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mpicpp sends this news from the BBC: The U.K. government has revealed that intelligence service GCHQ can snoop on British citizens' use of Facebook, Twitter and Google without a warrant because the firms are based overseas. U.K. spy boss Charles Farr said that such platforms are classified as external communications. The policy was revealed as part of an ongoing legal battle with campaign group Privacy International (PI). PI said the interpretation of the law "patronizes the British people." According to Mr Farr, Facebook, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and web searches on Google, as well as webmail services such as Hotmail and Yahoo are classified as "external communications," which means that they can be intercepted without the need for additional legal clearance."
phrackthat writes with an update to Friday's news that the IRS cannot locate two years worth of email from Lois Lerner, a central figure in the controversy surrounding the IRS's apparent targeting of Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny. Now, the IRS says there are another six workers for whom the agency cannot locate emails. As with Lerner, they attribute the unrecoverable emails to computer crashes. Among them was Nikole Flax, who was chief of staff to Lerner’s boss, then-deputy commissioner Steven Miller. Miller later became acting IRS commissioner, but was forced to resign last year after the agency acknowledged that agents had improperly scrutinized tea party and other conservative groups when they applied for tax-exempt status. Documents have shown some liberal groups were also flagged. ... Lerner’s computer crashed in the summer of 2011, depriving investigators of many of her prior emails. Flax’s computer crashed in December 2011, Camp and Boustany said. The IRS said Friday that technicians went to great lengths trying to recover data from Lerner’s computer in 2011. In emails provided by the IRS, technicians said they sent the computer to a forensic lab run by the agency’s criminal investigations unit. But to no avail.
v3rgEz writes: In the age of camera-equipped smart phones and inexpensive digital cameras, many high schoolers have never seen a roll of film or used an analog camera — much less developed film and paper prints in a darkroom. Among those that have, however, old school development has developed a serious cult following, with a number of high schools still finding a dedicated audience for the dark(room) arts.
An anonymous reader writes 4K monitor prices have fallen into the range where mainstream consumers are starting to consider them for work and for play. There are enough models that we can compare and contrast, and figure out which are the best of the ones available. But this report at The Wirecutter makes the case that absent a pressing need for 8.29 million pixels, you should just wait before buying one. They say, "The current version of the HDMI specification (1.4a) can only output a 4096×2160 resolution at a refresh rate of 24 Hz or 3840×2160 at 30 Hz—the latter, half that of what we're used to on TVs and monitors. Connect up a 4K monitor at 30 Hz via HDMI and you'll see choppier animations and transitions in your OS. You might also encounter some visible motion stuttering during normal use, and you'll be locked to a maximum of 30 frames per second for your games—it's playable, but not that smooth. ... Most people don't own a system that's good enough for gaming on a 4K display—at least, not at highest-quality settings. You'll be better off if you just plan to surf the Web in 4K: Nvidia cards starting in the 600 series and AMD Radeon HD 6000 and 7000-series GPUs can handle 4K, as can systems built with integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics or AMD Trinity APUs. ... There's a light on the horizon. OS support will strengthen, connection types will be able to handle 4K displays sans digital tricks, and prices will drop as more 4K displays hit the market. By then, there will even be more digital content to play on a 4K display (if gaming or multitasking isn't your thing), and 4K monitors will even start to pull in fancier display technology like Nvidia's G-Sync for even smoother digital shootouts."
Advocatus Diaboli sends this excerpt from an article about the data collection capabilities of the Nest Protect 'smart' smoke alarms, and how they could become a privacy concern:
Consider that each Protect is packed full of sensors, some of which are capable of much more than they're doing right now: From heat and light sensors to motion sensors and ultrasonic wave sensors. This simple little device could scrape an incredible amount of data about your life if Nest asked it to: From when you get home, to when you go to bed, to your daily routine, to when you cook dinner. Now imagine how a device like that would interlock with another that you keep on your wrist, like the forthcoming Android Wear. Together, they would create a seamless mesh of connectivity where every detail of what you do and where you go is recorded into a living, breathing algorithm based on your life.
Neither Nest nor Google has stated any intention to turn Nest's hardware into more than it is right now. Protect is an alarm, the Thermostat is a thermostat. But as Google ramps up its vision to connect every aspect of our world, from Android Wear to its acquisition of a company that specializes in high-res, near-instantaneous satellite imagery of Earth, it's easier than ever to see why it would cough up billions for a company that has installed hundreds of thousands of Wi-Fi connected devices in the homes of Google users."
Mike Matter was showing off his edgertronic (named after Harold Eugene "Doc" Edgerton) high speed video camera at O'Reilly's inaugural Solid conference, when Tim Lord happened by his little show booth and started interviewing Mike with his normal speed camcorder. While Tim's camcorder shoots 720p at 30 or 60 frames per second, the edgertronic video camera shoots 720P at 700 frames per second, and can shoot lesser resolutions at up to 18,000 frames per second. But the big breakthrough here isn't performance. It's price. Most high-speed video cameras cost $20,000 to $50,000 (or even more), while Mike's edgertronic starts at a mere $5,495.00. This is still a little steep for hobby photographers, but is not bad for a tool used by professionals. And Kickstarter? You bet! Last year Mike raised $170,175, which was much more than his $97,900 goal. Now he's busy making and shipping cameras, working so many hours that he doesn't have time for his own photography. But sometimes that's the way life goes, and Mike seems to be handling it well. (Alternate Video Link)
Nerval's Lobster writes: If rumors prove correct, Amazon will unveil a smartphone at a high-profile June 18 event in Seattle. According to a new article in The New York Times, Amazon's willing to take such enormous risks because a smartphone will help it sell more products via its gargantuan online store. In theory, a mobile device would allow customers in the midst of their daily routines to order products with a few finger-taps, allowing Amazon to push back against Google and other tech companies exploring similar instant-gratification territory. But a smartphone also plays into Amazon's plans for the digital world. Over the past several years, the company has become a popular vendor of cloud services and used that base to expand into everything from tablets to a growing mobile-app ecosystem. A smartphone could prove a crucial portal for all those services. If an Amazon smartphone proves a hit, however, it could become a game-changer for mobile developers, opening up a whole new market for apps and services. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has succeeded in the digital space largely by opening up various platforms—whether Kindle self-publishing or the Amazon app store—to third-party wares. It'll be interesting to see whether he does something similar with the smartphone. Early reports suggest Amazon's phone will be exclusive to AT&T.
jppiiroinen writes: At the end of 2007, when Nokia still had huge market share with Symbian devices, they failed to disclose that somebody had stolen their encryption keys and extorted them for millions of Euros. The Finnish National Bureau of Investigation has not been able to figure out who did it. "The blackmailer had gotten hold of the Symbian encryption key used for signing. The code is a few kilobytes in size. Had the key been leaked, Nokia would not have been able to ensure that the phones accept only applications approved by the company."
An anonymous reader writes: A proposal from Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate would require the FCC to stop ISPs from creating "internet fast lanes." Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said, "Americans are speaking loud and clear. They want an Internet that is a platform for free expression and innovation, where the best ideas and services can reach consumers based on merit rather than based on a financial relationship with a broadband provider." Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) added, "A free and open Internet is essential for consumers. Our country cannot afford 'pay-for-play' schemes that divide our Internet into tiers based on who has the deepest pockets." Unfortunately, this is only half a solution — the bill doesn't actually add to the FCC's authority. It only requires them to use the authority they currently have, which is questionable at best.
sciencehabit writes: A single dose of a century-old drug has eliminated autism symptoms in adult mice with an experimental form of the disorder. Originally developed to treat African sleeping sickness, the compound, called suramin, quells a heightened stress response in neurons that researchers believe may underlie some traits of autism. The finding raises the hope that some hallmarks of the disorder may not be permanent, but could be correctable even in adulthood.
Sockatume writes: In a statement to the Financial Times and reported by the BBC, Google has confirmed that it will remove the music videos of independent artists unless they sign up to its upcoming subscription music service. Many independent musicians and labels have refused to do so, claiming that the contracts offer significantly worse deals than the likes of Spotify and Pandora, and that Google is unwilling to negotiate on the rates it offers artists. A Google spokesperson indicated that the company could start removing videos within days.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Made In China." It's a sticker we all know too well here in the U.S., and yet, it seems not everything we buy is made in China. To date, there haven't been Chinese-built cars in the U.S., but we keep hearing they are coming. Now it seems it's about to become a reality, as Chinese-built Volvos will be arriving in the U.S. as early as 2015. The first model to arrive will be the S60L. The payoff for Volvo if it manages to convince buyers that its cars built in China are just as good as those currently built in Europe is vast. Not only will it save on production costs, but it will help buffer against exchange rate fluctuations. Volvo's planning to make China a manufacturing hub, and that makes sense since it's now owned by Chinese parent company Geely. But will Chinese-built cars be just as good as European-built cars, and will consumers be able to tell the difference?
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes Internet slang: Do you use it? If so, do it AYOR (at your own risk), because the FBI knows exactly what you're saying thanks to the agency's insane list of "Twitter shorthand." Rather than just rely on Urban Dictionary or a Google search, the agency has compiled an 83 page list of more than 2,800 acronyms. The FBI responded to a FOIA request with one of the most illegible scans of a document you'll ever see, embedded on a CD — so maybe the agency isn't all that up on its technology, or maybe it's just doing its best to KTAS (keep this a secret). Please use one of your favorites in a grammatical sentence referencing current events, and/or your favorite food, to help build up the corpus.
alphadogg (971356) writes "In the hunt for more spectrum to speed up mobile networks, Vodafone and Huawei Technologies have successfully tested a technology that lets LTE and GSM share the same frequencies. The speed of future mobile networks will depend on the amount of spectrum mobile operators can get their hands on. The more they get, the wider the roads they can build. One thing they can do to get more space is to reuse frequencies that are currently used for older technologies such as GSM and 3G. But that isn't as easy as sounds, as operators still have a lot of voice and messaging traffic in those older networks. However, using a technology called GL DSS (GSM-LTE Dynamic Spectrum Sharing) Vodafone and Huawei have shown a way to allow GSM and LTE to coexist."
An anonymous reader writes A team of researchers at the UC Santa Barbara and RWTH Aachen presented new findings on the relationship of spam actors [abstract; full paper here] at the ACM Symposium on Information, Computer and Communications Security. This presents the first end-to-end analysis of the spam delivery ecosystem including: harvesters crawl the web and compile email lists, botmasters infect and operate botnets, and spammers rent botnets and buy email lists to run spam campaigns. Their results suggest that spammers develop a type of "customer loyalty"; spammers likely purchase preferred resources from actors that have "proven" themselves in the past. Previous work examined the market economy of the email address market in preparatory work: 1 million email addresses were offered on the examined forum for anywhere ranging between 20 and 40 Euros.
An anonymous reader writes Over the past few months, we've seen a disturbing trend from first Kingston, and now PNY. Manufacturers are launching SSDs with one hardware specification, and then quietly changing the hardware configuration after reviews have gone out. The impacts have been somewhat different, but in both cases, unhappy customers are loudly complaining that they've been cheated, tricked into paying for a drive they otherwise wouldn't have purchased.
SpzToid (869795) writes 224 million U.S. cable TV set-top boxes combined consume as much electricity as produced by four giant nuclear reactors, running around the clock. They have become the biggest single energy user in many homes, apart from air conditioning. Cheryl Williamsen, a Los Alamitos architect, has three of the boxes leased from her cable provider in her home, but she had no idea how much power they consumed until recently, when she saw a rating on the back for as much as 500 watts — about the same as a washing machine. A typical set-top cable box with a digital recorder can consume as much as 35 watts of power, costing about $8 a month for a typical Southern California consumer. And the devices use nearly as much power turned off as they do when they are turned on. The article outlines a voluntary industry agreement that should make a dent in this power consumption (it "calls for a power reduction in the range of 10% to 45% by 2017"), but makes the point that much larger gains are possible: "Energy experts say the boxes could be just as efficient as smartphones, laptop computers or other electronic devices that use a fraction of the power thanks to microprocessors and other technology that conserves electricity. Ideally, they say, these boxes could be put into a deep sleep mode when turned off, cutting consumption to a few watts. At that rate, a box could cost less than $1 a month for power, depending on how much it is used."
stephendavion (2872091) writes Hackers who compromised the servers of Domino's Pizza have demanded a ransom of €30,000 or they will publish the records of more than 600,000 customers – including their favourite toppings. "Earlier this week, we hacked our way into the servers of Domino's Pizza France and Belgium, who happen to share the same vulnerable database," wrote Rex Mundi [the name the perpetrators go by]. "And boy, did we find some juicy stuff in there!"
An anonymous reader writes In the aftermath of the European Court of Justice "right to be forgotten" decision, many asked whether a similar ruling could arise elsewhere. While a privacy-related ruling has yet to hit Canada, Michael Geist reports that last week a Canadian court relied in part on the decision in issuing an unprecedented order requiring Google to remove websites from its global index. The ruling is unusual since its reach extends far beyond Canada. Rather than ordering the company to remove certain links from the search results available through Google.ca, the order intentionally targets the entire database, requiring the company to ensure that no one, anywhere in the world, can see the search results.
DroidJason1 (3589319) writes "Microsoft is looking to create a more open dialog between the Internet Explorer team and the Web development community by announcing Internet Explorer Developer Channel. IE Dev Channel allows you to preview the next version of Internet Explorer (IE12) alongside and independently of IE11. Web developers can download and test drive the latest IE platform features, something developers were already able to do with Firefox and Chrome. This preview release even offers support of the emerging Gamepad API, allowing you to use your Xbox controller to play games in IE!"
gavron (1300111) writes "We all know about TW Cable being acquired by Comcast (subject to regulatory approval) but news from today is that their non-cable business is being purchased by Level3 for almost 6 billion dollars.
What used to be the 'largest media and distribution company ever' (AOL Time Warner) is now nothing more than a garage of pieces being parceled off to the first available bidder. This might be good for consumers, but recently Time Warner (and Comcast) won awards for consumer hatred."
mpicpp (3454017) writes with news of amateur drones appearing at the World Cup, quoting Ars Technica: "France's World Cup soccer team has filed a complaint with FIFA, claiming that someone used a small unmanned aircraft to spy on the team's training camp near São Paulo, Brazil as players prepared for their match against Honduras Sunday, the BBC reports. The quadrocopter appears from video to be a Phantom II autonomous micro-drone with a video camera.
'Apparently, drones are being used more and more,' France's manager Didier Deschamps told the BBC. 'We don't want intrusion into our privacy. It's hard to fight.' Deschamps did not comment on who might be behind the surveillance but said in an interview with Football Italia that he believed the drone was operated by one of France's potential opponents or by a French news agency." Police later captured the drone operator, who claimed just to be a fan bitten by a bit too much curiosity.
angry tapir (1463043) writes Microsoft will soon offer a service aimed at making machine-learning technology more widely usable. "We want to bring machine learning to many more people," Eron Kelly, Microsoft corporate vice president and director SQL Server marketing, said of Microsoft Azure Machine Learning, due to be launched in beta form in July. "The line of business owners and the marketing teams really want to use data to get ahead, but data volumes are getting so large that it is difficult for businesses to sift through it all," Kelly said. The service will have "...an interface called the Machine Learning Studio. The palette includes visual icons for some of the most commonly used machine-learning algorithms, allowing the user to drag and drop them into a visually depicted workflow." Algorithms themselves are implemented in R, which the user of the service can use directly as well.