cylonlover writes with this news bite about a cool new ground to space laser communication system from NASA and ESA: "Space communications have relied on radio since the first Sputnik in 1957. It's a mature, reliable technology, but it's reaching its limits. The amount of data sent has increased exponentially for decades and NASA expects the trend to continue. The current communications systems are reaching their limits, so NASA and ESA are going beyond radio as a solution. As part of this effort, ESA has finished tests of part of a new communications system, in preparations for a demonstration in October in which it will receive a laser data download from a NASA lunar orbiter."
Nerval's Lobster writes "They may not all support what the NSA will do with its giant new datacenter in Bluffdale, but Utah officials do seem to agree on the value of having a world-class, $1.5 billion datacenter built in their territory. In general, they're for it, and are proving that by changing a law that would have added about $2.4 million in taxes to the datacenter's power bill—an addition that was an unpleasant surprise to NSA officials when they heard about it in May. A bill signed into law April 1 imposed a tax of up to 6 percent on electricity from Rocky Mountain Power, a requirement the NSA protested in an email to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert April 26. State tax agencies swear they informed the NSA about the impact of the law when it was still under debate; NSA officials denied knowing anything about it and complained that it would make Utah a less attractive site for the datacenter, which was only three to four months from completion at the time."
Rick Zeman writes "Those of us of a certain age recall The Oregon Trail with fondness as the pioneering educational game that had the audacity to make learning fun! This article takes a look at the history behind the game, even going back to its initial text-based offering, showing how some programming magic pulled a generation of kids together. Quoting: '[F]or two weeks, the roommates holed up in a former janitor’s closet at Bryant Junior High School, where the school’s teletype was stored, and spent their evenings programming. Using Rawitsch’s historical knowledge, Heinemann and Dillenberger developed a series of algorithms, punching hundreds of lines of code into the teletype. But just because they created the program didn’t mean they could breeze through it. When Heinemann tried The Oregon Trail for the first time, he died of pneumonia midway!'"
bsk_cw writes "This article takes a long look at four major consumer tech ecosystems — Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft — and examine how well (or badly) they're serving up their media. The authors talk about how each company approaches gaming, music, video, books, etc., and how each integrates all its parts into some kind of whole. The conclusion? That none of the four can be said to be the best in all things, but they're certainly trying."
jrepin writes "The Calligra team is proud and pleased to announce the release of version 2.7 of the Calligra Suite, Calligra active and the Calligra Office Engine. Words, the word processing application, has a new look for the toolbox. In the same toolbox there are also new controls to manipulate shapes with much enhanced usability. Author, the writer's application, has new support for EPUB3: mathematical formulas and multimedia contents are now exported to ebooks using the EPUB format. There is also new support for book covers using images. Plan, the project management application, has improvement in the scheduling of tasks. The formula shape now has new ways to enter formula: a matlab/octave mode and a LaTEX mode."
Rambo Tribble writes "U.S. researchers have come to the conclusion that a changing climate can drive increased violence in human society. Their findings are to reported in Science (abstract). 'They report a "substantial" correlation between climate and conflict. Their examples include an increase in domestic violence in India during recent droughts, and a spike in assaults, rapes and murders during heatwaves in the U.S. The report also suggests rising temperatures correlated with larger conflicts, including ethnic clashes in Europe and civil wars in Africa.' Marshall Burke, one of the authors, said, 'This is a relationship we observe across time and across all major continents around the world. The relationship we find between these climate variables and conflict outcomes are often very large.' Add this to the developing scarcity of water due to global warming and the prospects for a peaceful future do not bode well."
New submitter b06r011 writes "The 12th actor to play Doctor Who will be revealed on BBC1 this Sunday at 1900. Rupert Grint and Peter Capaldi have been tipped as favourites to replace Matt Smith but that is no reason to stop idle speculation on a Friday afternooon. This all raises an interesting point though — particularly for Dr Who, where the replacement of an actor whilst maintaining the character is a key part of the plot. Would you rather find out in advance or wait until the end of the regeneration sequence?"
rtfa-troll writes "The story from yesterday about the Feds monitoring Google searches has turned into a warning about how work place surveillance could harm you. It turns out that Michele Catalano's husband's boss tipped off the police after finding 'suspicious' searches (including 'pressure cooker bombs') in his old work computer's search history. Luckily for the Catalanos, who even allowed a search of their house when they probably didn't have to, it seems the policemen and FBI agents were professional and friendly. Far from being imperiled by a SWAT raid, Catalano spoke to some men in black cars who were polite and even mentioned to Catalano that 99 times out of 100, these tip-offs come to nothing. Perhaps the lesson is to be a bit more careful about your privacy, so that what you do on the internet remains between you and the professionals at the NSA."
Lasrick writes "At the Dot Earth blog in the NY Times, 'Big companies have many, and sometimes conflicting, interests, as a spokesperson for Google tried to explain to the environmental blogger Brian Merchant this way: “[W]hile we disagree on climate change policy, we share an interest with Senator Inhofe in the employees and data center we have in Oklahoma.” Now the Web giant is facing fresh criticism, this time in an open letter from 17 scientists and policy researchers who were invited to Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters back in 2011 to explore ways to improve climate science communication....'"
First time accepted submitter Jason Waddell writes "According to Kickstarter's historic backing data, crowdfunding follows a very predictable pattern: a strong opening, a mid-campaign 'dead zone', and a small resurgence at the end of the campaign. We combine Kickstarter's trends with the Ubuntu Edge Indiegogo crowdfunding data to forecast whether the innovative Ubuntu phone will reach its $32 million campaign goal."
dcblogs writes "The founder of the UpTime Institute, Kenneth G. Brill, 69, died Tuesday, the institute's parent company announced. Brill, an electrical engineer by training, is credited with playing an enormous role in shaping the modern data center industry. 'He singled-handedly crafted an industry out of nothing,' said Mike Manos, the chief technology officer at AOL, who had known Brill since the late 1990s. Until Brill's efforts, enterprises had been defining and measuring data centers in their own way, said Manos. 'There was no commonality.' Today, 'you can't go anywhere in the world without people talking about tier 1, tier 2, tier 3 data centers — it's that fundamental,' he said. In 2011, following Amazon's prolong outage, Brill warned that the perceived reliability of large cloud providers was going to lead to problems. 'There will always be an advocate for how it can be done cheaper, [but] if you haven't had a failure for five years — who is the advocate for reliability?' said Brill. 'My prediction is that in the years ahead, we will see more failures than we have been seeing, because people have forgotten what we had to do to get to where we are.'"
The EFF posted a biting response to yesterday's Ninth Circuit ruling that heavily weights celebrities' right to privacy, and construes that right very broadly. From the EFF summary of the case: "The plaintiff, Sam Keller, brought the case to challenge Electronic Art (EA)'s use of his likeness in its videogame NCAA Football. This game includes realistic digital avatars of thousands of college players. The game never used Keller’s name, but it included an avatar with his jersey number, basic biographical information, and statistics. Keller sued EA claiming that the game infringed his right of publicity — an offshoot of privacy law that gives a person the right to limit the public use of her name, likeness and/or identity for commercial purposes. ... Two judges on the panel found that EA’s depiction of Keller was not transformative. They reasoned that the 'use does not qualify for First Amendment protection as a matter of law because it literally recreates Keller in the very setting in which he has achieved renown.'" The piece later notes that this reasoning "could impact an extraordinary range of protected speech."
EzInKy writes "This BBC article provides details of the script the United Kingdom's Queen was to deliver in the event of a nuclear holocaust. The document, released by the government under the 30-year rule, was drawn up as part of a war-gaming exercise in the spring of 1983, working through potential scenarios. In it, the Queen was expected to urge the people of the United Kingdom to 'pray' in the event of a nuclear war. Although it was only a simulation, the text of the Queen's address — written as if broadcast at midday on Friday 4 March 1983 — seeks to prepare the country for the ordeal of World War III. The script reads: 'Now this madness of war is once more spreading through the world and our brave country must again prepare itself to survive against great odds. I have never forgotten the sorrow and the pride I felt as my sister and I huddled around the nursery wireless set listening to my father's inspiring words on that fateful day in 1939. Not for a single moment did I imagine that this solemn and awful duty would one day fall to me. But whatever terrors lie in wait for us all, the qualities that have helped to keep our freedom intact twice already during this sad century will once more be our strength.'" I prefer Tom Lehrer's approach.
ckwu writes "Researchers in Hong Kong have found a beneficial new use for the electronic waste from discarded cell phones, computers, and other gadgets. Ground up into a powder, printed circuit boards from these products could sponge up another type of pollution — toxic heavy metals in water. The researchers processed the nonmetallic fraction of waste circuit boards into a powder and found that it adsorbed metals like copper, lead, and zinc more efficiently than commercially available industrial adsorbents."
waderoush writes "While Santa Cruz, CA, may be most famous for its surfing, its boardwalk, and its lax marijuana laws, it was also the birthplace of big tech companies like Plantronics, Borland Software, SCO, Seagate Technologies, and Netflix. But that was all a long time ago. As entrepreneurs and city leaders in Santa Cruz work to revive the city's technology scene today, they're starting largely from scratch. In a three-part series this week, Xconomy looks at efforts in this sunny beachside town to build a thriving high-tech ecosystem with a unique identity, separate from that of nearby Silicon Valley. Part 1 surveys the products and industries that make up the Santa Cruz brand, from sports and recreation to organic food. Part 2 looks at the city's past technology successes and its crop of emerging startups, and efforts to build a strong local network of startup mentors, advisors, and investors. Part 3 details efforts to increase the local talent supply, in part by encouraging more students from UC Santa Cruz to live and work in the city after they graduate; it also looks at the city's campaign to reverse perceptions that it's an anti-business haven for beach bums and pot smokers."
An anonymous reader writes "Massachusetts resident Michele Catalano was looking for information online about pressure cookers. Her husband, in the same time frame, was Googling backpacks. Wednesday morning, six men from a joint terrorism task force showed up at their house to see if they were terrorists. Which raises the question: How'd the government know what they were Googling?"
RockDoctor writes "Stuff magazine, a gadget oriented mag, is reporting that the UK's Department for Transport is planning to ban drivers from using Google Glass, using the same law (1988 Road Traffic Act) that is used to ban drivers from using hand-held mobile phones. While there are obvious parallels between the distraction potential of the mobile phone and of Glass, there are arguments in the other direction that the speech-control aspects of Glass could make it less distracting than, say, a touch-screen SatNav. So, to ban Glass while driving or not? Typical fines for using a mobile phone while driving are £60 cash plus three penalty points on the driving license; the points expire three years after the offence and if you accumulate 12 points then you've lost your license. Repeat offenders may experience higher fines and/ or more points. Around a million people have received the penalty since the mobile phone ban was introduced in 2003."
New submitter kc9jud writes "The BBC is reporting that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia. According to his lawyer, Snowden has received the necessary papers to leave the transit zone at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, and the airport press office is reporting that Snowden left the airport at 14:00 local time (10:00 GMT). A tweet from Wikileaks indicates that Snowden has been granted temporary asylum and may stay in the Russian Federation for up to one year." Reader Cenan adds links to coverage at CNN, and other readers have pointed out versions of the story at Reuters and CBS.
Bismillah writes "Australia's national science and research agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization or CSIRO, has netted hundreds of millions on developing the near-ubiquitous Wi-Fi technology — and patenting it. Now however the patent is about to expire in the United States and eighteen other markets and the question is, can CSIRO come up with anything similarly successful in the future?"
Lucas123 writes "Researchers using a RepRap open source 3D printer found that the average household could save as much as $2,000 annually and recoup the cost of the printer in under a year by printing out common household items. The Michigan Technical University (MTU) research group printed just 20 items and used 'conservative' numbers to find that the average homeowner could print common products, such as shower rings or smartphone cases, for far less money than purchasing them online at discount Websites, such as Google Shopper. 'It cost us about $18 to print all  items... the lowest retail cost we could find for the same items online was $312 and the highest was $1,943,' said Joshua Pearce, an associate professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at MTU. 'The unavoidable conclusion from this study is that the RepRap [3D printers] is an economically attractive investment for the average U.S. household already.'"
GovTechGuy writes "Things don't look good for Google, Microsoft and other companies hoping to experiment with super WiFi and other technologies in unused TV channels or 'White spaces'. Both House Republicans and Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller are prodding the FCC to sell as much spectrum as possible at next year's incentive auction, which may not leave much for those hoping to advance the next generation of WiFi technology."
Trailrunner7 writes "NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander's keynote today at Black Hat USA 2013 was a tense confessional, an hour-long emotional and sometimes angry ride that shed some new insight into the spy agency's two notorious data collection programs, inspired moments of loud applause in support of the NSA, and likewise, profane heckling that called into question the legality and morality of the agency's practices. Loud voices from the overflowing crowd called out Alexander on his claims that the NSA stands for freedom while at the same time collecting, storing and analyzing telephone business records, metadata and Internet records on Americans. He also denied lying to Congress about the NSA's capabilities and activities in the name of protecting Americans from terrorism in response to such a claim from a member of the audience."
Timothy Lord caught up with Ubuntu's Jono Bacon at OSCON and got a nice update on the state of the Ubuntu Phone, which Canonical first announced in January, 2013. Tim interviewed Jono about it on camera at CES in February. Look at the "Related Stories" attached to this intro and you'll see a bunch more Ubuntu phone stories. DISCLOSURE: At least two Slashdot editors currently run Ubuntu or Kubuntu, so we have at least a mild pro-Ubuntu bias. Bias or no, It's interesting to watch the Ubuntu phone development process, even as those who are satisfied with Android phone or iPhones, ask, "Why?" We could ask the same about the Firefox OS Phone, too. Maybe the most realistic answer in both cases is, "Because we could." But who knows? These new phone operating systems might turn out to be more useful than Android or iOS. We'll see.
SmartAboutThings writes "A month ago, Microsoft was involved in a legal battle in the United Kingdom, when the court found that there was a conflict between Microsoft's SkyDrive and a trademark owned by the British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSkyB). Back then, the UK court ruled that Microsoft was infringing the BSkyB's trademark. And now we have confirmation that Microsoft will be forced to change the SkyDrive brand name. This is quite a big branding issue for Microsoft. What are they going to call it? DriveSky? And chances are that the name change will be worldwide and not only in the United Kingdom."
jrepin writes "Around a year ago, a school in the southeast of England, Westcliff High School for Girls Academy (WHSG), began switching its student-facing computers to Linux, with KDE providing the desktop software. The school's Network Manager, Malcolm Moore, contacted us at the time. Now, a year on, he got in touch again to let us know how he and the students find life in a world without Windows." And they didn't even meet much resistance: "Younger students accept it as normal. Older students can be a little less flexible. There are still a few that are of the view that I can get rid of Microsoft Word when I can pry it from them. Staff are the same (although it is surprisingly not age-related). Some are OK and some hate it. Having said that, an equal number hate Windows 7 and nobody liked Windows 8. I think the basic problem is that Windows XP is a victim of its own success. It works fairly well from a user point of view, it's been around practically forever, and people don't like change, even some students, oddly."
raque writes "The NY Times recently published two op-eds in their Philosophy section, The Stone, discussing how Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle is abused. The second is a followup to the first. The author struggled to make clear his point and left the impression he was creating a strawman argument. In his followup he said he was avoiding equations because he was writing for a general audience. I replied to both articles, asking whether showing some basic equations would have worked better, allowing math to illustrate where metaphors struggled. Now I'm asking the same question to everyone on Slashdot. Would Dr. Callendar have been better off just diving in and dealing with Heisenberg and quantum mechanics using the tools that were developed for it?"
curtwoodward writes "MIT's long-awaited internal investigation into its handling of the Aaron Swartz prosecution has been released (PDF), and it's massive — about 180 pages, not counting the reams of supporting documents. And although the report's authors say they were told not to draw any conclusions about MIT's actions — really — they still gently criticized the university. Swartz, a well-known activist, killed himself earlier this year while being prosecuted for federal computer crimes after he improperly downloaded millions of academic research articles. MIT remained notably 'hands-off' throughout the case, the internal report notes, despite requests that it defend Swartz or oppose the prosecution, and ample opportunities to show leadership. The report quotes an MIT official: 'MIT didn't do anything wrong; but we didn't do ourselves proud.'" Swartz's partner, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, calls the report a whitewash.
crashcy sends word that a verdict has been handed down in the case of Bradley Manning. Quoting: "A military judge on Tuesday found Pfc. Bradley Manning not guilty of aiding the enemy, but convicted him of multiple counts of violating the Espionage Act. Private Manning had already confessed to being WikiLeaks’ source for a huge cache of government documents, which included videos of airstrikes in which civilians were killed, hundreds of thousands of front-line incident reports from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, dossiers on men being held without trial at the Guantánamo Bay prison, and about 250,000 diplomatic cables. But while Private Manning had pleaded guilty to a lesser version of the charges he was facing, which could expose him to up to 20 years in prison, the government decided to press forward with a trial on a more serious version of the charges, including 'aiding the enemy' and violations of the Espionage Act. Beyond the fate of Private Manning as an individual, the 'aiding the enemy' charge — unprecedented in a leak case — could have significant long-term ramifications for investigative journalism in the Internet era."
ectoman writes "Are firms responsible for GPL violations on code they receive from third parties? A German court thinks so. The Regional Court of Hamburg recently ruled that Fantec, a European media player maker, failed to distribute 'complete corresponding source code' for firmware found in some of its products. Fantec claims its third-party firmware supplier provided the company with appropriate source code, which Fantext made available online. But a hackathon organized by the Free Software Foundation Europe discovered that this source code was incomplete, and programmer Harald Welte filed suit. He won. Mark Radcliffe, an IP expert and senior partner at DLA Piper who specializes in open source licensing issues, has analyzed the case—and argued that it underscores the need for companies to implement internal GPL compliance processes. 'Fantec is a reminder that companies should adopt a formal FOSS use policy which should be integrated into the software development process,' he writes. 'These standards should include an understanding of the FOSS management processes of such third-party suppliers. The development of a network of trusted third-party suppliers is critical part of any FOSS compliance strategy.'"
Lasrick writes "Scientific American has a really nice article explaining why insects should be considered a good food source, and how the encroachment of Western attitudes into societies that traditionally eat insects is affecting consumption of this important source of nutrients. Good stuff." Especially when they're so easy to grow.
mitcheli writes "Sprint announced a Q2 loss of $1.6B as 2 million subscribers left their service. While Sprint remains one of very few carriers to continue to allow unlimited data on their networks, the failure to reconcile two competing network technologies (iDEN Nextel and CDMA Sprint) combined with the lack of upgrades to their network and degrading service prompted a mass exodus of subscribers from their network. Of course the fact that during the iPhone 5 release, Sprint openly advertised that their iPhone would not be carrier locked, only to turn around and push out an OTA two months later that locked them probably didn't help much either."
alphadogg writes "The first heady rush of support for Canonical's crowd-funded Ubuntu Edge smartphone appears to have tapered off, as donations for the eye-catching device have slowed substantially over the past several days. The project sits just above the $7 million mark at the time of this writing – a large sum by the standards of crowd-funded projects, to be sure, but the $32 million goal is still a long way off. The Edge is slightly, but measurably, behind schedule – by about $600,000, according to a tracking graph made by Canonical's Gustavo Niemeyer. However, there's speculation that wealthy Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth might contribute some of his personal fortune to the project." The campaign has already broken records with its spectacular first few days. I hope that Shuttleworth does kick in to make production feasible, because the idea and the design are impressive — but I'm leery of spending quite so much on any phone.
hypnosec writes that the government of Thailand "has declared Bitcoin illegal following which all trading activities related to the electronic currently have been suspended indefinitely. Through a message posted on its website, the Bitcoin Co. Ltd. has said officials of the Foreign Exchange Administration and Policy Department cited absence of applicable laws, capital controls "and the fact that Bitcoin straddles multiple financial facets" as reasons because of which the virtual currency is illegal. This ruling implies that activities such as buying & selling of Bitcoins, buying or selling any service in exchange of Bitcoins, sending Bitcoins to anyone located outside of Thailand, and receiving Bitcoins from anyone outside of Thailand are illegal. This has forced the company to indefinitely suspend operations."
An anonymous reader writes "The numbers tell the story — in votes and dollars. On Wednesday, the House voted 217 to 205 not to rein in the NSA's phone-spying dragnet. It turns out that those 217 'no' voters received twice as much campaign financing from the defense and intelligence industry as the 205 'yes' voters."
chipperdog writes "NorthPine.com reports: 'ASCAP is firing back against Pandora Radio's attempt to get lower music royalty rates by buying a terrestrial radio station, "Hits 102.7" (KXMZ Box Elder-Rapid City). In a petition to deny, ASCAP alleges "Pandora has failed to fully disclose its ownership, and to adequately demonstrate that it complies with the Commission's foreign ownership rules." ASCAP also alleges that Pandora has no intention of operating KXMZ to serve the public interest, but is rather only interested in obtaining lower royalty rates. Pandora reached a deal to buy KXMZ from Connoisseur Media for $600,000 earlier this year and is already running the station through a local marketing agreement.'"
benrothke writes "SlideShareis a free web 2.0 based slide hosting service where users can upload presentation-based files. Launched in October 2006, it's considered to be similar to YouTube, but for slideshows. It was originally meant to be used for businesses to share slides among employees more easily, but it has since expanded to also become a host of a large number of slides which are uploaded merely to entertain. SlideShare gets an estimated 58 million unique visitors a month and has about 16 million registered users. With such a strong user base, authors Kit Seeborg and Andrea Meyer write in Present Yourself: Using SlideShare to Grow Your Business how SlideShare users can use the site (including other similar collaborative sites such as Prezi and Scribd) to present their story to a worldwide audience. Given that visual presentations are the new language of business, understanding how to maximize their potential can be a valuable asset for the entrepreneur, job seeker and everyone in between." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
SmartAboutThings writes "If you think optical discs are dead and are a sign of the past, maybe you need to take this into consideration – Sony and Panasonic have just announced in Tokyo that they have signed a basic agreement with the objective of developing the next-generation optical discs that are said to have a recording capacity of at least 300GB. The two companies have even set a deadline for this ambitious project: before the end of 2015."
Nerval's Lobster writes "More than half of Americans believe that the federal courts have failed to limit the U.S. government's collection of personal information via phone records and the Internet, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. But that's nothing compared to the 70 percent who believe that the government 'uses this data for purposes other than investigating terrorism,' according to the organization's summary of its survey. Another 63 percent of respondents indicated they thought the government is collecting information about the content of their communications. The Pew Research Center surveyed 1,480 adults over the course of five days in July. 'The public's views of the government's anti-terrorism efforts are complex, and many who believe the reach of the government's data collection program is expansive still approve of the effort overall,' the organization's summary added. 'In every case, however, those who view the government's data collection as far-reaching are less likely to approve of the program than those who do not.' Some 47 percent of those surveyed approved of the government's collection of phone and Internet data, while 50 percent disapproved. Among those who thought the government is reading their personal email or listening to their phone calls, some 40 percent approved of the data collection, even as 58 percent disapproved. There's much more, including how opinions of government surveillance break across political party lines on the Pew Research Center's Website."
First time accepted submitter chris.kohlhepp writes "The Emacs editor just got consolidated package management with "Feline Herd", offering 2000+ packages under one roof. No struggle with convoluted keyboard shortcuts — only easy GUI navigation via toolbar buttons! Every conceivable programming language is handled. Cuts the Emacs learning curve to a minimum for learners."
First time accepted submitter marshallr writes "Technical Information Release TIR 13-10 becomes effective in Massachusetts on July 31st, 2013. It requires software consultants to collect a 6.25% sales tax from their clients if they perform 'computer system design services and the modification, integration, enhancement, installation or configuration of standardized software.' TIR 13-10 was published to mass.gov on July 25th, 2013 to provide the public a few working days to review the release and make comments."
elphie007 writes "Fourteen months after the Australian Parliament announced an inquiry into the disparity between IT pricing for Australian consumers, the Committee's final report has been published. The report highlights the importance of IT in Australia, and that Australian consumers are frequently shafted in an uncomfortable manner when it comes to purchasing IT goods and services. With recommendations ranging from the removal of parallel importation restrictions to the possible banning of geo-blocking services, could this mean the end of US bound Adobe shopping trips and the beginning of pricing equality for Australian IT consumers? More reports/analysis is available here and here."
renai42 writes "If you've been in the IT industry for a while, you'll know that Lenovo's ThinkPad brand has a strong reputation with large organisations for quality, dating back to the brand's pre-2005 ownership by IBM. However, all that may be set to change with the news that the defence agencies of key Western governments such as Australia, the US, Britain, Canada and New Zealand have banned Lenovo gear from being used in sensitive areas, because of concerns that the Chinese vendor has been leaving back doors in its devices for the Chinese Government. No evidence has yet been presented to back the claims, but Lenovo remains locked out of sensitive areas of these governments. Is it fearmongering? Or is there some legitimate basis for the ban?"
theodp writes "As noted earlier, Microsoft is tackling the CS education crisis with a popularity contest that will award $100K in donations to five technology education nonprofits that help make kids technically literate. Hopefully, the nonprofits will teach kids that the contest's voting Leader Board is a particularly good example of what-not-to-do technically. In addition to cherry-picking the less-pathetic vote totals to make its Leader Board, Microsoft also uses some dubious rounding code that transforms the original voting data into misleading percentages. Indeed, developer tools reveal that the top five leaders in the Microsoft STEM education contest miraculously account for 130% of the vote. Let's hope the quality control is better for those Microsoft Surface voting machines!"
An anonymous reader writes "We are teaching an introductory class in computer science for high school students. We have the technical aspects of the course covered, there is a lot of information on the internet on designing that aspect of the class. We also want to cover some aspects of how computers affect society, privacy, expectations, digital divide etc. We were suggested Blown to Bits, which covers a lot of this but I'm not sure high school students are really going to enjoy it or even take away the right implications ... any recommendations for anything else ? Movies, Fiction, Non-Fiction Books and any other media are all welcome. Students are expected to read no more than 200 pages (that's all the time they have)."
knorthern knight writes "Most major weather services (US NWS, Britain's Met Office, etc) have their own supercomputers, and their own weather models. But there are some models which are used globally. A new paper has been published, comparing outputs from one such program on different machines around the world. Apparently, the same code, running on different machines, can produce different outputs due to accumulation of differing round-off errors. The handling of floating-point numbers in computing is a field in its own right. The paper apparently deals with 10-day weather forecasts. Weather forecasts are generally done in steps of 1 hour. I.e. the output from hour 1 is used as the starting condition for the hour 2 forecast. The output from hour 2 is used as the starting condition for hour 3, etc. The paper is paywalled, but the abstract says: 'The global model program (GMP) of the Global/Regional Integrated Model system (GRIMs) is tested on 10 different computer systems having different central processing unit (CPU) architectures or compilers. There exist differences in the results for different compilers, parallel libraries, and optimization levels, primarily due to the treatment of rounding errors by the different software systems. The system dependency, which is the standard deviation of the 500-hPa geopotential height averaged over the globe, increases with time. However, its fractional tendency, which is the change of the standard deviation relative to the value itself, remains nearly zero with time. In a seasonal prediction framework, the ensemble spread due to the differences in software system is comparable to the ensemble spread due to the differences in initial conditions that is used for the traditional ensemble forecasting.'"
First time accepted submitter MetalliQaZ writes "Last week, Dr. Joseph Bonneau learned that he had won the NSA's first annual "Science of Security (SoS) Competition." The competition, which aims to honor the best 'scientific papers about national security' as a way to strengthen NSA collaboration with researchers in academia, honored Bonneau for his paper on the nature of passwords. And how did Bonneau respond to being honored by the NSA? By expressing, in an honest and bittersweet blog post, his revulsion at what the NSA has become: 'Simply put, I don't think a free society is compatible with an organisation like the NSA in its current form.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The High Court — England's highest civil court — has temporarily banned the publication of a scientific paper that would reveal the details of a zero day vulnerability in vehicle immobilisers and, crucially, give details of how to crack the system. Motor manufacturers argued that revealing the details of the crack would allow criminals to steal cars. Could this presage the courts getting involved in what gets posted on your local Bugzilla? It certainly means that software giants who dislike security researchers publishing the full facts on vulnerabilities might want to consider a full legal route."
johanneswilm writes "While writing my Ph.D in anthropology I found out it's almost impossible to get non-geeks to help me with editing my thesis because it was written in Latex. Lyx is almost there, but as it's not web based, it's difficult to use for online collaboration. Writelatex.com is online, but typing LaTeX code is a no-go for non-geeks. Google Docs is web based and near-WYSIWYG, but lacks support for professional print formats such as Latex. The Ph.D took longer than expected, so before finishing me and three others were able to code an entirely new editor: Fidus Writer: web based, open source (AGPL), almost-WYSIWYG and with tools for academics such as citation management and formula support and output formats PDF, Epub, Latex, HTML."
Not all 3-D printed guns can encounter the smooth, uneventful success of Cody Wilson's Liberator; Daniel_Stuckey writes with this excerpt: "A Canadian has just fired the first shot from his creation, 'The Grizzly,' an entirely 3D-printed rifle. In that single shot, CanadianGunNut (his name on the DefCad forum), or "Matthew," has advanced 3D-printed firearms to yet another level. Sort of: According to his video's description, the rifle's barrel and receiver were both damaged in that single shot."
An anonymous reader writes "The 233-year old American Academy of Arts and Sciences has announced that its longtime President and Chief Executive, Leslie Cohen Berlowitz, has agreed to resign effective at the end of this month following an investigation of charges of resume embellishment and other misconduct. Berlowitz falsely claimed to have received a doctorate from New York University, and has also been criticized for her behavior towards scholars and subordinates, and for her compensation package ($598,000 for 2012) relative to the size of the non-profit organization she led. The Academy, based in Cambridge MA, was founded during the American Revolutionary War and is one of the most prestigious honorary societies for the American intellectual elite, extending across math and science, arts and letters, business, law and public affairs. The active membership rolls contain people you've heard of; the incoming class list provides a more manageable glimpse of the society's breadth."