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Bruce66423 (1678196) writes in with news about a planned protest by London black-cab drivers against Uber. "London black-cab drivers are planning to cause gridlock in the city to protest against car service Uber. The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association complains that Uber's drivers are using a smartphone app to calculate fares despite it being illegal for private vehicles to be fitted with taximeters. Transport for London has declined to intervene, because it disagrees that there has been a breach of the law. LTDA now plans to force the issue by holding the action in early June. 'Transport for London not enforcing the Private Hire Vehicles Act is dangerous for Londoners,' Steve McNamara, LTDA's general secretary, told the BBC. 'I anticipate that the demonstration against TfL's handling of Uber will attract many many thousands of cabs and cause severe chaos, congestion and confusion across the metropolis.'"
samzenpus (5) writes "You may not be Satoshi Nakamoto, but thanks to Virginia-based eco-products company Eruditium, you can now smell like him, her, or them. The company claims Bitcologne is "made for peer-to-peer interaction" adding, "It's an aromatic blend of spicy, floral, oak and citrus notes your 'partner' may find it hard to resist initiating a more private transaction.'" A bottle costs about $26 or 0.0608 Bitcoin."
perryizgr8 (1370173) writes "Biologists have managed to create a bacteria with DNA made of the usual A-T, C-G plus an artificial third base pair, thus encoding more data in DNA. From the article: 'The scientists behind the work at the Scripps Research Institute have already formed a company to try to use the technique to develop new antibiotics, vaccines and other products, though a lot more work needs to be done before this is practical. The work also gives some support to the concept that life can exist elsewhere in the universe using genetics different from those on Earth. “This is the first time that you have had a living cell manage an alien genetic alphabet,” said Steven A. Benner, a researcher in the field at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Gainesville, Fla., who was not involved in the new work.'"
astroengine (1577233) writes "The people of planet Earth would be wise to raise their cosmic consciousness prior to contact with an extraterrestrial civilization, a new study shows. 'The scientific community now accepts to some degree that this contact may occur in the next 50 to 100 years,' said Gabriel De la Torre, a clinical neuropsychologist and human factors specialist at the University of Cádiz in Spain. 'Consequently, we are becoming more concerned about this possibility and its aftermath Certainly the topic of contact with extraterrestrial civilizations raises a number of questions that are not easy to answer. We estimate that this type of event will have not only a social effect, but also on both consciousness and biology as well.' Although we may not have the necessary social skill set to deal with an encounter of the third kind, scientists or astronauts might make the best candidates for the first alien conversation."
An anonymous reader writes "A study published in March found that that the reason why the U.S. government has sub-par IT programs is because leading commercial IT companies established in the U.S. aren't involved in government contracting. Either the government holds closed bidding, essentially stifling competition to its own disadvantage, or prospective companies are put off by the cost-prohibitive regulations associated with government acquisition given the low returns (less than 10% as compared to 20% or more in the commercial world). The dysfunction that results has been documented by the Government Accountability Office: of 15 Department of Defense IT projects studied, 11 had cost increases (one of which was by 2,333%), 13 had schedule slippages (one of which was by six years), and only three met system performance goals. If the U.S. wants to lead other governments in technical capabilities by tapping into the technology being developed within its own borders, then some say that instead of exemptions and workarounds such as was applied with Healthcare.gov, a complete rebuild of the whole acquisition program would need to be implemented."
Lasrick (2629253) writes "The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is a year old; the same month is was founded, the UN's special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions called for a moratorium on the development and deployment of autonomous lethal weapons while a special commission considered the issue. The campaign is succeeding at bringing attention to the issue, but it's possible that it's too late, and if governments don't come to a common understanding of what the problems and solutions are, the movement is doomed. As this article points out, one of the most contentious issues is the question of what constitutes an autonomous weapons system: 'Setting the threshold of autonomy is going to involve significant debate, because machine decision-making exists on a continuum.' Another, equally important issue of course is whether a ban is realistic."
The New York Times is one of many outlets reporting that Snapchat has agreed to settle with the FTC about the gap between promises made about the company's "disappearing" communications system and reality. "The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday said Snapchat had agreed to settle charges that the company was deceiving users about the ephemeral nature of the photos and video messages sent through its service. The messages were significantly less private than the company had said, the commission said. In marketing the service, Snapchat has said that its messages “disappear forever.” But in its complaint, the commission said the messages, often called snaps, can be saved in several ways. The commission said that users can save a message by using a third-party app, for example, or employ simple workarounds that allow users to take a screenshot of messages without detection." Besides the monetary side of the settlement (details of which are promised soon on the FTC's site), the company has agreed to operate for the next 20 years with special supervision of a new privacy program; it seems a little optimistic as a timeframe for any social-media related business. Here are the FTC's charges (PDF).
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Patent Office granted Amazon a patent in March that basically describes taking a picture with a white background. Amazon claims that their method is unique to current photography methods because they can achieve the effect of a true white background without retouching the photo or using any sort of post-processing technique. Some professional photographers disagree, claiming that plenty of prior art exists embodying Amazon's described method and furthermore that this pre-existing method is what the photography industry calls 'shooting against a seamless white backdrop.'"
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Epic Games is rebooting Unreal Tournament, but not in a typical way. A small team of veteran developers will begin work on the next edition of the popular, multi-player shooter, in collaboration with pretty much anyone who wants to participate. "From the very first line of code, the very first art created and design decision made, development will happen in the open, as a collaboration between Epic, UT fans and UE4 developers. We'll be using forums for discussion, and Twitch streams for regular updates," reads a note on the company's blog. All code and content will appear on GitHub, and development will focus on Mac, Linux, and Windows. What's the catch? According to Epic, it'll take months to forge a playable game. "When the game is playable, it will be free. Not free to play, just free," the blog adds. "We'll eventually create a marketplace where developers, modders, artists and gamers can give away, buy and sell mods and content. Earnings from the marketplace will be split between the mod/content developer, and Epic. That's how we plan to pay for the game.""
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "One of the most profound advances in science in recent years is the way researchers from a variety of fields are beginning to formulate the problem of consciousness in mathematical terms, in particular using information theory. That's largely thanks to a relatively new theory that consciousness is a phenomenon which integrates information in the brain in a way that cannot be broken down. Now a group of researchers has taken this idea further using algorithmic theory to study whether this kind of integrated information is computable. They say that the process of integrating information is equivalent to compressing it. That allows memories to be retrieved but it also loses information in the process. But they point out that this cannot be how real memory works; otherwise, retrieving memories repeatedly would cause them to gradually decay. By assuming that the process of memory is non-lossy, they use algorithmic theory to show that the process of integrating information must noncomputable. In other words, your PC can never be conscious in the way you are. That's likely to be a controversial finding but the bigger picture is that the problem of consciousness is finally opening up to mathematical scrutiny for the first time."
MojoKid (1002251) writes "The upcoming PS4 game Driveclub is making waves for reasons that have nothing to do with its gameplay or development status. In a new video, the company has spelled out its free trial and upgrade policies, and the requirements are a doozy. First, the good news — PlayStation Plus subscribers will be able to download a demo of the game that contains a few maps and one trial area, India. If you choose to upgrade that version, the full title will cost you $50. Here's the catch — that purchase is tied to your Playstation Plus subscription. In other words, if you stop paying Sony the official $49.95 a year for PlayStation Plus, you lose your $50 game. This is completely at odds with how PlayStation Plus membership is supposed to work. It contradicts Sony's official FAQ, which states that: 'Any content you purchase with a Plus discount is yours to keep, regardless of you membership status.'"
First time accepted submitter systemDead (3645325) writes "I looked mostly with disinterest at Debian's decision last February to switch to
systemd as the default init system for their future operating system releases. The Debian GNU/Linux distribution is, after all, famous for allowing users greater freedom to choose what system components they want to install. This appeared to be the case with the init system, given the presence of packages such as sysvinit-core, upstart, and even openrc as alternatives to systemd.
Unfortunately, while still theoretically possible, installing an alternative init system means doing without a number of useful, even essential system programs. By design, systemd appears to be a full-blown everything-including-the-kitchen-sink solution to the relatively simple problem of starting up a Unix-like system. Systemd, for example, is a hard-coded dependency for installing Network Manager, probably the most user-friendly way for a desktop Linux system to connect to a wireless or wired network. Just this week, I woke up to find out that systemd had become a dependency for running PolicyKit, the suite of programs responsible for user privileges and permissions in a typical Linux desktop.
I was able to replace Network Manager with connman, a lightweight program originally developed for mobile devices. But with systemd infecting even the PolicyKit framework, I find myself faced with a dilemma. Should I just let systemd take over my entire system, or should I retreat to my old terminal-based computing in the hope that the horde of the systemDead don't take over the Linux kernel itself?
What are your plans for working with or working around systemd? Are there any mainstream GNU/Linux distros that haven't adopted and have no plans of migrating to systemd? Or is migrating to one of the bigger BSD systems the better and more future-proof solution?"
ananyo (2519492) writes "People are living longer, which is good. But old age often brings a decline in mental faculties and many researchers are looking for ways to slow or halt such decline. One group doing so is led by Dena Dubal of the University of California, San Francisco, and Lennart Mucke of the Gladstone Institutes, also in San Francisco. Dr Dubal and Dr Mucke have been studying the role in aging of klotho, a protein encoded by a gene called KL. A particular version of this gene, KL-VS, promotes longevity. One way it does so is by reducing age-related heart disease. Dr Dubal and Dr Mucke wondered if it might have similar powers over age-related cognitive decline. What they found was startling. KL-VS did not curb decline, but it did boost cognitive faculties regardless of a person's age by the equivalent of about six IQ points. If this result, just published in Cell Reports, is confirmed, KL-VS will be the most important genetic agent of non-pathological variation in intelligence yet discovered."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Joan Lowy writes for AP that the Department of Transportation has issued an emergency order requiring that railroads inform state emergency management officials about the movement of large shipments of crude oil through their states and urged shippers not to use older model tanks cars that are easily ruptured in accidents, even at slow speeds. The emergency order follows a warning two weeks ago from outgoing National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman that the department risks a 'higher body count' as the result of fiery oil train accidents if it waits for new safety regulations to become final. There have been nine oil train derailments in the U.S. and Canada since March of last year, many of them resulting in intense fires and sometimes the evacuation of nearby residents, according to the NTSB. The latest was last week, when a CSX train carrying Bakken crude derailed in downtown Lynchburg, Va., sending three tank cars into the James River and shooting flames and black smoke into the air. Concern about the safe transport of crude oil was heightened after a runaway oil train derailed and then exploded last July in the small town of Lac-Megantic in Canada, just across the border from Maine. More than 60 tank cars spilled more than 1.3 million gallons of oil. Forty-seven people were killed and 30 buildings destroyed in the resulting inferno. Hersman says that over her 10 years on the board she has 'seen a lot of difficulty when it comes to safely rules being implemented if we don't have a high enough body count. That is a tombstone mentality. We know the steps that will prevent or mitigate these accidents. What is missing is the will to require people to do so.'"
Trailrunner7 (1100399) writes "If law enforcement gets hold of your locked iPhone and has some interest in its contents, Apple can pull all kinds of content from the device, including texts, contacts, photos and videos, call history and audio recordings. The company said in a new document that provides guidance for law enforcement agencies on the kinds of information Apple can provide and what methods can be used to obtain it that if served with a search warrant, officials will help law enforcement agents extract specific application-specific data from a locked iOS device. However, that data appears to be limited to information related to Apple apps, such as iMessage, the contacts and the camera. Email contents and calendar data can't be extracted, the company said in the guidelines."
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "A 7-year German study has come to a troubling conclusion: the EM noise from human activities is interfering with birds' magnetic 'compass' [paywalled paper, but above-average abstract], and potentially disrupting migratory behavior. While science is unclear how the birds' compasses work, it is theorized it employs the quantum phenomenon of electron spin. As the lead researcher, Prof Henrik Mouritsen, is quoted as saying, 'A very small perturbation of these electron spins would actually prevent the birds from using their magnetic compass.' The BBC has a nice summary article, as well."
trbdavies (979982) writes 'Only in San Francisco' used to refer to issues like whether public nudity should be restricted to certain hours of the day. Now I hear it most often in connection with the interplay between the city and tech companies. SF Weekly reports on one such development: 'Anyone who's visited San Francisco for 35 minutes knows that easy parking is a rare find. Enter Paolo Dobrowolny, an Italian tech bro who decided San Francisco was the perfect spot to test out his new experiment. Here's how it works: You find a parking spot, revel a little, let Monkey Parking know where you're located, and watch the bidding begin. Finally, give your spot to the wealthiest victim willing to pay the highest price for your spot. Drive away that much richer.'" Update: 05/08 15:52 GMT by T : I suspect that Dobrowolny's a tech pro, rather than bro, or at least that's what I suspect the Weekly meant to say.
mask.of.sanity (1228908) writes with this excerpt from The Register: "'Intel security subsidiary McAfee may be in hot water after it allegedly scraped thousands of records from the Open Source Vulnerability Database instead of paying for them. The slurp was said to be conducted using fast scripts that rapidly changed the user agent, and was launched after McAfee formally inquired about purchasing a license to the data.' Law experts say the site's copyright could be breached by individuals merely downloading the information in contravention to the site's policies, and did not require the data to be subsequently disseminated."
beaverdownunder (1822050) writes "Victoria Australia's Taxi Directorate has begun a crackdown on Melbourne Uber drivers, fining them $1700 each for operating a taxi service illegally, with total fines apparently equalling over $50000. In response, Uber has shut down its Melbourne service, and has refused to comment on whether its drivers will be compensated, since Uber told them they were providing a legal service. (Fined Uber drivers could take the company to the state's consumer tribunal: stay tuned!) Uber is set to meet with the Directorate next week but it is likely the demands the Directorate will place on Uber drivers, such as mandatory criminal record checks, vehicle inspections and insurance, will make the service in Melbourne unviable. Meanwhile, the New South Wales government is awaiting a report to determine if Uber drivers operating in that state are doing so illegally, warning that drivers could face substantial fines if they are found to have been operating in breach of the law. In South Australia, it doesn't even appear Uber will get off the ground — the state has made it clear that those who operate as an Uber driver will be driving without being covered by the state's mandatory insurance coverage, essentially de-registering their vehicle and making them liable for fines and license suspension."
PuceBaboon (469044) writes "Earlier today (Thursday), police in Kawasaki, Japan, arrested a man for violation of the firearms control law. He was apparently in possession of five, 3D-printed handguns, two of which were reportedly capable of firing normal rounds (although no actual bullets were found). The suspect was arrested after releasing video of the guns online. Japan has very strict gun control laws and, whether or not the suspect actually appeared in the alleged video, he may just have signed himself up for some serious porridge."
First time accepted submitter sumakor (3571543) writes "The House Judiciary Committee has advanced a weakened version of the USA Freedom Act (HR3361). The amended compromise version allows collection of phone call records up to two hops away from a target, potentially including millions of customer records, and allows for collection without a judge's order in emergency cases. The amended bill also drops the requirement for a privacy advocate who can appeal the rulings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and extends the controversial Section 215 of the Patriot Act from 2015 through 2017.
Despite these significant changes the amended bill has been endorsed by the ACLU and the EFF as a first step and the most promising path towards reigning in government surveillance. The two organizations called for further Congressional measures to tighten control of surveillance authorities including an explicit definition of the term 'selector,' a reduction in the number of hops from 2 to 1 under most circumstances and the closing the loophole that allows searches of Americans' data inadvertently collected thru Section 702.
The bill now proceeds to the House Intelligence Committee, who has advanced its competing bill, the FISA Transparency and Modernization Act (HR 4291). The committee will mark up both bills on the same day, beginning at 10am Thursday, behind closed doors."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Tesla just announced its first-quarter earnings and the numbers are interesting. It logged revenue of $713 million on deliveries of 6,457 Model S electric cars. It's worth noting that's basically the number of vehicles it said it would sell in the quarter, but that number is slightly down from the prior quarter. It built a total of 7,535 Model S cars in the quarter as it built inventory as shipments began to China where sales just started last month. Net orders in North America grew 10 percent, and production for the second quarter is expected to increase to 8,500-9,000 Model S cars. Tesla expects to deliver 35,000 cars during the 2014 calendar year. Musk told analysts that China's enthusiastic and that government support is crucial. The Model X is delayed until spring of 2015 with production-design prototypes being ready in the fourth quarter. Tesla hopes to possibly break ground as early as next month on its gigafactory, though the location has yet to be announced. Of course, the stock market is already reacting to these numbers and is currently down nearly 3 percent in after hours trading."
An anonymous reader writes "The London Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is reportedly engaging in a year-long pilot program to determine the benefits of its police force wearing video cameras during interactions with the public. 'The pilot will include a total of 500 cameras distributed across ten city boroughs.' London joins some major U.S. cities in this endeavor to improve the quality of policing through the use of wearable cameras. Privacy advocates argue, however, that police officers having these devices on their persons is not enough: 'the efficacy of police body-mounted cameras as a crime reduction and accountability tool hinges on enforcement of good policies and procedures—including something as basic as preventing officers from being able to deactivate the cameras at their own discretion.'"