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United Kingdom

UK Government Tax Disc Renewal Website Buckles Under Pressure 121

Posted by samzenpus
from the under-pressure dept.
An anonymous reader writes When you pay the tax on a road vehicle in the UK, you used to get a paper "tax disk" to affix to the inside of your car windshield. However the relevant records are documented electronically anyway, inspiring the government to replace the paper system with a purely online one. Unfortunately said system was still in beta when it launched today and predictably, it has broken under user demand. No alternative system is available. (The licensing agency actually ran out of the paper disks more than a month ago, and has been printing them out on normal office paper and asking vehicle owners to cut out the circle themselves.) The initiative is part of a larger "digital-first", restructuring of how the government provides services aimed at "meeting user needs".
Communications

Back To Faxes: Doctors Can't Exchange Digital Medical Records 228

Posted by Soulskill
from the have-you-tried-paper-airplanes dept.
nbauman writes: Doctors with one medical records system can't exchange information with systems made by other vendors, including those at their own hospitals, according to the New York Times. One ophthalmologist spent half a million dollars on a system, but still needs to send faxes to get the information where it needs to go. The largest vendor is Epic Systems, Madison, WI, which holds almost half the medical records in the U.S. A report from RAND described Epic as a "closed" platform that made it "challenging and costly" for hospitals to interconnect.

The situation is bad for patients and costly for medical works: if doctors can't exchange records, they'll face a 1% Medicare penalty, and UC Davis alone has a staff of 22 dedicated to communication. On top of that, Epic charges a fee to send data to some non-Epic systems. Congress has held hearings on the matter, and Epic has hired a lobbyist. Epic's founder, billionaire computer science major Judith Faulkner, said that Epic was one of the first to establish code and standards for secure interchange, which included user authentication provisions and a legally binding contract. She said the federal government, which gave $24 billion in incentive payments to doctors for computerization, should have done that. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology said that it was a "top priority" and just recently wrote a 10-year vision statement and agenda for it.
Technology

Robotic Taster Will Judge 'Real Thai Food' 103

Posted by timothy
from the what-about-best-barbecue? dept.
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes The NYT reports that Thailand's former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra repeatedly encountered a distressing problem while traveling the world: bad Thai food. Too often, she found, the meals she sampled at Thai restaurants abroad were unworthy of the name, too bland to be called genuine Thai cooking. The problem bothered her enough to raise it at a cabinet meeting. Even though her political party has since been thrown out of office, in a May military coup, the Thai government is unveiling its project to standardize the art of Thai food using a robot. The government-financed Thai Delicious Committee, which oversaw the development of the machine, describes it as "an intelligent robot that measures smell and taste in food ingredients through sensor technology in order to measure taste like a food critic." Thailand's National Innovation Agency has spent about $100,000 to develop the e-delicious machine. The e-delicious machine has 10 sensors that measure smell and taste, generating a unique fingerprint (signature) for each sample of food that passes its digital maw. Generally with electronic tasting, there are electronic sensors that work just like the taste buds on your tongue, measuring the quantity of various taste-giving compounds, acidity, etc. While these electronic sensors can't actually tell you how something tastes — that's a very subjective, human thing — they are very good at comparing two foods scientifically. Meanwhile at a tiny food stall along one of Bangkok's traffic-clogged boulevards, Thaweekiat Nimmalairatana, questioned the necessity of a robatic taster. "I use my tongue to test if it's delicious or not," said Nimmalairatana. "I think the government should consider using a human to gauge authenticity."
Graphics

Euclideon Teases Photorealistic Voxel-Based Game Engine 132

Posted by timothy
from the how-many-holy-grails-are-there? dept.
MojoKid writes Not many would argue that current console and PC graphics technologies still haven't reached a level of "photo-realism." However, a company by the name of Euclideon is claiming to be preparing to deliver that holy grail based on laser scanning and voxel engine-based technologies. The company has put together a six-minute video clip of its new engine, and its genuinely impressive. There's a supposed-to-be-impressive unveil around the two minute mark where the announcer declares he's showing us computer-generated graphics rather than a digital photo — something you'll probably have figured out long before that point. Euclideon's proprietary design purportedly uses a laser scanner to create a point cloud model of a real-world area. That area can then be translated into a voxel renderer and drawn by a standard GPU. Supposedly this can be done so efficiently and with such speed that there's no need for conventional load screens or enormous amounts of texture memory but rather by simply streaming data off conventional hard drives. Previously, critiques have pointed to animation as one area where the company's technique might struggle. Given the ongoing lack of a demonstrated solution for animation, it's fair to assume this would-be game-changer has some challenges still to solve. That said, some of the renderings are impressive.
Privacy

Australian Senate Introduces Laws To Allow Total Internet Surveillance 212

Posted by samzenpus
from the watching-you dept.
First time accepted submitter Marquis231 writes New laws due to be passed in Australia allow intelligence agency ASIO to spy on domestic internet traffic like never before. The Sydney Morning Herald reports: "Spy agency ASIO will be given the power to monitor the entire Australian internet and journalists' ability to write about national security will be curtailed when new legislation – expected to pass in the Senate as early as Wednesday – becomes law, academics, media organisations, lawyers, the Greens party and rights groups fear."
Security

Popular Wi-Fi Thermostat Full of Security Holes 103

Posted by Soulskill
from the building-vulnerabilities-one-appliance-at-a-time dept.
Threatpost reports: Heatmiser, a U.K.-based manufacturer of digital thermostats, is contacting its customers today about a series of security issues that could expose a Wi-Fi-connected version of its product to takeover. Andrew Tierney, a "reverse-engineer by night," whose specialty is digging up bugs in embedded systems wrote on his blog, that he initially read about vulnerabilities in another one of the company's products, NetMonitor, and decided to poke around its product line further. This led him to discover a slew of issues in the company's Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats running firmware version 1.2. The issues range from simple security missteps to critical oversights.For example, when users go to connect the thermostat via a Windows utility, it uses default web credentials and PINs. ...Elsewhere, the thermostat leaks Wi-Fi credentials, like its password, username, Service Set Identifier (SSID) and so on, when its logged in. Related: O'Reilly Radar has an interesting conversation about what companies will vie for control of the internet-of-things ecosystem.
Bitcoin

PayPal Integrates Bitcoin Processors BitPay, Coinbase and GoCoin 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the betting-on-bits dept.
An anonymous reader writes: PayPal today announced partnerships with three major Bitcoin payment processors: BitPay, Coinbase and GoCoin. The eBay-owned company wants to help digital goods merchants accept Bitcoin payments, although it is starting with those located in the U.S. and Canada first ("We are considering expanding to other markets," a PayPal spokesperson told TNW. "Stay tuned.")

PayPal says it chose to integrate the third-party functionality directly in the PayPal Payments Hub because the aforementioned trio already offers its customers protections when dealing with the virtual currency. The company envisions anything that can be obtained digitally, such as video games and music, being sold in Bitcoin.
Input Devices

Video Released, Crowdfunding Underway For Axiom Open Source Cinema Camera 51

Posted by timothy
from the for-just-a-few-euros-more dept.
New submitter atagunov writes "Video clips have been released as crowdfunding starts for the world first open source cinematic videocam. "I am a filmmaker myself ... I would like to have powerful tools that I know to have full control over and that I can tune and tweak," says Sebastian Pichelhofer of Apertus. He is working on the Axiom Beta, the 2nd generation Apertus videocam, fully open sourced under GPL and OHL. It's not cheap compared to consumer-grade cameras, but being not-cheap hasn't stopped people from snapping up Joel Rubenstein's Digital Bolex.
Google

Google's Android One Initiative Launches In India With Three $100 Phones 50

Posted by samzenpus
from the cheap-at-twice-the-price dept.
An anonymous reader writes Google has unveiled its first set of Android One low-cost smartphones in the Indian market, partnering with Indian hardware vendors Spice, Micromax and Karbonn. The three phones will be available online on Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal and via Reliance Digital, Croma and The Mobile Store, offline. The phones provide a minimum set of features determined by Google, which has sourced several of the components to help cut manufacturing costs. The company has also teamed up with a local network to make it cheaper to download Android updates and new apps.
United States

Treasure Map: NSA, GCHQ Work On Real-Time "Google Earth" Internet Observation 267

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-see-what-you're-doing dept.
wabrandsma) writes with the latest accusations about NSA spying activity in Germany. According to top-secret documents from the NSA and the British agency GCHQ, the intelligence agencies are seeking to map the entire Internet.
Furthermore, every single end device that is connected to the Internet somewhere in the world — every smartphone, tablet and computer — is to be made visible. Such a map doesn't just reveal one treasure. There are millions of them. The breathtaking mission is described in a Treasure Map presentation from the documents of the former intelligence service employee Edward Snowden which SPIEGEL has seen. It instructs analysts to "map the entire Internet — Any device, anywhere, all the time." Treasure Map allows for the creation of an "interactive map of the global Internet" in "near real-time," the document notes. Employees of the so-called "FiveEyes" intelligence agencies from Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which cooperate closely with the American agency NSA, can install and use the program on their own computers. One can imagine it as a kind of Google Earth for global data traffic, a bird's eye view of the planet's digital arteries.
Businesses

Kickstarter's Problem: You Have To Make the Game Before You Ask For Money 215

Posted by timothy
from the such-high-standards dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this piece about Digital Knights, the studio behind the Kickstarter campaign project Sienna Storm, which was cancelled this week after the team raised only 10% of their $180,000 target, despite a compelling concept (a card based espionage game) and a reputable team including the writer of the original Deus Ex, Sheldon Pacotti. The team is now seeking alternative funding before reaching out to publishers, but in an interview given this week, Knights CEO Sergei Filipov highlights what he sees as a recent and growing problem with crowdfunding games: an expectation to see a working prototype. "It seems at least 50 or 60 percent of the game needs to be completed before one launches a campaign on Kickstarter," he says. It's a chicken and egg cycle some indie developers will struggle to break out of, and shows just how far we've come since Tim Schafer's Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter burst the doors open two years ago.
Wireless Networking

L.A. TV Stations Free Up Some Spectrum For Wireless Broadband 80

Posted by timothy
from the slightly-less-waste dept.
alphadogg (971356) writes An effort to free up some of the airwaves used by TV broadcasts and make them available for wireless broadband took a big step forward this week in the U.S. Two TV stations in Los Angeles, KLCS and KCET, have agreed to share a single frequency to deliver their programming freeing up a channel that can be auctioned off to wireless carriers next year. The change, which the Federal Communications Commission calls "repackaging," is possible because digital TV broadcasts don't need the full 6MHz of broadcast spectrum that was used for analog TV.
United Kingdom

Hidden Archeology of Stonehenge Revealed In New Geophysical Map 28

Posted by samzenpus
from the where-the-banshees-live-and-they-do-live-well dept.
An anonymous reader writes Utilizing a comprehensive array of remote sensing technology and non-invasive geophysical survey equipment, researchers working on the site of Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England have revealed hundreds of previously unknown features buried deep beneath the ground as part of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project. The finds include images of dwellings from the Bronze and Iron Ages as well as details of buried Roman settlements never before seen."
Data Storage

WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives 296

Posted by Soulskill
from the ballooning-storage-capacity dept.
Lucas123 writes: Western Digital's HGST subsidiary today announced it's shipping its first 8TB and the world's first 10TB helium-filled hard drive. The 3.5-in, 10TB drive also marks HGST's first foray into the use of shingled magnetic recording technology, which Seagate began using last year. Unlike standard perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR), where data tracks rest side by side, SMR overlaps the tracks on a platter like shingles on a roof, thereby allowing a higher areal density. Seagate has said SMR technology will allow it to achieve 20TB drives by 2020. That company has yet to use helium, however. HGST said its use of hermetically-sealed helium drives reduces friction among moving drive components and keeps dust out. Both drives use a 7-platter configuration with a 7200 RPM spindle speed. The company said it plans to discontinue its production of air-only drives by 2017, replacing all data center models with helium drives.
Iphone

Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments 730

Posted by Soulskill
from the please-can-the-hype-stop-now dept.
Today at Apple's September press conference, they announced the new iPhone 6 models. There are two of them — the iPhone 6 is 4.7" at 1334x750, and the iPhone 6 Plus is 5.5" at 1920x1080. Both phones are thinner than earlier models: 5S: 7.6mm, 6: 6.9mm, 6 Plus: 7.1mm. The phones have a new-generation chip, the 64-bit A8. Apple says the new phones have a 25% faster CPU, 50% faster GPU, and they're 50% more energy efficient (though they were careful to say the phones have "equal or better" battery life to the 5S). Apple upgrade the phones' wireless capabilities, moving voice calls to LTE and also enabling voice calls over Wi-Fi. The phones ship on September 19th, preceded by the release of iOS 8 on September 17th.

Apple also announced its entry into the payments market with "Apple Pay." They're trying to replace traditional credit card payments with holding an iPhone up to a scanner instead. It uses NFC and the iPhone's TouchID fingerprint scanner. Users can take a picture of their credit cards, and Apple Pay will gather payment information, encrypt it, and store it. (Apple won't have any of the information about users' credit cards or their purchases, and users will be able to disable the payment option through Find My iPhone if they lose the device.) Apple Pay will work with Visa, Mastercard, and American Express cards to start. 220,000 stores that support contactless payment will accept Apple Pay, and many apps are building direct shopping support for it. It will launch in October as an update for iOS 8, and work only on the new phones.

Apple capped off the conference with the announcement of the long-anticipated "Apple Watch." Their approach to UI is different from most smartwatch makers: Apple has preserved the dial often found on the side of analog watches, using it as a button and an input wheel. This "digital crown" enables features like zoom without obscuring the small screen with fingers. The screen is touch-sensitive and pressure sensitive, so software can respond to a light tap differently than a hard tap. The watch runs on a new, custom-designed chip called the S1, it has sensors to detect your pulse, and it has a microphone to receive and respond to voice commands. It's powered by a connector that has no exposed contacts — it magnetically seals to watch and charges inductively. The Apple Watch requires an iPhone of the following models to work: 6, 6Plus, 5s, 5c, 5. It will be available in early 2015, and will cost $349 for a base model.
Media

Buenos Aires Issues a 'Netflix Tax' For All Digital Entertainment 165

Posted by timothy
from the that-is-not-nettily-neutral dept.
New submitter DoILookAmused writes A few years ago, the Argentinean government implemented a 35% tax on all offshore buys using a credit card. In yesterday's press release, the city of Buenos Aires announced it will charge a 3% gross income tax for all streaming or media purchase abroad allegedly to bring it to "competitive prices with local media companies". This tax doesn't supersede the national 35% tax, which has sparked several reactions.
Your Rights Online

After Celebrity Photo Leaks, 4chan Introduces DMCA Policy 134

Posted by timothy
from the they'll-get-right-on-that dept.
davidshenba writes In the wake of leaked private photos of celebrities, 4chan has added Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown policy to its rules and policies. Under this new policy, the site will remove any notified and verified "infringement." It is not clear how effective this could be, or how 4chan is going to handle the inflow of notifications to restrict the content provided by users.
The Courts

Deputy Who Fatally Struck Cyclist While Answering Email Will Face No Charges 463

Posted by samzenpus
from the off-the-hook dept.
Frosty P writes The LA County District Attorney's Office declined to press charges against a sheriff's deputy who was apparently distracted by his mobile digital computer when he fatally struck cyclist and former Napster COO Milton Olin Jr. in Calabasas last December. The deputy was responding to routine work email when he drifted into the bike lane and struck and killed Mr. Olin. An official with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said it is launching its own probe into the deputy’s behavior.
Bitcoin

The Apache Software Foundation Now Accepting BitCoin For Donations 67

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-different-way-to-give dept.
rbowen writes The Apache Software Foundation is the latest not-for-profit organization to accept bitcoin donations, as pointed out by a user on the Bitcoin subreddit. The organization is well known for their catalog of open-source software, including the ubiquitous Apache web server, Hadoop, Tomcat, Cassandra, and about 150 other projects. Users in the community have been eager to support their efforts using digital currency for quite a while. The Foundation accepts donations in many different forms: Amazon, PayPal, and they'll even accept donated cars. On their contribution page the Apache Software Foundation has published a bitcoin address and QR code.
Software

Post-Microsoft Nokia Offering Mapping Services To Samsung 67

Posted by Soulskill
from the will-map-for-food dept.
jfruh writes: With Nokia's Windows Phone handset line sold off to Microsoft, one of the company's remaining businesses is its Here digital mapping service. No longer feeling loyalty to Microsoft or its OS, Nokia has inked a deal with Samsung to supply Here services to both Tizen and Android devices, including the upcoming Samsung smartwatch.

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