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dotancohen (1015143) writes "It is commonly said that open source software is preferable because if you need something changed, you can change it yourself. Well, I am not an Xorg developer and I cannot maintain a separate Xorg fork. Xorg version 1.13.1 introduced a bug which breaks the "Sticky Keys" accessibility option. Thus, handicapped users who rely on the feature cannot use Xorg-based systems with the affected versions and are stuck on older software versions. Though all pre-bug Linux distros are soon scheduled for retirement, there seems to be no fix in sight. Should disabled users stick with outdated, vulnerable, and unsupported Linux distros or should we move to OS-X / Windows?
The prospect of changing my OS, applications, and practices due to such an ostensibly small issue is frightening. Note that we are not discussing 'I don't like change' but rather 'this unintentional change is incompatible with my physical disability.' Thus this is not a case of every change breaks someone's workflow."
mdsolar (1045926) writes "James Schlesinger, who served as Secretary of Defense under Presidents Nixon and Ford and as the first Secretary of Energy under President Carter, passed away on Thursday in Baltimore at the age of 85. Schlesinger is perhaps the most technocratic person to reach such high office. He had a keen awareness of the connection between energy supply and national defense and as Administrator of the Economic Regulatory Administration, brought our Standby Gasoline Rationing Plan into existence. The existence of such a plan along with our Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which Schlesinger also brought into being, have been a bulwark against further oil embargoes and essentially broke OPEC for a period of more than a decade. The NYT has an obituary that covers more of his career."
An anonymous reader writes "The makers of two major mobile apps, Fandango and Credit Karma, have settled with the Federal Trade Commission after the commission charged that they deliberately misrepresented the security of their apps and failed to validate SSL certificates. The apps promised users that their data was being sent over secure SSL connections, but the apps had disabled the validation process. The settlements with the FTC don't include any monetary penalties, but both companies have been ordered to submit to independent security audits every other year for the next 20 years and to put together comprehensive security programs."
An anonymous reader writes "Chris Granger, creator of the flexible, open source LightTable IDE, has written a thoughtful article about the nature of programming. For years, he's been trying to answer the question: What's wrong with programming? After working on his own IDE and discussing it with hundreds of other developers, here are his thoughts: 'If you look at much of the advances that have made it to the mainstream over the past 50 years, it turns out they largely increased our efficiency without really changing the act of programming. I think the reason why is something I hinted at in the very beginning of this post: it's all been reactionary and as a result we tend to only apply tactical fixes. As a matter of fact, almost every step we've taken fits cleanly into one of these buckets. We've made things better but we keep reaching local maxima because we assume that these things can somehow be addressed independently. ... The other day, I came to the conclusion that the act of writing software is actually antagonistic all on its own. Arcane languages, cryptic errors, mostly missing (or at best, scattered) documentation — it's like someone is deliberately trying to screw with you, sitting in some Truman Show-like control room pointing and laughing behind the scenes. At some level, it's masochistic, but we do it because it gives us an incredible opportunity to shape our world.'"
This is a conversation with Frank Muscarello, CEO and co-founder of MarkiTx, a company that brokers used and rehabbed IT equipment. We're not talking about an iPhone 3 you might sell on craigslist, but enterprise-level items. Cisco. Oracle. IBM mainframes. Racks full of HP or Dell servers. That kind of thing. In 2013 IDC pegged the value of the used IT equipment market at $70 billion, so this is a substantial business. MarkiTx has three main bullet points: *Know what your gear is worth; *Sell with ease at a fair price; and *Buy reliable, refurbished gear. Pricing is the big deal, Frank says. With cars you have Cars.com and Kelley Blue Book. There are similar pricing services for commercial trucks, construction equipment, and nearly anything else a business or government agency might buy or sell used. For computers? Not so much. Worth Monkey calls itself "The blue book for used electronics and more," but it only seems to list popular consumer equipment. I tried looking up several popular Dell PowerEdge servers. No joy. An HTC Sensation phone or an Acer Aspire notebook? Sure. With price ranges based on condition, same as Kelley Blue Book does with cars. Now back to the big iron. A New York bank wants to buy new servers. Their old ones are fully depreciated in the tax sense, and their CTO can show stats saying they are going to suffer from decreasing reliability. So they send out for bids on new hardware. Meanwhile, there's a bank in Goa, India, that is building a server farm on a tight budget. If they can buy used servers from the New York bank, rehabbed and with a warranty, for one-third what they'd cost new, they are going to jump on this deal the same way a small earthmoving operation buys used dump trucks a multinational construction company no longer wants.
In February, 2013 Computerworld ran an article titled A new way to sell used IT equipment about MarkiTx. The main differentiator between MarkiTx and predecessor companies is that this is primarily an information company. It is not eBay, where plenty of commercial IT equipment changes hands, nor is it quite like UK-based Environmental Computer, which deals in used and scrap computer hardware. It is, rather, the vanguard of computer hardware as a commodity; as something you don't care about as long as it runs the software you need it to run, and you can buy it at a good price -- or more and more, Frank notes -- rent a little bit of its capacity in the form of a cloud service, a direction in which an increasing number of business are moving for their computing needs. Even more fun: Let's say you are (or would like to be) a local or regional computer service company and you want to buy or sell or broker a little used hardware. You could use MarkiTx's price information to set both your buy and sell prices, same as a car dealer uses Kelley Blue Book. We seem to be moving into a whole new era of computer sales and resales. MarkiTx is one company making a splash in this market. But there are others, and there are sure to be even more before long. (Alternate video link.)
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft took some much-deserved flack last week for admitting they examined the emails of a Hotmail user who received some leaked Windows 8 code. The company defended their actions at the time. Now, after hearing the backlash, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith says they will not do so in the future. Instead, they'll refer it to law enforcement. He wrote, 'It's always uncomfortable to listen to criticism. But if one can step back a bit, it's often thought-provoking and even helpful. That was definitely the case for us over the past week. Although our terms of service, like those of others in our industry, allowed us to access lawfully the account in this case, the circumstances raised legitimate questions about the privacy interests of our customers. ...As a company we've participated actively in the public discussions about the proper balance between the privacy rights of citizens and the powers of government. We've advocated that governments should rely on formal legal processes and the rule of law for surveillance activities. While our own search was clearly within our legal rights, it seems apparent that we should apply a similar principle and rely on formal legal processes for our own investigations involving people who we suspect are stealing from us.'"
trawg writes: "Programming legend Michael Abrash has announced that he has joined the Oculus team to work on the Rift VR headset as Chief Scientist, and will be once again working with John Carmack to bring VR to life. His post covers a lot of ground, including the history of his quest for VR, and ends with his explanation of why he thinks the Facebook acquisition is ultimately a good thing — they have the engineering, resources and long-term commitment 'to solve the hard problems of VR.'" Abrash has long maintained a blog about VR tech — it's worth reading if the subject matter interests you.
Daniel_Stuckey writes: "You might remember House Intelligence Chair Mike Rogers, a Republican from Michigan, from his lovely, universally-hated CISPA cybersecurity bill that would have allowed nearly seamless information sharing between companies and the federal government. You might also remember him from his c'est la vie attitude towards civil liberties in general. Well, we've got some good news and some bad news: Rogers announced today that he won't seek re-election and is instead retiring from politics to start a conservative talk radio show on Cumulus. The bad news? He's got at least one terrible, civil liberties-killing bill to try to push through Congress before he goes. Like CISPA, the newly introduced 'FISA Transparency and Modernization Act,' seeks to make it easier for the federal government to get your information from companies."
An anonymous reader writes "Security engineers from Google have found that 21 out of the top 25 news organizations have been targeted by cyberattacks that are likely state-sponsored. We've heard about some high profile attacks on news sites, but Google actively tracks the countries that are launching these attacks, and even hosts email services for many of the news organizations. 'Huntley said Chinese hackers recently gained access to a major Western news organization, which he declined to identify, via a fake questionnaire emailed to staff. Most such attacks involve carefully crafted emails carrying malware or directing users to a website crafted to trick them into giving up credentials. Marquis-Boire said that while such attacks were nothing new, their research showed that the number of attacks on media organizations and journalists that went unreported was significantly higher than those made public.'"
coondoggie writes "By all accounts, many of the massive data breaches in the news these days are first revealed to the victims by law enforcement: the Secret Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation. But how do the agencies figure it out before the companies know they have been breached, especially given the millions companies spend on security and their intense focus on compliance? The agencies do the one thing companies don't do. They attack the problem from the other end by looking for evidence that a crime has been committed. Agents go undercover in criminal forums where stolen payment cards, customer data and propriety information are sold. They monitor suspects and sometimes get court permission to break into password-protected enclaves where cyber-criminals lurk."
An anonymous reader writes "In February, Judge William Alsup ruled in favor of Rahinah Ibrahim, who sued the U.S. government in 2006 after she was mistakenly added to the no-fly list and subsequently denied entry to the country. Now, the Department of Justice has finally decided it won't appeal the ruling, making Ibrahim the first person to challenge the list at trial and get herself removed. 'But Ibrahim's case, as just one of hundreds of thousands of individuals who have been placed on such lists, shows the system's opacity. First, the only surefire way to even determine if one is on such a list in the U.S. is to attempt to board a flight and be denied. Even after that happens, when a denied person inquires about his or her status, the likely response will be that the government "can neither confirm nor deny" the placement on such lists. The government's surrender in Ibrahim comes on the heels of a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union that shows just how insanely difficult it is to contest one's status on the government blacklists (PDF).'"
New submitter dunnomattic writes: "Researchers at New York University School of Medicine have achieved a milestone in synthetic biology. A fully synthetic yeast chromosome, dubbed 'synIII,' has successfully replaced chromosome 3 of multiple living yeast cells. The researchers pieced together over 250,000 nucleotide bases to accomplish this feat. Dr. Jef Boeke, the lead author of the study, says, 'not only can we make designer changes on a computer, but we can make hundreds of changes through a chromosome and we can put that chromosome into yeast and have a yeast that looks, smells and behaves like a regular yeast, but this yeast is endowed with special properties that normal yeasts don't have.' Work is underway (abstract) to synthesize the remaining 15 chromosomes."
An anonymous reader writes "Tesla Motors made headlines several times last year for a few Model S car fires. Elon Musk criticized all the attention at the time, pointing out that it was disproportionate to the 200,000 fires in gas-powered cars over the same period. Musk didn't stop there, though. He's announced that the Model S will now have a titanium underbody shield along with an aluminum bar and extrusion. He says this will prevent debris struck on the road from breaching the battery area. Musk offered this amusing example: 'We believe these changes will also help prevent a fire resulting from an extremely high speed impact that tears the wheels off the car, like the other Model S impact fire, which occurred last year in Mexico. This happened after the vehicle impacted a roundabout at 110 mph, shearing off 15 feet of concrete curbwall and tearing off the left front wheel, then smashing through an eight foot tall buttressed concrete wall on the other side of the road and tearing off the right front wheel, before crashing into a tree. The driver stepped out and walked away with no permanent injuries and a fire, again limited to the front section of the vehicle, started several minutes later. The underbody shields will help prevent a fire even in such a scenario.' Included with the article are several animated pictures of testing done with the new underbody, which survives running over a trailer hitch, a concrete block, and an alternator."
jfruh writes: "You will probably not be surprised to learn that Chinese search giant Baidu censors a wide range of content, particularly political material deemed to be pro-democracy — and does so for users everywhere, not just in China. A group of activists filed suit against Baidu in New York for violating free speech laws, but the judge in the case declared (PDF) that, as a private entity in the United States, Baidu has the right to provide whatever kind of search results it wants, even for political reasons."
Daniel_Stuckey writes: "In far-flung rural Alaska, where electricity can cost as much as $1 per kilowatt hour — more than 10 times the national average, according to the New York Times — a wind turbine encased in a giant helium balloon is about to break a world record. The Bouyant Air Turbine (BAT) is about to be floated 1,000 feet into the air in the name of cleaner, cheaper, and mobile energy. That single airborne grouper—it's sort of a hybrid of a blimp, a kite, and a turbine—will power over a dozen homes. The BAT is the brainchild of Altaeros, a company founded by MIT alumni, and, if everything goes according to plan, it's going to be the highest-flying power generator in history. Since winds blow stronger and more consistently the higher above the ground you go, and the hovering BAT harnesses that gale and sends electricity down to earth through the high-strength tethers that also hold the machine steady. "
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Reuters reports that Wal-Mart has sued Visa for $5 billion, accusing the credit and debit card network of excessively high card swipe fees. Wal-mart is seeking damages from price fixing and other antitrust violations that it claims took place between January 1, 2004 and November 27, 2012. In its lawsuit, Wal-Mart contends that Visa, in concert with banks, sought to prevent retailers from protecting themselves against those swipe fees, eventually hurting sales. 'The anticompetitive conduct of Visa and the banks forced Wal-Mart to raise retail prices paid by its customers and/or reduce retail services provided to its customers as a means of offsetting some of the artificially inflated interchange fees,' says Wal-Mart in court documents. 'As a result, Wal-Mart's retail sales were below what they would have been otherwise.' Interchange fees, the industry term for card-swipe fees, have been a major point of contention between retailers and banks. The fees are set by Visa and other card networks and collected by card-issuing banks like J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Retailers have argued that the fees had been set too high due to a lack of competition with the two payment industry giants.
Wal-Mart also took a shot against Visa over payment card security. Data breaches last year at Target Corp., Neiman Marcus and others have drawn attention to the country's slow adoption of card technology that uses computer chips and PIN numbers and is seen as less susceptible to fraud than the current system of magnetic stripes. 'Wal-Mart was further harmed by anti-innovation conduct on the part of Visa and the banks,' says the lawsuit, 'such as perpetuating the use of fraud-prone magnetic stripe system in the U.S. and the continued use of signature authentication despite knowledge that PIN authentication is more secure, a fact Visa has acknowledged repeatedly.'"
Advocatus Diaboli writes with news about the DOJ's push to make it easier to get warrants to hack suspected cyber-criminals. "The U.S. Department of Justice is pushing to make it easier for law enforcement to get warrants to hack into the computers of criminal suspects across the country. The move, which would alter federal court rules governing search warrants, comes amid increases in cases related to computer crimes. Investigators say they need more flexibility to get warrants to allow hacking in such cases, especially when multiple computers are involved or the government doesn't know where the suspect's computer is physically located."
New submitter Budgreen writes: "Knife-wound or gunshot victims will be cooled down and placed in suspended animation later this month. The technique involves replacing all of a patient's blood with a cold saline solution, which rapidly cools the body and stops almost all cellular activity. 'If a patient comes to us two hours after dying you can't bring them back to life. But if they're dying and you suspend them, you have a chance to bring them back after their structural problems have been fixed,' says surgeon Peter Rheeat from the University of Arizona in Tucson, who helped develop the technique. 10 gunshot and stabbing victims will take part in the trials."
First time accepted submitter djhaskin987 (2147470) writes "The first successful implantation of a 3-D printed skull has taken place in the Netherlands, according to NBC news: 'Doctors in the Netherlands report that they have for the first time successfully replaced most of a human's skull with a 3-D printed plastic one — and likely saved a woman's life in the process. The 23-hour surgery took place three months ago at University Medical Center Utrecht. The hospital announced details of the groundbreaking operation this week and said the patient, a 22-year-old woman, is doing just fine."
judgecorp (778838) writes "Fugitive entrepreneur Kim Dotcom has launched a political party in New Zealand although he himself cannot stand for election. Dotcom, founder of Megaupload is a German national, not a New Zealand citizen. He is also on bail pending extradition to the US over claims that his Megaupload site infringed copyright. The Internet Party manifesto promises net neutrality, privacy, and faster broadband. Meanwhile, his new venture Mega is now worth NZ$210 million (£108m) thanks to a reverse takeover. He has also had to assure the New Zealand media that owning a signed copy of Mein Kampf doesn't mean he is a Nazi."