ananyo writes "Cultural Observatory at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts is to index the whole of the ArXiv pre-print database of papers from the physical sciences, breaking down the full text of the articles into component phrases to see how often a particular word or phrase appears relative to others — a measure of how 'meme-like' a term is. The team has already applied a similar approach to 5 million books in the Google Books database to produce their n-gram viewer. But the Google Books database carries with it a major limitation: because many of the works are under copyright, users cannot be pointed to the actual source material. Applying the tool to ArXiv means it could be used to chart trends in high-energy physics, for example: a quickening pulse of papers citing the Higgs boson, for example, or a peak in papers about supersymmetry, a theory which may soon be waning."
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nonprofiteer writes "A profile of Facebook's CSO reveals that his 70-person security team includes 25 people dedicated solely to handling information requests from law enforcement. They get thousands of calls and e-mails from authorities each week, though Facebook requires police to get a warrant for anything beyond a subscriber's name, email and IP address. CSO Joe Sullivan says that some government agency tried to push Facebook to start collecting more information about their users for the benefit of authorities: 'Recently a government agency wanted us to start logging information we don't log. We told them we wouldn't start logging that piece of data because we don't need it to provide a good product. We talked to our general counsel. The law is not black-and-white. That agency thinks they can compel us to. We told them to go to court. They haven't done that yet.'"
ESRB writes "North Korea is apparently able to produce high-quality counterfeits of U.S. dollars — specifically $100 and $50 bills. It's suspected that they possess similar printing technologies as the U.S. and buy ink from the same Swedish firm. 'Since the superdollars were first detected about a decade ago, the regime has been pocketing an estimated $15 to $25 million a year from them. (Other estimates are much higher — up to several hundred million dollars' worth.)' The article also advocates a move to all-digital payment/transfers by pointing out both forms are only representations of value and noting it would cripple criminal operations such as drug cartels, human traffickers, and so forth."
An anonymous reader writes "Game journalist Stuart Campbell has written an incisive piece on how the digital distribution model users have grown to know and love over the past several years still has some major problems that go beyond even the DRM dilemma. He provides an example of an app developer using very shady update techniques to screw over people who have legitimately purchased their app. Touch Racing Nitro, a retro racing game, launched to moderate success. After tinkering with price points to get the game to show up on the top download charts, the developers finally made it free for a period of four months. 'Then the sting came along. About a week ago (at time of writing), the game received an "update," which came with just four words of description – "Now Touch Racing Free!" As the game was already free, users could have been forgiven for thinking this wasn't much of a change. But in fact, the app thousands of them had paid up to £5 for had effectively just been stolen. Two of the game's three racing modes were now locked away behind IAP paywalls, and the entire game was disfigured with ruinous in-game advertising, which required yet another payment to remove.'"
langelgjm writes "Bringing a lengthy legal battle to a close, New York City's Department of Education will today release detailed evaluation reports on individual English and math teachers as a result of a request under public information laws. The city's teachers union has responded with full page ads (PDF) decrying the methodology used in the evaluations. The court's decision attempts to balance the public interest in this data against the rights of individual teachers. Across the country, a large number of states are moving to evaluate teachers based on student performance in an attempt to raise student achievement in the U.S."
An anonymous reader writes "The Australian Government's peak IT strategy group has issued a cautious updated appraisal of currently available office productivity suite file formats, in what appears to be an attempt to more fully explain its thinking about the merits of open standards such as OpenDocument versus more proprietary file formats promulgated by vendors like Microsoft."
Damien1972 writes "Conservationists have converted a remote-controlled plane into a potent tool for conservation. The drone — an HK Bixler equipped with cameras, sensors and GPS — has been used to map deforestation, count orangutans and elephants, and get a bird's eye view of hard-to-access forest areas. During their 4 days of testing in Sumatra, the drone flew 30 missions without a single crash. A mission, which typically lasts about 25 minutes, can cover 50 hectares. The drone, full equipped, costs less than $2,000."
smitty777 writes "An Australian woman who was being used by a group of Nigerian scam artists stole over $33,000 from the group who employed her. Her bank account was being used to funnel the cash from a dodgy internet car sales website. Irony aside, it makes one wonder how these folks ever got the nerve to go to the police with this matter. Those of you wondering, this article offers some answers to the question of why so many of these scams originate from this area."
retroworks writes "Great piece in The Atlantic by Kyle Wiens of IFIXIT.org, who visited and photographed the Molycorp Mountain Pass rare earth facility in California's Mojave Desert. The mine is the only source of rare earths in North America, one of the only alternatives to the mineral cartels in China, and one of the only sources for the key metals such as tantalum needed in cell phones. There is of course actually one other source of rare earth metals in the USA — recycled cell phones. Is the best 'state of the art' mining as good as the worst state of the art recycling? If the U.S. Department of Energy subsidizes the mine, will China open the floodgates and put it out of business? Or will electronics be manufactured with alternative materials before the mine ever becomes fully scaleable?"
OverTheGeicoE writes "Here's a familiar story: a breast cancer survivor's mastectomy scars showed up on a TSA scan, which forced a horrifying pat-down ('feel-up' in her words) of the affected area. The woman decided that she would not subject herself to that again, and was barred from a later flight from Seattle to Juneau for that reason. But now the story takes an interesting turn: the woman is Alaska State Rep. Sharon Cissna, and once she finally made it back to Alaska she started sponsoring legislation to restrict TSA searches. Her many bills, if passed, would criminalize both pat-downs and 'naked scanning,' as well as require better health warnings for X-ray scanners and even studies of airport screenings' physical and psychological effects. Other states, including Utah and Texas, are considering similar legislation. For example, Texas State Rep. David Simpson is preparing to reintroduce his Traveler Dignity Act again in 2013 if he is re-elected. The last time that bill was being considered the Federal government threatened to turn all of Texas into a 'no-fly zone'."
An anonymous reader writes "Each year, the U.S. government places Canada on its piracy watch list, claiming that it is a pirate country similar to China or Russia. This year, Professor Michael Geist and Public Knowledge teamed up to respond to myths about Canadian copyright law with a submission to the USTR focusing on how Canadian law provides adequate and effective protection, how enforcement is stronger than often claimed, why Canada is not a piracy haven, and why Bill C-11 does not harm the interests of rights holders (critics of Bill C-11 digital lock rules will likely think this is self-evident)."
ananyo writes "One hundred academics at the University of Sydney, Australia, have this week been told they will lose their jobs for not publishing frequently enough. The move is part of a wider cost-cutting plans designed to pay for new buildings and refurbishment to the university. Letters were posted to researchers on Monday 20 February, informing them their positions were being terminated because they hadn't published at least four 'research outputs' over the past three years. It is unclear which research fields the academics work in. Another 64 academics were told they had a choice between leaving and moving to a teaching-only position, he said."
garymortimer writes "A secret network of 20 roadside listening stations across the UK has confirmed that criminals are attempting to jam GPS signals on a regular basis. From the article: 'Government-funded trials involving the police have revealed more than a hundred incidents of GPS jammer use in the UK. The Sentinel project, which has been running since January 2011, was designed to measure GPS jamming on UK roads. The project, run by GPS-tracking company Chronos Technology, picked up the illegal jamming incidents via four GPS sensors in trials lasting from two to six months per location.'"
Julie188 writes "Last summer the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged to spend millions to reinvent the toilet. That investment has born fruit with teams from around the world coming up with many different ways to turn human waste into energy."