elashish14 writes "The Westboro Baptist Church stated earlier this week that they would be picketing the funerals of the victims of Newtown Connecticut's tragic shooting in an effort to bring awareness to their hate messages. In response, the Anonymous hacker collective has hacked their website and posted the personal information of all of its members."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "I run a small dev shop focused on web development, based in Europe. For the past six years we've had lots of successful projects with clients from CEE, Western Europe and the U.S. One of our main clients was based in the U.S. We started working for them in 2008, while they were a 'promising start-up' and everything went smoothly until they were bought by a multinational corp. We couldn't be happier to work for such a big player in the market, andwe even managed to get by with huge payment delays (3-4 months on a monthly contract), but now, after more than two years working for them, I have the feeling we're getting left out. We have six-month-old unpaid invoices and we're getting bounced between the E.U. and U.S. departments every time we try to talk to them. What can a small company do to fight a big corporation that's NASDAQ listed and has an army of lawyers? They've been getting a lot of bad press lately so I don't think that will scare them either."
First time accepted submitter somekind writes "Over the past few months Twitter imposed restrictions on the use of its client API, and Facebook shut down the facial recognition API supporting face.com after acquiring the company. Mathew Ingram noted these and other examples (Google starting to charge for high-volume use of Google Maps) as evidence that 'open APIs' published by a single vendor can't be trusted by outside developers. Worried about the possibility that Yahoo! might do the same with Flickr, Dave Winer has just launched a petition to Obama asking the President to declare the Flickr API a National Historic Landmark, thus (by Dave's reckoning) legally protected from arbitrary withdrawal or wholesale changes by its corporate masters."
Hugh Pickens writes "Will Oremus writes that when something momentous is unfolding—the Arab Spring, Hurricane Sandy, Friday's horrific elementary school shooting in Connecticut—Twitter is the world's fastest, most comprehensive, and least reliable source of breaking news and in ongoing events like natural disasters, the results of Twitter misinformation can be potentially deadly. During Sandy, for instance, some tweets helped emergency responders figure out where to direct resources. Others provoked needless panic, such as one claiming that the Coney Island hospital was on fire, and a few were downright dangerous, such as the one claiming that people should stop using 911 because the lines were jammed. Now a research team at Yahoo has analyzed tweets from Chile's 2010 earthquake and looked at the potential of machine-learning algorithms to automatically assess the credibility of information tweeted during a disaster. A machine-learning classifier developed by the researchers uses 16 features to assess the credibility of newsworthy tweets and identified the features that make information more credible: credible tweets tend to be longer and include URLs; credible tweeters have higher follower counts; credible tweets are negative rather than positive in tone; and credible tweets do not include question marks, exclamation marks, or first- or third-person pronouns. Researchers at India's Institute of Information Technology also found that credible tweets are less likely to contain swear words (PDF) and significantly more likely to contain frowny emoticons than smiley faces. The bottom line is that an algorithm has the potential to work much faster than a human, and as it improves, it could evolve into an invaluable 'first opinion' for flagging news items on Twitter that might not be true writes Oremus. 'Even that wouldn't fully prevent Twitter lies from spreading or misleading people. But it might at least make their purveyors a little less comfortable and a little less smug.'"
chicksdaddy writes "The newly discovered Dexter malware is one of the few examples of a malicious program that targets point of sale terminals, but also communicates, botnet-like, with a command and control infrastructure. According to an analysis by Seculert, the custom malware has infected 'hundreds POS systems' including those operated by 'big-name retailers, hotels, restaurants and even private parking providers.' Now a detailed analysis by Verizon's RISK team suggests that Dexter may be a creation of a group responsible for the ubiquitous Zeus banking Trojan. By analyzing early variants of Dexter discovered in the wild, Verizon determined that the IP addresses used for Dexter's command and control were also used to host Zeus-related domains and several domains for Vobfus, also known as 'the porn worm,' which has been used to deliver the Zeus malware. Verizon also produced some tantalizing clues as to the identity of one individual who may be a part of the crew responsible for the malware. The RISK team linked the domain registration for a Dexter C&C server to an unusual online handle, 'hgfrfv,' that was used to post a number of suggestive help requests ('need help with decrypting a table encrypted with EncryptByKey') in online technical forums, where a live.com e-mail address was also provided. The account name was also linked to a shell account on the outsourcing web site freelancer.com, which lists 'hgfrfv' as an individual residing in the Russian Federation."
cylonlover writes "Flush with success from their 6,000-km (3,728-mile) Europe-to-Africa round-trip flight earlier this year, the duo behind the Solar Impulse solar-powered aircraft are now planning on flying it across America next spring. It will mark the first time that a solar-powered plane has traversed the country. Solar Impulse partners Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg made the official announcement this Tuesday, although the logistics of the flight have yet to be finalized. They have stated that the trip will be broken into 20-hour legs, starting at San Francisco and proceeding to New York City. As with their previous multi-leg flights, the two pilots will take turns flying the aircraft." You can read about it straight from the doers, too.
An anonymous reader writes "Music industry group BPI has threatened legal action against six members of the UK Pirate Party, after the party refused to take its Pirate Bay proxy offline. BPI seems to want to hold the individual members of the party responsible for copyright infringements that may occur via the proxy, which puts them at risk of personal bankruptcy. Pirate Party leader Loz Kaye criticized the latest music industry threats and reiterated that blocking The Pirate Bay is a disproportionate measure."
Presto Vivace writes that the UK's Newcastle University is instituting a finger-print based attendance system. From the linked article: "University students may have to scan their fingerprints in future — to prove they are not bunking off lectures. ... Newcastle Free Education Network has organised protests against the plans, claiming the scanners would 'turn universities into border checkpoints' and 'reduce university to the attendance of lectures alone.'" The system is supposed to bring the university "in line with the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and clamp down on illegal immigrants."
First time accepted submitter michaelknauf writes "I'm running a large summer camp that's primarily concerned with performing arts: music, dance, circus, magic, theater, art, and I want to add some more tech into the program. We already do some iOS game design with Stencyl. We also have an extensive model railroad and remote control car program and a pretty big computer lab (about 100 Apple machines). Our program provides all materials as part of tuition, so I've stayed away from robotics as a matter of cost, but I'd love to buy a 3D printer and do classes with that and the Arduino is cheap enough to make some small electronics projects sensible... where do I find the sort of people who could teach such a program as a summer gig? What projects make sense without spending too much cash on a per project basis but would be cool fun for kids and would teach them?"
Hugh Pickens writes "VOA reports that President Obama says it does not make sense for federal authorities to seek prosecution of recreational marijuana users in states where such use is legal. 'As it is, you know, the federal government has a lot to do when it comes to criminal prosecutions,' said Obama during a television interview with ABC's Barbara Walters. 'It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that, under state law, that's legal.' When asked if he supported legalizing marijuana, the president said he was not endorsing that. 'I wouldn't go that far, but what I think is that, at this point, Washington and Colorado, you've seen the voters speak on this issue.'"
Gordonjcp writes "The BBC are reporting that the proposed automatic blocking of porn websites by UK ISPs has been rejected by the government. Only 35% of the parents who responded to a survey on filtering wanted an automatic block. The report (PDF), drawn from over 3500 responses, found that 80% of all those who responded were in favour of no filtering of any kind."
An anonymous reader writes "Google on Friday announced it is shutting down a slew of features and services as part of its winter cleaning. Google Calendar will be losing a few features, Google Sync will be axed (on the consumer side), as will Google Calendar Sync, SyncML, the Issue Tracker Data API, and the Punchd app."
skade88 writes "Worldwide, people are living longer. Their lives are starting to look more like the lives of Americans: too much food is a problem, death in childhood is becoming less common, and so on. Yet with a population that lives through what would once have killed us, disabilities are starting to become the norm. A research report from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has a good glimpse into the new emerging world we find ourselves in." The Guardian has a nice visualization of the mortality data (but take note of shifting scales on the Y-axis).
dcblogs writes "Michigan lawmakers just approved a right-to-work law in an effort to dismantle union power, but unions are already becoming irrelevant. The problem with unions is they can't protect jobs. They can't stop a company from moving jobs overseas, closing offices, or replacing workers with machines. Indeed, improvements in automation is making the nation attractive again for manufacturing, according to U.S. intelligence Global Trends 2030 report. The trends are clear. Amazon spent $775 million this year to acquire a company, Kiva Systems that makes robots used in warehouses. Automation will replace warehouse workers, assembly-line and even retail workers. In time, Google's driverless cars will replace drivers in the trucking industry. Unions sometimes get blamed for creating uncompetitive environments and pushing jobs overseas. But the tech industry, which isn't unionized, is a counterpoint. Tech has been steadily moving jobs overseas to lower costs."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Are e-readers doomed? A research note earlier this week from IHS iSuppli suggested that, after years of solid growth, the e-book reader market was 'on an alarmingly precipitous decline' thanks to the rise of tablets. The firm suggested that e-reader sales had declined from 23.2 million units in 2011 to 14.9 million this year — around 36 percent, in other words. The note blames tablets: 'Single-task devices like the ebook are being replaced without remorse in the lives of consumers by their multifunction equivalents, in this case by media tablets.' Even Amazon and Barnes & Noble, the reigning champs of the e-reader marketplace, have increasingly embraced full-color tablets as the best medium for selling their digital products. Backed by enormous cloud-based libraries that offer far more than just e-books, these devices are altogether more versatile than grayscale e-readers, provided their users want to do more than just read plain text."