An anonymous reader writes "Today Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy, released a letter indicating he won't continue to hold the job for President Obama's second term. He'll continue until the ARPA-E Summit at the end of February, and then perhaps a bit longer until a replacement is found. MIT's Technology Review sums up his contributions thus: 'Under his leadership, the U.S. Department of Energy has changed the way it does energy research and development. He leaves behind new research organizations that are intently focused on solving specific energy problems, particularly the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy as well as several Innovation Hubs. The latter were modeled closely on Chu's experience working at the legendary Bell labs, where researchers solving basic problems rubbed shoulders with engineers who knew how to build things. At one Innovation Hub, for example, researchers who are inventing new materials that can absorb sunlight or split water are working together with engineers who are building prototypes that could use those materials to generate fuel from sunlight. Chu also brought an intense focus on addressing climate change through technical innovation, speaking clearly and optimistically about the potential for breakthroughs to change what's possible.'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
redletterdave points out work from Japanese researchers who produced an incredible visualization of how a brain perceives its environment. Studying zebrafish larvae, the scientists were able to observe neuronal signals in real time as the zebrafish saw and identified is prey, a paramecium. The results are illustrated in a brief video posted to YouTube, and in a longer video abstract hosted at Current Biology. (Direct download). The work is important because it demonstrates direct mapping of external stimuli to internal neuron activity in the optic tectum.
An anonymous reader writes "Facebook has brought back its photo Tag Suggestions feature to the U.S. after temporarily suspending it last year to make some technical improvements. Facebook says it has re-enabled it so that its users can use facial recognition 'to help them easily identify a friend in a photo and share that content with them.' Facebook first rolled out the face recognition feature across the U.S. in late 2010. The company eventually pushed photo Tag Suggestions to other countries in June 2011, but in the US there was quite a backlash. Yet Facebook doesn't appear to have made any privacy changes to the feature: it's still on by default."
itwbennett writes "Last year, Rackspace planned to support third-party OpenStack distributions as part of its private cloud offering. That was then. 'Things have evolved quickly as enterprises start evaluating their options in the cloud generally and the OpenStack market specifically,' said Jim Curry, general manager of Rackspace Private Cloud. Customers, it seems, want to run a cloud model internally that 'looks and feels like what Rackspace delivers in the public cloud. To deliver that experience, we needed to develop software that deploys an OpenStack cloud that Rackspace can operate and support.'"
pigrabbitbear writes "It always sounded like a hoax, didn't it? Silk Road: an Internet website where you can buy any drug in the world? Yeah, right. But it's real. It was almost two years ago that we first heard about the site, which hosts everything from Adderall to Ketamine, LSD to MDMA and tons and tons of weed. After it started to pick up a ton of press and exposure, we all thought that certainly the Silk Road would get shut down. It's super illegal to sell drugs or even to help people sell drugs. But it didn't. Silk Road survives to this day. However, with the arrival this week of the first conviction of a Silk Road-related crime, you have to wonder if Silk Road's days might be numbered after all. The trouble is brewing in Australia, where a guy named Paul Leslie Howard is facing as many as five years in prison for selling drugs on Silk Road. We're not talking millions of dollars worth of drugs, but we are talking about thousands of dollars worth. And just as Silk Road natives had feared, Howard was one of those Silk Road n00bs who read a newspaper article about the site and decided to try it out for himself."
New submitter Matt Slaybaugh writes "John Foley at InformationWeek has an editorial saying that the missing piece in the new gun control legislation is adequate data management. 'President Obama introduced 23 executive orders on Jan. 16 aimed at reducing gun violence through a combination of tougher regulation and enforcement, research, training, education and attention to mental healthcare. Several of the proposed actions involve better information sharing, including requiring federal agencies to make relevant data available to the FBI's background check system and easing legal barriers that prevent states from contributing data to that system.' But concrete plans are needed now to improve the current poor system of data collection and sharing. Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel's Digital Government Strategy, introduced in May, 'defines an IT architecture and processes for sharing digitized content securely, using Web APIs and with attention to protecting privacy. ... Unfortunately, on top of the data quality issues identified by the White House, and the FBI's and ATF's outdated IT systems, there's a lack of transparency about the systems used to enforce federal gun-control laws.'"
Dangerous_Minds writes "On Wednesday, we discussed news that RIANZ convicted its first file-sharer under the New Zealand three strikes law. While the fine totaled $616.57, a New Zealand Herald report points out that in order to get that fine, RIANZ had to spend $250,000. Freezenet makes an interesting point that HADOPI (France's version of the three strikes law) faced similar problems when the Socialist party commented that 12 million euros was a lot of money to pay 60 agents to send out 1 million e-mails. The question raised is whether or not this money pit trend will continue when the Copyright Alert System starts processing strike notices in the United States."
anavictoriasaavedra writes "A unique show is taking place on Kamchatka these days: Four separate but nearby volcanoes are erupting simultaneously on the Russian peninsula. A Moscow film crew has produced an awe-inspiring 360-degree video of the natural fireworks." The video is well worth watching and panning around in. There are also a bunch of high-res still photo panoramas.
An anonymous reader writes in with news that IBM's Jeopardy winning supercomputer is going back to school"A modified version of the powerful IBM Watson computer system, able to understand natural spoken language and answer complex questions, will be provided to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, making it the first university to receive such a system. IBM announced Wednesday that the Watson system is intended to enable upstate New York-based RPI to find new uses for Watson and deepen the systems' cognitive computing capabilities - for example by broadening the volume, types, and sources of data Watson can draw upon to answer questions."
wiredmikey writes "The popular belief is that security risks increase as the user engages in riskier and shadier behavior online, but that apparently isn't the case, Cisco found in its 2013 Annual Security report. It can be more dangerous to click on an online advertisement than an adult content site these days, according to Cisco. For example, users clicking on online ads were 182 times more likely to wind up getting infected with malware than if they'd surfed over to an adult content site, Cisco said. The highest concentration of online security targets do not target pornography, pharmaceutical, or gambling sites as much as they affect legitimate sites such as search engines, online retailers, and social media. Users are 21 times more likely to get hit with malware from online shopping sites and 27 more times likely with a search engine than if they'd gone to a counterfeit software site, according to Cisco's report (PDF). There is an overwhelming perception that people get compromised for 'going to dumb sites,' Mary Landesman, senior security researcher at Cisco, told SecurityWeek."
mikejuk writes "It is reported that Microsoft has sent an email to DirectX/XNA MVPs which informs them that they are no longer needed because XNA and DirectX are no longer evolving. What does this mean? If you don't need MVPs then presumably you anticipate nothing to support in the future."
An anonymous reader writes in about the latest fallout from CNET's parent company, CBS banning Dish Network's hopper from reviews and award lists. "The Consumer Electronics Association has not only today bestowed its Best in Show title upon the same Dish Network product that started this whole mess in the first place — in the same release, the group says it will no longer work with CNET. CES has enjoyed a long and productive partnership with CNET and the Best of CES awards,' said Karen Chupka, the CEA's senior vice president for events and conferences. "However, we are concerned the new review policy will have a negative impact on our brand should we continue the awards relationship as currently constructed. We look forward to receiving new ideas to recognize the 'best of the best' products introduced at the International CES.""
itwbennett writes "Here's a bright spot in Beijing's off-the-chart bad air pollution: The market for mobile apps that monitor air quality is thriving. 'When the pollution went beyond the air quality index, all the social networks in China and media began paying attention to the problem,' said Wang Jun, one of the developers of the China Air Pollution Index app. 'This caused the downloads to increase 30 times.'" Obviously a Spaceballs fan, a Chinese man is even selling fresh air in cans.
wiredmikey writes "The Wall Street Journal said Thursday its computers were hit by Chinese hackers, the latest U.S. media organization citing an effort to spy on its journalists covering China. The Journal made the announcement a day after The New York Times said hackers, possibly connected to China's military, had infiltrated its computers in response to its expose of the vast wealth amassed by a top leader's family. The Journal said in a news article that the attacks were 'for the apparent purpose of monitoring the newspaper's China coverage' and suggest that Chinese spying on U.S. media 'has become a widespread phenomenon.'"
Diamonddavej writes "Leading privacy expert Caspar Bowden warned European citizens not to use cloud services hosted in the U.S. over spying fears. Bowden, former privacy adviser to Microsoft Europe, explained at a panel discussion hosted at the recent Computers, Privacy and Data Protection conference in Brussels, that a section in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act 2008 (FISAAA) permits U.S. intelligence agencies to access data owned by non-U.S. citizens on cloud storage hosed by U.S. companies, if their activity is deemed to affect U.S. foreign policy. Bowden claimed the Act allows for purely political spying of activists, protesters and political groups. Bowden also pointed out that amendments to the EU's data protection regulation proposal introduce specific loopholes that permit FISAAA surveillance. The president of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves (at a separate panel discussion) commented, 'If it is a U.S. company it's the FBI's jurisdiction and if you are not a U.S. citizen then they come and look at whatever you have if it is stored on a U.S. company server.' The European Data Protection Supervisor declined to comment but an insider indicated that the authority is looking into the matter."