pigrabbitbear writes "Is bottled beer nuclear bombproof? The United States government conducted a couple tests in the 1950s to find out—it exploded nuclear bombs with 'packaged commercial beverages' deposited at varying distances from the blast center to see if beer and soda would be safe to drink afterwards. The finding? Yep, surviving bottled and canned drinks can be consumed in the event of a nuclear holocaust, without major health risks."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Nofsck Ingcloo writes "CNet has published a guest column by Eric Wheeler warning the world of the evil consequences of Do Not Track. In it he makes strong (I would claim exaggerated) arguments in favor of targeted advertising. He claims the threat of political action on Do Not Track should, 'strike fear into the hearts of every company that does business online....' He speaks of compromising a $300 billion industry, which I read as being the industry composed of online advertisers and all their clients. He clearly thinks the trade off between freedom from snooping and free access to web content always favors free access. He concludes his arguments by saying, 'Taken as a whole, the potentially dire impact of Do Not Track is clear: the end of the free internet and a crippling blow to the technology industry.' He then goes on to advocate contacting legislators and the FTC in opposition to Do Not Track."
Reader Presto Vivace blesses us with news that the state of New Jersey "has banned motorists from making big smiles [for their license pictures] because such expressions don't work with facial recognition software." Now that passports are by decree grim and glasses-free, I'm expecting the next phase to involve the banning of facial hair, lips, and any hair that blocks the ears.
First time accepted submitter David Off writes "In 2008 a Skype user looking for cheap rate gateway numbers found himself connected to the Bank of France where he was asked for a password. He typed 1 2 3 4 5 6 and found himself connected to their computer system. The intrusion was rapidly detected but led to the system being frozen for 48 hours as a security measure. Two years of extensive international police inquiries eventually traced the 37-year-old unemployed Breton despite the fact he'd used his real address when he registered with Skype. The man was found not guilty in court today (Original, in French) of maliciously breaking into the bank."
Hugh Pickens writes "Kia Makarechi reports that Neil Young isn't particularly concerned with the effects of piracy on artists but is more concerned that the files that are being shared are of such low quality. 'It doesn't affect me because I look at the internet as the new radio,' says Young. 'I look at the radio as gone. Piracy is the new radio. That's how music gets around. That's the radio. If you really want to hear it, let's make it available, let them hear it, let them hear the 95 percent of it.' Young is primarily concerned about whether the MP3 files we're all listening to actually are pretty poor from an audio-quality standpoint. Young's main concern is that your average MP3 file only contains about five percent of the audio from an original recording and is pushing a new format called Pono that would be 'high-resolution' digital tracks of the same quality as that produced during the studio recording. Young wants to see better music recording and high resolution recording, but we're not anywhere near that and hopes that 'some rich guy' will solve the problem of creating and distributing '100 percent' of the sound in music. 'Steve Jobs was a pioneer of digital music, his legacy was tremendous. But when he went home, he listened to vinyl.'"
First time accepted submitter jaymz666 writes "Can a court really order you to delete a Facebook account? When Asher initially appeared in court after the July 20 accident, the judge told her to delete her Facebook account, Kittinger said. Asher did not take it seriously, and was charged with contempt of court when the judge learned her Facebook page was still active. Seems like a big overreach."
McGruber writes "Arthur Firstenberg, the Santa Fe, New Mexico man who sued his neighbors, claiming their Wi-Fi made him sick, has lost what might have been his final round in court. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, state District Judge Sarah Singleton ruled that no scientific study has yet proved that electromagnetic stimulus adversely impacts personal health. While he lost the lawsuit, he did score a victory: the neighbors he sued have moved out of Santa Fe."
SternisheFan writes with an AP story as carried by Yahoo that illustrates one of the boundaries of free speech online: "A California man accused of posting comments on ESPN's website saying he was watching kids and wouldn't mind killing them was in jail Tuesday on $1 million bail after he was arrested for investigation of making terrorist threats, authorities said. Several guns were found Monday at the home of former Yale University student Eric Yee, said Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. Steve Low. Yee was arrested after the sports network ESPN reported threatening posts were made in a reader response section to an online ESPN story on Thursday about new Nike sneakers named after LeBron James that cost $270 a pair. Some of the nearly 3,000 reader comments on the story talked about children possibly getting killed over the sneakers because of how expensive they are, said ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys. 'What he was posting had nothing to do with sports," Soltys said Tuesday. "We closely monitor the message boards and anytime we get a threat, we're alerting law enforcement officials.' An employee at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., notified local police the same day and they linked the posting to Yee's home in Santa Clarita in northern Los Angeles County."
colinneagle writes "In a cool yet creepy marketing campaign, Nestle plans to stalk UK consumers. The company kicked off a unique promotion called 'We will find you' that involves GPS trackers embedded in chocolate bars. When a winning consumer opens the wrapper, it activates and notifies the prize team who promises to track them down within 24 hours to deliver a check for £10,000. A Nestle spokesman added that 'inside their wrappers, the GPS-enabled bars looked just like normal chocolate bars.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "Currently — as most of us know — TSA agents briefly examine government ID and boarding passes as each passenger presents their documents at a checkpoint at the end of a security line. Thom Patterson writes at CNN that under a 2008 Apple patent application that was approved in July and filed under the working title "iTravel," a traveler's phone would automatically send electronic identification to a TSA agent as soon as the traveler got in line and as each traveler waits in line. TSA agents would examine the electronic ID at an electronic viewing station. Next, at the X-ray stations, a traveler's phone would confirm to security agents that the traveler's ID had already been checked. Apple's patent calls for the placement of special kiosks (PDF) around the airport which will automatically exchange data with your phone via a close range wireless technology called near field communication (NFC). Throughout the process, the phone photo could be displayed on a screen for comparison with the traveler. Facial recognition software could be included in the process. Several experts say a key question that must be answered is: How would you prove that the phone is yours? To get around this problem, future phones or electronic ID may require some form of biometric security function including photo, fingerprint and photo retinal scan comparisons. Of course, there is still a ways to go. If consumers, airlines, airports and the TSA don't embrace the NFC kiosks, experts say it's unlikely Apple's vision would become reality. 'First you would have to sell industry on Apple's idea. Then you'd have to sell it to travel consumers,' says Neil Hughes of Apple Insider. 'It's a chicken-and-egg problem.'"
bonch writes "Google-owned Motorola is asking the International Trade Commission to ban every Apple device that uses iMessage, based on a patent issued in 2006 for 'a system for providing continuity between messaging clients.' Motorola also claims that banning Macs and iPhones won't have an impact on U.S. consumers. They say, 'With so many participants in the highly competitive Wireless communication, portable music, and computer market, it is unlikely that consumers would experience much of an impact if the requested exclusion orders were obtained.' The ITC has yet to make a decision."
McGruber writes "Continuing its standard practice of wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, the TSA has awarded an indefinite delivery / indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract, worth up to $245 Million, to American Science and Engineering Inc. to deliver an unspecified number of 'second generation' Advanced Imaging Technology screening systems for use at U.S. airports. As previously reported, Jonathan Corbett proved that TSA's current nude-o-scopes are incapable of actually detecting hidden objects."
zaba writes "A company named PersonalWeb Technologies has decided to sue a host of heavy players in the tech industry, including Apple, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft and Yahoo! for patents it holds related to data processing. They have a previous suit against other big names like Amazon, Google and HP. Anyone care to guess where the company is based or where the suits were filed?" The company is also targeting GitHub, but seems to have accidentally sued Rackspace — GitHub's host — instead. Rackspace has responded, saying, "It’s apparent that the people filing the suit don’t understand the technology or the products enough to realize that Rackspace Cloud Servers and GitHub are completely different products from different companies."
Last year Aaron Swartz was indicted on four felony counts for allegedly stealing millions of academic journal articles from JSTOR. Today, Federal prosecutors piled on nine additional felony charges. The charges (PDF) are mostly covered under the 1984 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and are likely to test the legislation's limits. According to Wired, "The indictment accuses Swartz of repeatedly spoofing the MAC address — an identifier that is usually static — of his computer after MIT blocked his computer based on that number. The grand jury indictment also notes that Swartz didn't provide a real e-mail address when registering on the network. Swartz also allegedly snuck an Acer laptop bought just for the downloading into a closet at MIT in order to get a persistent connection to the network. Swartz allegedly hid his face from surveillance cameras by holding his bike helmet up to his face and looking through the ventilation holes when going in to swap out an external drive used to store the documents. Swartz also allegedly named his guest account 'Gary Host,' with the nickname 'Ghost.'"
Today several public interest groups, including Public Knowledge, announced plans to file a net neutrality complaint with the FCC over AT&T's restriction of FaceTime on iPads and iPhones. Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood said, "AT&T’s decision to block FaceTime unless a customer pays for voice and text minutes she doesn’t need is a clear violation of the FCC’s Open Internet rules. It’s particularly outrageous that AT&T is requiring this for iPad users, given that this device isn’t even capable of making voice calls. AT&T's actions are incredibly harmful to all of its customers, including the deaf, immigrant families and others with relatives overseas, who depend on mobile video apps to communicate with friends and family." The groups have sent a letter (PDF) to AT&T asking them to reconsider their policy. The communications giant has previously responded to complaints by proclaiming their transparency and saying that charging more for being able to use FaceTime over mobile broadband is a "reasonable restriction."
pigrabbitbear writes "The active ingredient in OxyContin, oxycodone, isn't a new compound. It was originally synthesized in Germany in 1916. The patent on the medication had expired well before Purdue Pharma, a Stamford, Connecticut-based pharmaceutical company and the industry leader in pain medication, released it under the brand name in 1996. The genius of Purdue's continued foray into pain-management medication – they had already produced versions of hydromorphone, oxycodone, fentanyl, codeine, and hydrocodone – was twofold. They not only created a drug from an already readily available compound, but they were able to essentially re-patent the active ingredient by introducing a time-release element. Prior to the 1990s, strong opioid medications were not routinely given for miscellaneous or chronic, moderately painful conditions; the strongest classes of drugs were often reserved for the dying. But Purdue parlayed their time-release system not only into the patent for OxyContin. They also went on a PR blitz, claiming their drug was unique because of the time-release element and implied that it was so difficult to abuse that the risk of addiction was 'under 1%.'"
theodp writes "'It's important to use your common name,' Google explains in its Google+ ground rules, 'so that the people you want to connect with can find you.' Using a 'secondary online identity,' the search giant adds, is a big Google+ no-no. 'There are lots of places where you can be anonymous online,' Betanews' Joe Wilcox notes. 'Google+ isn't one of them.' Got it. But if online anonymity is so evil, then what's the deal with Google's newly-awarded patent for Social Computing Personas for Protecting Identity in Online Social Interactions? 'When users reveal their identities on the internet,' Google explained to the USPTO in its patent application, 'it leaves them more vulnerable to stalking, identity theft and harassment.' So what's Google's solution? Providing anonymity to social networking users via an 'alter ego' and/or 'anonymous identity.' So does Google now believe that there's a genuine 'risk of disclosing a user's real identity'? Or is this just a case of Google's left hand not knowing what its right hand is patenting?"
jfruh writes "Most U.S. wireless carriers are trying to have it both ways on tethering or smartphones-as-hotspots — moving people from unlimited data plans to plans where they pay by the gigabyte, but then also charging them extra if they want to share the gigabytes they've paid for with other devices. But on Android phones on Verizon, at least, you can still tether, not because Verizon is trying to be more consumer friendly, but because, according to an FCC ruling, they agreed to allow it when they bought formerly public spectrum."
ananyo writes "Climate scientist Michael Mann reported Monday that he and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville have prevailed in a court case against the conservative American Tradition Institute (ATI), which had sought access to emails he wrote while serving as a professor at the school from 1999-2005. Now at the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Mann says the ruling supports the University of Virginia's argument than an exemption to the state's freedom-of-information law 'applies to faculty communications in furtherance of their work.' The Prince William County Circuit Court ruling came directly from the bench in and was not immediately available online. The Virgina Supreme Court tossed out a case against Mann in March. The state's conservative attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, had, among other things, demanded access to the climatologist's emails, arguing that Mann might have manipulated data and thus defrauded the government in applying for scientific grants."
hypnosec writes "The Department of Work and Pensions in the UK has a /8 block of IPv4 addresses that is unused. An e-petition was created asking the DWP to sell off the block to ease the IPv4 address scarcity in the RIPE region. John Graham-Cumming, the person who first discovered the unused block, discovered that these 16.9 million IP addresses were unused after checking in the ASN database."