judgecorp writes "A UK government contract has confirmed earlier reports that British citizens will have the option to use PayPal to accredit themselves for public services such as the new Universal Credit benefit system. Using PayPal might be a public relations goof, as PayPal's parent eBay is notoriously clever at avoiding UK taxes, recently paying only £1.2 million on profit of £789 million (around 0.15 percent)."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
First time accepted submitter halls-of-valhalla writes "Atari was one of the very first video game companies, starting way back in 1972. However, this long-running name that brought us titles like Pong and Asteroids is having major financial issues. Atari's United States branches have filed for bankruptcy on Sunday. This bankruptcy is an attempt to separate themselves from their French parent which has quite a bit of debt. The plan is to split from the French parent and find a buyer to form a private company."
innocent_white_lamb writes "In what appears to be a more-and-more common occurrence, Ahmed Al-Khabez has been expelled from Dawson College in Montreal after he discovered a flaw in the software that the college (and apparently all other colleges across Quebec) uses to track student information. His original intention was to write a mobile app to allow students to access their college account more easily, but during the development of his app he discovered 'sloppy coding' that would allow anyone to access all of the information that the system contains about any student. He was initially ordered to sign a non-disclosure agreement stating that he would never talk about the flaw that he discovered, and he was expelled from the college shortly afterward."
riverat1 writes "The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature studies latest release finds that land surface temperature changes since 1750 are nearly completely explained by increases in greenhouse gases and large volcanic eruptions. They also said that including solar forcing did not significantly improve the fit. Unlike the other major temperature records BEST used nearly all available temperature records instead of just a representative sample. Yet to come is an analysis that includes ocean temperatures."
dgharmon writes in with an interesting article about how much (or how little) beef is in a UK burger. "The presence of horsemeat in value beefburgers has caused a furore. But what is usually in the patties? It has been a sobering week for fans of the beefburger. Tesco have used full-page adverts in national newspapers to apologize for selling burgers in the UK that were found to contain 29% horsemeat. Traces of horse DNA were also detected by the Food Standards Agency of Ireland in products sold by Iceland, Lidl, Aldi and Dunnes. But a beefburger rarely contains 100% beef."
An anonymous reader writes "NewScientist reports, 'Along with birthdays, names of pets and ascending number sequences, add one more thing to the list of password no-nos: good grammar.' Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University seem to have developed a password cracking algorithm that targets grammatically correct passwords. Can bad grammar really make your password secure?"
hypnosec writes "How long does a bug take to get resolved? A week? A month? A year? Well, a bug prevalent in the KDE libraries since 2002 has finally been resolved after a decade it has been revealed. The bug was present in the "Reject Cross-Domain Cookies" feature of KDE Libraries. Thiago Macieira noted in the KDE Libraries Revision 974b14b8 that he observed that his web cookies were being forgotten following a kded restart."
An anonymous reader writes "On Friday, The Journal News caved under pressure of gun advocates and shut down the interactive maps which contained the names and addresses of licensed gun owners in upstate New York. The maps are still visible on the site, however they are simply static images. The Journal News published the interactive maps on December 23 which caused significant backlash. In a similar move, Gawker published the names of licensed gun owners in New York City without addresses. New York state Senator Greg Ball (Republican) called the removal of the data a 'huge win.' On Saturday, an anonymous user leaked the raw data used to build The Journal News maps."
hydrofix writes "The Wikimedia Foundation is preparing for the transition of its main technical operations to a new data center in Ashburn, Virginia. This is intended to improve the technical performance and reliability of all Wikimedia sites, including Wikipedia. The current target windows for the migration are January 22nd, 23rd and 24th, 2013, from 17:00 to 01:00 UTC. Since 2004, Wikimedia sites have been hosted in the main data center in Tampa, Florida, a location chosen for its proximity to Jimmy Wales at the time. In 2009, the Wikimedia Foundation's Technical Operations team started to look for other locations with better network connectivity and more clement weather. Located in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Ashburn offers faster and more reliable connectivity than Tampa, and usually fewer hurricanes."
New submitter EngnrFrmrlyKnownAsAC writes "Communicating with lasers has become the hot new thing. While most researchers are seeking faster throughput, NASA set its sights in a different direction: the moon. They recently announced the first successful one-way laser communication 'at planetary distances.' What did they send? An image of the Mona Lisa, of course. 'Precise timing was the key to transmitting the image. Sun and colleagues divided the Mona Lisa image into an array of 152 pixels by 200 pixels. Every pixel was converted into a shade of gray, represented by a number between zero and 4,095. Each pixel was transmitted by a laser pulse, with the pulse being fired in one of 4,096 possible time slots during a brief time window allotted for laser tracking. The complete image was transmitted at a data rate of about 300 bits per second.'"
theodp writes "If Aaron Swartz downloaded JSTOR documents without paying for them, it would presumably be considered a crime by the USDOJ. But if U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz or U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder did the same? Rather than a crime, it would be considered their entitlement, a perk of an elite education that's paid for by their alma maters. Ironically and sadly, that's the kind of inequity Aaron railed against with the Guerilla Open Access Manifesto, a document the DOJ cited as evidence (pdf) that Swartz was a menace to society. On Thursday, Ortiz insisted Swartz — who she now characterizes as 'mentally ill' — received fair and reasonable treatment from the DOJ. But that wasn't good enough for Senator John Cornyn, who on Friday asked Eric Holder to explain the DOJ prosecution of Aaron Swartz." Federal prosecutors have come under heavy criticism for their handling of the Swartz case. Legal scholar Orin Kerr provides counterpoint with two detailed, well-reasoned posts about the case. Kerr says that, as the law stands, the charges against Swartz were "pretty much legit," and that the law itself should be the target of the internet community's angst, rather than the prosecutors. "...blame the system and aim to reform the system; don’t think that this was just two or three prosecutors that were doing something unusual. It wasn’t." James Boyle, co-founder of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain, disagrees with Kerr (partly), arguing that Swartz's renown is simply drawing people together to collectively shine a light on poor legislation and poor prosecutorial practices.
Press2ToContinue writes "Amazon has found a simple way around Apple's tight-fisted App Store rules: give users a web app to buy MP3s that runs in Safari. This way, they have no need to pay 30% per tune to Apple. Freedom of choice of vendor in Apple-only territory? Is this a big breach of Apple's walled garden? I wonder if Apple with have a response to this."
redletterdave writes "Google just purchased a 2.4-acre plot in the King's Cross Central development in London, where the company plans to build a brand-new, 1 million square foot office. Google reportedly invested about £650 million ($1.04 billion) on the property, which, when finished, will be valued at more than £1 billion ($1.6 billion). While Google traditionally leases its overseas offices, the company's decision to buy rather than rent in this case was likely tax motivated, since Google can't repatriate its cash to the U.S. without paying a hefty tax."
An anonymous reader writes "Google on Friday announced yet another security improvement for Chrome 25. In addition to killing silent extension installation, the omnibox in Google's browser will send all searches over a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connection. Chrome already does this for users who are signed in to Google: when they search from the address bar, their queries are sent over HTTPS. As of Chrome 25, however, the same will happen for users who aren't signed in to Google."