posted 12 days ago on slashdot
Lucas123 writes In what could herald in an era of data from wearables being used in civil and criminal litigation cases, a Canadian attorney is using data collected by a Fitbit activity tracking wrist band to prove his client is not scamming an insurance company. The defendant's attorney normalized the data using an analytics platform that compares activity data with other wearables, offering a way to benchmark his client's health against a larger group of wearable owners. Legal and privacy experts say it's only a matter of time before wearable data will be used in criminal cases, as well, and the vendors will have little choice but to hand it over. "I do think that's coming down the pike. It's just a matter of time," said Neda Shakoori, an eDiscovery expert with the law firm of McManis Faulkner. Health privacy laws, such as HIPAA, don't cover wearables and those companies can be subpoenaed — just as Google and Microsoft have been for years.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes Hacker group, Lizard Squad, has claimed responsibility for shutting down the PlayStation Network, the second large scale cyber-attack on the Sony system in recent weeks. Although apparently unrelated, the outage comes just weeks after the much larger cyber-attack to the tech giant's film studios Sony Pictures, which leaked confidential corporate information and unreleased movies.The group claiming to have taken down PSN today, Lizard Squad, first appeared earlier this year with another high-profile DDOS, or distributed denial of service attack, on Xbox Live and World of Warcraft in August. The hacker collective claimed that this attack was just a taster and a 'small dose' of what was to come over the Christmas period.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
dcblogs writes A major problem with the H-1B debate is the absence of displaced IT workers in news media accounts. Much of the reporting is one-sided — and there's a reason for this. An IT worker who is fired because he or she has been replaced by a foreign, visa-holding employee of an offshore outsourcing firm will sign a severance agreement. This severance agreement will likely include a non-disparagement clause that will make the fired worker extremely cautious about what they say on Facebook, let alone to the media. On-the-record interviews with displaced workers are difficult to get. While a restrictive severance package may be one handcuff, some are simply fearful of jeopardizing future job prospects by talking to reporters. Now silenced, displaced IT workers become invisible and easy to ignore. This situation has a major impact on how the news media covers the H-1B issue and offshore outsourcing issues generally.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
RockDoctor writes BBC News is reporting that a 26-year old Indian woman is alleging rape against a driver for the embattled Uber transport-managing company. In a post on the Uber blog, one "Saad Ahmed" implicitly admits that the driver was a Uber driver, the the lift was arranged through Uber's service, and that the full range of Uber's safety mechanisms had been applied to his employment, and by implication, that Uber accepts some culpability for putting this (alleged) rapist into contact with his (alleged) victim. "Our initial investigations have revealed shortcomings of the private cab company which didn't have GPS installed in its cabs and the staff wasn't verified," Delhi Special Commissioner Deepak Mishra said. But Uber says safety was paramount, and added it had GPS traces of all journeys. "We work with licensed driver-partners to provide a safe transportation option, with layers of safeguards such as driver and vehicle information, and ETA-sharing [estimated time of arrival] to ensure there is accountability and traceability of all trips that occur on the Uber platform," its statement added.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
SternisheFan writes with news that Ralph H Baer, the father of video games and the inventor of the Magnavox Odyssey, has passed away at 92. "At the dawn of the television age in 1951, a young engineer named Ralph Baer approached executives at an electronics firm and suggested the radical idea of offering games on the bulky TV boxes. 'And of course,' he said, 'I got the regular reaction: "Who needs this?" And nothing happened.' It took another 15 years before Mr. Baer, who died Dec. 6 at 92, developed a prototype that would make him the widely acknowledged father of video games. His design helped lay the groundwork for an industry that transformed the role of the television set and generated tens of billions of dollars last year. Mr. Baer 'saw that there was this interesting device sitting in millions of American homes — but it was a one-way instrument,' said Arthur P. Molella, director of the Smithsonian Institution's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. 'He said, "Maybe there's some way we can interact with this thing."'"

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes with news about a near miss between a drone and a plane near Heathrow. "An unidentified drone came close to hitting a plane as it landed at Heathrow, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has confirmed. An Airbus A320 pilot reported seeing a helicopter-style drone as the jet was 700 feet off the ground on its approach to the runway at 1416 GMT on 22 July. The CAA has not identified the airline or how close the drone came to the plane, which can carry 180 people. It gave the incident an 'A' rating, meaning a 'serious risk of collision'. This is the highest incident rating the CAA can give. Investigators were unable to identify the drone, which did not appear on air traffic control radar and disappeared after the encounter."

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes Have you ever wondered what it is like to have your online identity hijacked and replaced with a Russian-speaking Bruce Willis impostor? Here's a lesson in online impersonation from Passcode, The Christian Science Monitor's soon-to-launch section on security and privacy in the digital age. From the article: "Weeks prior, I changed my handle from @SaraSorcherNJ to the simpler @SaraSorcher when I left my job at National Journal covering national security to join The Christian Science Monitor to help lead our new section on, somewhat ironically considering the situation, security and privacy. Apparently within days of that change, someone - or a bot - had taken over my former work identity. My real account, @SaraSorcher, still existed. In my picture, I was still smiling and wearing a gray suit. The @SaraSorcherNJ account — Fake Me — sported a smirking, balding Willis in a track suit and v-neck white tee. I tweet about news and wonky security policy issues. Fake Russian-speaking Me enjoys 'watching Hannibal, eating apples and pondering the nature of existence.'"

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
angry tapir writes North Korea's government has denied any involvement in the attack on Sony Pictures, but in a statement indicated that it's not necessarily unhappy that it happened. In a statement, the country's powerful National Defence Commission, which controls North Korea's armed forces, said it had no knowledge of the attack. The latest reports indicate that the hackers worked from a hotel in Thailand.

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes Tesla decided not to build its new $5 billion battery factory in Texas, but the company still wants to sell its electric cars directly over the Internet there. The automaker hopes that the possibility of future investment in the state will be enough to overcome the Texas Automobile Dealers Association lobby and change dealership laws. From the article: "Diarmuid O'Connell, Tesla's vice president for business development admits that getting the law changed won't be easy. 'Does the fact that we didn't site the factory there complicate things? Absolutely,' O'Connell said. 'But we're going to be doing a number of big battery factories in the coming years and we're going to need new vehicle factories as well, and there's a certain logic to doing those in Texas.' He didn't elaborate, but added that the state may not be so attractive if current sales regulations stand. 'If we're banned in Texas, why are we investing billions of dollars here?,' O'Connell asked."

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
mikejuk writes A new games console is being launched based on the classic Sinclair ZX Spectrum from the 80s. Within days of the start of its Indiegogo campaign all of the 1000 Limited Edition Spectrum Vegas had been claimed but there is still the chance to get your hands on one of the second batch. The Sinclair Spectrum Vega is really retro in the sense that it plugs into a TV, thus avoiding the need for a monitor, and comes complete with around 1,000 games built-in. Games are accessed through a menu based system, and once selected load automatically, taking the player directly into the game play mode. This is very different from the original Spectrum with its rubber-topped keyboard and BASIC interface. If you have existing Spectrum games you'd like to play, you can use an SD card to load them onto the Vega, though the current publicity material doesn't give much clue as to how you go from ancient cassette tape to SD card. As for programming new games, there are ZX Spectrum emulators for Windows that are free and ready to use.

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes Scientist James Watson, who has issues with women, Africans, and the scientific community, has became the only living Nobel laureate to sell his medal after it fetched over $4 million at auction. "Watson told Nature that his motivation for selling the medal is a chance for redemption. He plans to donate some of the proceeds to Cold Spring, where he still draws a $375,000 base salary as chancellor emeritus, and also to University College Cork in Ireland to help establish an institute dedicated to the mathematician George Boole. 'I'm 52% Irish,' Watson said by way of explanation."

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
First time accepted submitter Lesrahpem writes I'm a felon with several prior misdemeanor convictions from an immature time in my life. I've since cleaned up my act, and I want to go back into the IT sector. I keep running into potential employers who tell me they'd like to hire me but can't because of my past record (expunging won't work, I'm in Ohio). Does anyone have any suggestions for me? Should I just give up and change careers?"

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
mrspoonsi sends news of an IBM study (PDF) which found that discarded laptop batteries could be used to power lights in areas where there's little or no electrical grid. Of the sample IBM tested, 70% of the used batteries were able to power an LED light for more than four hours every day throughout an entire year. The concept was trialed in the Indian city of Bangalore this year. The adapted power packs are expected to prove popular with street vendors, who are not on the electric grid, as well as poor families living in slums. The IBM team created what they called an UrJar — a device that uses lithium-ion cells from the old batteries to power low-energy DC devices, such as a light. The researchers are aiming to help the approximately 400 million people in India who are off grid.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
dkatana points out an article arguing that the governments should stop further auctions of 4G spectrum because it reduces infrastructure investment from carriers and makes net neutrality more difficult to regulate. Quoting: The FCC recently raised more than $34 billion for six blocks of airwaves, totaling 65 megahertz of the electromagnetic spectrum. This is good news for the treasury coffers, but government auctions threaten the ability of the FCC and similar agencies to manage the spectrum, impose net neutrality rules, and allow new businesses to compete. Carriers and internet companies who won the auction might believe the spectrum is theirs to do as they please, blocking access or charging huge fees to others. Issues such as speed throttling and preferential access come to mind. If governments insist in auctions of the newly available frequencies, it could hurt the industry and potentially destroy any possibility of negotiating universal access and net neutrality.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
New submitter cyberjock1980 tips news that an engineer has been caught trying to deliver schematics for an aircraft carrier to the Egyptian government. The 35-year-old civilian received security clearance four months ago after working for the U.S. Navy since February. FBI agents made contact with him, pretending to be with the Egyptian government. They struck a deal to buy documents about the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford, the first in a new line of improved, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. The man sold four CAD drawings for the carrier, and was later seen photographing another set of schematics. A bond hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader tips news that the Chaos Computer Club's website was inaccessible for many internet users in the UK after being blocked by the filter set up to block porn sites. Additionally, Vodafone users are unable to access the ticket site to this year's Chaos Commuication Conference. In a post on its website, the CCC said, "Internet filters simply do not work, but leaving technical limitation aside, the CCC's example shows that unsolicited overblocking, meaning wrongly classified websites, is a common phenomenon in large censorship infrastructures. However, it may very well be that the CCC is considered 'extremist' judged by British standards of freedom of speech." CCC spokesperson Dirk Engling added, "We see this as proof that censorship infrastructure – no matter for which reasons it was set up, and no matter which country you are in – will always be abused for political reasons."

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from Quanta Magazine: "Using the latest deep-learning protocols, computer models consisting of networks of artificial neurons are becoming increasingly adept at image, speech and pattern recognition — core technologies in robotic personal assistants, complex data analysis and self-driving cars. But for all their progress training computers to pick out salient features from other, irrelevant bits of data, researchers have never fully understood why the algorithms or biological learning work. Now, two physicists have shown that one form of deep learning works exactly like one of the most important and ubiquitous mathematical techniques in physics, a procedure for calculating the large-scale behavior of physical systems such as elementary particles, fluids and the cosmos. The new work, completed by Pankaj Mehta of Boston University and David Schwab of Northwestern University, demonstrates that a statistical technique called "renormalization," which allows physicists to accurately describe systems without knowing the exact state of all their component parts, also enables the artificial neural networks to categorize data as, say, "a cat" regardless of its color, size or posture in a given video. "They actually wrote down on paper, with exact proofs, something that people only dreamed existed," said Ilya Nemenman, a biophysicist at Emory University.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
schmaustech writes: A lot of businesses pay for Linux support. But at what point does that stop being worth the money? When would a company be better served by setting up their own internal support? When does it make sense for them to write their own patches, which could be submitted back to the community? The inherit risk is that the organization is accountable and accepts the risks if a major bug is encountered within any of the open source applications they are using. What's your perspective on this, and how many major corporations are taking this approach?

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: The National Science Foundation (NSF) and a contractor have been accused by both an audit and by Congress of a significant misuse of funds in a major ecological monitoring project costing almost a half a billion dollars. From the article: "With a construction budget of $433.7 million, NEON is planned to consist of 106 sites across the United States. Arrays of sensors at each site will monitor climate change and human impacts for 30 years, building an unprecedented continental-scale data set. Although some initially doubted its merits, the allure of big-data ecology eventually won over most scientists. But a 2011 audit of the project's proposed construction budget stalled three times when, according to the independent Defense Contract Audit Agency, NEON's accounting proved so poor that the review could not be completed. Eventually, DCAA issued an adverse ruling, concluding that nearly 36% of NEON's budget proposal was questionable or undocumented. When the NSF green-lit the project, the agency's inspector-general ordered the audit released on 24 November, which found unallowable expenses including a $25,000 winter holiday party, $11,000 to provide coffee for employees, $3,000 for board-of-directors dinners that included alcohol, $3,000 for t-shirts and other clothes, $83,000 for "business development" and $112,000 for lobbying."

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
tsu doh nimh writes: A new report from the U.S. Treasury Department found that nearly $24 million in bank account takeovers by hackers (and other cyber theft over the past decade) might have been thwarted had affected institutions known to look for and block transactions coming through the Tor anonymity network. Brian Krebs cites from the non-public report, which relied on an analysis of suspicious activity reports filed by banks over the past decade: "Analysis of these documents found that few filers were aware of the connection to Tor, that the bulk of these filings were related to cybercrime, and that Tor-related filings were rapidly rising. Our BSA [Bank Secrecy Act] analysis of 6,048 IP addresses associated with the Tor darknet found that in the majority of the SAR filings, the underlying suspicious activity — most frequently account takeovers — might have been prevented if the filing institution had been aware that their network was being accessed via Tor IP addresses." Meanwhile, the Tor Project continues to ask for assistance in adapting the technology to an Internet that is increasingly blocking users who visit from Tor.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
sciencehabit writes: Researchers have discovered comet dust preserved in the ice and snow of Antarctica, the first time such particles have been found on Earth's surface (abstract). The discovery unlocks a promising new source of this material. The oldest astronomical particles available for study, comet dust can offer clues about how our solar system formed.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
jfruh writes: One of the EU's selling points is that it provides a single regulatory apparatus for the entire European market — but this isn't the case for everything. Data protection laws, for instance, provide a confusing thicket of different regulations across the continent, and now, much to the frustration of large American Internet companies, it seems that a plan to consolidate these rules under a single EU agency are coming apart. In other EU news, reader Presto Vivace points out that German Chancellor Angel Merkel has spoken out against net neutrality. She said, "An innovation-friendly internet means that there is a guaranteed reliability for special services. These can only develop when predictable quality standards are available."

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes The current system of UK intelligence collection does not currently breach the European Convention of Human Rights, a panel of judges has ruled. A case claiming various systems of interception by GCHQ constituted a breach had been brought by Amnesty, Privacy International and others. It followed revelations by the former US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden about UK and US surveillance practices. But the judges said questions remained about GCHQ's previous activities. Some of the organisations who brought the case, including Amnesty UK and Privacy International, say they intend to appeal the decision to the European Court of Human Rights.

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
FreedomFirstThenPeac (1235064) writes "A story in The Guardian tells us that in an Orwellian move to legislate language, the Chinese government is attempting to stop the use of puns because they are disruptive and may lead to chaos (not the mathematical kind) and as such are unsuitable for use. However, Chinese is rife with puns, with this example quoted in the story: "When couples marry, people will give them dates and peanuts – a reference to the wish Zaosheng guizi or 'May you soon give birth to a son.' The word for dates is also zao and peanuts are huasheng." The powerful date and peanut lobbies are up in arms, claiming that such a ban will cost them more than peanuts. Their claim? "If you outlaw puns. Only criminals will have puns."

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
You can spend less than $500 if you like. That's the maximum amount allowed if you're competing in the Power Racing Series. Interviewee Josh Lee is a member of the Southern Polytechnic State University Electric Vehicle Team. The modified electric 'ride on' toy they showed off and raced at Maker Faire Atlanta (where this video was made) is just one of their many projects. And, obviously, they're just one of many 'slightly deranged' teams involved in learning about and building electric vehicles. (Alternate Video Link)

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