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Updated: 2015-10-08

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The First Draft of the SN manifesto is available

How much coffee do you drink each day?

  • 1 cup
  • 2-3 cups
  • 4-5 cups
  • more than 5 cups
  • none; I drink tea you uncivilized clod
  • only one, but I drink from the carafe
  • other, specify

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:98 | Votes:434

posted by n1 on Thursday October 08, @05:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the ifs-and-buts dept.

Despite the somewhat incendiary headline, the article mostly details the extent of the problem of corporate tax avoidance in general.

US corporate tax collection as a percentage of GDP is currently at an all time low. This means the U.S. government has to compensate for the shortfall from other sources (read: domestic taxpayers with no multinational activity) and cut public spending. There is, of course, an alternative: to change the law so Apple actually pays taxes on this income. In current Congressional environment, this will happen immediately after hell freezes over.

Original Submission

posted by n1 on Thursday October 08, @04:19PM   Printer-friendly
from the open-trading dept.

If you've bought shares using retail broker Scottrade in the last few years, you may want to get in touch with the biz because its servers have been plundered by hackers unknown.

The firm only found out about the data breach when the Feds got in contact to let it know. It now appears that 4.6 million customer accounts have been compromised. The IT security breach occurred between "late 2013 and early 2014", and the intruders primarily went after customer names and addresses, we're told.

"Although Social Security numbers, email addresses, and other sensitive data were contained in the system accessed, it appears that contact information was the focus of the incident," the firm said in a statement.

"We have no reason to believe that Scottrade's trading platforms or any client funds were compromised. Client passwords remained fully encrypted at all times and we have not seen any indication of fraudulent activity as a result of this incident. We have secured the known intrusion point and conducted an internal data forensics investigation on this incident with assistance from a leading computer security firm."

Original Submission

posted by n1 on Thursday October 08, @02:44PM   Printer-friendly
from the known-unknowns-of-collateral-damage dept.

A Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) hospital was bombed by the US. Result, 12 dead staff members and 10 dead patients. The coordinates of the hospital had been communicated to the US forces before to avoid mistakes. The US admits the attack was a decision. MSF is now seeking an independent inquiry.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday October 08, @01:12PM   Printer-friendly
from the one-law-for-them... dept.

Summarizing a report from The Intercept :

One of the most dangerous threats to campus free speech has been emerging at the highest levels of the University of California system, the sprawling collection of 10 campuses that includes UCLA and UC Berkeley. The university's governing Board of Regents, with the support of University President and former Director of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, has been attempting to adopt new speech codes that -- in the name of combating "anti-Semitism" -- would formally ban various forms of Israel criticism and anti-Israel activism.
One of the Regents most vocally advocating for the most stringent version of the speech code is Richard Blum, the multi-millionaire defense contractor who is married to Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. Blum's verbatim comments include:

" She [Feinstein] wants to stay out of the conversation publicly but if we do not do the right thing she will engage publicly and is prepared to be critical of this university if we don't have the kind of not only statement but penalties for those who commit what you can call them crimes, call them whatever you want."

In short, Feinstein and her husband flatly threatened the university with political consequences if students or faculty found to be in violation of their policy aren't disciplined or expelled for exercising protected free speech.

What is wanted by Feinstein and supporters is for the University to adopt the State Department's controversial 2010 definition which equates criticism of Israel to Anti-Semitism. Perhaps the most ironic bullet-point in the definition warns against advocating a "double standard for Israel" at exactly the same time that it promulgates a standard that applies only to Israel!

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday October 08, @11:38AM   Printer-friendly
from the breathe-in-and-out dept.

A new study shows that iron-bearing rocks that formed at the ocean floor 3.2 billion years ago carry unmistakable evidence of oxygen. The only logical source for that oxygen is the earliest known example of photosynthesis by living organisms, say University of Wisconsin-Madison geoscientists.

"Rock from 3.4 billion years ago showed that the ocean contained basically no free oxygen," says Clark Johnson, professor of geoscience at UW-Madison and a member of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. "Recent work has shown a small rise in oxygen at 3 billion years. The rocks we studied are 3.23 billion years old, and quite well preserved, and we believe they show definite signs for oxygen in the oceans much earlier than previous discoveries."

The most reasonable candidate for liberating the oxygen found in the iron oxide is cyanobacteria, primitive photosynthetic organisms that lived in the ancient ocean. The earliest evidence for life now dates back 3.5 billion years, so oxygenic photosynthesis could have evolved relatively soon after life itself.

Until recently, the conventional wisdom in geology held that oxygen was rare until the "great oxygenation event," 2.4 to 2.2 billion years ago.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday October 08, @10:05AM   Printer-friendly
from the I-said-don't-do-that dept.

A drone operator has been threatened with a $1.9m (£1.24m) fine for allegedly flying the unmanned crafts illegally over New York and Chicago.

US authorities proposed the fine on Tuesday, saying that the firm, SkyPan International, flew 65 such flights over more than two years.

The fine would be more than 100 times larger than the previous biggest punishment. The company said it has not had time to review the proposal in detail.

The proposed fine was so large, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told the Associated Press (AP), because it had asked SkyPan to stop the flights, but the firm continued anyway.

In a statement, the FAA said that 43 of the flights were in the heavily restricted Class B New York airspace without air traffic control clearance. The airspace is usually around airports and stretches from the ground up to a maximum of 10,000ft. It is often shaped like an inverted pyramid.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday October 08, @08:39AM   Printer-friendly
from the psst,-do-you-want-some-freedom? dept.

Reuters reports that the US Federal government is about to release 6000 non-violent federal drug prisoners.

The early release follows action by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an independent agency that sets sentencing policies for federal crimes. The panel reduced the potential punishment for drug offenders last year and made the change retroactive.

This is just the first batch. The change in guidelines could result in 46,000 qualifying for early release. There are roughly 100,000 drug offenders in federal prisons. (Not all of those 100,000 offenders qualify due to violence or other concurrent charges).

Drug convictions are involved (but not always the sole charge) in almost half of the 206,000 inmates in federal prisons. There are another 1.2 million in state and local prisons which may not be affected by these new guidelines.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday October 08, @06:56AM   Printer-friendly
from the a-good-week-for-linux-news dept.

The Inquirer reports:

[At LinuxCon Europe] Jim Zemlin, chief executive of the [Linux] Foundation, [...] made three key announcements. Firstly, a workgroup is being created to standardise the future of the software supply chain. The Openchain workgroup is centred on creating best practices to ease compliance for open source developers and companies.

[...] The second announcement involves an acceleration to the process of real-time Linux development. the Real-Time Linux Collaborative Project will bring together industry leaders and thinkers to advance the type of tech that is crucial for areas such as robotics, telecom, manufacturing, aviation, and medical industries.

[...] The Real-Time Linux Collaborative Project brings together organisations as diverse as Google, Texas Instruments, Intel, ARM, and Altera.

[...] Finally, FOSSology, the open source [license] compliance software project and toolkit founded by HP in 2007, is moving home to become part of the Linux Foundation. With it comes FOSSology 3.0, due for release this week.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday October 08, @05:24AM   Printer-friendly
from the busy-busy-Redmond dept.

Reported at Anandtech, Microsoft Announces the Surface Pro 4, from $900:

The display retails the 3:2 aspect ratio of the SP3 but boasts a '5 million pixel display', or 2736x1824 in numbers, with PixelSense. Each display is 100% sRGB with individual calibration, but also features 10-point multitouch. [...] Prices will start from $900 and go up to [$2700], with pre-orders starting on October 7th. Devices will be available from October 26th, but Microsoft failed to mention which regions they would be available, so given the price information we could assume it might be a US/NA initial launch at this point with other regions to follow.

Prices may start at $900, but escalate to $2700 for a tablet with an Intel Core i7, extra SSD storage, and 16 GB of RAM. Going from $900 to $1000 swaps the Intel Core m3 for an i5 chip with around triple the TDP.

Alongside Surface Pro 4, Microsoft is launching a Surface Book 2-in-1 laptop. The 13.5" display is detachable, and the keyboard/base houses an NVIDIA GPU (in most configurations) as well as batteries and ports. Surface Book shares the same 3:2 aspect ratio with Surface tablets. Prices range from $1499 to $2699.

Microsoft has announced a HoloLens Developer Edition augmented reality device, which is set to be released in Q1 2016 for $3000:

If developers are still interested in grabbing a HoloLens kit, they can start applying today. Applicants can only request a maximum of two devices, must reside in the United States or Canada, and participate in the Windows Insider program. Even after the applications, you won't find out until you're approved to pre-order HoloLens until January 2016. After that, HoloLens will ship sometime in the first quarter of 2016.

From The Register:

"HoloLens is packed with space age technology," enthused Terry Myerson, Microsoft's windows and devices group veep. "We've got see-through high definition lenses, spatially-aware sound, movement sensors and custom built silicon. And it's fully untethered."

The HoloLens team demoed a new game Microsoft has been working on, dubbed Project X-Ray. The headset maps out a living room and then superimposes robots breaking through walls while the player shoots them with a hologramatic gun wrapped around their hand. As gameplay goes, it was a pretty basic demo, featuring lots of funky graphics but nothing earth-shattering. Yet, with the right developers, Microsoft might well have a winner on its hands.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday October 08, @03:51AM   Printer-friendly
from the no-ice,-I-take-it-straight dept.

Breathalysers could be used to curb alcohol abuse among scientists at US bases in Antarctica following "unpredictable behaviour" caused by excess drinking, including fights and indecent exposure.

Officials from the National Science Foundation told an audit of healthy and safety at the two US-run bases — McMurdo Station and the South Pole — that drinking has led to "unpredictable behaviour that has led to fights, indecent exposure, and employees arriving to work under the influence", according to a report in Wired.

The agency is reportedly considering shipping several breathalysers to the isolated stations, which together house up to about 1,150 people, including scientists and support staff.

But such a move could potentially pose legal and administrative problems, as Antarctica is not US territory and it is not clear who would conduct the tests and what rights of appeal would be available.

If the move has legal complications because it's Antarctica, what does that portend for scientists on future Moon or Mars bases?

Original Submission

posted by CoolHand on Thursday October 08, @02:27AM   Printer-friendly
from the great-security-ideas dept.

If you haven't heard, Apple has locked out root from various file system paths and core functions in Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan. The new sheriff here is System Integrity Protection (SIP), which reduces root privileges in an attempt to increase security.

The gist is that no user -- not even root -- can write to /usr, /bin, /System, and /sbin or debug protected processes. Apple has also removed the ability to use unsigned kernel extensions through boot-time flags. It's important to note that SIP can be disabled, through the recovery partition, but this will typically be done only for development and testing purposes.

From a Unix purity perspective, this ain't great. There's a reason that root exists, and there's a reason why root has omnipotent access to the system. It's part of the Unix philosophy. That said, Mac OS X 10.11 may be Unix, but it's not a server. It may not even be a workstation in the traditional sense anymore. It's now a desktop OS exclusively, and treatments like this should be expected.

Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Thursday October 08, @12:46AM   Printer-friendly
from the ghostbusters dept.

Typically, when asked, many people will be reluctant to admit that they would place blind trust in somebody who is in a high-power position. Too many stories of politicians and top executives abusing their power run through the media. Making oneself vulnerable to such power holders thus doesn't seem like the sensible choice.

Rational actor theories agree with this anecdotal wisdom: they suggest that people will be trustworthy toward someone else only if being so is instrumental in maintaining that relationship. Given that powerful people tend to have many partners to choose from, they place – relatively speaking – less value in any particular relationship, reducing the likelihood that they will behave in a trustworthy fashion.

In other words, powerful individuals can afford to betray others – they can always find new people to work with. Rational actor theories further assume that the less powerful party to an exchange will predict this behavior and, as a result, place less trust in their more powerful counterpart.

However, our research shows that this is not the case. In fact, we observe exactly the opposite pattern. Over a wide variety of different experimental paradigms and measures, we find that less powerful actors place more trust in others than more powerful actors do. That is, trust is greater when power is low rather than high.

Our problem is that we trust powerful people too much.

Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Wednesday October 07, @11:05PM   Printer-friendly
from the khaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnn dept.

DARPA is examining health on a nano scale through its electrical prescriptions (ElectRx) program.

The human body obviously has an amazing capacity to correct problems in its own system. There's a huge range of conditions that we have the built-in ability to cure ourselves of, and DARPA plans to tap into this ability with ElectRx.

To understand the ElectRx program, first imagine the cardiac pacemaker – a device which delivers targeted electric shocks to the muscles of the heart to stimulate it to beat at a normal rate.

Now, imagine a device far tinier, that could be delivered through a needle. This device could be designed to constantly monitor certain conditions in the body, and then directly stimulate certain nerve pathways to trigger the body's correct response mechanism when it's not working as it should be. Let's say blood sugar regulation isn't working properly in a diabetic – this technology could potentially detect a blood sugar level anomaly and trigger the pancreas to release glucagon or insulin to sort it out.

DARPA does seem to be pursuing a super soldier program.

Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Wednesday October 07, @09:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the s***-rolls-downhill dept.

When faced with rude customers, people in the service sector sometimes exact revenge – but they're much more likely to do so if their boss mistreats them as well, according to a new study by Professor Daniel Skarlicki and Associate Professor Danielle van Jaarsveld of UBC's Sauder School of Business.

"Research shows that the customer mistreatment of front-line employees is becoming increasingly common," said Skarlicki. "Our study finds that in call centres these employees can react by hanging up on customers or misdirecting their calls. But they're more likely to strike back if they feel their boss is unfair."

According to Skarlicki, a boss's conduct is a significant factor in determining how employees perceive the company they work for because he or she is the "face" of the organization. Their management style has a direct impact on how their employees conduct themselves.

"Supervisors of front-line service workers can be their own worst enemy," said Skarlicki. "They think their job is about supervising, scheduling and facilitating. But really, they should see treating their employees with respect and dignity as an integral part of their job description – anything south of that will cause trouble."

Sounds like confirmation of pecking order.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday October 07, @06:53PM   Printer-friendly
from the throw-not-before-swine dept.

Last night Larry Wall unveiled the first development release of Perl 6, joking that now a top priority was fixing bugs that could be mistaken for features. The new language features meta-programming -- the ability to define new bits of syntax on your own to extend the language, and even new infix operators. Larry also previewed what one reviewer called "exotic and new" features, including the sequence operator and new control structures like "react" and "gather and take" lists. "We don't want their language to run out of steam," Larry told the audience. "It might be a 30- or 40-year language. I think it's good enough."

[Ed Note: For those who might not be aware, SoylentNews is written in Perl.]

Original Submission

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