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An anonymous reader writes For some reason that escapes me, a Judge has granted Microsoft permission to hijack NoIP's DNS. This is necessary according to Microsoft to thwart a "global cybercrime epidemic" being perpetrated by infected machines running Microsoft software. No-IP is a provider of dynamic DNS services (among other things). Many legitimate users were affected by the takedown: "This morning, Microsoft served a federal court order and seized 22 of our most commonly used domains because they claimed that some of the subdomains have been abused by creators of malware. We were very surprised by this. We have a long history of proactively working with other companies when cases of alleged malicious activity have been reported to us. Unfortunately, Microsoft never contacted us or asked us to block any subdomains, even though we have an open line of communication with Microsoft corporate executives. ... We have been in contact with Microsoft today. They claim that their intent is to only filter out the known bad hostnames in each seized domain, while continuing to allow the good hostnames to resolve. However, this is not happening."
schwit1 (797399) writes A survey of professional academic economists finds that a large percentage are quite willing to cheat or fake data to get the results they want. From the paper's abstract: "This study reports the results of a survey of professional, mostly academic economists about their research norms and scientific misbehavior. Behavior such as data fabrication or plagiarism are (almost) unanimously rejected and admitted by less than 4% of participants. Research practices that are often considered 'questionable,' e.g., strategic behavior while analyzing results or in the publication process, are rejected by at least 60%. Despite their low justifiability, these behaviors are widespread. Ninety-four percent report having engaged in at least one unaccepted research practice."
That less than 4% engage in "data fabrication or plagiarism" might seem low, but it is a terrible statistic . ... 40% admit to doing what they agree are "questionable" research practices, while 94% admit to committing "at least one unaccepted research practice." In other words, almost none of these academic economists can be trusted in the slightest. As the paper notes, "these behaviors are widespread.""
An anonymous reader writes In a legislative first, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that for-profit companies can, in essence, hold religious views. Given the Supreme Court's earlier decisions granting corporations the right to express political support through monetary donations, this ruling is not all that surprising. Its scope does not extend beyond family-owned companies where "there's no real difference between the business and its owners." It also only applies to the contraception mandate of the health care law. The justices indicated that contraceptive coverage can still be obtained through exceptions to the mandate that have already been introduced to accommodate religious nonprofits. Those exceptions, which authorize insurance companies to provide the coverage instead of the employers, are currently being challenged in lower courts. The "closely held" test is pretty meaningless, since the majority of U.S. corporations are closely held.
Jim Hall (2985) writes "In a June 29, 1994 post in comp.os.msdos.apps on USENET, a physics student announced an effort to create a completely free version of DOS that everyone could use. That project turned into FreeDOS, 20 years ago! Originally intended as a free replacement for MS-DOS, FreeDOS has since advanced what DOS could do, adding new functionality and making DOS easier to use. And today in 2014, people continue to use FreeDOS to support embedded systems, to run business software, and to play classic DOS games!"
An anonymous reader writes "A month ago, LeVar Burton and his friends at Reading Rainbow created a Kickstarter campaign designed to bring their app for the iPad and Kindle Fire to the Web at large. They asked for a million dollars, and quickly blew the doors off their goal, receiving over three million dollars in three days. There are 48 hours remaining in the fundraiser, which has garnered over 4.5 million dollars, and with over 92,000 contributors, is the most heavily backed Kickstarter campaign of all time. To sweeten the pot, Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane has offered to match any pledges over the $4 million mark, up to an additional million dollars."
sciencehabit writes Millions of tons. That's how much plastic should be floating in the world's oceans, given our ubiquitous use of the stuff. But a new study (abstract) finds that 99% of this plastic is missing. One disturbing possibility: Fish are eating it. If that's the case, "there is potential for this plastic to enter the global ocean food web," says Carlos Duarte, an oceanographer at the University of Western Australia, Crawley. "And we are part of this food web."
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Supreme Court declined to throw out a class-action lawsuit against Google for sniffing Wi-Fi networks with its Street View cars. The justices left intact a federal appeals court ruling that the U.S. Wiretap Act protects the privacy of information on unencrypted in-home Wi-Fi networks. Several class-action lawsuits were filed against Google shortly after the company acknowledged that its Street View cars were accessing email, web history and other data on unencrypted Wi-Fi networks. A Google spokesman said the company was disappointed that the Supreme Court had declined to hear the case."
We've mentioned this interesting PAC more than once, including when Steve Wozniak endorsed it. The original Mayday PAC goal was to raise $1 million. Now Larry is working on a second -- and more ambitious -- goal: To raise $5 million by July 4. We called for your questions on June 23, and got a bunch of them. This time, instead of asking via email, we used Google Hangout to ask via video. Here's a quote from the Mayday website:'We are a crowdfunded Super PAC to end all Super PACs. Ironic? Yes. Embrace the irony. We’re kickstarting a Super PAC big enough to make it possible to win a Congress committed to fundamental reform by 2016. We set fundraising goals and then crowdfund those goals." Check the Mayday About page and you'll see that a whole bunch of Internet and coding luminaries are on board. You may also notice that they span the political spectrum; this is totally not a partisan effort. | Another quote from the website: "Wealthy funders are holding our democracy hostage. We want to pay the ransom and get it back." Is this an achievable goal? We'll never know if we don't try. | This is Part 1 of a 2-part video. (Alternate Video Link) Update: 07/02 23:42 GMT by T : Here's a link to part 2 of the video, too.
DroidJason1 writes One of Microsoft's main goals with Windows 9, the next major version of Windows, is to win over Windows 7 hold outs. The operating system will look and work differently based on hardware type. Microsoft is looking to showcase the desktop for desktop and laptop users, while two-in-one devices like the Surface Pro or Lenovo Yoga will support switching between the Metro interface and the classic desktop interface. The new desktop will allow Modern UI apps to run in windowed mode, and have Modern UI apps pinned to the Start Menu instead of a Start Screen. There will also be a mini-start menu. Microsoft is looking to undo the usability mistakes it made with Windows 8 for those who are not on a touch device. WIndows 9 is expected around spring of 2015.
Iddo Genuth writes Connected devices are becoming ubiquitous — a number of new companies are now offering WIFI and BT enabled devices that can let you control almost all aspects of your garden from your smartphone or tablet, save you money on water and allow you to monitor your plant's health from a distance. In the past few months we have seen an explosion of new companies and products belonging to the 'Internet Of Things' (IOT) and this trend isn't skipping the garden. For years irrigation controllers were amongst the most hated, unintuitive devices around, but a new generation of small start-up companies such as Rachio, GreenIQ and GreenBox are looking to change that. They want to create completely new ways to interact with our garden which will be more wireless and more connected (with lots of smart sensors that will tell us what is going on with our plants before it's too late).
An anonymous reader writes The Obama Administration is set to appoint Phil Johnson, a pharmaceutical industry executive, as the next Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, according to sources. The move is likely to anger patent reform advocates given Johnson's past efforts to block legislation aimed at reining in patent trolls, and in light of his positions that appear to contradict the White House's professed goal of fixing the patent system. The top job at the Patent Office has been vacant for around 18-months since the departure of previous director David Kappos in early 2013. Currently, the office is being managed by former Googler Michelle Lee, who was appointed deputy director in December. Earlier this month, Republican Senators led by Orrin Hatch (R-UT) sent a letter to President Obama that praised Lee but that also described the current USPTO management structure as "unfair, untenable and unacceptable for our country's intellectual property agency."
tsu doh nimh writes In a move that may wind up helping spammers, Microsoft is blaming a new Canadian anti-spam law for the company's recent decision to stop sending regular emails about security updates for its Windows operating system and other Microsoft software. Some anti-spam experts who worked very closely on Canada's Anti-Spam Law (CASL) say they are baffled by Microsoft's response to a law which has been almost a decade in the making. Indeed, an exception in the law says it does not apply to commercial electronic messages that solely provide "warranty information, product recall information or safety or security information about a product, goods or a service that the person to whom the message is sent uses, has used or has purchased." Several people have observed that Microsoft likely is using the law as a convenient excuse for dumping an expensive delivery channel.
McGruber writes Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu agree: there will a 15 round fight between Uber and the taxicab industry that currently enjoys regulatory capture, but after a long fight, Uber will win. Landrieu says: "It actually is going to be a 15 round fight. And it's going to take time to work out, hopefully sooner rather than later. But that debate will be held.....But it is a forceful fight, and our city council is full of people on Uber's side, people on the cabs' side, and it's a battle." Mayor Reed of Atlanta also expressed how politically powerful the taxi cartels can be: "I tell you, Uber's worth more than Sony, but cab drivers can take you out. So you've got to [weigh that]. Get in a cab and they say, 'Well that mayor, he is sorry.' You come to visit Atlanta, they say, 'Well that Mayor Reed is as sorry as the day is long. Let me tell you how sorry he is while I drive you to your hotel. And I want you to know that crime is up.' This guy might knock you out. I want you to know it can get really real. It's not as easy as it looks."
An anonymous reader writes "Bad news for Brazillians. Google's first social network, Orkut, will be shut down at the end of September. A farewell message on the Orkut blog reads in part: "Ten years ago, Orkut was Google's first foray into social networking. Built as a '20 percent' project, Orkut communities started conversations, and forged connections, that had never existed before. Orkut helped shape life online before people really knew what "social networking" was. Over the past decade, YouTube, Blogger and Google+ have taken off, with communities springing up in every corner of the world. Because the growth of these communities has outpaced Orkut's growth, we've decided to bid Orkut farewell (or, tchau). We'll be focusing our energy and resources on making these other social platforms as amazing as possible for everyone who uses them."
An anonymous reader writes Through a partnership with a MIT Media Lab spinoff, Changing Environments, Boston has announced that it will install solar-powered benches in several of its parks that allow you to charge your cell phone. The bench has a USB outlet, and also collects and shares a wide range of data, including location-based information, as well as air quality and noise-levels. "Your cell phone doesn't just make phone calls, why should our benches just be seats?" said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "We are fortunate to have talented entrepreneurs and makers in Boston thinking creatively about sustainability and the next generation of amenities for our residents."
An anonymous reader writes in with this story explaining the contentious history between Google and Detroit automakers over the future of self-driving cars. In 2012, a small team of Google Inc engineers and business staffers met with several of the world's largest car makers, to discuss partnerships to build self-driving cars. In one meeting, both sides were enthusiastic about the futuristic technology, yet it soon became clear that they would not be working together. The Internet search company and the automaker disagreed on almost every point, from car capabilities and time needed to get it to market to extent of collaboration. It was as if the two were "talking a different language," recalls one person who was present. As Google expands beyond Web search and seeks a foothold in the automotive market, the company's eagerness has begun to reek of arrogance to some in Detroit, who see danger as well as promise in Silicon Valley.
An anonymous reader writes University of Cambridge scientists have broken a decade-old superconducting record by packing a 17.6 Tesla magnetic field into a golf ball-sized hunk of crystal — equivalent to about three tons of force. From the Cambridge announcement: "A world record that has stood for more than a decade has been broken by a team led by University of Cambridge engineers, harnessing the equivalent of three tonnes of force inside a golf ball-sized sample of material that is normally as brittle as fine china. The Cambridge researchers managed to 'trap' a magnetic field with a strength of 17.6 Tesla — roughly 100 times stronger than the field generated by a typical fridge magnet — in a high temperature gadolinium barium copper oxide (GdBCO) superconductor, beating the previous record by 0.4 Tesla."
An anonymous reader writes with news about a possible new direction for Julian Assange. Julian Assange is expected to make his London Fashion Week debut this September. The Australian WikiLeaks founder will reportedly model for Vivienne Westwood’s son, Ben Westwood, at a fashion show staged at the Ecuadorean Embassy, where he has been seeking refuge for the past two years. He is avoiding extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over claims of sex offences. “Julian’s been in the embassy for two years and it’s important that he doesn’t slip into obscurity,” said Ben Westwood. “I want to highlight Julian Assange’s plight. What happened to him is totally unfair.”
An anonymous reader writes A NASA satellite being prepared for launch early on Tuesday is expected to reveal details about where carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas tied to climate change, is being released into Earth's atmosphere on a global scale. From the article: "The $468 million mission is designed to study the main driver of climate change emitted from smokestacks and tailpipes. Some of the carbon dioxide is sucked up by trees and oceans, and the rest is lofted into the atmosphere, trapping the sun's heat and warming the planet. But atmospheric CO2 levels fluctuate with the seasons and in different regions of the Earth. The natural and human activities that cause the changes are complicated. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, or OCO-2 for short, will be able to take an ultra-detailed look at most of the Earth's surface to identify places responsible for producing or absorbing the greenhouse gas."
theodp (442580) writes "The Internet's Own Boy, the documentary about the life and death of Aaron Swartz, was appropriately released on the net as well as in theaters this weekend, and is getting good reviews from critics and audiences. Which is kind of remarkable, since the Achilles' heel of this documentary, as critic Matt Pais notes in his review, is that "everyone on the other side of this story, from the government officials who advocated for Swartz's prosecution to Swartz's former Reddit colleagues to folks at MIT, declined participation in the film." Still, writer/director Brian Knappenberger manages to deliver a compelling story, combining interesting footage with interviews from Swartz's parents, brothers, girlfriends, and others from his Internet projects/activism who go through the stages of joy, grief, anger, and hope that one sees from loved ones at a wake. "This remains an important David vs. Goliath story," concludes Pais, "of a remarkable brain years ahead of his age with the courage and will to fight Congress-and a system built to impede, rather than encourage, progress and common sense. The Internet's Own Boy will upset you. As it should." And Quinn Norton, who inadvertently gave the film its title ("He was the Internet's own boy," Quinn said after Swartz's death, "and the old world killed him."), offers some words of advice for documentary viewers: "Your ass will be in a seat watching a movie. When it is done, get up, and do something.""
Facebook's recently disclosed 2012 experiment in altering the tone of what its users saw in their newsfeeds has brought it plenty of negative opinions to chew on. Here's one, pointed out by an anonymous reader: Facebook's methodology raises serious ethical questions. The team may have bent research standards too far, possibly overstepping criteria enshrined in federal law and human rights declarations. "If you are exposing people to something that causes changes in psychological status, that's experimentation," says James Grimmelmann, a professor of technology and the law at the University of Maryland. "This is the kind of thing that would require informed consent." For a very different take on the Facebook experiment, consider this defense of it from Tal Yarkoni, who thinks the criticism it's drawn is "misplaced": Given that Facebook has over half a billion users, it’s a foregone conclusion that every tiny change Facebook makes to the news feed or any other part of its websites induces a change in millions of people’s emotions. Yet nobody seems to complain about this much–presumably because, when you put it this way, it seems kind of silly to suggest that a company whose business model is predicated on getting its users to use its product more would do anything other than try to manipulate its users into, you know, using its product more. ... [H]aranguing Facebook and other companies like it for publicly disclosing scientifically interesting results of experiments that it is already constantly conducting anyway–and that are directly responsible for many of the positive aspects of the user experience–is not likely to accomplish anything useful. If anything, it’ll only ensure that, going forward, all of Facebook’s societally relevant experimental research is done in the dark, where nobody outside the company can ever find out–or complain–about it."
Ars Technica has spent some time with pre-production (but very nearly final) samples of the Blackphone, from Geeksphone and Silent Circle. They give it generally high marks; the hardware is mostly solid but not cutting edge, but the software it comes with distinguishes it from run-of-the-mill Android phones. Though it's based on Android, the PrivOS system in these phone offers fine grained permissions, and other software included with the phone makes it more secure both if someone has physical access to the phone (by encrypting files, among other things) and if communications between this phone and another are being eavesdropped on. A small taste: At first start up, Blackphone’s configuration wizard walks through getting the phone configured and secured. After picking a language and setting a password or PIN to unlock the phone itself, the wizard presents the option of encrypting the phone’s stored data with another password. If you decline to encrypt the phone’s mini-SD storage during setup, you’ll get the opportunity later (and in the release candidate version of the PrivOS we used, the phone continued to remind me about that opportunity each time I logged into it until I did). PrivOS’ main innovation is its Security Center, an interface that allows the user to explicitly control just what bits of hardware functionality and data each application on the phone has access to. It even provides control over the system-level applications—you can, if you wish for some reason, turn off the Camera app’s access to the camera hardware and turn off the Browser app’s access to networks.
jfruh (300774) writes "California governor Jerry Brown has signed a law repealing Section 107 of California's Corporations Code, which prohibited companies or individuals from issuing money other than U.S. dollars. Before the law was repealed, not only bitcoin but everything from Amazon Coin to Starbucks Stars were techinically illegal; the law was generally not enforced."