By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's thanks-to-officials-flipping-out department
v3rgEz writes "After the Snowden revelations, President Obama promised greater transparency on how the federal government collects and uses data on its citizens, including a three-leg 'privacy tour' to discuss the balance between security and privacy. Well, the first leg of the tour is up and — surprise, surprise — it's not much of a conversation, with official dodging questions or, in one case, simply walking out of the conference."
There's a video of the workshop at MIT
, and the article says not all of it was spent watching politicians be politicians: "The review, led by White House counselor John Podesta ... is not confined to intelligence gathering but is meant also to examine how private entities collect and use mass quantities of personal information, such as health records and Internet browsing habits. On the latter subject, the conversation was robust. Experts from places like MIT, Harvard, Nielsen, and Koa Labs traded pros and cons, and proposed high-tech compromises that could allow people to contribute personal information to big data pools anonymously. "
An Anonymous reader also wrote in that "Outgoing National Security Agency boss General Keith Alexander says reporters lack the ability to properly analyze the NSA's broad surveillance powers and that forthcoming responses to the spying revelations may include 'media leaks legislation.' 'I think we are going to make headway over the next few weeks on media leaks. I am an optimist. I think if we make the right steps on the media leaks legislation, then cyber legislation will be a lot easier,' Alexander said."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's gotta-pay-for-those-fighter-jets-somehow department
sciencehabit writes "President Barack Obama has released a $3.901 trillion budget request to Congress, including proposals for a host of federal research agencies. Science Magazine has the breakdown, including a big win for advanced computing, a big cut for fusion, and status quo for astronomy. 'In the proposed budget, advanced computing would see its funding soar 13.2% to $541 million. BES, the biggest DOE program, would get a boost of 5.5% to $1.807 billion. BER would get a 3% bump to $628 million, and nuclear physics would enjoy a 4.3% increase to $594 million. In contrast, the fusion program would take a 17.6% cut to $416 million—$88 million less than it's getting this year. Although far from final, the numbers suggest another big dip for a program that has enjoyed a roller coaster ride in recent years. In its proposed 2013 budget, DOE called for slashing spending on domestic fusion research to help pay for the increasing U.S. contribution to the international fusion experiment, ITER, in Cadarache, France.'"
The Association of American Universities has issued a letter disapproving of the amount of research funding
. The Planetary Society has broken down the proposed NASA budget
.Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's pointing-to-a-thing-is-not-transferring-a-thing department
Barrett Brown, a journalist and the former unofficial spokesperson for Anonymous, was arrested in 2012 and charged
with sharing a hyperlink that pointed to information downloaded during the Stratfor hack
. His trials begin in April and May
. An anonymous reader notes that his attorneys have filed a legal brief
(PDF) asking for dismissal of the case, saying that Brown's First Amendment right to free speech protects his sharing of a hyperlink
. They argue that "Brown did not 'transfer' the stolen information as he arguably would have done had he embedded the link on his web page, but merely created a path to files that had already been published elsewhere that were in the public domain." The brief also says the statute under which Brown is being charged does not make it clear that a link constitutes "republication" of information. They add, "This construction also significantly chills scientific research conducted by private cybersecurity researchers for the same reasons."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's airwave-rights-are-the-new-mineral-rights-for-homeowners department
BUL2294 writes "The Chicago Tribune is reporting that, over the next few months in Chicago, Comcast is turning on a feature that turns customer networks into public Wi-Fi hotspots. After a firmware upgrade is installed, 'visitors will use their own Xfinity credentials to sign on, and will not need the homeowner's permission or password to tap into their Wi-Fi signal. The homegrown network will also be available to non-subscribers free for several hours each month, or on a pay-per-use basis. Any outside usage should not affect the speed or security of the home subscriber's private network. [...] Home internet subscribers will automatically participate in the network's growing infrastructure, although a small number have chosen to opt out in other test markets.' The article specifically mentions that this capability is opt-out, so Comcast is relying on home users' property, electricity, and lack of tech-savvy to increase their network footprint."
Comcast tried this in the Twin Cities area
, and was apparently satisfied with the results, though subscribers are starting to notice
.Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's who-needs-experimental-evidence-anyway department
Ethan Siegel at the StartsWithABang blog writes:"Have you ever wondered why the masses of the fundamental particles have the small values that they do, compared to, say, the Planck scale? Whether the fundamental forces all unify at some high energy? And whether there's a natural, compelling particle candidate for dark matter? Well, in theory supersymmetry (or SUSY, for short) could have solve all three of these problems. In fact, if it solves the first one alone, there will be definitive experimental signatures for it at the Large Hadron Collider. Well, the LHC has completed its first run, and found nothing. What does this mean for theoretical physics, for SUSY in particular, and what are the implications for string theory? A very clear explanation is given here; it might be time to start hammering in those coffin nails."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-bet-they-used-sprites department
An anonymous reader writes "The Principal Graphics Programmer for BioShock Infinite has put up a post about how the game's lighting was developed. We don't usually get this kind of look into the creation of AAA game releases, but the studio shut down recently, so ex-employees are more willing to explain. The game uses a hybrid lighting system: direct lighting is dynamic, indirect uses lightmaps, shadows are a mix. 'Dynamic lighting was handled primarily with a deferred lighting/light-pre pass renderer. This met our goals of high contrast/high saturation — direct lighting baked into lightmaps tends to be flat, mostly because the specular approximations available were fairly limited.' It's interesting how much detail goes into something you don't really think about when you're playing through the game. 'We came up with a system that supported baked shadows but put a fixed upper bound on the storage required for baked shadows. The key observation was that if two lights do not overlap in 3D space, they will never overlap in texture space. We made a graph of lights and their overlaps. Lights were the vertices in the graph and the edges were present if two lights' falloff shapes overlapped in 3D space. We could then use this graph to do a vertex coloring to assign one of four shadow channels (R,G,B,A) to each light. Overlapping lights would be placed in different channels, but lights which did not overlap could reuse the same channel. This allowed us to pack a theoretically infinite number of lights in a single baked shadow texture as long as the graph was 4-colorable.'"Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can't-win-for-losing department
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Thomas Kienzle reports for the Associated Press on a study which found public health campaigns touting vaccines' effectiveness and debunking the links between autism and other health risks might actually be backfiring, and convincing parents to skip the shots for their kids. 'Corrections of misperceptions about controversial issues like vaccines may be counterproductive in some populations,' says Dr. Brendan Nyhan. 'The best response to false beliefs is not necessarily providing correct information.' In the study, researchers focused on the now-debunked idea that the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella (or MMR) caused autism. Surveying 1,759 parents, researchers found that while they were able to teach parents that the vaccine and autism were not linked, parents who were surveyed who had initial reservations about vaccines said they were actually less likely to vaccinate their children after hearing the researchers messages. Researchers looked at four methods designed to counter the myth (PDF) that the MMR vaccine can cause autism. They gave people either information from health authorities about the lack of evidence for a connection, information about the danger of the three diseases the MMR vaccine protects against, pictures of children who had one of those three diseases, or a story about an infant who almost died from measles.
< article continued at Slashdot
>Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's finding-the-limit-as-age-approaches-zero department
Doofus writes "The Atlantic has an interesting story about opening up what we routinely consider 'advanced' areas of mathematics to younger learners. The goals here are to use complex but easy tasks as introductions to more advanced topics in math, rather than the standard, sequential process of counting, arithmetic, sets, geometry, then eventually algebra and finally calculus. Quoting: 'Examples of activities that fall into the "simple but hard" quadrant: Building a trench with a spoon (a military punishment that involves many small, repetitive tasks, akin to doing 100 two-digit addition problems on a typical worksheet, as Droujkova points out), or memorizing multiplication tables as individual facts rather than patterns. Far better, she says, to start by creating rich and social mathematical experiences that are complex (allowing them to be taken in many different directions) yet easy (making them conducive to immediate play). Activities that fall into this quadrant: building a house with LEGO blocks, doing origami or snowflake cut-outs, or using a pretend "function box" that transforms objects (and can also be used in combination with a second machine to compose functions, or backwards to invert a function, and so on).' I plan to get my children learning the 'advanced' topics as soon as possible. How about you?"Read Replies (0)