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The First Draft of the SN manifesto is available

My typing speed in words per minute is:

  • less than 50
  • 50-74
  • 75-99
  • 100-124
  • 125-149
  • more than 150
  • I can't type, you insensitive clod!
  • it depends - explain

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:39 | Votes:286

posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday January 27, @04:45PM   Printer-friendly
from the all-I-got-was-this-stupid-T-shirt dept.

Caitlin Dewey writes in the Washington Post that she's been using a new service called "Invisible Boyfriend" and that she's fallen in love with it. When you sign up for the service, you design a boyfriend (or girlfriend) to your specifications. "You pick his name, his age, his interests and personality traits. You tell the app if you prefer blonds or brunettes, tall guys or short, guys who like theater or guys who watch sports. Then you swipe your credit card — $25 per month, cha-ching! — and the imaginary man of your dreams starts texting you." Invisible boyfriend is actually boyfriends, plural: The service’s texting operation is powered by CrowdSource, a St. Louis-based tech company that manages 200,000 remote, microtask-focused workers. "When I send a text to the Ryan number saved in my phone, the message routes through Invisible Boyfriend, where it’s anonymized and assigned to some Amazon Turk or Fivrr freelancer. He (or she) gets a couple of cents to respond. He never sees my name or number, and he can’t really have anything like an actual conversation with me." Dewey says that the point of Invisible Boyfriend is to deceive the user’s meddling friends and relatives. "I was newly divorced and got tired of everyone asking if I was dating or seeing someone," says co-founder Matthew Homann. "There seems to be this romance culture in our country where people are looked down upon if they aren't in a relationship."

Evidence suggests that people can be conned into loving just about anything. There is no shortage of stories about couples carrying on “relationships” exclusively via Second Life , the game critic Kate Gray recently published an ode to “Dorian,” a character she fell in love with in a video game, and one anthropologist argues that our relationships are increasingly so mediated by tech that they’ve become indistinguishable from Tamagotchis. “The Internet is a disinhibiting medium, where people’s emotional guard is down,” says Mark Griffiths. “It’s the same phenomenon as the stranger on the train, where you find yourself telling your life story to someone you don’t know.” It’s not exactly the stuff of fairytales, concludes Dewey. "But given enough time and texts—a full 100 are included in my monthly package—I’m pretty sure I could fall for him. I mean, er … them."

posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday January 27, @03:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the 3-2-1-Let's-Jam! dept.

According to the Defcon 22 presentation, the most straightforward way to hack / disable an alarm system is to:
Find out the frequency the alarm system transmitter uses from publicly available FCC documentation.
Get a software defined radio, set it to that frequency to jam it.
Periodically, for very short periods of time, stop jamming to overcome / trick anti-jamming functionality in the system.
For those interested in reading the original research, see Logan Lamb's Defcon 22 whitepaper and presentation.

[White paper]:


posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday January 27, @02:09PM   Printer-friendly
from the Parliament-of-Rooks dept. El Reg reports that the controversial Snooper's Charter was again defeated when peers of the House of Lords attempted to amend it's powers into the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill in yesterday's House session.

A bewildered Lord King of Bridgwater trotted out the usual alarmist guff that Britain faced a grave and growing threat from terrorists, before adding that the law needed an overhaul to deal with access to communications data such as Snapchat and WhatsApp. Inevitably, the recent Paris atrocities were opportunistically used by the Tory peer to ram his point across. He complained that May's draft Communications Data Bill had been mothballed after it was published two-and-a-half years ago. [...] [The] Tory peer then went on to expose himself as a dunderhead by admitting he was clueless about the apps and websites that are widely used by Brits. Nonetheless, Lord King believed he could push for legislation without having the necessary knowledge to understand the implications on our privacy rights that such planned amendments to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill posed.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair also expressed his support for dragnet surveillance of the United Kingdom, but the amendments were withdrawn during the debate. This won't be the last we see of the Snooper's Charter - Lord King said he will push for a vote in the Lords next week as the bill reaches the report stage.

posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday January 27, @01:41PM   Printer-friendly
from the local-power dept.

[O]ne afternoon, the Noahs had an unexpected knock on the door. An agent for a new electrical company called M-POWER said that, for a sign-up fee of only 10,000 shillings ($6), he could install a fully functioning solar home system in their house – enough to power several LED lights and a radio. The payoff was immediate. While Noah used to spend $18 a month on kerosene, she now pays a monthly average of $11 for her solar lighting, and she no longer has to go into town to charge her cellphone.
CGAP sees such technology as allowing developing countries to carve out an energy future that is smarter, cheaper, and cleaner than the one the West pursued decades ago. As energy consultant Julian Popov put it in a recent opinion piece he wrote for Al Jazeera, most African countries never did string phone lines to every home and business – and in the end, they didn’t have to. Just as African mobile-phone networks skipped the land-line phase, he believes that African solar companies could bypass the fossil fuel era.
Investors as far off as Silicon Valley are starting to take notice of the technology. More than $45 million flowed into the off-grid solar sector in the first four months of 2014. M-POWER’S parent company, Off-Grid Electric, completed a $7 million round of funding in March, with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the US solar firm SolarCity, and Omidyar Network as lead investors. In February, M-KOPA Solar, a Kenyan pay-as-you-go company, announced that it had raised $20 million to fund the expansion of its customer base – a record amount for the sector.

posted by janrinok on Tuesday January 27, @12:12PM   Printer-friendly
from the flying-cars,-internet-privacy,-and-secure-comms-for-all dept.

Unlike Bilbo's magic ring, which entangles human hearts, engineers have created a new micro-ring that entangles individual particles of light, an important first step in a whole host of new technologies.

Entanglement - the instantaneous connection between two particles no matter their distance apart - is one of the most intriguing and promising phenomena in all of physics. Properly harnessed, entangled photons could revolutionize computing, communications, and cyber security. Though readily created in the lab and by comparatively large-scale optoelectronic components, a practical source of entangled photons that can fit onto an ordinary computer chip has been elusive.

New research, reported today in The Optical Society's (OSA) new high-impact journal Optica, describes how a team of scientists has developed, for the first time, a microscopic component that is small enough to fit onto a standard silicon chip that can generate a continuous supply of entangled photons.



posted by janrinok on Tuesday January 27, @10:06AM   Printer-friendly
from the hello-hello-is-there-anybody-there? dept.

Verizon agreed to a $5 million settlement after admitting that it failed to investigate whether its rural customers were able to receive long distance and wireless phone calls. The settlement is part of the Federal Communications Commission's attempt to fix the rural call completion problem, which extends beyond just Verizon's network.

"Rural call completion problems have significant and immediate public interest ramifications," the FCC said in its order on the Verizon settlement today. "They cause rural businesses to lose customers, impede medical professionals from reaching patients in rural areas, cut families off from their relatives, and create the potential for dangerous delays in public safety communications."

posted by janrinok on Tuesday January 27, @08:10AM   Printer-friendly
from the what-goes-around-comes-around dept.

Hasn't this idea been re-cycled before ? What was old is now new again dept:

Private information would be much more secure if individuals moved away from cloud-based storage towards peer-to-peer systems, where data is stored in a variety of ways and across a variety of sites, argues a University of Cambridge researcher.

In an article published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A, Professor Jon Crowcroft argues that by parcelling and spreading data across multiple sites, and weaving it together like a tapestry, not only would our information be safer, it would be quicker to access, and could potentially be stored at lower overall cost.

The internet is a vast, decentralised communications system, with minimal administrative or governmental oversight. However, we increasingly access our information through cloud-based services, such as Google Drive, iCloud and Dropbox, which are very large centralised storage and processing systems. Cloud-based services offer convenience to the user, as their data can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, but their centralised nature can make them vulnerable to attack, such as when personal photos of mostly young and female celebrities were leaked last summer after their iCloud accounts were hacked.

Storing information on the cloud makes it easily accessible to users, while removing the burden of managing it; and the cloud's highly centralised nature keeps costs low for the companies providing the storage. However, centralised systems can lack resilience, meaning that service can be lost when any one part of the network access path fails.


posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday January 27, @12:56AM   Printer-friendly
from the Not-that-NSA,-the-other-one. dept.

The US National Sheriffs' Association wants Google to block its crowd-sourced traffic app Waze from being able to report the position of police officers, saying the information is putting officer's lives at risk.

"The police community needs to coordinate an effort to have the owner, Google, act like the responsible corporate citizen they have always been and remove this feature from the application even before any litigation or statutory action," AP reports Sheriff Mike Brown, the chairman of the NSA's technology committee, told the association's winter conference in Washington.

Waze, founded in 2008 and purchased 18 months ago by Google for $1.1bn, has about 50 million users who anonymously share their locations to help gauge road traffic flows. The app also allows police reports and road closures to be added to maps and shared with other users.

Brown called the app a "police stalker," and said being able to identify where officers were located could put them at personal risk. Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, said his members had concerns as well.

posted by LaminatorX on Monday January 26, @09:34PM   Printer-friendly
from the croud-fleecing dept.

It turns out that while you're proving to the web server you're a human, you might also be pitching in to provide one of Google's services to its corporate customers. A woman filed a class action lawsuit against Google last Thursday in US District Court in Massachusetts, alleging that Google's reCAPTCHA service has harvested unpaid image-to-text transcription work from millions of web site visitors. Google markets reCAPTCHA as a service to web site owners; its customers include Facebook, Twitter, and Ticketmaster. Like other CAPTCHA implementations, reCAPTCHA challenges site visitors to type in the text corresponding to a visually distorted word. But reCAPTCHA differs from the others in that its images often contain two distorted words, as noted by the civil complaint:

One of those words is a “known” word, which the website user must enter correctly to access the website as a security measure. That is, because Google already knows what word is being displayed in the first distorted image, if the user enters the word correctly, Google knows the user is likely to be a human, and thus permits the users to continue using the website...

The other of the two words, however, serves no security purpose. The second word is an image with text that Google is attempting to transcribe. The sole purpose of the second word is to require the user to read and transcribe the word for Google’s commercial use and benefit, with no corresponding benefit to the user.

The lawsuit notes that Google makes use of optical character transcription for its own products such as Google Books and Street View, and also provides an archive digitization service to newspapers, including the New York Times.

This was apparently never a dark secret; the use of reCAPTCHA to "crowdsource" digitization of old printed materials was publicized as a feature by both Luis von Ahn (who invented reCAPTCHA as a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University) and Google (who acquired the reCAPTCHA technology in 2009):

reCAPTCHA technology was developed not merely with an eye toward improving cyber security, but also as a way to harness and reuse the collective human time and mental energy spent solving and typing CAPTCHAs—a concept von Ahn has dubbed “human computation.” By constructing CAPTCHAs using words tagged as unreadable in the digitizing of books and other printed material, millions and millions of cyber users play a part every day in the digitization and preservation of human knowledge by transcribing words. Tests have shown that reCAPTCHA textual images are deciphered and transcribed with 99.1% accuracy, a rate comparable to the best human professional transcription services.

posted by LaminatorX on Monday January 26, @07:53PM   Printer-friendly
from the death-from-above dept.

Police, fire and other emergency vehicles swarmed around the White House in the predawn hours, with several clustered near the southeast entrance to the mansion as the NYT reports that a small aerial drone has been found on the grounds of the White House. Obama and the first lady, Michelle Obama, are on a three-day visit to India, but their daughters, Malia and Sasha, are in Washington. The report of a drone came at a time when other threats to the president’s family or their home have led to concerns about security but according to a White House spokesman the drone poses no threat. “As the Secret Service has more information about their investigation, about what they’ve been able to learn about this, they’ll share more information on this,” says White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. After daylight, more than a dozen Secret Service officers fanned out in a search across the White House lawn as snow began to fall. They peered down in the grass and used flashlights to look through the large bushes that line the mansion's driveway.

The incident is the latest in a string of White House security breaches that have led to questions about Secret Service effectiveness. Four of the agency's highest-ranking executives were reassigned earlier this month. Former Director Julia Pierson's was forced to resign last year after a Texas man armed with a knife was able to get over a White House fence in September and run deep into the executive mansion before being subdued.

posted by janrinok on Monday January 26, @05:04PM   Printer-friendly
from the when-I-was-a-boy..... dept.

Spotted over at HackerNews is a link to a detailed description of the build steps for a homebrew 8 bit (6502 based) home computer.

The pages, by Dirk Grappendorf, cover stage by stage descriptions of the implementation, including the hardware schematics, assembler listings and a prototype built up on breadboard.

This is a description of my attempt to build a simple microcomputer system with an 8-bit MOS 6502 CPU that was used in many popular home computers of the 1970s and 1980s like the Commodore 64 or the Apple II. This project was started in September 2014 and finished in January 2015. Above you can see an image of the final product. This is no in-depth tutorial on how to build a 6502 based computer system. It is more like a developer diary, which describes the evolution of the system design over time from the first simple support circuits to the complete product.

Original hackernews discussion thread.

posted by janrinok on Monday January 26, @03:06PM   Printer-friendly
from the big-iron-versus-fluffy-cloud dept.

From the article, "IBM is expected to go through a massive reorg next month that will reportedly see 26% of its 430,000-strong work force let go, or 111,800 people. If that figure holds true, that would make it far and away the largest corporate layoff event in history, breaking the record previously held by IBM, when it cut 60,000 in 1993."

posted by janrinok on Monday January 26, @12:53PM   Printer-friendly
from the hacking-as-hacking-was-intended-to-be dept.

Michael Weissenstein reports for the Associated Press:

Cut off from the Internet, young Cubans have quietly linked thousands of computers into a hidden network that stretches miles across Havana, letting them chat with friends, play games and download hit movies in a mini-replica of the online world that most can't access.

Home Internet connections are banned for all but a handful of Cubans, and the government charges nearly a quarter of a month's salary for an hour online in government-run hotels and Internet centers. As a result, most people on the island live offline, complaining about their lack of access to information and contact with friends and family abroad.

A small minority have covertly engineered a partial solution by pooling funds to create a private network of more than 9,000 computers with small, inexpensive but powerful hidden Wi-Fi antennas and Ethernet cables strung over streets and rooftops spanning the entire city. Disconnected from the real Internet, the network is limited, local and built with equipment commercially available around the world, with no help from any outside government, organizers say.

posted by janrinok on Monday January 26, @10:52AM   Printer-friendly
from the too-hard-to-swallow? dept.

With the advent of the internet came a superabundance of available information regarding personal health. However, with this deluge of available information also came a hefty downfall - a massive amount of misguided and unreliable information.

Out of all fields of discussion, it's safe to say that no other topics are more dangerous to have misinformation spread about than diet and nutrition. If a nutrition myth is continually repeated, it can soon become a culturally accepted truth, something that is dangerous to the general public. So for that matter, this article will address some of the most common and misguided nutrition 'facts' out there today.

posted by LaminatorX on Monday January 26, @09:36AM   Printer-friendly
from the declaration-of-dependance dept.

When Daniel Pfeifer gave a talk about dependency management in 'When dependency hell freezes over' at Meeting C++ last year, he said: "Try to complete the following sentence: Python has Pip, Ruby has Gem, Dart has Pub, C++ has... "

Unfortunately, we cannot continue the sentence because there is no solution for resolving and keeping track of dependencies and version compatibilities for C/C++ projects. This is where biicode is trying to fill the gap.

And even though it started as a closed source project it looks like it is going to become open source.

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