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New submitter ptr_88 writes: "The Free Software Foundation has opposed Mozilla's move to support DRM in the Firefox browser, partnering with Adobe to do so. The FSF said, '[We're] deeply disappointed in Mozilla's announcement. The decision compromises important principles in order to alleviate misguided fears about loss of browser market share. It allies Mozilla with a company hostile to the free software movement and to Mozilla's own fundamental ideals. ... We recognize that Mozilla is doing this reluctantly, and we trust these words coming from Mozilla much more than we do when they come from Microsoft or Amazon. At the same time, nearly everyone who implements DRM says they are forced to do it, and this lack of accountability is how the practice sustains itself.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Ars Technica published an article Friday highlighting the results from research conducted by a money-in-politics watchdog regarding the 28 congressmen who sent a combined total of three letters to the FCC protesting against re-classifying the internet as a public utility. These 28 members of the U.S. House of Representatives 'received, on average, $26,832 from the "cable & satellite TV production & distribution" sector over a two-year period ending in December. According to the data, that's 2.3 times more than the House average of $11,651.' That's average. Actual amounts that the 28 received over a two year period ranged from $109,250 (Greg Walden, R-OR) to $0 (Nick Rahall, D-WV). Look at the list yourselves, and find your representative to determine how much legitimacy can be attributed to their stated concerns for the public."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Tyler LeBlanc reports that Ottawa has a problem — a goose problem. Every summer the wandering waterfowl return to the beaches that line the Ottawa River leaving high concentrations of geese poop on beaches and in shallow water, which can lead to outbreaks of infection in human populations, particularly children. In the past, the city has tried a number of different methods of ridding their beaches of the geese, but this year, they are going high-tech. Steve Wambolt, the founder of Aerial Perspective, modified a drone with some flashing lights and speakers and took to the skies. 'I took existing land-based anti-pest technology and put it on a helicopter,' says Wambolt. 'When I tested it at the beach a few days later it worked remarkably well.' Using pre-recorded predatory calls (video) from hawks, eagles, owls, ravens and even wolves, Wambolt stalks the beaches of Petrie Island in an attempt to scare the loitering geese away from the area for good."
An anonymous reader quote the BBC: "Fossilised bones of a dinosaur believed to be the largest creature ever to walk the Earth have been unearthed in Argentina, palaeontologists say. Based on its huge thigh bones, it was 40m (130ft) long and 20m (65ft) tall. Weighing in at 77 tonnes, it was as heavy as 14 African elephants, and seven tonnes heavier than the previous record holder, Argentinosaurus. Scientists believe it is a new species of titanosaur — an enormous herbivore dating from the Late Cretaceous period. A local farm worker first stumbled on the remains in the desert near La Flecha, about 250km (135 miles) west of Trelew, Patagonia."
theodp writes: "'The NSA,' writes POLITICO's Stephanie Simon in her eye-opening Data Mining Your Children, 'has nothing on the ed tech startup known as Knewton. The data analytics firm has peered into the brains of more than 4 million students across the country. By monitoring every mouse click, every keystroke, every split-second hesitation as children work through digital textbooks, Knewton is able to find out not just what individual kids know, but how they think. It can tell who has trouble focusing on science before lunch — and who will struggle with fractions next Thursday.' Simon adds, 'Even as Congress moves to rein in the National Security Agency, private-sector data mining has galloped forward — perhaps nowhere faster than in education. Both Republicans and Democrats have embraced the practice. And the Obama administration has encouraged it, even relaxing federal privacy law to allow school districts to share student data more widely.'"
mpicpp sends this news from CNN: "Never fear the night of the living dead — the Pentagon has got you covered. From responses to natural disasters to a catastrophic attack on the homeland, the U.S. military has a plan of action ready to go if either incident occurs. It has also devised an elaborate plan should a zombie apocalypse befall the country, according to a Defense Department document obtained by CNN. In an unclassified document titled 'CONOP 8888,' officials from U.S. Strategic Command used the specter of a planet-wide attack by the walking dead as a training template for how to plan for real-life, large-scale operations, emergencies and catastrophes."
coondoggie writes: "The U.S. Office of Naval Research this week offered a $7.5m grant to university researchers to develop robots with autonomous moral reasoning ability. While the idea of robots making their own ethical decisions smacks of SkyNet — the science-fiction artificial intelligence system featured prominently in the Terminator films — the Navy says that it envisions such systems having extensive use in first-response, search-and-rescue missions, or medical applications. One possible scenario: 'A robot medic responsible for helping wounded soldiers is ordered to transport urgently needed medication to a nearby field hospital. En route, it encounters a Marine with a fractured leg. Should the robot abort the mission to assist the injured? Will it? If the machine stops, a new set of questions arises. The robot assesses the soldier’s physical state and determines that unless it applies traction, internal bleeding in the soldier's thigh could prove fatal. However, applying traction will cause intense pain. Is the robot morally permitted to cause the soldier pain, even if it’s for the soldier’s well-being?'"
An anonymous reader writes "A new FCC report (PDF) has found that U.S. cable TV prices are rising at four times the rate of inflation over the past two decades. 'Basic cable service prices increased by 6.5 percent [to $22.63] for the 12 months ending January 1, 2013. Expanded basic cable prices increased by 5.1 percent [to $64.41] for those 12 months, and at a compound average annual rate of 6.1 percent over the 18-year period from 1995-2013. ... These price increases compare to a 1.6 percent increase in general inflation as measured by the CPI (All Items) for the same one-year period.' Equipment prices rose faster than inflation, too. The report also found that the price increases weren't helped by competition — in fact, the prices rose faster where there were competing providers than in areas where the main provider had no effective competition."
An anonymous reader writes with some snippets pulled from a lengthy Q&A session at The New Yorker with former NSA head Keith Alexander, in which Alexander defends the collection of metadata by U.S. spy agencies both abroad and within the United States: "The probability of an attack getting through to the United States, just based on the sheer numbers, from 2012 to 2013, that I gave you—look at the statistics. If you go from just eleven thousand to twenty thousand, what does that tell you? That's more. That's fair, right? [..] These aren't my stats. The University of Maryland does it for the State Department. [...] The probability is growing. What I saw at N.S.A. is that there is a lot more coming our way. Just as someone is revealing all the tools and the capabilities we have. What that tells me is we're at greater risk. I can't measure it. You can't say, Well, is that enough to get through? I don't know. It means that the intel community, the military community, and law enforcement are going to work harder."
Sockatume (732728) writes "The resignation of Prof. Lennart Bengtsson from an anti-global-warming think tank has triggered widespread outrage in the British tabloids, with the University of Bristol Professor blaming his departure on a 'witch-hunt' environment amongst climate scientists and the rejection of one of his papers. The UK's Times quotes a passage from the reviewer comments in support of this, in which it is claimed that the paper was rejected for being 'unhelpful to their cause.' In response, that journal's publisher has taken the rare step of publishing the referees' report in full. The report describes Bengtsson's paper as a 'simplistic comparison of ranges from AR4, AR5, and Otto et al [data sets], combined with the statement they they are inconsistent,' 'where no consistency was to be expected in the first place' and therefore is not publishable research. The referee adds a number of possible areas of discussion which would allow Bengtsson to make the same data into a publishable paper, but warns that publishing it in its current state 'opens the door for oversimplified claims of errors and worse from the climate sceptics media.'"
Raystonn (1463901) writes "Toshiba has announced the integration of Bitcoin support in their touch-screen point-of-sale platform, VisualTouch, used by over 6,000 merchants. The merchants will now be able to accept Bitcoin payments at the register from anyone with a smartphone or any other QR code reader. Acceptance of Bitcoin as a payment method frees merchants from worries of fraudulent chargebacks, as Bitcoin payments are non-reversible just like cash, while allowing settlement deposits in any of 9 currencies, including USD and Bitcoin."
SmartAboutThings (1951032) writes "After it was long rumored and discussed about, the ability to text 911 in case of emergency is slowly rolling out in the United States to subscribers of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. For the time being, the service is available in areas of Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont and Virginia. According to the FCC, the service will gradually roll out to more areas and by the end of this year, virtually anyone with a cellphone and enough service will be able to make use of it. Which means that all carriers will support it." TechCrunch has a deeper article that explains why "you probably can't use it yet," and links to the FCC's own explanation of the service.
An anonymous reader writes "With patent reform stalled in the Senate, many states have decided to take up the issue themselves. 'As states kicked off their legislative sessions this winter, lawmakers responded to the threats against small businesses by writing bills that would ban "bad faith patent assertions" as a violation of consumer-protection laws. The bills target a specific type of patent troll: the kind that sends out vaguely worded letters demanding licensing fees. The thousands of letters sent out by the "scanner trolls" at MPHJ Technology are often brought up as a case-in-point. The new laws allow trolls that break rules around letter-writing to be sued in state court, either by private companies they've approached for licensing fees, or by state authorities themselves.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A for-profit university bankrolled by prominent tech firms and co-founded by futurist Ray Kurzweil is behind four separate super PACs formed this week, according to interviews and documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. Randi Willis, an official at Singularity University, confirmed to the Center for Public Integrity that leaders at her institution will later this year begin determining how to best use these new political committees, which could tap into the wealth of tech industry titans."
waderoush (1271548) writes "Don't laugh. As the cost of housing spirals out of control on the San Francisco peninsula, neighboring metro regions like Sacramento are beginning to look more attractive to startup founders who prefer a Northern California lifestyle but haven't worked in the Silicon Valley gold mines long enough to become 1-percenters. Today Xconomy presents Part 1 of a two-part look at innovation in the Sacramento-Davis corridor and efforts to make the region more welcoming to high-tech entrepreneurs. In Sacramento's favor, there's a talented workforce fueled by a top-20 university (UC Davis), space for expansion, proximity to the ski mountains at Tahoe, and a far lower cost of living — the average house in Sacramento is selling for $237,000, compared to $909,000 in San Francisco. The downsides include a shortage of local investment dollars and a lower density of startups, meaning there's less opportunity for serendipitous collaboration. But locals say recent efforts to boost the local high-tech economy are working. 'I really feel like we are in a renaissance area,' says Eric Ullrich, co-founder of Hacker Lab, a Midtown Sacramento co-working space."
As you may have watched live earlier today, the FCC in a protester-heavy hearing has voted to formally consider a net neutrality proposal. The linked L.A. Times story says the 3-2 vote of the commissioners represents a victory for FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler: 'A Democrat who took over in November, Wheeler triggered outrage among public interest groups, online activists and many liberals with a plan that would for the first time allow the possibility of so-called pay-for-priority deals. Wheeler said his plan has been misconstrued and that it would not allow broadband providers to block any legal content or slow down connections in a way that is commercially unreasonable.' As the Washington Post points out, the phrase "commercially unreasonable" is a loaded one. More good coverage at Ars Technica, too.
coop0030 (263345) writes "Becky Stern at Adafruit has created a guide on how to create an open source NFC ring or other wearable to mod and unlock your Android phone. From the tutorial: 'Unlock your phone by just picking it up! No more pesky password or gesture PIN, just scan an NFC tag! This guide covers creating an NFC ring, putting an NFC tag in your nail polish, modding your Android installation to read tags from the lockscreen, and creating an automation toolchain to unlock the phone when the desired tag is scanned.' There is also a video that demonstrates how it works."
colinneagle (2544914) writes "The Wall Street Journal recently reported that, based on documents it reviewed, Red Hat "has chosen not to provide support to its commercial Linux customers if they use rival versions of OpenStack." But the big question is: Why would customers have expected that in the first place? Gartner analyst Lydia Leong told Network World that Red Hat isn't really doing anything wrong here. Customers shouldn't have an expectation that Red Hat would support competitors' software. "The norm would be to expect that non-Red Hat software is treated like any other third-party software," Leong says. If Red Hat has done anything wrong, it's that it has not clearly articulated its positioning and support for non-Red Hat OpenStack distros. Red Hat did not immediately respond to a question asking for a clarification on its support policy. The complication in all this comes from the fact that OpenStack is an open source project and there are misconceived notions that all OpenStack clouds are interoperable with one another. But Leong says just because OpenStack is open source doesn't change the expectations around vendors supporting competitors' products."
New submitter giltwist (1313107) writes "Very shortly, the FCC will begin its vote on proceeding 14-28 regarding Chairman Wheeler's highly contentious Net Neutrality proceeding. Senator Al Franken called Net Neutrality the free speech issue of our time. The vote begins at 10:30am Eastern time today. Make sure to watch it live at the FCC's live stream." "A particularly full agenda" is right; it's a rambunctious crowd, too.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "BBC reports that Autodesk — the leading 3D modelling software-maker — is going into hardware with its own 3D printer and in addition to selling the machine, Autodesk will also allow other manufacturers to make their own versions of the printer or power their own models off its software at no cost. 'The printer is a bona fide attempt to prove the interoperability and open source nature of Autodesk's platform,' says Pete Basiliere. 'And by sharing its design we could see a second wave of small start-ups creating stereolithography machines just as the makers did when the early material extrusion patents expired.' Chief executive Carl Bass likened the new printer to Google's first Nexus smartphone, a product meant to inspire other manufacturers to install Android on their handsets rather than become a bestseller itself. In Autodesk's case the idea is to drive the adoption of its new Spark software, a product it likens to being an 'operating system for 3D-printing'. Although Autodesk is giving away both Spark and the printer's design, the company should still profit because the move would drive demand for the firm's other products. 'If 3D printing succeeds we succeed, because the only way you can print is if you have a 3D model, and our customers are the largest makers of 3D models in the world.'
Instead of the extrusion technique most commonly used by existing budget printers, Autodesk's printer uses a laser to harden liquid plastic to create the objects delivering smoother, more complex and more detailed objects. 'We're making a printer that, rather than just being able to load in proprietary materials, you can load in any material you want. You can formulate your own polymers and experiment with those. That's an important next step because we think material science is a breakthrough that has to happen to make [the industry] go from low-volume 3D-printed stuff to where it really starts changing manufacturing.' Bass said, its printer is targeted at more professional users–for creating small objects like medical devices or jewelry–and will likely end up closer to the $5,000 range, though exact pricing has not been set."
First time accepted submitter registrations_suck (1075251) writes in with news about the dismantling of the HAARP project. The U.S. Air Force gave official notice to Congress Wednesday that it intends to dismantle the $300 million High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program in Gakona this summer. The shutdown of HAARP, a project created by the late Sen. Ted Stevens when he wielded great control over the U.S. defense budget, will start after a final research experiment takes place in mid-June, the Air Force said in a letter to Congress Tuesday. While the University of Alaska has expressed interest in taking over the research site, which is off the Tok Cutoff, in an area where black spruce was cleared a quarter-century ago for the Air Force Backscatter radar project that was never completed. But the school has not volunteered to pay $5 million a year to run HAARP. Responding to questions from Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski during a Senate hearing Wednesday, David Walker, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology and Engineering, said this is 'not an area that we have any need for in the future' and it would not be a good use of Air Force research funds to keep HAARP going. 'We're moving on to other ways of managing the ionosphere, which the HAARP was really designed to do,' he said. 'To inject energy into the ionosphere to be able to actually control it. But that work has been completed.' Comments of that sort have given rise to endless conspiracy theories, portraying HAARP as a super weapon capable of mind control or weather control, with enough juice to trigger hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes."
guises (2423402) writes "The oldest known orca has recently been spotted off western Canada at an age of 103. A female nicknamed 'granny,' photos exist of her from the 1930s, where she can be identified by her distinctive saddle patch. The news has prompted calls for another evaluation of marine mammals in captivity — orcas in captivity usually don't live beyond their 20s."
itwbennett (1594911) writes "Despite the hot job market and competitive salaries, the share of Computer Science degrees as a percentage of BA degrees has remained essentially unchanged since 1981, according to data from the National Center for Educational Statistics' Digest of Educational Statistics. If history is any indication, it will take a cultural phenomenon to shift the percentage higher: Blogger Phil Johnson point out that there were 'two distinct peaks, one in 1985 (4.4% of U.S. college degrees) and one in 2002 (4.42%). These would represent big increases for the classes entering school in 1981 and 1998 respectively. The former year corresponds to the beginning of computers coming into the home and the release of things like MS-DOS 1.0, all of which may have increased interest in programming. The latter year was during the dot com bubble, which, no doubt, also boosted interest.'"
coondoggie (973519) writes "Future autos leased by the federal government will be equipped with some advanced high-tech safety technology in an effort to test the equipment in real-life situations. The General Services Administration (GSA) and the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said they would team up on the program to further develop high-tech driver and vehicle safety technology."
An anonymous reader writes "Video game development budgets have been rising for years, and the recent launch of a new generation of consoles has only made it worse. Developers of AAA titles are now fighting to keep costs manageable while providing the technological advances gamers have come to expect. Just a few years ago, budgets ranging above $100 million were considered absurd, but now Activision is committing $500 million to a new IP from the studio that created Halo. Alan Roberts, technical director for Playground Games, says development teams keep expanding: 'Our in-house development team is roughly 20 per cent bigger than it was on last-gen, but we're doing even more with outsourcers this time in order to create content to the level of detail required by new generation games.' He adds that one way studios are trying to defray costs is to put more effort into building great tools for content creators."
New submitter Megan Sever writes: "This is a cool story about anthropogenic effects of water withdrawal moving mountains — literally. According to new research published today (abstract) and reported in EARTH Magazine, humans have been causing the Sierra Nevada mountains to rise. By withdrawing water for irrigation and other purposes, we have inadvertently removed water from the mountains, allowing them to uplift. The research shows a seasonal and annual cycle."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Ryan Reed reports that when most Game of Thrones fans imagine George R.R. Martin writing his epic fantasy novels, they probably picture the author working on a futuristic desktop (or possibly carving his words onto massive stones like the Ten Commandments). But the truth is that Martin works on an outdated DOS machine using '80s word processor WordStar 4.0, as he revealed during an interview on Conan. 'I actually like it,' says Martin. 'It does everything I want a word processing program to do, and it doesn't do anything else. I don't want any help. I hate some of these modern systems where you type a lower case letter and it becomes a capital letter. I don't want a capital. If I wanted a capital, I would have typed a capital. I know how to work the shift key.' 'I actually have two computers,' Martin continued. 'I have a computer I browse the Internet with and I get my email on, and I do my taxes on. And then I have my writing computer, which is a DOS machine, not connected to the Internet.'"
itwbennett writes: "In an emailed statement, Samsung offered its 'sincerest apology' for the sickness and deaths of some of its workers, vowing to compensate those affected and their families. So far there have been 26 reported victims of blood cancers who worked in Samsung's Gi-Heung and On-Yang semiconductor plants. Ten have died. Other alleged workplace-related illnesses include miscarriages, infertility, hair loss, blood disorders, kidney troubles and liver disease."
An anonymous reader writes "Last year the W3C approved the inclusion of DRM in future HTML revisions. It's called Encrypted Media Extensions, and it was not well received by the web community. Nevertheless, it had the support of several major browser makers, and now Mozilla CTO Andreas Gal has a post explaining how Firefox will be implementing EME. He says, 'This is a difficult and uncomfortable step for us given our vision of a completely open Web, but it also gives us the opportunity to actually shape the DRM space and be an advocate for our users and their rights in this debate. ... From the security perspective, for Mozilla it is essential that all code in the browser is open so that users and security researchers can see and audit the code. DRM systems explicitly rely on the source code not being available. In addition, DRM systems also often have unfavorable privacy properties. ... Firefox does not load this module directly. Instead, we wrap it into an open-source sandbox. In our implementation, the CDM will have no access to the user's hard drive or the network. Instead, the sandbox will provide the CDM only with communication mechanism with Firefox for receiving encrypted data and for displaying the results.'"
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes with news that we may soon learn which countries were sold the FinFisher malware package to spy on their own citizens. "The UK's High Court ruled yesterday that HM Revenue and Customs acted 'unlawfully' when it declined to detail how it was investigating the export of digital spy tools created by a British company. Human rights group Privacy International is celebrating the decision of Mr. Justice Green, which means HMRC now has to reconsider releasing information on its investigation into controls surrounding the export of malware known as FinFisher, created by British supplier Gamma International. The widespread FinFisher malware family, also known as FinSpy, can carry out a range of surveillance operations, from snooping on Skype and Facebook conversations to siphoning off emails or files sitting on a device. It is supposed to benefit law enforcement in their investigations, but has allegedly been found in various nations with poor human rights records, including Bahrain and Ethiopia."
An anonymous reader writes "In 2010 the state of public education in Newark, New Jersey was dire. The city's school system was a disaster, replete with violence, run-down buildings, and a high-school graduation rate of only 54%. Newark's mayor at the time, Cory Booker, teamed up with governor Chris Christie to turn the schools around. At the same time, Mark Zuckerberg was looking to get his feet wet in big-time philanthropy. The three hatched a plan, and Zuckerberg committed $100 million to reforming the schools. Four years later, most of the money is gone, and Newark's children are still struggling. Tens of millions were spent on consulting groups, and yet more went to union negotiations. Plans to change how teacher seniority affected staffing decisions — in order to reward results rather than persistence — were dashed by political maneuvering. The New Yorker provides a detailed account in a lengthy piece of investigative journalism, and MSN provides a summary."
rastos1 sends in a report about a significant bug fix for the Linux kernel (CVE-2014-0196). "'The memory-corruption vulnerability, which was introduced in version 2.6.31-rc3, released no later than 2009, allows unprivileged users to crash or execute malicious code on vulnerable systems, according to the notes accompanying proof-of-concept code available here. The flaw resides in the n_tty_write function controlling the Linux pseudo tty device. 'This is the first serious privilege escalation vulnerability since the perf_events issue (CVE-2013-2049) in April 2013 that is potentially reliably exploitable, is not architecture or configuration dependent, and affects a wide range of Linux kernels (since 2.6.31),' Dan Rosenberg, a senior security researcher at Azimuth Security, told Ars in an e-mail. 'A bug this serious only comes out once every couple years.' ... While the vulnerability can be exploited only by someone with an existing account, the requirement may not be hard to satisfy in hosting facilities that provide shared servers, Rosenberg said."
The Foundry has people, tools, machines, and a place to operate. The only thing it lacks is insurance, and insurance is a problem because Chief Creative person Mary Keane's vision for The Foundry includes children instead of limiting membership and machine use to people over 18. Other makerspaces have managed to allow children, so it's likely that Mary will find appropriate insurance before long and get the doors open. Besides being a creative space for children, not just adults, Mary is excited about having The Foundry use recycled plastics in its 3-D printers, which hardly any makerspaces do right now, although many are surely interested in this way to lessen their impact on the Earth. (Alternate Video Link)
New submitter Drunkulus writes "Journalist Ira Winkler has an article about his personal run-in with the Syrian Electronic Army. While admitting that the SEA has succeeded in hijacking the Wall Street Journal's Twitter accounts and defacing the RSA conference website, he calls them immature, inept script kiddies in this Computerworld column. Quoting: 'These people purport to be servants of the genocidal dictator of Syria and came together to support him, but they wasted their hack on what amounted to cyberbullying. This is not behavior that the SEA's Syrian intelligence handlers would condone. The SEA wasted an opportunity to promote its message, while divulging previously unknown attack vectors. ... I don't think that sort of immaturity will go over well with the SEA's Syrian intelligence bosses. And that could have implications for the influence of the group in the future.'"
redletterdave writes: "The other shoe has dropped for Square. The once-hyped mobile payments company is killing off its Wallet payments app and replacing it with a new app called Order, which will allow users to order food and beverages ahead of time at their favorite cafes and restaurants. For entrepreneurs, the concept of a mobile wallet seems so logical that the payments industry looks like it's ripe for disruption. If everybody is always carrying around a powerful computer in their pockets, it's natural to consider loading payment information onto that secure device as an alternative to cash or plastic cards. The problem comes when this logical entrepreneurial spirit merges with an industry segment that is classically illogical. The payments system in the United States is a mess of entrenched interests, fragmented business opportunities, old infrastructure (like point-of-sale systems), back room handshakes and cut throat competition. This behavior is not going to change any time soon, which means mobile wallets like Square are going to continue to struggle — at least until a more legitimate, easy-to-use and cost-effective solution comes along."
M3.14 writes: "H. R. Giger, the Swiss artist and designer of Ridley Scott's Alien, has died, aged 74. Hans Rudolf 'Ruedi' Giger sustained injuries caused by a fall, Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung has reported (link in German — English summary available). The terrifying creature and sets he created for Ridley Scott's film earned him an Oscar for special effects in 1980. In the art world, Giger is appreciated for his wide body of work in the fantastic realism and surrealistic genres. Film work was just one of his talents. Giger is also known for his sculptures, paintings and furniture. The H.R. Giger Museum, inaugurated in the summer of 1998 in the Château St. Germain, is a four-level building complex in the historic, medieval walled city of Gruyères. It is the permanent home to many of the artist's most prominent works."
schwit1 sends word that Russia will now ban U.S. military satellite launches using Russian-made rockets. According to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, this is retaliation for U.S. sanctions on high-tech items, put in place because of the dispute in the Ukraine. Rogozin also threatened to block U.S. plans to keep using the International Space Station beyond its 2020 mission end date. That's not all: 'Rogozin also said Russia will suspend the operation of GPS satellite navigation system sites in Russia from June and seek talks with Washington on opening similar sites in the United States for Russia's own system, Glonass. He threatened the permanent closure of the GPS sites in Russia if that is not agreed by September.'
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Daniel Gilbert reports at the WSJ that Oklahoma oil man George Kaiser is breaking with fellow energy executives in asking the state to raise taxes on oil companies, including his own. 'Oklahoma is in desperate financial circumstances,' says the billionaire who controls Kaiser-Francis Oil Co. Kaiser says a higher tax on oil-and-gas production could help the state pay for education and much needed infrastructure improvements, and is asking legislators to return the state's gross production tax to 7 percent, challenging a plan proposed by fellow oil company executives who want to see the rate settle at 2 percent for the first four years of production.
Several energy companies and the State Chamber of Oklahoma say that lower tax rates for the costliest oil and gas wells are necessary to continue drilling at a pace that has stimulated economic activity and created other sources of revenue. Berry Mullennix, CEO at Tulsa-based Panther Energy, credits the tax program for helping his company grow to more than 90 employees, up from 18 a few years ago. 'I would argue the tax incentive is a direct reason we have so much horizontal drilling in the state today,' Mullennix says ... When companies decide to drill a well, they make their best guesses on how much it will cost to drill the well, how much the well will produce and what the commodity price will be. All of those estimates can vary widely, Kaiser says. 'With ad valorem taxes, the difference among states is 2 or 3 or 4 percent. The other factors can vary by 50 or 100 percent.' Compared with those other factors, Kaiser says the tax rate is incidental. 'It's a rounding error.'"
tsu doh nimh (609154) writes "A 16-year-old male from Ottawa, Canada has been arrested for allegedly making at least 30 fraudulent calls — including bomb threats and 'swattings' — to emergency services across North America over the past few months. Canadian media isn't identifying the youth because of laws that prevent the disclosure, but the alleged perpetrator was outed in a dox on Pastebin that was picked up by journalist Brian Krebs, who was twice the recipient of attempted swat raids at the hand of this kid. From the story: 'I told this user privately that targeting an investigative reporter maybe wasn't the brightest idea, and that he was likely to wind up in jail soon. But @ProbablyOnion was on a roll: That same day, he hung out his for-hire sign on Twitter, with the following message: "want someone swatted? Tweet me their name, address and I'll make it happen."'"
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Things were looking up for Earth about 12,800 years ago. The last Ice Age was coming to an end, mammoths and other large mammals romped around North America, and humans were beginning to settle down and cultivate wild plants. Then, suddenly, the planet plunged into a deep freeze, returning to near-glacial temperatures for more than a millennium before getting warm again. The mammoths disappeared at about the same time, as did a major Native American culture that thrived on hunting them. A persistent band of researchers has blamed this apparent disaster on the impact of a comet or asteroid, but a new study concludes that the real explanation for the chill, at least, may lie strictly with Earth-bound events."
New submitter Czech37 (918252) writes "If you work in an organization that isn't focused on development, where computer systems are used to support other core business functions, getting management buy-in for the use of open source can be tricky. Here's how an academic librarian negotiated with his management to get them to give open source software a try, and the four phrases he recommends you avoid using." "Open Source," "Free [Software]," "Contribute," and "Development" appear to scare managers away.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Are your lectures droning on? Change it up every 10 minutes with more active teaching techniques and more students will succeed, researchers say. A new study finds that undergraduate students in classes with traditional stand-and-deliver lectures are 1.5 times more likely to fail than students in classes that use more stimulating, so-called active learning methods."
Bob9113 (14996) writes "According to Glenn Greenwald, reporting in The Guardian: 'A June 2010 report from the head of the NSA's Access and Target Development department is shockingly explicit. The NSA routinely receives – or intercepts – routers, servers, and other computer network devices being exported from the US before they are delivered to the international customers. The agency then implants backdoor surveillance tools, repackages the devices with a factory seal, and sends them on. The NSA thus gains access to entire networks and all their users. The document gleefully observes that some "SIGINT tradecraft is very hands-on (literally!)".'"
You think you have problems getting a bank loan? It's much harder for a small-town woman in Uganda or India. But Indian microfinance provider ASOMI has more than 50 branches and over 40,000 clients, and is an active Mifos user. The loans ASOMI makes are absurdly small by U.S. bank (or Indian bank) standards. Ugandans in the same "I just need a little bit of money to start (or expand) my business" predicament can turn to RedMutual Microfinance. And so on around the world, with the bulk of microfinance operators who use open source Mifos concentrated in S. and S.E. Asia and India. "But," you say, "I'm an IT person. I don't want to go into the microfinance business, and one of the little loans (often less than $100) they deal with wouldn't help me." True. But you can become a Mifos Specialist, which Mifos defines as "a consulting firm that provides technical support and consultation for microfinance institutions evaluating and deploying Mifos, and for ongoing use and customization." You won't get rich doing this, but it looks like there's a decent living (by Kenyan or Indonesian standards) in working with Mifos. They can use volunteer help, too. So check out Mifos and see if it has anything to offer you -- or if you have anything to offer Mifos. Either way, you can help poor people in poor countries become entrepreneurs and break the cycle of poverty that holds them down. (Alternate video link)
mdsolar (1045926) writes "The collapse of large parts of the ice sheet in West Antarctica appears to have begun and is almost certainly unstoppable, with global warming accelerating the pace of the disintegration, two groups of scientists reported Monday. The finding, which had been feared by some scientists for decades, means that a rise in global sea level of at least 10 feet may now be inevitable. The rise may continue to be relatively slow for at least the next century or so, the scientists said, but sometime after that it will probably speed up so sharply as to become a crisis."
Mcusanelli (3564469) writes "HP has become the most recent platinum member of OpenDaylight, the open source software-defined networking (SDN) project sponsored by the Linux Foundation. From the article: 'The Linux Foundation, which sponsors OpenDaylight as a collaborative project, is welcoming the addition of HP to the line-up of vendors helping to lead OpenDaylight -- which already includes Brocade, Cisco, Citrix, Ericsson, IBM, Juniper, Microsoft and Red Hat as platinum members -- as a sign of industry convergence around OpenDaylight as the SDN platform of choice. "We are seeing all the major players aligning their SDN strategies around OpenDaylight. HP will be another galvanizing force for the project and industry, bringing the spirit of partnership and collaboration that has made them so successful," Neela Jacques, executive director, OpenDaylight, said in a statement.'"
An anonymous reader writes with news that Michael Devine, one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit accusing tech firms including Apple and Google of conspiring to keep salaries low, has asked the court to reject a $324 million settlement. "Apple has more than $150 billion in the bank, eclipsing the combined cash reserves of Israel and Britain. Google, Intel and Adobe have a total of about $80 billion stored up for a rainy day. Against such tremendous cash hoards, $324 million is chump change. But that is what the four technology companies have agreed to pay to settle a class action brought by their own employees. The suit, which was on track to go to trial in San Jose, Calif., at the end of May, promised weeks if not months of damaging revelations about how Silicon Valley executives conspired to suppress wages and limit competition. Details of the settlement are still under wraps. 'The class wants a chance at real justice,' he wrote. 'We want our day in court.' He noted that the settlement amount was about one-tenth of the estimated $3 billion lost in compensation by the 64,000 class members. In a successful trial, antitrust laws would triple that sum. 'As an analogy,' Mr. Devine wrote, 'if a shoplifter is caught on video stealing a $400 iPad from the Apple Store, would a fair and just resolution be for the shoplifter to pay Apple $40, keep the iPad, and walk away with no record or admission of wrongdoing? Of course not.' 'If the other class members join me in opposition, I believe we will be successful in convincing the court to give us our due process,' Mr. Devine said in an interview on Sunday. He has set up a website, Tech Worker Justice, and is looking for legal representation. Any challenge will take many months. The other three class representatives could not be reached for comment over the weekend."
An anonymous reader writes "FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said he will revise proposed rules for regulating broadband Internet, and is offering assurances that the agency won't allow companies to segregate Web traffic into fast and slow lanes. From the article: 'The new language by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to be circulated as early as Monday is an attempt to address criticism of his proposal unveiled last month that would ban broadband providers from blocking or slowing down websites but allow them to strike deals in which content companies could pay them for faster delivery of Web content to customers.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Tim Nudd writes that it's the perfect match: Young Brazilians want to learn English. Elderly Americans living in retirement homes just want someone to talk to. Why not connect them? The advertising company FCB Brazil did just that with its 'Speaking Exchange' project for CNA language schools where young Brazilians and older Americans connect via Web chats, and they not only begin to share a language—they develop relationships that enrich both sides culturally and emotionally. 'The goal of the Speaking Exchange project is to transform lives,' says Luciana Fortuna. 'Our students have the opportunity to practice English with people who are willing to listen. During the chat sessions, the students discuss ideas and information from their lives in Brazil with the American senior citizens, many of whom have never had contact with anyone from Brazil before.' The pilot project was implemented at a CNA school in Liberdade, Brazil, and the Windsor Park Retirement Community in Chicago. The conversations are recorded and uploaded as private YouTube videos for the teachers to evaluate the students' development. 'The idea is simple and it's a win-win proposition for both the students and the American senior citizens. It's exciting to see their reactions and contentment. It truly benefits both sides,' says Joanna Monteiro."