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SoylentNews PBC Board Meeting - *In Progress*

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Updated: 2015-05-01

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Approximately how many miles do you travel in a year?

  • < 10k
  • 10k - 20k
  • 20k - 40k
  • 40k - 60k
  • 60k - 100k
  • 100k - 200k
  • > 200k
  • I don't leave my basement

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:27 | Votes:163

posted by CoolHand on Monday May 04, @06:38PM   Printer-friendly
from the security-oops dept.

Nick and Margaret: The Trouble with Our Trains is a BBC Two show featuring Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford, who explore "the sorry state of the British rail network."

The dynamic duo's travels took them to the Wessex Integrated Control Centre, located above the platform entrances at London Waterloo railway station, manned 24 hours a day by teams of controllers from both South West Trains and Network Rail.

[The] documentary revealed more than it planned this week, exposing the passwords used at a rail control centre.

The article features a frame of the video which shows the complex login credentials taped to an LCD panel of a Windows XP terminal.

One might wonder if overstrict password policy brought this about, except obviously a strict password policy would not allow the password that is stickied to the monitor..

posted by CoolHand on Monday May 04, @04:37PM   Printer-friendly
from the old-wine-in-new-bottle dept.

While most of us have been binge-streaming or strapping computers to our bodies or wrapping our heads around the ins and outs of net neutrality, an international team of academics and some of the world's biggest technology companies have been quietly pondering how to rewrite the basic structure of the internet—for our sakes.

Their idea sounds simple: instead of numbers, use names. Focus not on the locations of things, but on the things themselves.

The proposal, called Named Data Networking, shifts the focus from the numbered locations of data—IP addresses like—to the very names of data—something like motherboard/stories/NDN/photo1. Under this system, for example, when your computer makes a packet request for a new Netflix release, you could retrieve the video from the nearest computer that has it, rather than wait to get it from Netflix's heavily-trafficked centralized servers.

"As far as the network is concerned," the project's website says, "the name in an NDN packet can be anything: an endpoint, a chunk of movie or book, a command to turn on some lights, etc." An internet not of numbers, but, if you will, of things.

posted by CoolHand on Monday May 04, @02:35PM   Printer-friendly
from the lols-with-lotr dept.

Julie Beck writes in The Atlantic that though science and fantasy seem to be polar opposites, a Venn diagram of “scientists” and “Lord of the Rings fans” have a large overlap which could (lovingly!) be labeled “nerds.” Several animal species have been named after characters from the books including wasps, crocodiles, and even a dinosaur named after Sauron, “Given Tolkien’s passion for nomenclature, his coinage, over decades, of enormous numbers of euphonious names—not to mention scientists’ fondness for Tolkien—it is perhaps inevitable that Tolkien has been accorded formal taxonomic commemoration like no other author,” writes Henry Gee. Other disciplines aren’t left out of the fun—there’s a geologically interesting region in Australia called the “Mordor Alkaline Igneous Complex,” a pair of asteroids named “Tolkien” and “Bilbo,” and a crater on Mercury also named “Tolkien.”

“It has been documented that Middle-Earth caught the attention of students and practitioners of science from the early days of Tolkien fandom. For example, in the 1960s, the Tolkien Society members were said to mainly consist of ‘students, teachers, scientists, or psychologists,’” writes Kristine Larsen, an astronomy professor at Central Connecticut State University, in her paper “SAURON, Mount Doom, and Elvish Moths: The Influence of Tolkien on Modern Science.” “When you have scientists who are fans of pop culture, they’re going to see the science in it,” says Larson. “It’s just such an intricate universe. It’s so geeky. You can delve into it. There’s the languages of it, the geography of it, and the lineages. It’s very detail oriented, and scientists in general like things that have depth and detail.” Larson has also written papers on using Tolkien as a teaching tool, and discusses with her astronomy students, for example, the likelihood that the heavenly body Borgil, which appears in the first book of the trilogy, can be identified as the star Aldebaran. “I use this as a hook to get students interested in science,” says Larson. “I’m also interested in recovering all the science that Tolkien quietly wove into Middle Earth because there’s science in there that the casual reader has not recognized."

posted by cmn32480 on Monday May 04, @12:40PM   Printer-friendly
from the is-it-here-yet???? dept.

The Herald Sun reports that Australian-based chain Dominos Pizza have developed a GPS Driver Tracker to let customers track the location of their pizzas in real time.

While the app is intended to mollify salivating customers concerns about the interminable wait for their cheesy comestible, it has had the additional benefit of reducing accident rates among delivery drivers. An eighteen month trial halved the number of potentially dangerous habits such as speeding and taking corners too quickly. Chief Executive Don Meij said in an interview “There’s a lot of behavior you can learn about and change as a result,”

Disclaimer: I like pizza.

posted by mrcoolbp on Monday May 04, @11:01AM   Printer-friendly
from the suggestions-from-the-community dept.

Here is a submission as a result from a conversation I had with mrcoolbp over email.

I want to present the following idea for a regularly-occurring SoylentNews story: a weekly promotion of an open source software project.

The current vision is to have a weekly post on the main page with an open source project presented (I suggest Sunday afternoon EST time, helping fill the slow news day). After a short description of the project and the normal collection of relevant links (homepage, downloads, etc.), the submitter presents the project to the SoylentNews community. This takes the form of an extended post (similar to the SoylentNews meta posts that often have a short blurb for main page and "Read more past the break").

Keep reading 'past the break' for more:

posted by cmn32480 on Monday May 04, @09:33AM   Printer-friendly
from the won't-someone-think-of-the-children dept.

I found this recently-published article, Children who are bullied suffer worse long-term mental health problems than those who are maltreated interesting. Here are some excerpts:

A new study published in The Lancet Psychiatry shows that children who have been bullied by peers suffer worse in the longer term than those who have been maltreated by adults.

The research is led by Professor Dieter Wolke from Warwick's Department of Psychology and Warwick Medical School. The study is due to be presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in San Diego on Tuesday 28 April.

[...] Professor Wolke said: "The mental health outcomes we were looking for included anxiety, depression or suicidal tendencies. Our results showed those who were bullied were more likely to suffer from mental health problems than those who were maltreated. Being both bullied and maltreated also increased the risk of overall mental health problems, anxiety and depression in both groups."

An abstract and full article (pdf) are available.

posted by takyon on Monday May 04, @08:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the invaluable-economic-activity dept.

Former Goldman Sachs programmer Sergey Aleynikov, one of the central figures in the high-frequency trading exposé Flash Boys, has been found guilty on one count of "unlawful use of secret scientific material" for "stealing" high-speed trading code from Goldman Sachs. He was acquitted of "unlawful duplication of computer related material," and another "secret scientific material" charge may be dismissed by mid-June. He may face between one-and-a-half and four years in prison, although there is no mandatory minimum for the charge, and the judge has indicated that he is likely to be lenient.

"Aleynikov left Goldman Sachs in 2009 for a high-speed trading startup and was arrested by the FBI after he was caught downloading a copy of the firm's code to his home computer." Aleynikov's first trial resulted in a sentence of 97 months in prison for two counts of theft of trade secrets, but the conviction was overturned by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. This time around, the State of New York charged Aleynikov. "Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance called the source code that Aleynikov had copied [Goldman Sachs'] 'secret sauce'."

The case almost ended up in a mistrial due to a dispute between two jurors which led to their dismissal. One juror accused another of "food tampering" because an avocado was missing from her sandwich, and said she took a blood test to determine whether she had been poisoned. The judge called the accusations "completely unfounded," and Aleynikov's lawyer agreed to drop a request for a mistrial and proceed with a 10-member jury. Aleynikov's lawyer has until May 15 to file a motion for dismissal.

posted by martyb on Monday May 04, @06:11AM   Printer-friendly
from the this-is-your-brain-on-cosmic-rays... dept.

As NASA prepares for the first manned spaceflight to Mars, questions have surfaced concerning the potential for increased risks associated with exposure to the spectrum of highly energetic nuclei that comprise galactic cosmic rays. Animal models have revealed an unexpected sensitivity of mature neurons in the brain to charged particles found in space. Astronaut autonomy during long-term space travel is particularly critical as is the need to properly manage planned and unanticipated events, activities that could be compromised by accumulating particle traversals through the brain.

Using mice subjected to space-relevant fluences of charged particles, we show significant cortical- and hippocampal-based performance decrements 6 weeks after acute exposure. Animals manifesting cognitive decrements exhibited marked and persistent radiation-induced reductions in dendritic complexity and spine density along medial prefrontal cortical neurons known to mediate neurotransmission specifically interrogated by our behavioral tasks.

This was stated a little more readably at ScienceDaily:

What happens to an astronaut's brain during a mission to Mars? Nothing good. It's besieged by destructive particles that can forever impair cognition, according to a radiation oncology study. Exposure to highly energetic charged particles -- much like those found in the galactic cosmic rays that bombard astronauts during extended spaceflights -- cause significant damage to the central nervous system, resulting in cognitive impairments.

[Related]: Space Radiation On the Long Trip To Mars Could Make Astronauts Dumber

posted by martyb on Monday May 04, @03:57AM   Printer-friendly
from the turkeys dept.

I was alerted to two stories regarding grocery stores, data mining, and apps from Franz Dill at The Eponymous Pickle. First, Kroger acquired "customer science" company dunnhumbyUSA last week with the goal of boosting their "Customer 1st" strategy:

Continuing dunnhumbyUSA's work, [new subsidiary] 84.51° mines mountains of customer transactions via Kroger's loyalty card program to figure out what shoppers want.

84.51° helps Kroger to thoughtfully evaluate what products to stock, expand or discontinue. The firm's insights are also used to send coupons relevant to shoppers' habits, such as issuing pet food offers to customers who actually buy pet food.

Aitken says noted 95 percent of Kroger's growth in the last decade has come from winning more business from existing customers – which is a smarter, most cost-effective way to do business. He notes too many industries – from mobile carriers to cable TV providers – chase after new customers with one-time incentives that ultimately encourage switching, not customer loyalty.

Also, Winn-Dixie is releasing a mobile app that features:

..."personalized" digital coupons, all stored on your smartphone or other electronic device. Winn-Dixie, a subsidiary of Bi-Lo Holdings, partnered with for this new savings system, which sends you cyber coupons based on your own shopping preferences.

The Winn-Dixie app also features a virtual shopping list and fuelperks rewards.

posted by takyon on Monday May 04, @02:40AM   Printer-friendly
from the ineffectual-terrorism dept.

The Guardian is reporting that...

Two gunmen have been killed and a security guard injured during what appeared to be an attack on a contest for cartoon depictions of the prophet Muhammad in a Dallas suburb.

The gunmen drove up to the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland shortly before 7pm on Sunday where the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) were hosting the exhibition and contest.

According to city authorities an unarmed guard at the event was shot at before the men were engaged and killed by police.


A bomb squad was called in after reports of a possible incendiary device at the scene of the incident. Police said a "bomb container trailer" had also been deployed in which to place any suspect device.

A police spokesman said two males had been killed and their bodies were still lying outside their car hours later.

"Because of the situation of what was going on today and the history of what we've been told has happened at other events like this, we are considering their car (is) possibly containing a bomb," Officer Joe Harn, a spokesman for the Garland Police Department, said.

posted by CoolHand on Monday May 04, @01:27AM   Printer-friendly

Four major trade associations representing broadband providers today asked for an immediate halt to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to reclassify the providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.

From the Ars Technica article:

The Federal Communications Commission today voted to enforce net neutrality rules that prevent Internet providers—including cellular carriers—from blocking or throttling traffic or giving priority to Web services in exchange for payment. The most controversial part of the FCC's decision reclassifies fixed and mobile broadband as a telecommunications service, with providers to be regulated as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. This decision brings Internet service under the same type of regulatory regime faced by wireline telephone service and mobile voice, though the FCC is forbearing from stricter utility-style rules that it could also apply under Title II.

However, things aren't cut and dry. One petition for a stay came from two cable groups, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and the American Cable Association (ACA). Another petition came from the CTIA Wireless Association on behalf of mobile carriers and USTelecom on behalf of telcos including AT&T and Verizon. AT&T and CenturyLink also signed on to the CTIA/USTelecom petition.

From the article:

NCTA President & CEO Michael Powell said, “While we continue to strongly support enforceable open Internet protections, we are deeply concerned that Title II regulation will immediately harm the industry and consumers, and retard efforts to deploy next generation networks throughout the country. We further believe that the FCC’s decision to shift from a national policy of light Internet regulation established by Congress to heavier regulation risks undercutting the dynamic innovation, entrepreneurial activity and consumer freedom that has been the hallmark of the Internet’s success

posted by CoolHand on Sunday May 03, @11:02PM   Printer-friendly
from the making-big-promises-again dept.

The Microsoft Build Developer Conference 2015, or Build 2015, runs from April 29th to May 1st. Already, many surprises have been revealed:

We got Android apps running on Windows. A Microsoft IDE running on Linux. .NET ported to Linux, too. Support for Objective C, the language that only Apple and NeXT has ever really used. Support for Google and Apple APIs - in fact, just carry on writing for Google and Apple. Wild, untamed Win32 binaries scaling the ramparts of the Microsoft Store. Phones turning into proper PCs when you plug them into a monitor and keyboard.

Rumors of Android apps running on Windows 10 turned out to be mostly true; Windows 10 will include an "Android subsystem" and many Android APIs to allow app code to be easily reused by developers, but Android apps won't automatically run on the OS. "[Project] Astoria also provides Java developers with hooks to Windows APIs that aren't present on Google's platform." In addition, Microsoft is courting iOS developers:


posted by cmn32480 on Sunday May 03, @08:39PM   Printer-friendly
from the just-gimme-the-damn-pill dept.

Precision medicine requires a different type of clinical trial that focuses on individual, not average, responses to therapy, says Nicholas J. Schork.

Every day, millions of people are taking medications that will not help them. The top ten highest-grossing drugs in the United States help between 1 in 25 and 1 in 4 of the people who take them (see 'Imprecision medicine' ). For some drugs, such as statins — routinely used to lower cholesterol — as few as 1 in 50 may benefit. There are even drugs that are harmful to certain ethnic groups because of the bias towards white Western participants in classical clinical trials.

Recognition that physicians need to take individual variability into account is driving huge interest in 'precision' medicine. In January, US President Barack Obama announced a US$215-million national Precision Medicine Initiative. This includes, among other things, the establishment of a national database of the genetic and other data of one million people in the United States.

posted by cmn32480 on Sunday May 03, @05:55PM   Printer-friendly
from the make-them-live-under-a-bridge dept.

Timothy B. Lee writes at Vox that the PATENT Act is focused on dealing with patent trolls: fly-by-night companies that get rich by exploiting flaws in the way the courts handle patent lawsuits. If trolls are the primary problem with the patent system, then the PATENT Act will go a long way toward fixing it. But according to Lee patent trolls aren't the primary problem with the patent system. They're just the problem Congress is willing to fix. The primary problem is the patent system makes it too easy to get broad, vague patents, and the litigation process is tilted too far toward plaintiffs. But because so many big companies make so much money off of this system, few in Congress are willing to consider broader reforms.

A modern example is Microsoft, which has more than 40,000 patents and reportedly earns billions of dollars per year in patent licensing revenues from companies selling Android phones. That's not because Google was caught copying Microsoft's Windows Phone software (which has never been very popular with consumers). Rather, it's because low standards for patents — especially in software — have allowed Microsoft to amass a huge number of patents on routine characteristics of mobile operating systems. Microsoft's patent arsenal has become so huge that it's effectively impossible to create a mobile operating system without infringing some of them. And so Microsoft can demand that smaller, more innovative companies pay them off.

But according to Lee there is hope that the courts may help. The most important decision might have been last year's Alice v. CLS Bank ruling, which addressed the patentability of software for the first time. Lower courts are still working out the exact implications of that decision, but the ruling led to the destruction of a dozen software patents within three months. It's likely to destroy hundreds more in the future. "Over the last decade, the high court has handed down a series of opinions that have very slowly corrected the law's pro-patent tilt," writes Lee. "The pro-patent laws that produced today's patent litigation crisis were developed by the courts over a 25-year period, from about 1980 to 2005. Since 2005, the Supreme Court has been working to restore balance to the patent system, but it could take another decade or more for them to complete their work."

posted by cmn32480 on Sunday May 03, @04:12PM   Printer-friendly
from the whoopsie! dept.

Google has been obliged to revise its Password Alert anti-phishing protection just hours after releasing it when security researchers showed how the technology was easily circumvented.

Security consultant Paul Moore (@Paul_Reviews) has published a proof-of-concept JavaScript exploit that skirted the defensive technology with just seven lines of code.

The Password Alert for Chrome browser plug-in is meant to trigger alerts for users in cases when they are induced to hand over their password to counterfeit sites impersonating Google (other online services aren't covered).

The extension only kicks into action after users have signed into their Google account; thereafter it puts up warnings to reset Gmail passwords in cases where users are taken in by a phish.

The problem is these alerts can be shut down with minimum effort and a few lines of JavaScript planted on counterfeit sites. More specifically, Moore's script looks for a warning banner every five milliseconds before removing anything it detects. Other approaches aimed at preventing humans actually seeing a warning – effectively killing off alerts kill[sic] as soon as they are generated – might also have been possible.

Moore posted a short video on YouTube to highlight his concerns.

[Also Covered By]:

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