The much-discussed health care finance sign-up website HealthCare.gov has benefited from the flurry of improvements that have been thrown at it in the last several weeks. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid spokesman Aaron Albright told Fox News Saturday that "[w]ith the scheduled upgrades last night and tonight, we're on track to meet our stated goal for the site to work for the vast majority of users." CMM spokeswoman Julie Bataille. "said the installation of new servers Friday night helped improved the response times and error rates, even with heavier-than-usual weekend traffic." If you've used the site this weekend, what has your experience been like?
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Seattle diners who want to take their food-tweeting pictures with Google glass were already facing a preemptively hostile environment; now (in a different restaurant), a diner's been asked to remove his Google Glass headset, or leave. He chose to leave. Maybe Faraday cages and anti-surveillance features will become the norm at the restaurants where things like Glass are most likely to appear.
New submitter TheRealHocusLocus writes "The FCC is drafting rules to formalize the process of transition of 'last-mile' subscriber circuits to digital IP-based data streams. The move is lauded by AT&T Chairman Tom Wheeler who claims that significant resources are spent to maintain 'legacy' POTS service, though some 100 million still use it. POTS, or 'Plain Old Telephone Service,' is the analog standard that allows the use of simple unpowered phone devices on the wire, with the phone company supplying ring and talk voltage. I cannot fault progress, in fact I'm part of the problem: I gave up my dial tone a couple years ago because I needed cell and could not afford to keep both. But what concerns me is, are we poised to dismantle systems that are capable of standing alone to keep communities and regions 'in-touch' with each other, in favor of systems that rely on centralized (and distant) points of failure? Despite its analog limitations POTS switches have enforced the use of hard-coded local exchanges and equipment that will faithfully complete local calls even if its network connections are down. But do these IP phones deliver the same promise? For that matter, is any single local cell tower isolated from its parent network of use to anyone at all? I have had a difficult time finding answers to this question, and would love savvy Slashdot folks to weigh in: In a disaster that isolates the community from outside or partitions the country's connectivity — aside from local Plain Old Telephone Service, how many IP and cell phones would continue to function?"
vikingpower writes "In the ever-longer wake of the NSA scandal, much-respected Dutch newspaper NRC today reveals, in English, as mandated by the gravity of the occasion, that the Dutch secret service, the AIVD, hacks internet forums. And yes, that is gross misconduct against Dutch law. The service, whose headquarters are in Zoetermeer, did not yet comment upon the divulgence of the document from Edward Snowden's collection. Incensed Dutch parliamentarians are calling for an enquiry."
angry tapir writes "With the look of Google Plus and Facebook-like elements, a new social network named "Syme" feels as cozy as a well-worn shoe. But beneath the familiar veneer, it's quite different. Syme encrypts all content, such as status updates, photos and files, so that only people invited to a group can view it. Syme, which hosts the content on its Canada-based servers, says it can't read it. "The overarching goal of Syme is to make encryption accessible and easy to use for people who aren't geeks or aren't hackers or who aren't cryptography experts," co-founder Jonathan Hershon said in an interview about the service." See also Diaspora.
An anonymous reader writes "Here's an update to the earlier Slashdot story about KlearGear.com 'fining' a couple for a bad review left four years earlier on RipoffReport: Not only did KlearGear report this as a bad debt to credit reporting agencies, but KlearGear is hiding behind a DomainsByProxy domain name to making finding their real identities harder. Now Public Citizen is representing the couple and is going after KlearGear for $75,000. The TV station that broke this story, KUTV, now reports that RipoffReport will likely be on the couple's side. The BBB and TRUSTe say their logos were used by KlearGear.com without permission, and credit reporting agency Experian is also investigating."
rtoz sends word that a French court has ordered Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft to remove 16 unauthorized video streaming sites from their search results. Many ISPs were also ordered to block access to the sites. According to TorrentFreak, "The court ruled that the film industry had clearly demonstrated that the sites in question are 'dedicated or virtually dedicated to the distribution of audiovisual works without the consent of their creators,' thus violating their copyrights. As a result the search services of Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and local company Orange are now under orders to 'take all necessary measures to prevent the occurrence on their services of any results referring to any of the pages' on these sites. Several ISPs – Orange, Free, Bouygues Télécom, SFR, Numéricable and Darty Télécom were also ordered to 'implement all appropriate means including blocking' to prevent access to the infringing sites."
192_kbps writes "Catcher in the Rye author J. D. Salinger wrote the short story The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls and left depository copies with a few academic libraries with the understanding that the work would not see mass distribution until the mid-21st century. The only authorized place to read the story is in a special reading room at Princeton where electronics are not allowed and a librarian continuously babysits the reader. A PDF of the story, as well as two other unpublished stories, appeared on private bittorrent site what.cd where a huge bounty had been placed for the work. Incredibly, the uploader (or someone connected to the uploader) bought an unauthorized copy on eBay for a pittance. The file, Three Stories, is making the bittorrent rounds but can also be read on mediafire."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "David Talbot writes at MIT Technology review that engineers on the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), an informal organization of engineers that changes Internet code and operates by rough consensus, have asked the architects of Tor to consider turning the technology into an Internet standard. If widely adopted, such a standard would make it easy to include the technology in consumer and business products ranging from routers to apps and would allow far more people to browse the Web without being identified by anyone who might be spying on Internet traffic. The IETF is already working to make encryption standard in all web traffic. Stephen Farrell believes that forging Tor into a standard that interoperates with other parts of the Internet could be better than leaving Tor as a separate tool that requires people to take special action to implement. 'I think there are benefits that might flow in both directions,' says Farrell. 'I think other IETF participants could learn useful things about protocol design from the Tor people, who've faced interesting challenges that aren't often seen in practice. And the Tor people might well get interest and involvement from IETF folks who've got a lot of experience with large-scale systems.' Andrew Lewman, executive director of Tor, says the group is considering it. 'We're basically at the stage of 'Do we even want to go on a date together?' It's not clear we are going to do it, but it's worth exploring to see what is involved. It adds legitimacy, it adds validation of all the research we've done.'"
Jah-Wren Ryel writes "In 2012, Canadian Ellen Richardson was hospitalized for clinical depression. This past Monday she tried to board a plane to New York for a $6,000 Caribbean cruise. DHS denied her entry, citing supposedly private medical records listing her hospitalization. From the story: '“I was turned away, I was told, because I had a hospitalization in the summer of 2012 for clinical depression,’’ said Richardson, who is a paraplegic and set up her cruise in collaboration with a March of Dimes group of about 12 others.'"
revealingheart writes "Creative Commons has launched new versions of their flexible copyright licenses, after two years of input. Changes include waiving database and moral rights where possible, and adjustments to attribution requirements. Licenses are now designed to work internationally by default."
Rambo Tribble writes "The BBC reports that the U. S. government has agreed to pay software maker Apptricity $50 million to settle claims that the U.S. Army pirated thousands of copies of the firm's provisioning software. The report indicates 500 licensed copies were sold, but it came to light an army official had mentioned that 'thousands' of devices were running the software." $50 million in tax money could have paid for a whole lot of open source software development, instead.
theodp writes "As part of its plan to improve computer science education in the U.S., the Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates-backed Code.org is asking school districts to sign a contract calling for Code.org to receive 'longitudinal student achievement data' for up to seven academic years in return for course materials, small teacher stipends, and general support. The Gates Foundation is already facing a backlash from the broader academic community over attempts to collect student data as part of its inBloom initiative. The Code.org contract also gives the organization veto power over the district teachers selected to participate in the Code.org program, who are required to commit to teaching in the program for a minimum of two school years."
v3rgEz writes "Wish you were a little more organized? Have trouble finding that archived contract when you actually need it? Don't feel too bad: The National Security Agency has the same problem, claiming that its contract database is stored manually and impossible to search by topic, category, or even by vendor in most cases."
Not content with blacklisting certain kinds of pornography, writes an anonymous reader, according to this news from The Guardian, "The UK government is to order broadband companies to block extremist websites and empower a specialist unit to identify and report content deemed too dangerous for online publication. The crime and security minister, James Brokenshire, said on Wednesday that measures for censoring extremist content would be announced shortly. The initiative is likely to be controversial, with broadband companies already warning that freedom of speech could be compromised."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Economist Edward Hadas writes in the NYT that developers of bitcoin are trying to show that money can be successfully privatized but money that is not issued by governments is always doomed to failure because money is inevitably a tool of the state. 'Bitcoin exemplifies some of the problems of private money,' says Hadas. 'Its value is uncertain, its legal status is unclear, and it could easily become valueless if users lose faith.' Besides, if bitcoin ever really started to take off, governments would either ban it or take over the system says Hadas. The authorities might be motivated by a genuine concern about the stability of a shadow monetary system or they might act out of self-preservation because tax evasion would be too easy in a parallel economy. 'Part of the interest in virtual currencies like bitcoin is that their anonymity can provide a convenient cloak for criminal activity. Part is technological — this is a cool idea. And part is speculative — gamblers bet that bitcoin's value will increase,' concludes Hadas. 'Truly private money is an inferior alternative to the money that comes with the backing of a political authority. After all, no bank or bitcoin-emitter can be as public-minded as a government, and no private power can raise taxes or pass laws to unwind monetary excesses.'" Could be there's something good about money that can't be manipulated by law. Some people at least think there's plenty of value in Bitcoin and similar currencies, despite the risks. And those risks at present probably aren't enough to comfort the unfortunate Welsh fellow who (HT to reader judgecorp) "has realised he threw out a hard drive containing 7500 bitcoins, worth £4 million at today's prices. It is now under four feet of garbage in a landfill site the size of a football pitch."
An anonymous reader writes "On Cyber Monday, millions of Americans will take to the Internet in search of the newest gadgets to bestow upon their loved ones. Most of these 'gifts' are trojan horses that will spy on their recipients, prevent them from doing what they want with their device, or maybe even block access to their favorite books or music. The Free Software Foundation is proud to introduce a map through this minefield: our 2013 Giving Guide. The Giving Guide features gifts that will not only make your recipients jump for joy; these gifts will also protect their freedom."
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Since Edward Snowden's disclosures about widespread NSA surveillance, Americans and people everywhere have been presented with a digital variation on an old analog threat: the erosion of freedoms and privacy in exchange, presumably, for safety and security. Bruce Schneier knows the debate well. He's an expert in cryptography and he wrote the book on computer security; Applied Cryptography is one of the field's basic resources, 'the book the NSA never wanted to be published,' raved Wired in 1994. He knows the evidence well too: lately he's been helping the Guardian and the journalist Glenn Greenwald review the documents they have gathered from Snowden, in order to help explain some of the agency's top secret and highly complex spying programs. To do that, Schneier has taken his careful digital privacy regime to a new level, relying on a laptop with an encrypted hard drive that he never connects to the internet. That couldn't prevent a pilfered laptop during, say, a 'black bag operation,' of course. 'I know that if some government really wanted to get my data, there'd be little I could do to stop them,' he says."
wired_parrot writes "New leaked documents show that the NSA was not only monitoring suspected radical sympathizers, but planned to discredit them based on their web-surfing habits. This includes not only evidence of porn browsing and online sexual activity, but also extortion and blackmail based on inappropriate use of funds. At the same time, the leaked document notes that very few of the targeted contacts were associated with terrorism."
hypnosec writes "The European Commission has outlined steps it believes will pave the way for restoring faith in EU-U.S. data flows following revelations about NSA spying activities under its PRISM program. The EC notes that spying on its citizens, companies, and leaders is unacceptable; and that citizens of U.S. and EU need to be reassured about protection of their data, while companies need to be reassured that the existing agreements between the two regions are respected and enforced. The Commission outlined a total of six areas that it believes require action including swift adoption of the EU's data protection reforms; making Safe Harbor safer; strengthening data protection safeguards in the law enforcement area; commitment from the U.S. for making use of a legal framework; addressing European concerns in the on-going U.S. reform process; and promoting privacy standards internationally."