and lots of lawsuits and court-actions, many of them stemming from real-world incidents. Do you think cops should have Google Glass and other wearable electronics? And if so, what sort of regulations could be put in place to ensure that such technology isn't abused by the powers that be?"

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25% of Charter Schools Owe Their Soul To the Walmart Store
Posted by News Fetcher on February 08 '14 at 12:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's so-you're-saying-this-bothers-you? department:
theodp writes "Among the billionaires who helped Bill Gates pave the way for charter schools in WA was Walmart heiress Alice Walton. The Walton Family Foundation spent a whopping $158+ million in 2012 on what it calls 'systemic K-12 education reform,' which included $60,920,186 to 'shape public policy' and $652,209 on 'research and evaluation.' Confirming the LA Times' speculation about its influence, the Walton Foundation issued a press release Wednesday boasting it's the largest private funder of charter school 'startups,' adding that it has supported the opening of 1 in 4 charter schools in the U.S. since 1997 through its 1,500 'investments.' But as some charter school kids have learned the hard way, what the rich man giveth, he can also taketh away. For the time being, though, it looks like America's going to continue to depend on the tax-free kindness of wealthy strangers to educate its kids. For example, while it was nice to see the value of Shop Class recognized, the White House on Monday called on businesses, foundations and philanthropists to fund proposed 'Maker Spaces' in schools and libraries. Hey, when the U.S. Secretary of Education turns to corporate sponsors and auctions to fund his Mother's afterschool program for kids of low-income families in the President's hometown, don't look for things to change anytime soon."

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Ask Slashdot: Distributed Online Storage For Families?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 08 '14 at 11:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's she-can-live-in-my-spare-room department:
StonyCreekBare writes "What options are available for distributed storage for families? My two brothers, my daughter and her husband, and his mother all have homes in various parts of the country. We use various cloud storage providers to keep our shared data. This has numerous limitations and we are starting to think maybe we can do it better ourselves. We all have decent Internet connections, are all somewhat tech savvy, and think that by leveraging the Internet we can maybe provide for our needs better and at lower cost by buying some hardware and doing it ourselves. How would you go about implementing such a family-oriented, distributed cloud platform? What hardware? What applications, beyond simply the preservation and sharing of family data, (grandkids' photos, home videos, and more) would be good to leverage such a platform? Security Cameras? HTPC? VoIP? Home Automation? Primary requirements are Cheap, Secure, Reliable."

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How To Take Control of a Car's Electronics, Cheap
Posted by News Fetcher on February 08 '14 at 10:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's at-that-point-you've-already-controlled-the-door department:
mspohr writes with this excerpt from The Register: "Spanish hackers have been showing off their latest car-hacking creation; a circuit board using untraceable, off-the-shelf parts worth $20 that can give wireless access to the car's controls while it's on the road. The device, which will be shown off at next month's Black Hat Asia hacking conference, uses the Controller Area Network (CAN) ports car manufacturers build into their engines for computer-system checks. Once assembled, the smartphone-sized device can be plugged in under some vehicles, or inside the bonnet of other models, and give the hackers remote access to control systems. 'A car is a mini network,' security researcher Alberto Garcia Illera told Forbes. 'And right now there's no security implemented.'"

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Snowden Docs Show UK's Digital Spies Using Viruses, Honey Traps
Posted by News Fetcher on February 08 '14 at 09:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's at-least-it's-an-ethos department:
An anonymous reader writes "At the start of this week, documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden detailed DDOS attacks on chatrooms by a British online intelligence unit dubbed the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG). Now he has released a new trove showing that JTRIG is about much more than purely online annoyances. According to the documents, released to NBC News, JTRIG's role is to "deny, disrupt, degrade and deceive" by any means possible. These techniques include destroying an individual's computer with a custom virus dubbed "Ambassador's Reception", setting up social media honey traps to harvest embarrassing information, actively attacking companies online and off, and planting data on people's systems."

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Dirty Tricks? Look-Alike Websites Lure Congressional Donors
Posted by News Fetcher on February 08 '14 at 08:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's this-way-to-the-egress department:
First time accepted submitter AdamnSelene writes "Forbes reports on a National Republican Congressional Committee sanctioned campaign worthy of the NSA: fake candidate websites that use identical or similar pictures and color schemes to solicit donations to defeat the Democratic candidate. The Tampa Bay Times reports that the NRCC initially refused to refund the contribution from a Tampa Bay doctor who caught onto the scam, and he had to contact his credit card company to challenge the charges. The National Journal reports that the NRCC-sponsored effort may run afoul of Federal Election Commission regulations, though it expects that the bipartisan FEC will be toothless when it comes to enforcement. However, I have to wonder whether this is finally a good enough reason to use the DMCA and file take-down notices against the faux websites. Perhaps the candidates could solve this themselves, and get a judgement for copyright infringement so absurdly large that it puts the NRCC out of business?" Some sites along these lines might be dirtier than the ones here illustrated, which seem to fit pretty well into the broad world of snarky and cutting political ads; Dr. Ray Bellamy, the Tampa Bay donor mentioned above, intended to give money to candidate Alex Sink, but evidently didn't notice this line in bold print, just above the "Donate" button: "Make a contribution today to help defeat Alex Sink and candidates like her." Note that, as the Tampa Bay Times' article mentions, this kind of site isn't limited to Republicans, either.

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Finnish Police Board Wants Justification For Wikipedia's Fundraising Campaign
Posted by News Fetcher on February 08 '14 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's citizens-united department:
linjaaho writes "Yesterday, the admin list of Finnish language Wikipedia received a request for comment from the National Police Board of Finland. The Police Board claims that the fundraising message appearing on the top of the Wikipedia pages is illegal fundraising and is punishable by criminal law. The Police Board asks how much money have they raised and ask for justification for the campaign. This is not the first time the Police Board has attacked fundraising; in 2012, a crowdfunded textbook Kickstarter project was delayed by a similar request for comment."

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Dead Reckoning For Your Car Eliminates GPS Dead Zones
Posted by News Fetcher on February 08 '14 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's walk-30-paces-then-turn-left department:
cartechboy writes "We've all been there. You're relying on your vehicle's built-in navigation system to get to that meeting downtown, but then suddenly the car loses the satellite signal due to the concrete skyscraper canyon you're in--and you're about to be late. Swiss semiconductor manufacturer U-Blox thinks it has the solution with 3D Automotive Dead Reckoning, or 3D ADR for short. It's a new navigation chip that uses the vehicle's built-in sensors to track speed, horizontal movement, and elevation. The 3D ADR system measures movement in three dimensions, letting the navigation system can keep track of the vehicle's location even when it loses its connection to GPS satellites. Imagine never having to see your navigation screen saying connection lost again. In an age where our phones have accelerometers and compasses, it's amazing your car is still trying to catch up, right?"

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GOP Bill To Outlaw EPA 'Secret Science' That Is Not Transparent, Reproducible
Posted by News Fetcher on February 08 '14 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's as-if-it-were-that-simple department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Fox News reports that Republican lawmakers in the House are pushing legislation that would prohibit the EPA from proposing new regulations based on science that is not transparent or not reproducible. The bill introduced by Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., would bar the agency from proposing or finalizing rules without first disclosing all "scientific and technical information" relied on to support its proposed action. "Public policy should come from public data, not based on the whims of far-left environmental groups," says Schweikert. "For far too long, the EPA has approved regulations that have placed a crippling financial burden on economic growth in this country with no public evidence to justify their actions." The bill, dubbed the Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 (HR 4012), would prohibit the EPA's administrator from proposing or finalizing any rules unless he or she also discloses "all scientific and technical information" relied on by the agency in the regulations' development including all data, materials and computer models. According to Schweikert's press release a 2013 poll from the Institute of Energy Research found that 90 percent of Americans agree that studies and data used to make federal government decisions should be made public. "Provisions in the bill are consistent with the White House's scientific integrity policy, the President's Executive Order 13563, data access provisions of major scientific journals, the Bipartisan Policy Center and the recommendations of the Obama administration's top science advisors.""

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UK Police Will Have Backdoor Access To Health Records
Posted by News Fetcher on February 08 '14 at 04:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's public-servants'-prerogative department:
kc123 writes "David Davis MP, a former shadow home secretary, has told the Guardian that police would be able to access the new central NHS database without a warrant as critics warn of catastrophic breach of trust. The database that will store all of England's health records has a series of 'backdoors' that will allow police and government bodies to access people's medical data. In the past police would need to track down the GP who held a suspect's records and go to court for a disclosure order. Now, they would be able to simply approach the new arms-length NHS information centre, which will hold the records. The idea that police will be able to request information from a central database without a warrant totally undermines a long-held belief in the confidentiality of the doctor-patient relationship."

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German Domain Registrar Liable For Copyright Infringement
Posted by News Fetcher on February 08 '14 at 01:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's with-a-name-like-h33t department:
jfruh writes "When the German domain registrar Key-Systems registered and maintained the domain h33t.com, should it have been obvious that their customer would use the site for unauthorized distribution of Robin Thicke albums? A regional German court says that they should've known, and once they had been notified they should have taken steps to prevent it from happening. Obviously domain registrars are worried that this will upend their entire business model."

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Bitcoin Plunges After Mt. Gox Exchange Halts Trades
Posted by News Fetcher on February 07 '14 at 10:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's well-at-least-dark-grey-friday department:
krakman writes with this excerpt from Bloomberg News: "Bitcoin plunged more than 8 percent [Friday] after a Tokyo-based exchange halted withdrawals of the digital currency, citing technical malfunction. Mt. Gox, claimed in a blog post it needed to 'temporarily pause on all withdrawal requests to obtain a clear technical view of the currency processes.' It promised an 'update' — not a reopening — on Monday, Feb. 10, Japan time. This is day after Russia's Prosecutor General concluded Bitcoin and other digital currencies are illegal under current law."

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Silk Road's Ross Ulbricht's Next Court Date Set For November
Posted by News Fetcher on February 07 '14 at 08:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's your-honor-it-was-an-honor-killing department:
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Ross Ulbricht, the alleged administrator behind the illegal online drug marketplace the Silk Road, will get his day in court on November 3rd, according to a blueprint laid out today in New York's Southern District Court by Judge Katherine Forrest. Ulbrict, alleged by the government to be Silk Road founder Dread Pirate Roberts, is facing four charges (PDF via Wired) related to narcotics conspiracy, running a criminal enterprise, conspiracy to commit computer hacking, and money laundering (other charges have been brought against him regarding murder for hire in Maryland). Appearing today in court—clean-shaven, in a navy blue prison uniform—he pleaded "not guilty" to all charges. Next week, on February 13th, Josh Dratel, Ulbricht's defense attorney, will be handing over hard drives sufficient to hold eight to 10 terabytes of data, which is the approximate size of the evidence which the government has said it may use against Ulbricht. By Feb. 27, two weeks later, the prosecution must return the drives with Silk Road data the FBI collected from computers in a foreign and unnamed country, as well as a drive that holds the contents of the defendant's laptop, which was seized during his dramatic arrest at a San Francisco library in October."

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Ask Slashdot: Why Are We Still Writing Text-Based Code?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 07 '14 at 05:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's because-there-are-only-so-many-lego-in-the-world department:
First time accepted submitter Rasberry Jello writes "I consider myself someone who 'gets code,' but I'm not a programmer. I enjoy thinking through algorithms and writing basic scripts, but I get bogged down in more complex code. Maybe I lack patience, but really, why are we still writing text based code? Shouldn't there be a simpler, more robust way to translate an algorithm into something a computer can understand? One that's language agnostic and without all the cryptic jargon? It seems we're still only one layer of abstraction from assembly code. Why have graphical code generators that could seemingly open coding to the masses gone nowhere? At a minimum wouldn't that eliminate time dealing with syntax errors? OK Slashdot, stop my incessant questions and tell me what I'm missing." Of interest on this topic, a thoughtful look at some of the ways that visual programming is often talked about.

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Big Pharma Presses US To Quash Cheap Drug Production In India
Posted by News Fetcher on February 07 '14 at 04:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's protecting-a-business-model department:
An anonymous reader writes "Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), are leaning on the United States government to discourage India from allowing the production and sale of affordable generic drugs to treat diseases such as cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. India is currently on the U.S. government's Priority Watch List — countries whose practices on protecting intellectual property Washington believes should be monitored closely. Last year Novartis lost a six-year legal battle after the Indian Supreme court ruled that small changes and improvements to the drug Glivec did not amount to innovation deserving of a patent. Western drugmakers Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Roche Holding, Sanofi, and others have a bigger share of the fast-growing drug market in India. But they have been frustrated by a series of decisions on patents and pricing, as part of New Delhi's push to increase access to life-saving treatments in a place where only 15 percent of 1.2 billion people are covered by health insurance. One would certainly understand and probably agree with the need for for cheaper drugs. But don't forget that big pharma, for all its problems still is the number one creator of new drugs. In 2012 alone, the U.S. government and private companies spent a combined $130 billion (PDF) on medical research."

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Mozilla Launches $300,000 Gigabit Community Fund
Posted by News Fetcher on February 07 '14 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's give-me-gigabit-or-give-me...-well,-at-least-dsl department:
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla has officially launched the Gigabit Community Fund, an organization that seeks to 'advance the development, experimentation and implementation of learning and workforce opportunities enhanced by new, super powerful Internet technologies.' The intent is to provide funding around cities like Kansas City and Chattanooga (and more, as fiber networks spread) for people to build open source applications that take advantage of super-fast fiber connections. 'The new $300,000 fund aims to bring discoveries out of the lab and into the field to help move prototypes to Minimum Viable Pilots and get tools in the hands of users. In each city, two, 12-week pilot periods will run, with up to 10 projects receiving awards between $5,000 and $30,000.'"

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US Cord Cutters Getting Snubbed From NBC's Olympic Coverage Online
Posted by News Fetcher on February 07 '14 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's all-about-the-benjamins department:
Monoman writes "The Washington Post reports, 'The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics start tonight. But if you're among the 9 percent of U.S. households who have broadband but don't subscribe to paid television, it will be nearly impossible to (legally) watch the games online this year. ... That's because while NBC is streaming all of the events live online, full access to the livestream will only be available to paying cable subscribers. And thanks to a $4.38 billion exclusive deal NBC struck with the International Olympics Committee (IOC) in 2011 for the privilege of broadcasting the Olympic games in the U.S. through 2020, cord-cutters don't have a lot of options.' Is this a money play by Comcast/NBC to get some subscribers back? Should the FCC step in and require NBC to at least provide a stream of their OTA content?"

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CERN Wants a New Particle Collider Three Times Larger Than the LHC
Posted by News Fetcher on February 07 '14 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's showing-the-higgs-boson-who's-boss department:
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Not content with the 27-kilometer-round Large Hadron Collider, researchers at CERN have their sights set on a new beast of a particle collider that could have a circumference of 80 to 100 kilometers. The nuclear research organization announced that it was hatching plans for an ambitious successor to the LHC with an international study called the Future Circular Colliders program, which will kick off with a meeting next week. The idea is to consider different hadron collider designs similar to the existing LHC but more powerful — much more powerful. CERN wrote it was looking for a collider 'capable of reaching unprecedented energies in the region of 100 TeV.' The existing LHC will reach a maximum of around 14 TeV."

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Simple Emergency Generators and Radio Receivers (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on February 07 '14 at 01:30 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's make-electricity-and-exercise-your-arm-muscles-while-you-listen-to-the-radio department:
Eton Corp. makes well-reviewed emergency radios and hand-cranked generators for emergency use. Timothy Lord talked with them at CES and made this video of how the devices work. Alternate video link @ tv.Slashdot.org.

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Spectacular New Martian Impact Crater Spotted From Orbit
Posted by News Fetcher on February 07 '14 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's get-your-cameras-to-mars department:
New submitter kc123 writes: "The team that runs the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has released a photo showning a new impact crater on Mars, formed sometime early this decade. The crater at the center is about 30 meters in diameter, and the material ejected during its formation extends out as far as 15 kilometers. The impact was originally spotted by the MRO's Context Camera, a wide-field imaging system that provides the context—an image of the surrounding terrain—for the high-resolution images taken by HiRISE. The time window on the impact, between July 2010 and May 2012, simply represents the time between two different Context Camera photos of the same location. Once the crater was spotted, it took until November of 2013 for another pass of the region, at which point HiRISE was able to image it."
Reader astroengine adds some more Mars news:
"On Thursday at 3:41 p.m. EST (20:41 UTC), Mars rover Curiosity beamed back a photo from its rear hazard avoidance camera (Hazcam). In the shot we see wheel tracks in the downward slope of the dune bridging "Dingo Gap" with the peak of Curiosity's eventual goal, Mount Sharp, on the horizon. This can mean only one thing; the one-ton robot has successfully conquered its first Mars dune! Curiosity has also taken a picture of Earth."

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