Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "A bill amendment proposed Tuesday could allow employers to ask for a worker's Facebook or other social media password during company investigations. The provision was proposed for a bill that safeguards social network passwords of workers and job applicants. The measure bars employers from asking for social media credentials during job interviews. The amendment says that an employer conducting an investigation may require or demand access to a personal account if an employee or prospective employee has allegations of work-place misconduct or giving away an employer's proprietary information. The amendment would require an investigation to ensure compliance with applicable laws or regulatory requirements."
Trailrunner7 writes "California, which set the standard for data breach notifications nationwide, is again seeking to set a precedent by becoming the first state in the nation to require companies upon request disclose to California consumers the data they've collected and to whom it was shared during the past year. ... The 'Right to Know Act of 2013,' AB 1291 was amended this week to boost its chances of success after being introduced in February by state Assembly member Bonnie Lowenthal. ... It applies to companies that are both on- and off- line Privacy advocacy groups such as the EFF wrote Tuesday that the bill could set a precedent for other states, much as California's 2002 Breach Notification Act requiring California data breach victims be notified was later replicated by almost all U.S. states." That's not all: you'd be able to request a copy of all the data they've stored about you too.
theodp writes "If you're a bright kid who wants to prepare for the 21st century workforce (PDF) by studying engineering at Purdue, the government will help your parents pay the $100,000 or so tuition tab with a 7.9% interest loan (plus 4% fees) that's likely to be non-dischargeable in bankruptcy and paid back with after-tax money. If, on the other hand, you want to buy a tricked-out $100,000 Model S, Tesla has teamed up with the government, Wells Fargo, and U.S. Bank on what it calls a 'Revolutionary New Finance Product' that enables those who play the game right to avoid paying sales tax, get the government to pick up the first $15,000 (no down payment needed!), and also receive a 2.95% bankruptcy-dischargeable loan for the balance, the payments for which could be tax-deductible. Yep, 'Revolutionary' may be about right!"
Maximum Prophet writes "While Redigi is illegal, Aereo, the service that allows users to time-shift over-the-air TV programming, isn't. 'We conclude that Aereo's transmissions of unique copies of broadcast television programs created at its users' requests and transmitted while the programs are still airing on broadcast television are not 'public performances' of the plaintiffs' copyrighted works,' said the ruling (PDF). Of course, both decisions are going to be appealed. 'The outcome also answers the question, at least momentarily, of whether online television would be controlled by a stodgy industry that once shunned the VCR, or whether third-party innovators embracing technological advances have a chance to build on the openness of public airwaves. ... Aereo’s technological setup, the court found, basically allows it to do what cable companies could not: retransmit broadcast airwaves without paying licensing fees. In short, the Aereo service is as legal as somebody putting an antenna on top of their house to capture broadcast signals. The court said Aereo “provides the functionality of three devices: a standard TV antenna, a DVR, and a Slingbox” device. “Each of these devices is legal, so it stands to reason that a service that combines them is also legal. Only in the world of copyright maximalists do people need to get special permission to watch over-the-air television with an antenna,” said John Bergmayer, an attorney with the digital-rights group Public Knowledge. “Just because ‘the internet’ is involved doesn’t change this."'"
redletterdave writes "The new BBM in BlackBerry 10 has the option to automatically share what music you're listening to as one's status update. As it turns out, this BBM feature in BlackBerry 10 can actually share anything you're listening to with your BBM network, including videos. Therefore, any videos viewed in the BlackBerry Z10 browser or media player will be displayed for all of one's BlackBerry contacts to see, even if you don't want your network to know you're watching certain videos."
KindMind writes "To probably no one's surprise, wiping a smartphone by standard methods doesn't get all the data erased. From an article at Wired: 'Problem is, even if you do everything right, there can still be lots of personal data left behind. Simply restoring a phone to its factory settings won't completely clear it of data. Even if you use the built-in tools to wipe it, when you go to sell your phone on Craigslist you may be selling all sorts of things along with it that are far more valuable — your name, birth date, Social Security number and home address, for example. ... [On a wiped iPhone 3G, mobile forensics specialist Lee Reiber] found a large amount of deleted personal data that he recovered because it had not been overwritten. He was able to find hundreds of phone numbers from a contacts database. Worse, he found a list of nearly every Wi-Fi and cellular access point the phone had ever come across — 68,390 Wi-Fi points and 61,202 cell sites. (This was the same location data tracking that landed Apple in a privacy flap a few years ago, and caused it to change its collection methods.) Even if the phone had never connected to any of the Wi-Fi access points, iOS was still logging them, and Reiber was able to grab them and piece together a trail of where the phone had been turned on.'"
coondoggie writes "The Federal Trade Commission today said it picked two winners out of nearly 800 entries for its $50,000 Robocall Challenge which dared technologists to come up with an innovative way of blocking the mostly illegal but abundant calls. According to the FTC, Serdar Danis and Aaron Foss will each receive $25,000 for their proposals, which both use software to intercept and filter out illegal prerecorded calls using technology to 'blacklist' robocaller phone numbers and 'whitelist' numbers associated with acceptable incoming calls." Can't wait until Symantec, Kaspersky, etc. sell competing anti-spammer packages for phones.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Tech journalist Milo Yiannopoulos asks the question lurking in everyone's mind about Google Glass. 'It's an audacious product for a company no one trusts to behave responsibly with our data: a pair of glasses that can monitor and record the world around you,' he writes. 'But if Glass becomes as ubiquitous as the iPhone, are we truly to believe that Google will not attempt to abuse that remarkable power?' With each new eyebrow-raising court judgment and federal fine levied against Google, he adds, 'it becomes ever more clear that this is a company hell-bent on innovating first and asking questions later, if ever. And its vision, shared with other California technology companies, is of corporate America redefining societal privacy norms in the service of advertising companies and their clients.' He feels that Google will eventually end up in some sort of court battle over Google Glass and privacy. Do you agree? Does Google Glass deserve extra scrutiny before it hits the market?"
KindMind writes "Alfred Anaya was a custom stereo installer who branched out to making secret compartments for valuables, who the DEA sent to prison as a co-conspirator when a drug dealer used his creation to smuggle drugs. But Wired points out the bigger question: 'The challenge for anyone who creates technology is to guess when they should turn their back on paying customers. Take a manufacturer of robot kits for hobbyists. If someone uses those robots to patrol a smuggling route or help protect a meth lab, how will prosecutors determine whether the company acted criminally?'"
Redigi runs a service that lets you resell your digitally purchased music. Naturally, they were sued by major labels soon after going live, with heavyweights like Google weighing in with support and an initial victory against pre-trial injunctions. But the first actual court ruling is against them. Pikoro writes "A judge has sided with Capitol Records in the lawsuit between the record company and ReDigi — ruling that MP3s can only be resold if granted permission by copyright owners. From the article: 'The Order is surprising in light of last month's United States Supreme Court decision in Kirtsaeng v. Wiley & Sons, which reaffirmed the importance and applicability of the First Sale Doctrine in the United States of America.'" Redigi vows to appeal, and claims that the current version of their service is not affected by the lawsuit.
Gunkerty Jeb writes "Alma Whitten, the director of privacy at Google, is stepping down from that role and leaves behind her a complicated legacy in regards to user privacy. ... Whitten has been at Google for about 10 years, and while she has been the main public face of the company's product privacy efforts in the last couple of years, she has been involved in engineering privacy initiatives for even longer. Before becoming the privacy lead for products and engineering in 2010 in the aftermath of the Google Street View WiFi controversy, Whitten had been in charge of privacy for the company's engineering teams. During that time, she was involved in the company's public effort to fight the idea that IP addresses can be considered personally identifiable information."
beltsbear writes "Following a reasonable view of drug patents, the Indian courts have decided that making small changes to an existing patented drug are not worthy of a new patent. This ruling makes way for low cost Indian cancer drugs that will save lives. From the Article: 'Novartis lost a six-year legal battle after the court ruled that small changes and improvements to the drug Glivec did not amount to innovation deserving of a patent. The ruling opens the way for generic companies in India to manufacture and sell cheap copies of the drug in the developing world and has implications for HIV and other modern drugs too.'"
An anonymous reader writes "In the last few years there has been a significant upsurge in subverting the cellular network for law enforcement purposes. Besides old school tapping, phones are have become the ideal informant: they can report a fairly accurate location and can be remotely turned into covert listening devices. This is often done without a warrant. How can I default the RF transmitter to off, be notified when the network is paging my IMSI and manually re-enable it (or not) if I opt to acknowledge the incoming call or SMS? How do I prevent GPS data from ever being gathered or sent ?"
An anonymous reader writes "We have a sense that surveillance is bad, but we often have a hard time saying exactly why. In an interesting and readable new article in the Harvard Law Review, law professor Neil Richards argues that surveillance is bad for two reasons — because it menaces our intellectual privacy (our right to read and think freely and secretly) and because it gives the watcher power over the watched, creating the risk of blackmail, persuasion, or discrimination. The article is available for free download, and is featured on the Bruce Schneier security blog."
An anonymous reader writes in with a story about some of the ramifications of the Oracle-Google lawsuit. "You could hear a collective sigh of relief from the software developer world when Judge William Alsup issued his ruling in the Oracle-Google lawsuit. Oracle lost on pretty much every point, but the thing that must have stuck most firmly in Oracle’s throat was this: 'So long as the specific code used to implement a method is different, anyone is free under the Copyright Act to write his or her own code to carry out exactly the same function or specification of any methods used in the Java API. It does not matter that the declaration or method header lines are identical. Under the rules of Java, they must be identical to declare a method specifying the same functionality — even when the implementation is different. When there is only one way to express an idea or function, then everyone is free to do so and no one can monopolize that expression. And, while the Android method and class names could have been different from the names of their counterparts in Java and still have worked, copyright protection never extends to names or short phrases as a matter of law.'"
An anonymous reader writes in with bad news for Apple. "It would appear that Apple has lost an attempt to trademark the 'iPad Mini.' This time it's not nefarious foreigners subverting the just order of things simply by trademarking something several years before Apple did. No, that was what happened in Brazil with the IFone. Nor is it people nefariously selling the rights to everywhere but China but Apple's lawyers didn’t notice, as happened with iPad in China. No, this time it's the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office saying that Apple simply cannot have a trademark on 'iPad Mini.' For the simple reason that the law doesn't allow them to trademark something which is just a description of the product."
An anonymous reader writes "A man with a neurological disorder is currently pushing the TSA to release a full list of its policies and procedures after a series of incidents in which he was harassed while trying to fly. His condition requires medical liquids and causes episodic muteness, and the TSA makes his encounters very difficult. From January: 'Boston Logan TSA conducted an illegal search of my xray-cleared documents (probably motivated either by my opting out or by my use of sign language to communicate). They refused to give me access to the pen and paper that I needed to communicate. Eventually they gave it to me, but then they took it away in direct retaliation for my using it to quote US v Davis and protest their illegal search (thereby literally depriving me of speech). They illegally detained me for about an hour on spurious, law enforcement motivated grounds (illegal under Davis, Aukai, Fofana, Bierfeldt, etc). ... TSA has refused to comply with the ADA grievance process; they are over a month beyond the statutory mandate for issuing a written determination.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Federal regulators are starting to make noise about Bitcoin, the digital currency that's gained in recognition and value over the past few years: the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is offering up 'guidance' for digital currency and those who use it as part of commerce. But the Bitcoin Foundation, which is devoted to standardizing and promoting the currency, doesn't like that idea; as Patric Murck, the organization's general counsel, wrote in a March 19 blog posting: 'If FinCEN would like to expand its statutory authority over "money transmitters" to include brand new categories such as "administrators" and "exchangers" of digital currency it must do so through proper rulemaking proceedings and not by fiat.' If Bitcoin continues to gain in value, it could spark a rise in virtual currencies—and force some very interesting discussions over regulation. But here's the question: would regulation actually be good for Bitcoin, if it made organizations and businesses more comfortable with using it as a currency?"
theodp writes "Responding to an earlier request by the estate of Aaron Swartz to disclose the names of those involved in the events leading to Aaron's suicide, counsel for MIT snippily told the Court, "The Swartz Estate was not a party to the criminal case, and therefore it is unclear how it has standing, or any legally cognizable interest, to petition for the modification of the Protective Order concerning others' documents." In motions filed on slow-news-day Good Friday (MIT's on spring break), the DOJ, MIT, and JSTOR all insisted on anonymity for those involved in the Swartz case, arguing that redacting of names was a must, citing threats posed by Anonymous and LulzSec, a badly-photoshopped postcard sent to Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann and another sent to his Harvard Prof father, cake frosting, a gun hoax, and e-mail sent to MIT. From the DOJ filing: 'I also informed him [Swartz estate lawyer] that whatever additional public benefit might exist by disclosing certain names was, in this case, outweighed by the risk to those individuals of becoming targets of threats, harassment and abuse.' From the MIT filing: 'The publication of MIT's documents in unredacted form could lead to further, more targeted, and more dangerous threats and attacks...The death of Mr. Swartz has created a very volatile atmosphere.' From the JSTOR filing: 'The supercharged nature of the public debate about this case, including hacking incidents, gun hoaxes and threatening messages, gives JSTOR and its employees legitimate concern for their safety and privacy.'"
An anonymous reader writes "It's been more than a decade and a half since the FCC adopted a set of standards for radiation exposure from cell phones. The guidelines set in 1996 (and based on studies from the '80s) have applied to all cell phones released in the U.S. since then. Now, the FCC has decided that modern devices are just a tiny bit different than models from the '90s (where did those suitcase phones go?), so they're going to review and update the standard. 'Even though the FCC hasn't changed its standards for evaluating the safety of cell phones, it has provided consumers with information about how to minimize the risk of exposure to cell phone radiation. For example, the FCC recommends people use the speakerphone feature or an earpiece when talking on the phone, since increasing the distance the device is held from the body greatly reduces exposure. But the agency has not advocated for stricter warnings nor has it even endorsed these safety measures as necessary. The current review of the standards could change that as the agency will look at its testing procedures as well as the educational information it provides to the public about cell phone safety.'"
Earthquake Retrofit writes "The Register reports that 'Facebook has sent out invitations to an event at its Menlo Park headquarters next week that many believe will see the launch of a new, Facebook-branded smartphone...' I have lately become disillusioned with Google having so much power over my phone and the usual privacy concerns, so this announcement means I now have a choice. Oh, wait..."
MarkWhittington writes "Included in President Obama's 2014 budget request will be a $100 million line item for NASA for a mission to capture and bring an asteroid to a high orbit around the moon where it will be explored by astronauts. Whether the $2.6 billion mission is a replacement or a supplement to the president's planned human mission to an asteroid is unclear. The proposal was first developed by the Keck Institite in April, 2012 and has achieved new impetus due to the meteor incident over Russia and new fears of killer asteroids."
Boston Police, according to an article at Slate, are engaging in a strange use of social media to fight crime. Or at least, to stop raucous music from disturbing the city. As the Slate writer says, "While police departments have been using social media to investigate for years, its use in such seemingly trivial crimes would be rather chilling, if these efforts didn’t seem so laughably inept."
Via the EFF comes news that, during a case involving the use of a Stingray device, the DOJ revealed that it was standard practice to use the devices without explicitly requesting permission in warrants. "When Rigmaiden filed a motion to suppress the Stingray evidence as a warrantless search in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the government responded that this order was a search warrant that authorized the government to use the Stingray. Together with the ACLU of Northern California and the ACLU, we filed an amicus brief in support of Rigmaiden, noting that this 'order' wasn't a search warrant because it was directed towards Verizon, made no mention of an IMSI catcher or Stingray and didn't authorize the government — rather than Verizon — to do anything. Plus to the extent it captured loads of information from other people not suspected of criminal activity it was a 'general warrant,' the precise evil the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent. ... The emails make clear that U.S. Attorneys in the Northern California were using Stingrays but not informing magistrates of what exactly they were doing. And once the judges got wind of what was actually going on, they were none too pleased:"
sfcrazy writes "Google has announced the Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge. In the pledge Google says that they will not sue any user, distributor, or developer of Open Source software on specified patents, unless first attacked. Under this pledge, Google is starting off with 10 patents relating to MapReduce, a computing model for processing large data sets first developed at Google. Google says that over time they intend to expand the set of Google's patents covered by the pledge to other technologies." This is in addition to the Open Invention Network, and their general work toward reforming the patent system. The patents covered in the OPN will be free to use in Free/Open Source software for the life of the patent, even if Google should transfer ownership to another party. Read the text of the pledge. It appears that interaction with non-copyleft licenses (MIT/BSD/Apache) is a bit weird: if you create a non-free fork it appears you are no longer covered under the pledge.
ananyo writes "Nature has published an investigation into the real costs of publishing research after delving into the secretive, murky world of science publishing. Few publishers (open access or otherwise-including Nature Publishing Group) would reveal their profit margins, but they've pieced together a picture of how much it really costs to publish a paper by talking to analysts and insiders. Quoting from the piece: '"The costs of research publishing can be much lower than people think," agrees Peter Binfield, co-founder of one of the newest open-access journals, PeerJ, and formerly a publisher at PLoS. But publishers of subscription journals insist that such views are misguided — born of a failure to appreciate the value they add to the papers they publish, and to the research community as a whole. They say that their commercial operations are in fact quite efficient, so that if a switch to open-access publishing led scientists to drive down fees by choosing cheaper journals, it would undermine important values such as editorial quality.' There's also a comment piece by three open access advocates setting out what they think needs to happen next to push forward the movement as well as a piece arguing that 'Objections to the Creative Commons attribution license are straw men raised by parties who want open access to be as closed as possible.'"
netbuzz writes "A federal judge in Texas, presiding over a district notorious for favoring patent trolls, has summarily dismissed all claims relating to a case brought by Uniloc USA against Rackspace for [Linux] allegedly infringing upon [Uniloc's] patents. Red Hat defended Rackspace in the matter and issued a press release saying: 'In dismissing the case, Chief Judge Leonard Davis found that Uniloc's claim was unpatentable under Supreme Court case law that prohibits the patenting of mathematical algorithms. This is the first reported instance in which the Eastern District of Texas has granted an early motion to dismiss finding a patent invalid because it claimed unpatentable subject matter.'" You can't patent floating point math after all.
c0lo writes "The editor-in-chief and entire editorial board of the Journal of Library Administration announced their resignation last week, citing 'a crisis of conscience about publishing in a journal that was not open access' in the days after the death of Aaron Swartz. The board had worked with publisher Taylor & Francis on an open-access compromise in the months since, which would allow the journal to release articles without paywall, but Taylor & Francis' final terms asked contributors to pay $2,995 for each open-access article. As more and more contributors began to object, the board ultimately found the terms unworkable. The journal's editor-in-chief said 'After much discussion, the only alternative presented by Taylor & Francis tied a less restrictive license to a $2995 per article fee to be paid by the author. As you know, this is not a viable licensing option for authors from the LIS community who are generally not conducting research under large grants.'"
coondoggie writes "How is spacecraft development — from the space parts supply chain to actual space operations — protected from those who would try to penetrate or disrupt the networks involved in that process? The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has put out a call for research to understand that security scenario. They say, 'we are much less concerned about information on the broader themes of cyber-security but rather those that pertain to the mission of the spacecraft, the spacecraft as a platform, the systems that constitute the spacecraft, the computers and their software, the busses and networks within, and the elements that interface to the spacecraft.'"
redletterdave writes "After just one month online, North Korea has pulled the plug on its only 3G data network, which was previously made available for tourists to access the Internet starting on Feb. 22. The North Korean government did not explain why its 3G network has been shut off, but given the raised level of international interest in the country's activities (the country is facing UN sanctions after its third nuclear test last month) and how it severed its final communication line with South Korea on Wednesday, the government likely had a change of heart about its loosening communication restrictions. That said, as with most things in North Korea, we may never know the real answer."
An anonymous reader writes "The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that text messages are private communication (Official Ruling) and therefore police are required to get a warrant to gain access to the text messages of private citizens. The CBC reports: '[Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Silberman] Abella said the only practical difference between text messaging and traditional voice communications is the transmission process. "This distinction should not take text messages outside the protection to which private communications are entitled," she wrote.'" Quite different from the attitude in the U.S.
jrepin writes "The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is running its annual Document Freedom Day campaign today to raise awareness of the importance of open standards. This year's Document Freedom Day involves over 50 groups from 30 countries and focuses on open standards in web-based streaming technologies, especially on increasing the awareness and usage of HTML5. This year's campaign is sponsored by Google and openSUSE. To celebrate the Document Freedom Day April has published a poster to explain to software users, the interest of opting for 'open formats' to exchange and store their files."
chicksdaddy writes "Mobile phone use may be a more accurate identifier of individuals than even their own fingerprints, according to research published on the web site of the scientific journal Nature. Scientists at MIT and the Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium analyzed 15 months of mobility data for 1.5 million individuals who the same mobile carrier. Their analysis, 'Unique in the Crowd: the privacy bounds of human mobility' showed that data from just four, randomly chosen 'spatio-temporal points' (for example, mobile device pings to carrier antennas) was enough to uniquely identify 95% of the individuals, based on their pattern of movement. Even with just two randomly chosen points, the researchers say they could uniquely characterize around half of the 1.5 million mobile phone users. The research has profound implications for privacy, suggesting that the use of mobile devices makes it impossible to remain anonymous – even without the use of tracking software."
Fnord666 sends this quote from an article at Slate: "Despite the pervasiveness of law enforcement surveillance of digital communication, the FBI still has a difficult time monitoring Gmail, Google Voice, and Dropbox in real time. But that may change soon, because the bureau says it has made gaining more powers to wiretap all forms of Internet conversation and cloud storage a 'top priority' this year. ... a 1994 surveillance law called the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act only allows the government to force Internet providers and phone companies to install surveillance equipment within their networks. But it doesn't cover email, cloud services, or online chat providers like Skype. Weissmann said that the FBI wants the power to mandate real-time surveillance of everything from Dropbox and online games ('the chat feature in Scrabble') to Gmail and Google Voice. 'Those communications are being used for criminal conversations,' he said."
An anonymous reader writes "Want to be invisible to Google? Apparently you can't, at least according to the European Commission and Information Commissioner's Office. '"The right to be forgotten worries us as it makes people expect too much," said [deputy commissioner David Smith]. Instead, Smith said the focus should be on the "right to object" to how personal data is used, as this places the onus on businesses to justify the collection and processing of citizens' data. "It is a reversal of the burden of proof system used in the existing process. It will strengthen the person's position but it won't stop people processing their data." EC data protection supervisor Peter Hustinx added the right to be forgotten is currently unworkable as most countries are divided on what qualifies as sensitive personal data. "I believe the right to be forgotten is an overstatement," said Hustinx."
olePigeon (Wik) writes "Cornell University's New York based Weill Cornell Medical College issued a press release today regarding an unsettling trend in the U.S. patent system: Humans don't "own" their own genes, the cellular chemicals that define who they are and what diseases for which they might be at risk. Through more than 40,000 patents on DNA molecules, companies have essentially claimed the entire human genome for profit, report Dr. Christopher E. Mason of Weill Cornell Medical College, and the study's co-author, Dr. Jeffrey Rosenfeld, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey and a member of the High Performance and Research Computing Group, who analyzed the patents on human DNA. Their study, published March 25 in the journal Genome Medicine, raises an alarm about the loss of individual 'genomic liberty.'"
ananyo writes "In a twist that evokes the dystopian science fiction of writer Philip K. Dick, neuroscientists have found a way to predict whether convicted felons are likely to commit crimes again from looking at their brain scans. Convicts showing low activity in a brain region associated with decision-making and action are more likely to be arrested again, and sooner. The researchers studied a group of 96 male prisoners just before their release. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the prisoners' brains during computer tasks in which subjects had to make quick decisions and inhibit impulsive reactions. The scans focused on activity in a section of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a small region in the front of the brain involved in motor control and executive functioning. The researchers then followed the ex-convicts for four years to see how they fared. Among the subjects of the study, men who had lower ACC activity during the quick-decision tasks were more likely to be arrested again after getting out of prison, even after the researchers accounted for other risk factors such as age, drug and alcohol abuse and psychopathic traits."
jfruh writes "The Swedish Language Council is a semi-official, government funded body that regulates, cultivates, and tracks changes to the Swedish language. Every year it releases a list of new words that have crept into Swedish, and one of 2012's entries was 'ogooglebar' — 'ungoogleable,' meaning something that can't be found with a search engine. After Google demanded that the definition be changed and the Council add a disclaimer about Google's trademark, the Council has instead decided to remove the word from the list altogether."
coondoggie writes "In a move federal prosecutors hope sends a strong message to the knuckleheads who point lasers at aircraft for fun, a California man was sentenced to 30 months in prison for shining one at two aircraft. According to the FBI Adam Gardenhire, 19, was arrested on March 29, 2012 and named in a two-count indictment filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles that said he pointed the beam of a laser at a private plane and a police helicopter that responded to the report."
We've mentioned over the last few years several times the funding problems that mean the U.S. government's weather satellite stable is thinner than we might prefer. A story at the Weather Underground outlines the plan of a company called PlanetIQ to fill the needs met with the current constellation of weather sats with private ones instead. From the article, describing testimony last week before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce: "PlanetIQ's solution includes launching a constellation of 12 small satellites in low-Earth orbit to collect weather data, which PlanetIQ says the federal government could access at less cost and risk than current government-funded efforts. ... [PlanetIQ Anne Hale] Miglarese added that within 28 to 34 months from the beginning of their manufacture, all 12 satellites could be in orbit. As for the cost, she says, "We estimate that for all U.S. civilian and defense needs globally for both terrestrial and space weather applications, the cost to government agencies in the U.S. will be less than $70 million per year. As the satellites collect data, PlanetIQ would sell the data to government weather services around the world as well as the U.S. Air Force. The most recently launched polar-orbiting satellite, sent into space by the U.S. in 2011, cost $1.5 billion."
An anonymous reader writes "As reported by Slashdot, Nokia recently notified the IETF that its RFC 6386 video codec (aka VP8, released by Google under a BSD license with a waiver of that company's patent rights) infringed several dozen of its patents; furthermore, Nokia was not inclined to license them under FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminating) terms. While the list provided by Nokia looks intimidating, Pamela Jones at Groklaw discovered that many appeared to be duplicates except for the country of filing; and even within a single country (e.g. the U.S.), some appeared to be overlapping. In other words, there may be far fewer distinct patented issues than what appears on Nokia's IETF form. Thom Holwerda at OSNews also weighed in, recalling another case where sweeping patent claims by Qualcomm and Huawei against the Opus open source audio codec proved to be groundless FUD. The familiar name Florian Mueller pops up again in Holwerda's article."
theodp writes "GeekWire reports on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' pending patent on remote displays that communicate with base stations and operate on wireless power. Reducing devices to mere screens with minimal storage that receive pre-rendered content (e.g., bitmap images), the patent application explains, eliminates the need for bulky batteries or processors, and employing techniques like electromagnetic or electrostatic induction allows one to cut the cord completely. Such remote displays, Amazon suggests, could find a home on college campuses (tablets), in your car (windshield displays or DVD players), and even on your face (eyeglasses)." There's already a (not wirelessly powered) device similar to the one described in the patent.
An anonymous reader writes with some news that might make you think twice before getting a network-enabled camera. From the article: "Users' desire to share things online has influenced many markets, including the digital camera one. Newer cameras increasingly sport built-in Wi-Fi capabilities or allow users to add SD cards to achieve them in order to be able to upload and share photos and videos as soon as they take them. But, as proven by Daniel Mende and Pascal Turbing, security researchers with ERNW, these capabilities also have security flaws that can be easily exploited for turning these cameras into spying devices. The researchers chose to compromise Canon's EOS-1D X DSLR camera and exploit each of the four ways it can communicate with a network. Not only have they been able to hijack the information sent from the camera, but have also managed to gain complete control of it."
derekmead writes "3D-printing gun parts has taken off, thanks to the likes of Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed. While the technology adds a rather interesting wrinkle to the gun control debate, the ATF currently is pretty hands-off, ... 'We are aware of all the 3D printing of firearms and have been tracking it for quite a while,' Earl Woodham, spokesperson for the ATF field office in Charlotte, said. 'Our firearms technology people have looked at it, and we have not yet seen a consistently reliable firearm made with 3D printing.' A reporter called the ATF's Washington headquarters to get a better idea of what it took to make a gun 'consistently reliable,' and program manager George Semonick said the guns should be 'made to last years or generations.' In other words, because 3D-printed guns aren't yet as durable as their metal counterparts, the ATF doesn't yet consider them as much of a concern."
Despite calls to limit the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, it looks like Congress is planning to drastically expand the law and penalties. walterbyrd writes with a few of the major changes listed in the draft bill (22 pages): "Adds computer crimes as a form of racketeering. Expands the ways in which you could be guilty of the CFAA — including making you just as guilty if you plan to 'violate' the CFAA than if you actually did so. Ratchets up many of the punishments. Makes a very, very minor adjustment to limit 'exceeding authorized access.' Expands the definition of 'exceeding authorized access' in a very dangerous way. Makes it easier for the federal government to seize and forfeit anything." TechCrunch also reports rumors that the plan is to push the bill through quickly for approval with a number of other "cybersecurity" bills in mid-April.
First time accepted submitter sfm writes "Ever tangle with a grumpy flight attendant over turning off your Kindle Fire before takeoff? This may change if the FAA reviews their policy for these devices. The FAA is under extreme pressure to either change the rules or give a good reason to keep them in place. From the article: 'According to people who work with an industry working group that the Federal Aviation Administration set up last year to study the use of portable electronics on planes, the agency hopes to announce by the end of this year that it will relax the rules for reading devices during takeoff and landing. The change would not include cellphones.'"
An anonymous reader writes in with news about a West Virginia bill that would prohibit drivers from "using a wearable computer with head mounted display." Republican Gary G. Howell sponsored the bill in reaction to reading an article on Google Glass and said: "I actually like the idea of the product and I believe it is the future, but last legislature we worked long and hard on a no-texting-and-driving law. It is mostly the young that are the tech-savvy that try new things. They are also our most vulnerable and underskilled drivers. We heard of many crashes caused by texting and driving, most involving our youngest drivers. I see the Google Glass as an extension."
CowboyRobot writes "A proposed tax in Massachusetts may affect software services and Web design and hosting. If approved, the state estimates the tax may bring in a quarter billion dollars in 2014 by expanding its tax on 'canned software' to include some elements of cloud computing. The tax would cover custom-designed software and services based in the cloud. "Custom" software includes the design of Web sites, so the cost to local businesses of a new Web site would increase by 4.5% on contracts to design the site, write Java, PHP or other custom code. The cost of site hosting and bandwidth would also be taxed."
JimmyQS writes "The Harvard Business Review blog has an invited piece about Innovation Software. Tony McCaffrey at the University of Massachusetts Amherst talks about several pieces of software designed to help engineers augment their innovation process and make them more creative, including one his group has developed called Analogy Finder. The software searches patent databases using natural language processing technology to find analogous solutions in other domains. According to Dr. McCaffrey 'nearly 90% of new solutions are really just adaptations from solutions that already exist — and they're often taken from fields outside the problem solver's expertise.'"