Reader Fluffeh snips from and links to Ars Technica with the latest chapter in the ongoing Google vs. Oracle fight involving patents, Java, and Android, writing that executives at both companies were "'ordered to hold one last round of settlement talks no later than April 9th, with the trial over Google's alleged use of Java technology in Android set to begin April 16,' though '[t]he last-ditch effort to avoid a trial seems unlikely to succeed. ... Oracle initially accused Google of violating seven patents, but has since dropped most of them. This is due to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruling the patents described technology that was not patentable. Two patents assigned to the Oracle-owned Sun Microsystems remain: #6,061,520 which covers "an improvement over conventional systems for initializing static arrays by reducing the amount of code executed by the virtual machine to statically initialize an array," and #RE38,104 which covers a type of compiler and interpreter."
New submitter politkal excerpts from a report at Reuters: "A Chinese telecommunications equipment company has sold Iran's largest telecom firm a powerful surveillance system capable of monitoring landline, mobile and internet communications, interviews and contract documents show. The system was part of a 98.6 million euro ($130.6 million) contract for networking equipment supplied by Shenzhen, China-based ZTE Corp to the Telecommunication Co of Iran (TCI), according to the documents. Government-controlled TCI has a near monopoly on Iran's landline telephone services and much of Iran's internet traffic is required to flow through its network. ... Human rights groups say they have documented numerous cases in which the Iranian government tracked down and arrested critics by monitoring their telephone calls or internet activities. Iran this month set up a Supreme Council of Cyberspace, headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said it would protect 'against internet evils,' according to Iranian state television."
First time accepted submitter oyenamit writes "Ars Technica reported a while back that FAA is going to reconsider the ban on use of electronic gadgets during take-off and landing. If this ban is revoked, you will be free to use your gizmos for an additional 30 minutes or so. Peter Bright has an interesting take on why lifting of the ban may not be such a good idea."
no_such_user writes "It's easy to ignore the controversy surrounding software patents, especially if you don't have the passion for technology which Slashdot readers do. But as Dana Nieder discovered, it's not all about major corporations and obscure patent trolls. Her daughter uses a comparatively inexpensive assistive communication app on their iPad, which is being threatened by the makers of a multi-thousand-dollar hardware device."
An anonymous reader writes "China said that it planned to end the practice of taking organs from executed prisoners within five years, according to the state media report on Friday. Instead, China's vice minister of health Dr. Huang Jiefu said that the country will rely on a new national donation system for organ transplants at a conference in the city of Hangzhou on Thursday."
bricko writes "The recently issued National Highway Transportation Safety Agency guidelines for automakers to minimize distraction for in-vehicle electronics included a proposal to freeze maps on navigation systems. No more scrolling maps...just static pictures. 'Every current installed navigation system uses the car as a fixed point, and shows the map moving around it. NHTSA wants that changed so as to keep the map fixed. Even showing the position of the car moving on the map could be considered a dynamic image. The recommendation seems to suggest that the position of the car could only be updated every couple of seconds. Likewise, the map could be refreshed once the car has left the currently displayed area. This recommendation would essentially make navigation unusable. The system could still give an auditory warning for the next turn, but without being able to glance down at the map and see how close the next street is would likely lead to a lot of missed turns and resultant frustration.'"
New submitter smi.james.th writes with an AP story, and extracts from it: "'Grade-school students in a northeastern Brazilian city are using uniforms embedded with computer chips that alert parents if they are cutting classes, the city's education secretary, Coriolano Moraes, said Thursday.' Personally I don't find this too inspiring. Mr. Orwell certainly has warned the world about this."
hackingbear writes "Reports from overseas (in Chinese) [Google translation] and Hong Kong-based Chinese media report that China appears to have unblocked several sensitive political keywords. Using Baidu.com, the country's leading search engine, users within the mainland border find, in Chinese, uncensored web page links and images using keywords like Tiananmen and 'June 4'. (Readers can click on the first one to view the images.) Given that the unblocking of these sensitive keywords comes one week after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao publicly denounced left-wing leader Bo Xilai's movement of 'striking down the ganster while reviving the red culture' as going down the path of Cultural Revolution, it could signal the silent start of a major political change."
An of-course anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from the always-fun Infowars.com: "A new camera technology from Hitachi Hokusai Electric can scan days of camera footage instantly, and find any face which has EVER walked past it. Its makers boast that it can scan 36 million faces per second. The technology raises the spectre of governments – or other organisations – being able to 'find' anyone instantly simply using a passport photo or a Facebook profile. The 'trick' is that the camera 'processes' faces as it records, so that all faces which pass in front of it are recorded and stored instantly. Faces are stored as a searchable 'biometric' record, placing the unique mathematical 'faceprint' of anyone who has ever walked past the camera in a database."
Gunkerty Jeb writes with a selection from Threatpost about upcoming legislation to watch out for: "EFF looked at two bills making their way through Congress: The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (S. 2105), sponsored by Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) of Connecticut and the Secure IT Act (S. 2151), sponsored by Senator John McCain (R-AZ). The digital rights group claims that the quality of both bills ranges from 'downright terrible' to 'appropriately intentioned.' Each, however, is conceptually similar and flawed, EFF said."
retroworks writes "Two stories in Digitimes make a puzzle of economic policy. U.S. and European tax incentives and stimulus increase steady demand for solar panels. The Chinese government subsidizes production of solar panels to meet this growing demand. The U.S. and EU complain, and place tariffs on Chinese solar panels. Do allegations that China has used government funding to subsidize the production trump our desire for cheaper solar power? Subsidizing demand led to subsidized production. In other words, one market interference (subsidized demand for solar) leads to its counterpoint, government tariff and taxation of the same product."
MikeatWired writes "Jon Udell writes that when it was recently discovered that some iPhone apps were uploading users' contacts to the cloud, one proposed remedy was to modify iOS to require explicit user approval. But in one typical scenario that's not a choice a user should have to make. A social service that uses contacts to find which of a new user's friends are already members doesn't need cleartext email addresses. If I upload hashes of my contacts, and you upload hashes of yours, the service can match hashes without knowing the email addresses from which they're derived. In the post Hashing for privacy in social apps, Matt Gemmell shows how it can be done." (Read more, below.)
An anonymous reader writes "T-Mobile USA offers a 'feature' to restrict access to certain kinds of content. This is called Web Guard. Supposedly Web Guard is supposed to inhibit access to content that falls under certain categories. The Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), developed a tool to detect what sites were being censored. Amongst them were political news sites, foreign sports news sites and other sites that should not have been censored." It's quite an eclectic bunch of sites that are blocked, but then censorware tends to break in interesting ways, even when it's not by design.
McGruber writes "Transportation Security Administration (TSA) program challenges and failures will be the focus of a joint hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, on Monday, March 26, 2012. The Hearing is titled 'TSA Oversight Part III: Effective Security or Security Theater?' Bruce Schneier is scheduled to be a witness at this hearing. Additional information on the hearing is posted on the oversight committee's website. The Congressmen who serve on these committees are soliciting questions from the public to ask TSA officials at the hearing ... provided the public is willing to submit their questions via Facebook."