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posted by Blackmoore on Thursday October 23, @12:56AM   Printer-friendly
from the coolest-person-in-the-universe dept.

El Reg reports:

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has joined the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), as an adjunct professor. Woz will teach in the "Magic Lab" (Innovation and Enterprise Research Laboratory), School of Software and the Centre for Quantum Computation and Intelligent Systems at UTS' Faculty of Engineering and IT.

Magic Lab director Professor Mary-Anne Williams has allowed herself to be quoted saying Wozniak is the "coolest person in the Universe" and "loves the energy, the vibe and the robots in the Magic Lab."

"Woz constantly highlights the new possibilities for technology to change the world and enjoys sharing his insights and experiences," Williams added. "The students have been totally wowed by the attention he has given them--one claiming he had changed her life in less than 60 seconds."

posted by Blackmoore on Wednesday October 22, @11:52PM   Printer-friendly
from the can't-we-just-use-Esperanto? dept.

Arielle Schlesinger, from HASTAC, is working on her thesis: Feminism and Programming Languages

a feminist programming language is to be built around a non-normative paradigm that represents alternative ways of abstracting. The intent is to encourage and allow new ways of thinking about problems such that we can code using a feminist ideology. ... I realized that object oriented programmed reifies normative subject object theory. This led me to wonder what a feminist programming language would look like, one that might allow you to create entanglements."

Are there any insights to be gained here? Or, is this yet another social theorist questionably applying critical theory to the sciences?

For those who RTFA, be sure to read the comment on the article by Juliet Rosenthal. She brings up the obvious questions that leap to the mind of any computer scientist, and formulates them well without being needlessly confrontational.

posted by Blackmoore on Wednesday October 22, @10:34PM   Printer-friendly
from the it-belongs-in-a-god-damn-museum dept.

The Computer History Museum, with the aid of Xerox PARC has released the source code for the Xerox Alto.

Depending on your age, your first computer might have been an Apple II, a Radio Shack TRS-80, an IBM PC, an Apple Macintosh, or another of the early personal computers. If you missed these early machines the first time around, perhaps you have seen them in the Personal Computer section of the Revolution exhibit at the Computer History Museum. ...

It’s hard to explain just how advanced the Alto seemed at the time. It had a full-page graphics display with 606 by 808 black & white pixels, a keyboard, a mouse, a fairly powerful processor with 128 KBytes of main memory, a hard drive with a 2.5 MByte removable cartridge, and a 2.94 Mbit/sec Ethernet interface. The Ethernet connected Altos together into a local network that included a high-performance laser printer, an Alto-based file server with hundreds of megabytes of capacity, and gateways to local networks at other Xerox offices and to the ARPANET.

posted by azrael on Wednesday October 22, @09:12PM   Printer-friendly
from the boom-time-for-rights dept.

That's what Congressman Darrell Issa tweeted as it became clear that Congress would have no part of the FBI's plan to require backdoors (or frontdoors) into encrypted phones.

The Register is reporting that the FBI's request had publicly failed after senators said the proposal would be rejected. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren said:

"I think the public would not support it, certainly industry would not support it, civil liberties groups would not support it."

"I think [Comey is] a sincere guy, but there's just no way this is going to happen."

The bipartisan opposition signaled the end of the line (at least until after the next election) of any chance for the FBI's proposal according to an article in The Hill.

Earlier this year, in another bipartisan move, Lofgren, and Rep. Thomas Massie introduced a measure to the defense spending bill banning the National Security Agency from using “backdoor” searches to spy on Americans through a legal provision targeting foreigners. That measure overwhelmingly passed the House 293-123.

posted by azrael on Wednesday October 22, @07:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the clawing-the-rights-back-one-by-one dept.

Ars has a story that has civil liberties implications galore. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear another Fourth Amendment privacy case, this one related to a Los Angeles ordinance which requires hotels to surrender guest registries to the police upon request without a warrant. From the article:

The justices agreed Monday to hear Los Angeles' appeal of a lower court that ruled 7-4 that the law—meant to combat prostitution, gambling, and even terrorism—was unconstitutional. The law (PDF) requires hotels to provide the information—including guests' credit card number, home address, driver's license information, and vehicle license number—at a moment's notice. Several dozen cities, from Atlanta to Seattle, have similar ordinances. [...]

The appeal is the third high-profile Fourth Amendment case the justices have taken in three years.

In 2012, the justices ruled that authorities generally need search warrants when they affix GPS devices to a vehicle. And earlier this year, the Supreme Court said that the authorities need warrants to peek into the mobile phones of suspects they arrest.

In the latest case, Los Angeles motel owners sued, claiming that the law was a violation of their rights. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the motel owners in December and said the only documents they must disclose include a hotel's proprietary pricing and occupancy information.

posted by azrael on Wednesday October 22, @05:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the sole-lundy-fastnet-irishsea dept.

The next iPhones were announced and sold out (just as Apple planned), the fanbois lined up, camped out, and stopped mocking big phones.

A couple people noticed it came equipped with a barometer. Yawn. Android had them for years, nobody cares.

Well one guy does care. He is Cliff Mass, of the Weather Blog. Why is Cliff so excited:

Because they offer the chance to get a extraordinary density of pressure observations, which provides the potential to describe small scale atmospheric structures. Structures we need to know about if we are to predict key weather features like strong thunderstorms.

To forecast fine-scale weather features (like thunderstorms), you need a fine-scale description of the atmosphere, and the current observational network is often insufficient. We need millions of observations per hour over the U.S. to do the job.

posted by azrael on Wednesday October 22, @04:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the super-human-evolution dept.

The region of genome that is associated with autism contains a genetic variation that evolved relatively recently (Abstract) in human history - in the last 250,000 years.

Human geneticists have discovered that a region of the genome associated with autism contains genetic variation that evolved in the last 250,000 years, after the divergence of humans from ancient hominids, and likely plays an important role in disease.

posted by azrael on Wednesday October 22, @02:51PM   Printer-friendly
from the retrospective dept.

Modern-day Renaissance man Nick Szabo de-constructs the first phase of the Industrial Revolution which occurred roughly between 1750 and 1830. Szabo organizes his short essay around the theme of inventions improving trade routes and supply paths to mines and farms; along the way, he points out a couple analogies to the Internet age.

Horse-drawn carriages and wagons had been in use in north-western Europe since the Middle Ages. During the early years of the Industrial Revolution, this mode of transportation was optimized through improvements to wheels, tires, shock absorption, and roads. It then became economically feasible to build out canals and navigate rivers to haul the cargo long distances, with horses used most heavily for "the last mile", e.g. transport of materials and goods from mines and farms.

posted by n1 on Wednesday October 22, @01:59PM   Printer-friendly

Several news outlets are reporting shots fired at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, the seat of the national government. There have been three confirmed shooting incidents, one at The National War Memorial, another within parliament itself and a third at a nearby shopping centre.

One ceremonial guard on site has been reportedly shot and killed. Reports say the gunman moved into the building itself, and has been killed by police. Most government officials have been evacuated.

  • 1 shooter dead, 1 still believed at large in downtown Ottawa.
  • Police searching cars leaving Ottawa trying to go to Quebec.
  • Report of additional shots fired near Chateau Laurier Hotel, east of Parliament Hill.
  • Police going door to door in downtown core; downtown schools in lockdown.
  • All three main party leaders, Harper, Mulcair and Trudeau, reported safe.

Parliament Hill came under attack today after a man with a rifle shot a soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa, before seizing a car and driving to the doors of Parliament Hill's Centre Block nearby.

MPs and other witnesses reported several shots fired inside Parliament, and a gunman has been confirmed dead inside the building, shot by the House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms, according to MPs' eyewitness accounts.

A tragedy for the soldier killed -- but all I can think of right now is "great, now what security-theatre overreaction will we have to suffer through to close this barn door?"

posted by azrael on Wednesday October 22, @01:11PM   Printer-friendly
from the stop-throwing-good-money-after-bad dept.

The European Union's interoperability page reports:

The Dutch government must increase its use of open source software, recommends the country's parliament. It wants to make open standards mandatory and use open source when equal to or better than proprietary solutions for all [Information and Communications Technology] projects over 5 million euro.

The government must enforce compliance with its existing policy on open source software and open standards, the parliament recommends in its final report on failures of government ICT projects. Enforcing the 'comply or explain' policy is to become a [task] for a new agency, overseeing all government ICT projects.

"The government has already agreed to opt for open source and open standards, wherever possible. Only, in practice, this happens too little. This has to change - open source and open standards can result in major cost savings, but they also open the door to dissenting voices", the parliament writes. Such criticism is to be encouraged, and one of the ways to achieve this is to use open source, enabling outsiders to think along.

posted by azrael on Wednesday October 22, @11:47AM   Printer-friendly
from the questionable-ethics-still-gets-you-a-golden-parachute dept.

KTLA TV reports:

Beleaguered Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. John Deasy announced [October 16] that he had tendered his resignation. Deasy would stay on with the district on a special assignment through the end of the year, according to a join[sic] statement from the superintendent and the school district. [...] As part of the severance agreement, he would receive about 60 days' pay, which would equal about $60,000, according to the paper.

Deasy, 53, has led the nation's second-largest school district for 3.5 years. During that time, he has faced much scrutiny and criticism, particularly over a technology program that he pushed for which would have spent more than $1 billion to provide an iPad to every student, teacher and administrator at LAUSD schools.

The program was suspended in August after it was discovered that Deasy and his top deputy had ties to Apple executives and the company that was providing the curriculum for the iPads.

posted by n1 on Wednesday October 22, @10:04AM   Printer-friendly
from the head-meets-desk dept.

The Initfinder General (uselessd author) discusses why the systemd debate is so heated. He points fingers at both sides and the story has little to do with who's correct, but everything to to with why no one can agree at all.

[...] I saw the same systemd debate unfold again. I’ve seen it countless times already, and there was virtually no variation from the archetypal formula. You have two ardent and vocal sides, roughly classified into an opponent/proponent dichotomy, neither of which have anything enlightening to say and both with their own unique set of misunderstandings that have memetically mutated into independent ideas that poison virtually every debate of this nature.

Read on for a look at the fuel behind everyone's favorite flamewar.

posted by azrael on Wednesday October 22, @08:39AM   Printer-friendly
from the keep-your-dongles-safe dept.

Google, along with the FIDO Alliance is set to launch a USB dongle which will be used to authenticate a user and grant access to a Google account.

Technology Review has this summary:

The small USB stick provides added protection for a Google account. Once a key is associated with your account, you’ll be prompted to insert the device into a computer each time you enter a password to log in - or, if you prefer, once a month on computers you use frequently. Touching a button on the security key triggers a cryptographic exchange with Google’s login systems that verifies the key’s identity.

A more verbose summary can be found directly on the FIDO website as well as CNN.

This key, which I found on Amazon for US $7-$18, seems to be a cheaper solution to the RSA cards and requires less typing.

What is old is new again. I wonder how hard it would be to clone one of these sticks from an infected public computer? And how it would fare going through the laundry?

posted by n1 on Wednesday October 22, @06:58AM   Printer-friendly
from the facebook-charged-with-obstruction-of-justice dept.

CNNMoney reports that Facebook has sent a letter to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration demanding that agents stop impersonating users on the social network. "The DEA's deceptive actions... threaten the integrity of our community," Facebook chief security officer Joe Sullivan wrote to DEA head Michele Leonhart. "Using Facebook to impersonate others abuses that trust and makes people feel less safe and secure when using our service."

Facebook's letter comes on the heels of reports that the DEA impersonated a young woman on Facebook to communicate with suspected criminals, and the Department of Justice argued that they had the right to do so. Facebook contends that their terms and Community Standards - which the DEA agent had to acknowledge and agree to when registering for a Facebook account - expressly prohibit the creation and use of fake accounts. "Isn't this the definition of identity theft?" says Privacy researcher Runa Sandvik. The DEA has declined to comment and referred all questions to the Justice Department, which has not returned CNNMoney's calls.

posted by Blackmoore on Wednesday October 22, @05:17AM   Printer-friendly
from the hypocritical-or-just-confused-by-the-survey dept.

Citing a Pew Research survey as well as other sources, Priceonomics reports – with nice charts – that the younger an American is, the more likely is to not have or feel a religious affiliation.

81% of all Americans aged 30 and older, and 88% of American septugenarians (aged 70 and older), identify as Christian. Young Americans, on the other hand, are pretty singularly secular in comparison. Only 68% of adults under 30 identified as Christian. 25% of adults under 30 didn’t affiliate with any religion whatsoever.

Is this just because people tend to get more religious as they get older, or is religion actually on the decline with younger people? According to Pew, today’s young adults reject organized religion at a significantly higher rate than generations before them at their age: In the late 1970s, 13% of Baby Boomers had no religious affiliation; by the late 1990s, 20% of Generation X-ers had no religious affiliation.

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