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schwit1 writes with an update on the U.S. government's troubled F-35 program, the cost of which keeps rising while the planes themselves are grounded. A fire in late June caused officials to halt flights for the entire fleet of $112 million vehicles last week. Despite this, Congress is still anxious to push the program forward, and Foreign Policy explains why: Part of that protection comes from the jaw-dropping amounts of money at stake. The Pentagon intends to spend roughly $399 billion to develop and buy 2,443 of the planes. However, over the course of the aircrafts' lifetimes, operating costs are expected to exceed $1 trillion. Lockheed has carefully hired suppliers and subcontractors in almost every state to ensure that virtually all senators and members of Congress have a stake in keeping the program — and the jobs it has created — in place. "An upfront question with any program now is: How many congressional districts is it in?" said Thomas Christie, a former senior Pentagon acquisitions official. Counting all of its suppliers and subcontractors, parts of the program are spread out across at least 45 states. That's why there's no doubt lawmakers will continue to fund the program even though this is the third time in 17 months that the entire fleet has been grounded due to engine problems."
stephendavion sends news that Christopher Wilson, a 22-year-old computer science student, has been sent to jail for six months for refusing to hand over his computer encryption passwords. Wilson has been accused of "phoning in a fake warning of an impending cyber attack against Northumbria Police that was convincing enough for the force to temporarily suspend its site as a precaution once a small attack started." He's also accused of trolling on Facebook. Wilson only came to the attention of police in October 2012 after he allegedly emailed warnings about an online threat against one of the staff at Newcastle University. ... The threatening emails came from computer servers linked to Wilson. Police obtained a warrant on this basis and raided his home in Washington, where they seized various items of computer equipment. ... Investigators wanted to examine his encrypted computer but the passwords supplied by Wilson turned out to be incorrect. None of the 50 passwords he provided worked. Frustration with his lack of co-operation prompted police to obtained a order from a judge compelling him to turn over the correct passphrase last year. A judge ordered him to turn over these passwords on the grounds of national security but Wilson still failed to comply, earning him six months behind bars.
mdsolar sends this story from the NY Times: Here's what your future will look like if we are to have a shot at preventing devastating climate change. Within about 15 years every new car sold in the United States will be electric. ... Up to 60 percent of power might come from nuclear sources. And coal's footprint will shrink drastically, perhaps even disappear from the power supply. This course, created by a team of energy experts, was unveiled on Tuesday in a report for the United Nations (PDF) that explores the technological paths available for the world's 15 main economies to both maintain reasonable rates of growth and cut their carbon emissions enough by 2050 to prevent climatic havoc. It offers a sobering conclusion: We might be able to pull it off. But it will take an overhaul of the way we use energy, and a huge investment in the development and deployment of new energy technologies. Significantly, it calls for an entirely different approach to international diplomacy on the issue of how to combat climate change.
Awarded the first Presidential Endowed Chair at Clemson University, and being named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), are just a couple of Juan Gilbert's more noteworthy honors. Juan is the Associate Chair of Research in the Computer & Information Science & Engineering Department at the University of Florida where he leads the Human Centered Computing Lab. With the help of students, the lab works on a variety of issues, including electronic voting, automotive user interfaces, advanced learning technologies, culturally relevant computing or ethnocomputing, and databases and data analytics. Dr. Gilbert has agreed to answer any questions you might have about computing and affecting society through accessible technologies. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes The National Security Agency and FBI have covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans — including a political candidate and several civil rights activists, academics, and lawyers — under secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies. From the article: "The individuals appear on an NSA spreadsheet in the Snowden archives called 'FISA recap.' Under that law, the Justice Department must convince a judge with the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that there is probable cause to believe that American targets are not only agents of an international terrorist organization or other foreign power, but also 'are or may be' engaged in or abetting espionage, sabotage, or terrorism. The authorizations must be renewed by the court, usually every 90 days for U.S. citizens. ... The five Americans whose email accounts were monitored by the NSA and FBI have all led highly public, outwardly exemplary lives. All five vehemently deny any involvement in terrorism or espionage, and none advocates violent jihad or is known to have been implicated in any crime, despite years of intense scrutiny by the government and the press. Some have even climbed the ranks of the U.S. national security and foreign policy establishments."
wiredmikey (1824622) writes The Operation Aurora attack was publicized in 2010 and impacted Google and a number of other high-profile companies. However, DHS responded to the request by releasing more than 800 pages of documents related to the 'Aurora' experiment conducted several years ago at the Idaho National Laboratory, where researchers demonstrated a way to damage a generator via a cyber-attack. Of the documents released by the DHS, none were related to the Operation Aurora cyber attack as requested. Many of the 840 pages are comprised of old weekly reports from the DHS' Control System Security Program (CSSP) from 2007. Other pages that were released included information about possible examples of facilities that could be vulnerable to attack, such as water plants and gas pipelines.
ideonexus (1257332) writes In January of 2014, the American Traditions Institute (ATI) sought climate scientist Micheal Mann's emails from his time at the University of Virginia, a request that was denied in the courts. Now the Virginia Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that ATI must pay damages for filing a frivolous lawsuit. Thus ends "Climategate." Hopefully.
MarkWhittington writes: While he has initiated the social media campaign, #Apollo45, to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the first moon landing, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin is also using the occasion to campaign for an expansion of American space exploration. According to a Tuesday story in the Washington Post, Aldrin has expressed the wish that President Obama make some sort of announcement along those lines this July 20. The idea has a certain aspect of deja vu. Aldrin believes that the American civil space program is adrift and that some new space exploration, he prefers to Mars, would be just the thing to set it back on course. There is only one problem, however. President Obama has already made the big space exploration announcement. Aldrin knows this because he was there. President Obama flew to the Kennedy Space Center on April 15, 2010, with Aldrin accompanying as a photo op prop, and made the announcement that America would no longer be headed back to the moon, as was the plan under his predecessor George W. Bush. Instead American astronauts would visit an Earth approaching asteroid and then, decades hence, would land on Mars.
An anonymous reader writes Dr. James Simons received his doctorate at the age of 23. He was breaking codes for the NSA at 26, and was put in charge of Stony Brook University's math department at 30. He received the Veblen Prize in Geometry in 1976. Today, he's a multi-billionaire, using his fortune to set up educational foundations for math and science. "His passion, however, is basic research — the risky, freewheeling type. He recently financed new telescopes in the Chilean Andes that will look for faint ripples of light from the Big Bang, the theorized birth of the universe. The afternoon of the interview, he planned to speak to Stanford physicists eager to detect the axion, a ghostly particle thought to permeate the cosmos but long stuck in theoretical limbo. Their endeavor 'could be very exciting,' he said, his mood palpable, like that of a kid in a candy store." Dr. Simons is quick to say this his persistence, more than his intelligence, is key to his success: "I wasn't the fastest guy in the world. I wouldn't have done well in an Olympiad or a math contest. But I like to ponder. And pondering things, just sort of thinking about it and thinking about it, turns out to be a pretty good approach."
sfcrazy writes: The KDE Community has announced the first release of Plasma 5. It's a release candidate, so it's meant for testing and preview purposes, like the developer preview of Android L. The final release will be announced next week, so this is the last chance for testers and developers to find issues and get them fixed before the release.
An anonymous reader writes: The used smartphone market is thriving, with many people selling their old devices on eBay or craigslist when it's time to upgrade. Unfortunately, it seems most people are really bad at wiping their phone of personal data before passing it on to a stranger. Antivirus company Avast bought 20 used Android phones off eBay, and used some basic data recovery software to reconstruct deleted files. From just those 20 phones, they pulled over 40,000 photographs, including 1,500 family pictures of children and over a thousand more.. personal pictures. They also recovered hundreds of emails and text messages, over a thousand Google searches, a completed loan application, and identity information for four of the previous owners. Only one of the phones had security software installed on it, but that phone turned out to provide the most information of all: "Hackers at Avast were able to identify the previous owner, access his Facebook page, plot his previous whereabouts through GPS coordinates, and find the names and numbers of more than a dozen of his closest contacts. What's more, the company discovered a lot about this guy's penchant for kink and a completed copy of a Sexual Harassment course — hopefully a preventative measure."
Jason Koebler writes: The last remaining strains of smallpox are kept in highly protected government laboratories in Russia and at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. And, apparently, in a dusty cardboard box in an old storage room in Maryland. The CDC said today that government workers had found six freeze-dried vials of the Variola virus, which causes smallpox, in a storage room at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland last week. Each test tube had a label on it that said "variola," which was a tip-off, but the agency did genetic testing to confirm that the viruses were, in fact, smallpox.
itwbennett writes: Python has surpassed Java as the top language used to introduce U.S. students to programming and computer science, according to a recent survey posted by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Eight of the top 10 computer science departments now use Python to teach coding, as well as 27 of the top 39 schools, indicating that it is the most popular language for teaching introductory computer science courses, according to Philip Guo, a computer science researcher who compiled the survey for ACM."
bmahersciwriter (2955569) writes In one of the biggest-ever seismology deployments at an active volcano, researchers are peppering Mount St Helens in Washington state with equipment to study the intricate system of chambers and pipes that fed the most devastating eruption in U.S. history. This month, they plan to set off 24 explosions — each equivalent to a magnitude-2 earthquake — around around the slumbering beast in an effort to map the its interior with unprecedented depth and clarity.
OakDragon (885217) writes In the shadow of the "Net Neutrality" debate, Google's YouTube has created a service to report on your carrier's usage and speed, summarizing the data in a "Lower/Standard/High Definition" graph. You may see the service offered when a video buffers or stutters. A message could display under the video asking "Experiencing interruptions? Find out why." Find your own provider's grade here.
KDE Community (3396057) writes The KDE Community is proud to announce the release of KDE Frameworks 5.0. Frameworks 5 is the next generation of KDE libraries, modularized and optimized for easy integration in Qt applications. The Frameworks offer a wide variety of commonly needed functionality in mature, peer reviewed and well tested libraries with friendly licensing terms. There are over 50 different Frameworks as part of this release providing solutions including hardware integration, file format support, additional widgets, plotting functions, spell checking and more. Many of the Frameworks are cross platform and have minimal or no extra dependencies making them easy to build and add to any Qt application. Version five of the desktop shell, Plasma, will be released soon, and packages of Plasma-next and KDE Frameworks 5 will trickle into Ubuntu Utopic over the next few days. There's a Live CD of Frameworks 5 / Plasma-next, last updated July 4th.
sciencehabit writes Fossils unearthed at a construction project in South Carolina belong to a bird with the largest wingspan ever known, according to a new study. The animal measured 6.4 meters from wingtip to wingtip, about the length of a 10-passenger limousine and approaching twice the size of the wandering albatross, today's wingspan record-holder. Like modern-day albatrosses, the newly described species would have been a soaring champ.
An anonymous reader writes Jeffrey Baldwin was essentially starved to death by his grandparents. Funds had been raised to build a monument for Jeffrey in Toronto. The monument was designed to feature Jeffrey in a Superman costume, and even though Superman should be public domain, DC Comics has denied the request. "The request to DC had been made by Todd Boyce, an Ottawa father who did not know the Baldwin family. Boyce was so moved by the testimony at the coroner’s inquest into Jeffrey’s death last year that he started an online fundraising campaign for the monument. DC’s senior vice-president of business and legal affairs, Amy Genkins, told Boyce in an email that 'for a variety of legal reasons, we are not able to accede to the request, nor many other incredibly worthy projects that come to our attention.'... For Boyce, it was a huge blow, as he felt the Superman aspect was a crucial part of the bronze monument, which will include a bench. The coroner’s inquest heard from Jeffrey’s father that his son loved to dress up as Superman."
redletterdave writes Uber announced in a blog post on Monday it would cut the prices of its UberX service in New York City by 20% — but it's only for a limited time. Uber says this makes it cheaper to use UberX than taking a taxi. Consumers like Uber's aggressive pricing strategy but competitors — and some of its own drivers — are not as happy. UberX, Uber’s cheaper service usually hosted by regular people driving basic sedans rather than fancy black cars, also cut its rates by 25% last week in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland. As a result of that announcement, Uber said its service was effectively “45% cheaper than a taxi.”
benrothke writes There is a not so fine line between data dashboards and other information displays that provide pretty but otherwise useless and unactionable information; and those that provide effective answers to key questions. Data-Driven Security: Analysis, Visualization and Dashboards is all about the later. In this extremely valuable book, authors Jay Jacobs and Bob Rudis show you how to find security patterns in your data logs and extract enough information from it to create effective information security countermeasures. By using data correctly and truly understanding what that data means, the authors show how you can achieve much greater levels of security. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
itwbennett writes Using supercomputers to predict and study pollution patterns is nothing new. And already, China's government agencies, and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, publicly report real-time pollution levels to residents. But IBM is hoping to design a better system tailored for Beijing that can predict air quality levels three days in advance, and even pinpoint the exact sources of the pollution down to the street level, said Jin Dong, an IBM Research director involved in the project.
An anonymous reader writes with news about a dream job for binge-watching couch potatoes in the UK. Ploughing through your new favourite series on Netflix is something you probably enjoy doing after a working day, but what if it was your working day? You see, Netflix has a fancy recommendation engine that suggests movies and shows you might like based on your prior viewing habits. To do that successfully, it needs information from a special group of humans that goes beyond the basics like genre and user rating. "Taggers," as they're known, analyse Netflix content and feed the recommendation engine with more specific descriptors if, for example, a film is set in space or a cult classic. In short, these people get paid to watch TV all day, and Netflix is currently hiring a new tagger in the UK.
Trachman writes The US Transport Security Administration revealed on Sunday that enhanced security procedures on flights coming to the US now include not allowing uncharged cell phones and other devices onto planes. “During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones. Powerless devices will not be permitted on board the aircraft. The traveler may also undergo additional screening,” TSA said in a statement.
An anonymous reader writes with a story about a unique 500-mile-long high-speed optical cable project that runs along the Pacific seafloor. "The Juan de Fuca tectonic plate is by far one of the Earth's smallest. It spans just a few hundred kilometers of the Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia coast. But what the Juan de Fuca lacks in size it makes up for in connectivity. It's home to a unique, high-speed optical cabling that has snaked its way across the depths of the Pacific seafloor plate since late 2009. This link is called NEPTUNE—the North-East Pacific Time-Series Underwater Networked Experiment—and, at more than 800 kilometers (about 500 miles), it's about the same length as 40,000 subway cars connected in a single, long train. A team of scientists, researchers, and engineers from the not-for-profit group Oceans Network Canada maintains the network, which cost CAD $111 million to install and $17 million each year to maintain. But know that this isn't your typical undersea cable. For one, NEPTUNE doesn't traverse the ocean's expanse, but instead loops back to its starting point at shore. And though NEPTUNE is designed to facilitate the flow of information through the ocean, it also collects information about the ocean, ocean life, and the ocean floor."
PuceBaboon writes "The BBC is reporting that a Spanish firm, Gowex, which provides free Wi-Fi services in major cities world-wide, has filed for bankruptcy, following revelations that financial accounts filed over the past four years were "false". The company supplies services in London, Shanghai, New York and Buenos Aires, as well as Madrid. Other sources report that up to 90% of the company's reported revenue came from "undisclosed related parties" (in other words, from Gowex itself) and that the value of the company's share price was now effectively zero.
chicksdaddy writes Mobile health and wellness is one of the fastest growing categories of mobile apps. Already, apps exist that measure your blood pressure and take your pulse, jobs traditionally done by tried and true instruments like blood pressure cuffs and stethoscopes. If that sounds to you like the kind of thing the FDA should be vetting, don't hold your breath. A senior advisor to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that the current process for approving medical devices couldn't possibly meet the challenge of policing mobile health and wellness apps and that, in most cases, the agency won't even try. Bakul Patel, and advisor to the FDA, said the Agency couldn't scale to police hundreds of new health and wellness apps released each month to online marketplaces like the iTunes AppStore and Google Play.
sabri writes To have a labor shortage or not to have, that's the question. According to the San Jose Mercury News: Last month, three tech advocacy groups launched a labor boycott against Infosys, IBM and the global staffing and consulting company ManpowerGroup, citing a "pattern of excluding U.S. workers from job openings on U.S soil." They say Manpower, for example, last year posted U.S. job openings in India but not in the United States." "It's getting pretty frustrating when you can't compete on salary for a skilled job," said Rich Hajinlian, a veteran computer programmer from the Boston area. "You hear references all the time that these big companies ... can't find skilled workers. I am a skilled worker."
An anonymous reader writes Researchers had previously thought that, being excessively uncommon and migrant, whales didn't have much of an effect on the more extensive marine environment. However, a new study distributed in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment gives whales a role as "engineers" of the oceans. In the study, scientists from the University of Vermont suggest that the 13 types of extraordinary whale have an essential and positive impact on the capacity of seas, on carbon storage, and on the state of fisheries around the globe. "The decline in great whale numbers, estimated to be at least 66% and perhaps as high as 90%, has likely altered the structure and function of the oceans, but recovery is possible and in many cases is already underway," researchers wrote in an article announcing their investigation.
An anonymous reader writes in with the latest news about NSA spying from documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post. Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else. Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or "minimized," more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans' privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S. residents."
An anonymous reader writes A research team at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria, says it has studied how much it would cost for governments to stick to their worldwide global warming goal. They've concluded that for "a 70 per cent chance of keeping below 2 degrees Celsius, the investment will have to rise to $1.2 trillion a year." Where to get that money? The researchers say that "global investment in energy is already $1 trillion a year and rising" with more than half going to fossil fuel energy. If those subsidies were spent on renewable energy instead, the researchers hypothesize that "global warming would be close to being solved."
kdataman (1687444) writes "There is a breathtaking video on Youtube of someone flying a quadcopter around and through a professional fireworks display. Of course, it was an illegal and dangerous thing to do. It also may inspire someone else to do something even more dangerous. But even so, I have watched it 4 times and get goosebumps every time. An article in Forbes says that unit is a DJI Phantom 2 with a GoPro Hero 3 Silver camera. The fireworks are in West Palm Beach, Florida."
An anonymous reader writes One of the common problems of the smartphone generation has been parents who given their phones to children, who then rack up hundreds of dollars of in-app purchases without the parents' knowledge. The FTC smacked Apple with a fine for this, and Google is facing a lawsuit as well. Now, Amazon is the latest target, having received a complaint from the FTC demanding a similar settlement to Apple's. Amazon, however, is not willing to concede the fine; they plan to fight it. Amazon said, "The Commission's unwillingness to depart from the precedent it set with Apple despite our very different facts leaves us no choice but to defend our approach in court (PDF). The main claim in the draft complaint is that we failed to get customers' informed consent to in-app charges made by children and did not address that problem quickly or effectively enough in response to customer complaints. We have continually improved our experience since launch, but even at launch, when customers told us their kids had made purchases they didn't want, we refunded those purchases."
theodp writes: The AP's announcement that software will write the majority of its earnings reports, argues The Atlantic's Joe Pinsker, doesn't foretell the end of journalism — such reports hardly require humans anyway. Pinsker writes, "While, yes, it's true that algorithms can cram stories about vastly different subjects into the same uncanny monotone — they can cover Little League like Major League Baseball, and World of Warcraft raids like firefights in Iraq — they're really just another handy attempt at sifting through an onslaught of data. Automated Insights' success goes hand-in-hand with the rise of Big Data, and it makes sense that the company's algorithms currently do best when dealing in number-based topics like sports and stocks." So, any chance that Madden-like (video) generated play-by-play technology could one day be applied to live sporting events?
First time accepted submitter SingleEntendre (1273012) writes "Time is running out for the Mayday PAC to reach its latest crowd funding goal of $5M. The total currently stands at $4.5M. Led by Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, the Mayday PAC seeks to reduce the influence of money in US politics by 2016, primarily by identifying and supporting congressional candidates who share this vision. If phase 2 is successful, with matching funds the total raised will be $12M. A self-imposed deadline arrives at of midnight tonight, July 4th, Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time (HAST)." (And now the total's at $4,700,066.)
theodp writes:Google recently announced Global Impact Awards for Computer Science, part of the company's $50 million investment to get girls to code. But Google's influence over K-12 CS education doesn't stop there. The Sun-Times reports that Chicago Public School (CPS) teachers are participating in a summer professional development program hosted by Google as part of the district's efforts to "saturate" schools with CS within 3 years: "The launch of CS4All [Computer Science for All], in partnership with Code.org and supported by Google, starts this fall in 60 CPS schools to try to bridge the digital divide and prepare students." And in two weeks, the Computer Science Teachers Association [CSTA] and Google will be presenting the National Computer Science Principles Education Summit. "Attendees at this event have been selected through a rigorous application process that will result in more than 70 educators and administrators working together to strategize about getting this new Advanced Placement course implemented in schools across the country," explains CSTA. The ACM, NSF, Google, CSTA, Microsoft, and NCWIT worked together in the past "to provide a wide range of information and guidance that would inform and shape CS education efforts," according to the University of Chicago, which notes it's now conducting a follow-up NSF-funded study — Barriers and Supports to Implementing Computer Science — that's advised by CPS, CSTA, and Code.org.
New submitter Plumpaquatsch writes: Deutsche Welle reports: "A member of Germany's foreign intelligence agency has been detained for possibly spying for the U.S. The 31-year-old is suspected of giving a U.S. spy agency information about a parliamentary inquiry of NSA activities. During questioning, the suspect reportedly told investigators that he had gathered information on an investigative committee from Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag. The panel is conducting an inquiry into NSA surveillance on German officials and citizens; yesterday an ex-staffer told it the NSA was 'totalitarian' mass collector of data."
An anonymous reader writes The biggest complaint about Tesla Motors' electric vehicles is that they're far too expensive for the average motorist. The Roadster sold for $109,000, and the Model S for $70,000. Chris Porritt, the company's VP of engineering, says their next model will aim for much broader availability. The compact Model E aims to be competitive with the Audi A4 and BMW 3-series, which both start in the low $30,000 range. To reduce cost, the Model E won't be built mostly with aluminum, like the Model S, and it will be roughly 20% smaller as well. The construction of the "Gigafactory" for battery production will also go a long way toward reducing the price. Their goal for launch is sometime around late 2016 or early 2017
An anonymous reader writes London's transportation regulator has ruled private-driver provider Uber is operating within the law. Licensed taxi drivers in London last month staged a protest urging Transport for London to find that Uber's mobile app acts as a taximeter, which is illegal for use by private-hire vehicles. "TfL said in a statement: 'In relation to the way Uber operates in London, TfL is satisfied that based upon our understanding of the relationship between the passenger and Uber London, and between Uber London and Uber UV, registered in Holland, that it is operating under the terms of the 1998 PHV(L) Act.' The decision was welcomed by Uber's general manger in the UK and Ireland Jo Bertram as a 'victory for common sense, technology, innovation — and above all, London.'"
mask.of.sanity writes Forensics and industry experts have cast doubt on an alleged National Security Agency capability to locate whistle blowers appearing in televised interviews based on how the captured background hum of electrical devices affects energy grids. Divining information from electrified wires is a known technique: Network Frequency Analysis (ENF) is used to prove video and audio streams have not been tampered with, but experts weren't sure if the technology could be used to locate individuals.
This is an interview with Duolingo engineer Franklin Ditzler. He's not a smooth marketing guy getting all rah-rah about the company and what it does, just a coder who enjoys his job and seems to like where he works and what he's doing. Note that Duolingo is a free language teaching tool, and they seem determined to keep it free for language students by selling crowdsourced translation services to companies like CNN and BuzzFeed.
Duolingo founder and CEO Luis von Ahn is an associate professor in the Carnegie Mellon University Computer Science Department, and was one of the original developers behind reCAPTCHA. Google acquired ReCAPTCHA in 2009 for "an undisclosed sum," a bit of history that led TechCrunch to speculate back in 2011 that Google would buy Duolingo within six months -- which didn't happen. But don't despair. It's still possible that Google (or another big company) might absorb Duolingo. We'll just have to wait and see -- and possibly improve our foreign language skills while we wait. (Alternate Video Link)
realized (2472730) writes "In nine cases in 2013, state police were unable to break the encryption used by criminal suspects they were investigating, according to an annual report on law enforcement eavesdropping released by the U.S. court system on Wednesday. That's more than twice as many cases as in 2012, when police said that they'd been stymied by crypto in four cases—and that was the first year they'd ever reported encryption preventing them from successfully surveilling a criminal suspect. Before then, the number stood at zero."
New submitter DaveSmith1982 writes with word from PV Tech that A property tax exemption for solar power systems in California has been extended to 2025, following the passing of a bill as part of the annual state budget. Senate Bill 871 (SB871) was approved during the signing of the budget by governor Jerry Brown, which took place last week. The wording of SB871 extends the period during which property taxes will not be applied to "active solar energy systems," which includes PV and solar water heaters.
New submitter marxmarv writes If you search the web for communications security information, or read online tech publications like Linux Journal or BoingBoing, you might be a terrorist. The German publication Das Erste disclosed a crumb of alleged XKeyScore configuration, with the vague suggestion of more source code to come, showing that Tor directory servers and their users, and as usual the interested and their neighbor's dogs due to overcapture, were flagged for closer monitoring. Linux Journal, whose domain is part of a listed selector, has a few choice words on their coveted award. Would it be irresponsible not to speculate further?
Graculus (3653645) writes Budgetmakers in the U.S. Senate have moved to halt U.S. participation in ITER, the huge international fusion experiment now under construction in Cadarache, France, that aims to demonstrate that nuclear fusion could be a viable source of energy. Although the details are not available, Senate sources confirm a report by Physics Today that the Senate's version of the budget for the Department of Energy (DOE) for fiscal year 2015, which begins 1 October, would provide just $75 million for the United States' part of the project. That would be half of what the White House had requested and just enough to wind down U.S. involvement in ITER. According to this story from April, the U.S. share of the ITER budget has jumped to "$3.9 billion — roughly four times as much as originally estimated." (That's a pretty big chunk; compare it, say, to NASA's entire annual budget.)
redletterdave (2493036) writes Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said the company's experiment designed to purposefully manipulate the emotions of its users was communicated "poorly". Sandberg's public comments, which were the first from any Facebook executive following the discovery of the one-week psychological study, were made while attending a meeting with small businesses in India that advertise on Facebook. "This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was," Sandberg said. "It was poorly communicated. And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you." anavictoriasaavedra points out this article that questions how much of this outrage over an old press release is justified and what's lead to the media frenzy. Sometimes editors at media outlets get a little panicked when there's a big story swirling around and they haven't done anything with it. It all started as a largely ignored paper about the number of positive and negative words people use in Facebook posts. Now it's a major scandal. The New York Times connected the Facebook experiment to suicides. The story was headlined, Should Facebook Manipulate Users, and it rests on the questionable assumption that such manipulation has happened. Stories that ran over the weekend raised serious questions about the lack of informed consent used in the experiment, which was done by researchers at Cornell and Facebook and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But to say Facebook’s slight alteration of news feeds caused people to suffer depression seems to be unsupported by any kind of data or logic.
mdsolar writes with news about the cleanup of the site that exposed Harold McCluskey to the highest dose of radiation from americium ever recorded. Workers are finally preparing to enter one of the most dangerous rooms in the world — the site of a 1976 blast in the United States that exposed a technician to a massive dose of radiation and led to his nickname: the "Atomic Man." Harold McCluskey, then 64, was working in the room at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation when a chemical reaction caused a glass glove box to explode. He was exposed to the highest dose of radiation from the chemical element americium ever recorded — 500 times the occupational standard. Hanford, located in central Washington state, made plutonium for nuclear weapons for decades. The room was used to recover radioactive americium, a byproduct of plutonium. Covered with blood, McCluskey was dragged from the room and put into an ambulance headed for the decontamination center. Because he was too hot to handle, he was removed by remote control and transported to a steel-and-concrete isolation tank. During the next five months, doctors laboriously extracted tiny bits of glass and razor-sharp pieces of metal embedded in his skin. Nurses scrubbed him down three times a day and shaved every inch of his body every day. The radioactive bathwater and thousands of towels became nuclear waste.
Zothecula writes Rising atmospheric CO2 levels can generally be tackled in three ways: developing alternative energy sources with lower emissions; carbon capture and storage (CCS); and capturing carbon and repurposing it. Researchers at Princeton University are claiming to have developed a technique that ticks two of these three boxes by using solar power to convert CO2 into formic acid. With power from a commercially available solar panel provided by utility company Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G), researchers in the laboratory of Princeton professor of chemistry Andrew Bocarsly, working with researchers at New Jersey-based start-up Liquid Light Inc., converted CO2 and water to formic acid (HCOOH) in an electrochemical cell.
wiredmikey writes Researchers with RSA have discovered a Boleto malware (Bolware) ring that compromised as many as 495,753 Boleto transactions during a two-year period. Though it is not clear whether the thieves successfully collected on all of the compromised transactions, the value of those transactions is estimated to be worth as much as $3.75 billion. A Boleto is essentially a document that allows a customer to pay an exact amount to a merchant. Anyone who owns a bank account — whether a company or an individual — can issue a Boleto associated with their bank. The first signs of its existence appeared near the end of 2012 or early 2013, when it began to be reported in the local news media," according to the report (PDF). "The RSA Research Group analyzed version 17 of the malware, gathering data between March 2014 and June 2014. The main goal of Boleto malware is to infiltrate legitimate Boleto payments from individual consumers or companies and redirect those payments from victims to fraudster accounts."
dcblogs writes Microsoft has joined a Linux Foundation effort to create an open platform for the Internet of Things. The AllSeen Alliance is an effort to standardize device communications. The code that it champions, called AllJoyn, was initially developed by Qualcomm but was subsequently made open source. Big vendors have been recruited to support it, and the AllSeen Alliance now includes LG, Panasonic, Sharp and Haier, among others. Its Xbox gaming platform is seen as a potential hub or control center for home devices. Microsoft's leadership in computing "and its significant Xbox business make it a potentially important contributor to the AllSeen ecosystem," said said Andy Castonguay, an analyst at Machina Research, a Reading, England-based research firm focusing on machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and the Internet of Things.
An anonymous reader writes There's an independent agency within the U.S. government called the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. Their job is to weigh the benefits of government actions — like stopping terrorist threats — against violations of citizens' rights that may result from those actions. As you might expect, the NSA scandal landed squarely in their laps, and they've compiled a report evaluating the surveillance methods. As the cynical among you might also expect, the Oversight Board gave the NSA a pass, saying that while their methods were "close to the line of constitutional reasonableness," they were used for good reason. In the completely non-binding 191-page report (PDF), they said, "With regard to the NSA's acquisition of 'about' communications [metadata], the Board concludes that the practice is largely an inevitable byproduct of the government's efforts to comprehensively acquire communications that are sent to or from its targets. Because of the manner in which the NSA conducts upstream collection, and the limits of its current technology, the NSA cannot completely eliminate 'about' communications from its collection without also eliminating a significant portion of the 'to/from' communications that it seeks."