Titus Andronicus writes "Years in the making, the major new release of VideoLAN's media player has better support for multicore processors, GPUs, and much, much more. From the announcement: 'Twoflower has a new rendering pipeline for video, with higher quality subtitles, and new video filters to enhance your videos. It supports many new devices and BluRay Discs (experimental). Completely reworked Mac and Web interfaces and improvements in the other interfaces make VLC easier than ever to use. Twoflower fixes several hundreds of bugs, in more than 7000 commits from 160 volunteers.'"
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New submitter fish waffle writes "The universities of Western Ontario and Toronto have signed a deal with Access Copyright that allows for surveillance of faculty correspondence, defines e-mailing hyperlinks as equivalent to photocopying a document, and imposes an annual $27.50 fee for every full-time equivalent student to pay for it all. Access Copyright is a licensing agency historically used by most universities in Canada to give them blanket permission to reproduce copyrighted works, largely to address photocopying concerns that may extend beyond basic fair-use. Since the expiration of this agreement, and with recognition that many academic uses do not require copyright permissions or payments or are already covered under vendor-specific agreements, Canadian academic institutions have been united in opposing continuation of the agreement with the agency. Access Copyright has countered with a proposal for increased fees, and expansion of the definition of copyright to include linking and the need for online surveillance. In a strange breaking of ranks, the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto have capitulated and signed agreements that basically accede to the licensing agency's demands. The Canadian Association of University Teachers bulletin provides detailed background on the issue (PDF)."
Diamonddavej writes "The BBC reports that software development student Glenn Mangham, a 26-year-old from the UK, was jailed 17 February 2012 for eight months for computer misuse, after he discovered serious Facebook security vulnerabilities. Hacking from his bedroom, Mangham gained access to three of Facebook's servers and was able to download to an external hard drive the social network's 'invaluable' intellectual property (source code). Mangham's defense lawyer, Mr. Ventham, pointed out that Mangham is an 'ethical hacker' and runs a tax registered security company. The court heard Mangham previously breached Yahoo's security, compiled a vulnerability report and passed on to Yahoo. He was paid '$7000 for this achievement,' and claims he was merely trying to repeat the same routine with Facebook. But in passing sentence, Judge Alistair McCreath said despite the fact he did not intend to pass on the information gathered, his actions were not harmless and had 'real consequences and very serious potential consequences' for Facebook. The case's prosecutor, Mr. Patel, said Facebook spent '$200,000 (£126,400) dealing with Mangham's crime.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A preliminary settlement has been reached in the class-action lawsuit brought against Apple in June 2010 over the 'Antennagate' fiasco. Ira Rothken, co-lead counsel for the case, says there are 21 million people entitled to either $15 or a free bumper. 'The settlement comes from 18 separate lawsuits that were consolidated into one. All share the claim that Apple was "misrepresenting and concealing material information in the marketing, advertising, sale, and servicing of its iPhone 4 — particularly as it relates to the quality of the mobile phone antenna and reception and related software." The settlement has its own Web site, www.iPhone4Settlement.com, which will be up in the coming weeks (the site doesn't go anywhere right now). There, customers will be able to get information about the settlement and how to make a claim. As part of the arrangement, e-mails will also be sent alerting original buyers to the settlement before April 30, 2012. The claims period is then open for 120 days.'"
suraj.sun sends this quote from an article at Techdirt: "The federal government has been paying lip service to the idea that it wants to encourage new businesses and startups in the U.S. And this is truly important to the economy, as studies have shown that almost all of the net job growth in this country is coming from internet startups. ... With the JotForm situation unfolding, where the U.S. government shut down an entire website with no notice or explanation, people are beginning to recognize that the U.S is not safe for internet startups. Lots of folks have been passing around [a] rather reasonable list of activities for U.S.-based websites."
einhverfr writes "Eugene Volokh has posted an interesting discussion of a bill that has been introduced in Arizona, which would tie public school educator conduct to the FCC standards for decency for radio and television. The bill is essentially a three strikes system, firing teachers if they violate FCC standards three times. While the goal of the bill may seem reasonable, the details strike me as silly."
ackthpt writes "If you're going to steal, steal big, right? Italian anti-mafia prosecutors have announced the seizure of $6 trillion of allegedly fake U.S. Treasury bonds, an amount that's almost half of the U.S.'s public debt. The probe focusing upon money laundering has also include financial dealings alleged to direct money to Nigerian sources to buy plutonium. Sound like a movie plot, yet? $6 Trillion, that's a lot of lettuce."
First time accepted submitter core_tripper writes "Students at the University of Twente have stolen thirty laptops from various members of the university's staff. They were not prosecuted for this, so they could just get on with their studies. Indeed, these students even received ECTS credits for these thefts. UT researcher Trajce Dimkov asked the students to steal the machines as part of a scientific experiment. Stealing these laptops turned out to be a pretty simple matter."
First time accepted submitter beerdragoon writes "In order to protest the government's new Internet snooping legislation, some Canadians have started a somewhat unorthodox protest. Vic Toews, the minister responsible for tabling the legislation, has had his twitter account bombarded with tweets regarding the boring, banal aspects of regular Canadians' lives. The idea is that since Toews wants to know everything about your personal life, we should oblige him and #TellVicEverything."
MojoKid writes "OpenXC is an open source connectivity platform developed in tandem by Ford and open source hardware maker Bug Labs. Announced this fall, the platform is designed to allow developers the ability to use Android- and Arduino-based modules to interact with a vehicle's in-car tech, such as vehicle sensors and GPS units. The OpenXC website succinctly describes the platform as 'an API to your car.' Ford announced that OpenXC beta test kits are now shipping to developers worldwide, including U.S. institutions such as MIT and Standford as well as India's HCL Technologies."
kgeiger writes "Feeling blue? DARPA is funding a program to investigate the feasibility of battlefield cyborg-surrogates: 'In its 2012 budget, DARPA has decided to pour US $7 million into the 'Avatar Project,' whose goal is the following: "develop interfaces and algorithms to enable a soldier to effectively partner with a semi-autonomous bi-pedal machine and allow it to act as the soldier's surrogate."' Power and bandwidth constraints aside, what could go wrong? Chinese hackers swooping in and commandeering one's army?"
ananyo writes "DNA origami, a technique for making structures from DNA, has been used to build devices that can seek out and potentially destroy cancer cells. The nanorobots use a similar system to cells in the immune system to engage with receptors on the outside of cells. The barrel-shaped devices, each about 35 nanometers in diameter, contain 12 sites on the inside for attaching payload molecules and two positions on the outside for attaching aptamers, short nucleotide strands with special sequences for recognizing molecules on the target cell (abstract). The aptamers act as clasps: once both have found their target, they spring open the device to release the payload. The researchers tested six combinations of aptamer locks, each of which were designed to target different types of cancer cells in culture. Those designed to hit a leukemia cell could pick that cell out of a mixture of cell types, then release their payload — in this case, an antibody — to stop the cells from growing. The researchers designed the structure of the nanorobots using open-source software, called Cadnano."
Hugh Pickens writes "Time Magazine reports that hidden deep inside in the White House's $3.8 trillion, 2,000-page budget that was sent to Congress this week is a proposal to make pennies and nickels cheaper to produce. Why? Because it currently costs the federal government 2.4 cents to make a penny and 11.2 cents for every nickel. If passed, the budget would allow the Treasury Department to 'change the composition of coins to more cost-effective materials' resulting in changes that could save more than $100 million a year. Since 1982, our copper-looking pennies have been merely coppery. In the 1970s, the price of copper soared, so President Nixon proposed changing the penny's composition to a cheaper aluminum. Today, only 2.5% of a penny is copper (which makes up the coin's coating) while 97.5% is zinc. The mint did make steel pennies for one year — in 1943 — when copper was needed for the war effort and steel might be a cheaper alternative this time. What about the bill introduced in 2006 that the US abandon pennies altogether.? At the time, fifty-five percent of respondents considered the penny useful compared to 43 percent who agreed it should be eliminated. More telling, 76 percent of respondents said they would pick up a penny if they saw it on the ground."
superglaze writes "Following its takedown earlier this week of the music blog RnBXclusive, the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has claimed that "a number of site users have deleted their download histories" in response. Given that the site didn't host copyright-infringing files itself, how do they know? We've asked, but SOCA refuses to discuss its methods. A security expert has pointed out that, if they were hacking using Trojans, the police would themselves have been breaking the law. Added fun fact: SOCA readily admits that the scare message it showed visitors to the taken-down site was written 'with input from industry.'"
First time accepted submitter chadenright writes "A university study asserts that the problems caused by the gas extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking,' arise because drilling operations aren't doing it right. The process itself isn't to blame, according to the study, released today by the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin."