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Congress Passes Bill Allowing Warrantless Forfeiture of Private Communications
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '14 at 01:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's stinkin'-badges-apparently-suffice department:
Prune writes Congress has quietly passed an Intelligence Authorization Bill that includes warrantless forfeiture of private communications to local law enforcement. Representative Justin Amash unsuccessfully attempted a late bid to oppose the bill, which passed 325-100. According to Amash, the bill "grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American."

According to the article, a provision in the bill allows “the acquisition, retention, and dissemination” of Americans’ communications without a court order or subpoena. That type of collection is currently allowed under an executive order that dates back to former President Reagan, but the new stamp of approval from Congress was troubling, Amash said. Limits on the government’s ability to retain information in the provision did not satisfy the Michigan Republican."

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U.S. Passenger Vehicle Fleet Dirtier After 2008 Recession
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '14 at 12:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's very-very-dirty department:
MTorrice writes The 2008 recession hammered the U.S. auto industry, driving down sales of 2009 models to levels 35% lower than those before the economic slump. A new study has found that because sales of new vehicles slowed, the average age of the U.S. fleet climbed more than expected, increasing the rate of air pollutants released by the fleet.

In 2013, the researchers studied the emissions of more than 68,000 vehicles on the roads in three cities—Los Angeles, Denver, and Tulsa. They calculated the amount of pollution released per kilogram of fuel burned for the 2013 fleet and compared the rates to those that would have occurred if the 2013 fleet had the same age distribution as the prerecession fleet. For the three cities, carbon monoxide emissions were greater by 17 to 29%, hydrocarbons by 9 to 14%, nitrogen oxide emissions by 27 to 30%, and ammonia by 7 to 16%.


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Keurig 2.0 Genuine K-Cup Spoofing Vulnerability
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '14 at 12:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's if-only-this-worked-for-ink-jet-cartridges department:
An anonymous reader writes A security researcher has released a humorous vulnerability description for the Keurig 2.0 coffee maker, which includes DRM designed to only brew Keurig brand coffe pods (K-Cups): "Keurig 2.0 Coffee Maker contains a vulnerability in which the authenticity of coffee pods, known as K-Cups, uses weak verification methods, which are subject to a spoofing attack through re-use of a previously verified K-Cup." The vulnerability description even includes mitigating controls, such as keeping the Keurig in a locked cabinet when not in use.

Also at Hackaday.

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In Iowa, a Phone App Could Serve As Driver's License
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '14 at 11:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's search-incident-to-arrest department:
New submitter dubner writes Simply hand the law enforcement officer your mobile phone. That's what you can do in Iowa rather than "digging through clutter in your glove compartment for an insurance card." And soon your driver's license will be available on your phone too, according to a story in the (Des Moines Register). Iowans will soon be able to use a mobile app on their smartphones as their official driver's license issued by the Iowa Department of Transportation. Some marvelous quotes in TFA: "The new app should be highly secure ... People will use a pin number for verification." And "Branstad (Iowa governor)... noted that even Iowa children are now working on digital development projects." A raft of excuses ("battery's dead") and security problems come to mind; how would you implement such a system?

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MIT Removes Online Physics Lectures and Courses By Walter Lewin
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '14 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's where-are-the-right-lines department:
jIyajbe writes MIT is indefinitely removing retired physics faculty member Walter Lewin's online lectures from MIT OpenCourseWare and online MITx courses from edX, the online learning platform co-founded by MIT, following a determination that Dr. Lewin engaged in online sexual harassment in violation of MIT policies. For an example of Lewin's colorful style, see this YouTube video. MIT has also revoked Lewin's title as professor emeritus, after the school determined that he "had sexually harassed at least one student online."

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Canadian Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Warrantless Cellphone Searches
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '14 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's eh?-speak-up-sonny department:
An anonymous reader writes In a surprising decision, a split Supreme Court of Canada ruled
this morning that police can search cellphones without a warrant
incident to an arrest
. The majority established some conditions, but
ultimately ruled that it could navigate the privacy balance by
establishing some safeguards with the practice. Michael Geist notes
that a strongly worded dissent disagreed, emphasizing the privacy
implications of access to cellphones and the need for judicial
pre-authorization as the best method of addressing the privacy
implications. The U.S.
Supreme Court's June 2014 decision in Riley
addressed similar
issues and ruled that a warrant is needed to search a phone.


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Study of Massive Preprint Archive Hints At the Geography of Plagiarism
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '14 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's as-ralph-waldo-emerson-once-said department:
sciencehabit writes with this excerpt from Science Insider: New analyses of the hundreds of thousands of technical manuscripts submitted to arXiv, the repository of digital preprint articles, are offering some intriguing insights into the consequences — and geography — of scientific plagiarism. It appears that copying text from other papers is more common in some nations than others, but the outcome is generally the same for authors who copy extensively: Their papers don't get cited much.

The system attempts to rule out certain kinds of innocent copying: "It's a fairly sophisticated machine learning logistic classifier," says arXiv founder Paul Ginsparg, a physicist at Cornell University. "It has special ways of detecting block quotes, italicized text, text in quotation marks, as well statements of mathematical theorems, to avoid false positives."

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The Case For Flipping Your Monitor From Landscape to Portrait
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '14 at 08:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's makes-it-hard-to-type department:
Molly McHugh writes The vast majority of computer-related tasks see no benefit from a screen that is longer than it is tall. Sure, video playback and gaming are some key exceptions, but if you watch Netflix on your TV instead of your computer monitor and you're not into PC gaming, that long, wide display is doing nothing but hampering your experience. Let's flip it. No, seriously. Let's flip it sideways.

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Army Building an Airport Just For Drones
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '14 at 07:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's first-part-of-the-plan department:
schwit1 writes The Army's ever-growing use of unmanned aerial systems has gotten to the point where two of the most commonly used UAS are getting their own airport. The service's Corps of Engineers at Fort Worth, Texas, has awarded a $33 million contract to SGS to build a 150-acre unmanned aircraft launch and recovery complex at Fort Bliss for Grey Eagle and Shadow UAS.

In related news, the FAA has just cleared 4 companies (Trimble Navigation Limited, VDOS Global, Clayco Inc. and Woolpert Inc.) to use drones commercially, for purposes such as site inspection and aerial surveys. (A lot of drones are already in use, of course, but the FAA doesn't like it.)

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Microsoft Quietly Starts Accepting Bitcoin As Payment Method
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '14 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's some-drop-out's-startup department:
An anonymous reader writes A new page in the help guide in the payment information of Microsoft's website reveals that the Redmond giant is now accepting Bitcoin as a payment method for products and services on Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox. Currently the payments must go through to credit a Microsoft Wallet account, and the service is initially only available to U.S. users. But the wording of the new page combines with an expansive year for Microsoft and a number of positive statements about Bitcoin from Bill Gates to indicate that this first step is more than just an experiment. Microsoft is now the largest commercial entity accepting the Bitcoin currency, which it processes via the BitPay system, thus protecting the company from fluctuations in the value of Bitcoin. Also at CNN Money.

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Bellard Creates New Image Format To Replace JPEG
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '14 at 06:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's new-pictures department:
An anonymous reader writes Fabrice Bellard (creator of FFMPEG, QEMU, JSLinux...) proposes a new image format that could replace JPEG : BPG. For the same quality, files are about half the size of their JPEG equivalents. He released libbpg (with source) as well as a JS decompressor, and set up a demo including the famous Lena image.

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Google News To Shut Down In Spain On December 16th
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '14 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's boy-that-google's-a-bully department:
An anonymous reader writes The news aggregation services offered by Google is set to be no longer available for Spain, starting December 16th, 2014. The decision of Google comes as response to new Spanish legislation that gives publishers the right to claim compensation for republishing any part of their content. This follows news of services of startup Uber being forbidden in countries like Spain as well as Germany and some city councils worldwide like Delhi, or other services like AirBnb being put under pressure to cope with local laws in other jurisdictions.

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Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy: The Science of Misheard Song Lyrics
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '14 at 05:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's dirty-dean-and-the-dunder-cheese department:
HughPickens.com writes Maria Konnikova writes in The New Yorker that mondegreens are funny but they also give us insight into the underlying nature of linguistic processing, how our minds make meaning out of sound, and how in fractions of seconds, we translate a boundless blur of sound into sense. One of the reasons we often mishear song lyrics is that there's a lot of noise to get through, and we usually can't see the musicians' faces. Other times, the misperceptions come from the nature of the speech itself, for example when someone speaks in an unfamiliar accent or when the usual structure of stresses and inflections changes, as it does in a poem or a song. Another common cause of mondegreens is the oronym: word strings in which the sounds can be logically divided multiple ways. One version that Steven Pinker describes goes like this: Eugene O'Neill won a Pullet Surprise. The string of phonetic sounds can be plausibly broken up in multiple ways—and if you're not familiar with the requisite proper noun, you may find yourself making an error.

Other times, the culprit is the perception of the sound itself: some letters and letter combinations sound remarkably alike, and we need further cues, whether visual or contextual, to help us out. In a phenomenon known as the McGurk effect, people can be made to hear one consonant when a similar one is being spoken. "There's a bathroom on the right" standing in for "there's a bad moon on the rise" is a succession of such similarities adding up to two equally coherent alternatives.

< article continued at Slashdot >

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FreeNAS 9.3 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '14 at 03:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's check-it-out department:
An anonymous reader writes This FreeNAS update is a significant evolutionary step from previous FreeNAS releases featuring: a simplified and reorganized Web User Interface, support for Microsoft ODX and Windows 2012 clustering, better VMWare integration, including VAAI support, a new and more secure update system with roll-back functionality, and hundreds of other technology enhancements. You can get it here and the list of changes are here. Existing 9.2.x users and 9.3 beta testers are encouraged to upgrade.

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California Sues Uber Over Practices
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '14 at 03:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's thanks-but-no-thanks department:
mpicpp writes with news that California is the latest government to file a lawsuit against Uber. "California prosecutors on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Uber over the ridesharing company's background checks and other allegations, adding to the popular startup's worldwide legal woes. San Francisco County District Attorney George Gascon, meanwhile, said Uber competitor Lyft agreed to pay $500,000 and change some of its business practices to settle its own lawsuit. Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey partnered with Gascon in a probe of the nascent ridesharing industry. A third company — Sidecar — is still under investigation and could face a lawsuit of its own if it can't reach an agreement with prosecutors. Uber faces similar legal issues elsewhere as it tries to expand in cities, states and countries around the world. The companies have popular smartphone apps that allow passengers to order rides in privately driven cars instead of taxis."

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Rosetta Results: Comets "Did Not Bring Water To Earth"
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '14 at 12:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's wet-of-space department:
An anonymous reader writes with findings from the Rosetta mission which suggests water on Earth probably came from asteroids, and not comets."Scientists have dealt a blow to the theory that most water on Earth came from comets. Results from Europe's Rosetta mission, which made history by landing on Comet 67P in November, shows the water on the icy mass is unlike that on our planet. The results are published in the journal Science. The authors conclude it is more likely that the water came from asteroids, but other scientists say more data is needed before comets can be ruled out."

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Bellard Creates New Image Format To Replace JPEG
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 10:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's new-pictures department:
An anonymous reader writes Fabrice Bellard (creator of FFMPEG, QEMU, JSLinux...) proposes a new image format that could replace JPEG : BPG. For the same quality, files are about half the size of their JPEG equivalents. He released libbpg (with source) as well as a JS decompressor, and set up a demo including the famous Lena image.

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Apple, IBM Partnership Yields First Results: 10 Mobile Apps
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 09:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's big-blue-apple department:
itwbennett writes IBM and Apple have unveiled the first results of the enterprise IT partnership they announced in July: 10 mobile applications aimed at businesses in six industries as well as government users. One of the apps, for example, allows a flight crew to personalize a passenger's in-flight experience. An app targeted at the banking industry allows a financial advisor to remotely access and manage a client's portfolio. And police officers can use iPhones to view video feeds from crime scenes with an app for law enforcement.

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Report: Big Issues Remain Before Drones Can Safely Access National Airspace
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 07:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's drone-free-zone department:
coondoggie writes The story sounds familiar – while the use of unmanned, sometimes illegally, is increasing, there are myriad challenges to ultimately allow them safe access to national airspace. The watchdogs at the Government Accountability Office issued report on the integration of unmanned aerial systems as it calls them, in US national airspace (NAS) today ahead of a congressional hearing on the topic. As it has noted in past reports, the GAO said the main issues continue to include the ability for drones to avoid other aircraft in the sky; what backup network is available and how should the system behave if it loses its communications link.

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Why Open Source Matters For Sensitive Email
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 06:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's better-mail department:
Jason Baker writes Can you really trust your email provider? And even if you self-host your email server, can you really trust its security if you can't see the code? Over on Opensource.com, Olivier Thierry makes three cases for using open source to power your email solution: The power of numbers, the value of trust, and the importance of leverage.

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