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posted by Fnord666 on Monday September 11 2017, @10:41PM   Printer-friendly
from the clever-lawyers dept.

Dr. Lowe has scary patent news. Allergan's patent on Restasis is being questioned in court.

Last December, the US Patent Office granted an inter partes review of the relevant patents, a decision that did not go down well with Allergan or its investors. That form of patent review has been around since 2011 and the America Invents Act, and its purpose is specifically for prior art objections to a granted patent.

Looks bad for Allergan, but then they got sneaky. They transferred the patent rights to St. Regis Mohawk Indian Nation. Why? The Indian Nation is a sovereign nation, and our patent laws don't apply to them.

Scary stuff.

Original Submission

posted by CoolHand on Monday September 11 2017, @09:08PM   Printer-friendly
from the we-finally-have-an-excuse dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

It's been known for years that the oldest children in class perform better in school than their youngest classmates. But according to a new study co-authored by University of Toronto Scarborough economist Elizabeth Dhuey, that gap can persist, with older children more likely to attend post-secondary school and graduate from an elite university.

"Older children, in this case those born in early September, do better in elementary school than their younger peers," says Dhuey, whose past research has explored this phenomenon.

"What we found in this study is that gap persists throughout their school careers, so they end up being more likely to attend a post-secondary school and graduate from an elite university."

The study, by Dhuey, an associate professor of economics, and a team of three economists from U.S.-based universities, was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. It followed differences between Florida children born just before and after the Sept. 1 cut-off date to start kindergarten. (In Ontario, the cut-off date to start kindergarten is Jan. 1.)

precocious kids need not apply


Reference: Elizabeth Dhuey et al. School Starting Age and Cognitive Development, (2017). DOI: 10.3386/w23660[PDF]

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Monday September 11 2017, @07:27PM   Printer-friendly
from the malice-or-coincidence? dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow5389

The sale of nearly $2 million in corporate stock by high-level Equifax executives shortly after the company learned of a major data breach has sparked public outrage that could turn into another hurdle for the credit rating agency.

The sales all occurred before the company publicly reported the breach, a disclosure that quickly sent its stock tumbling. The timing of the sales could attract federal scrutiny, legal experts say, though proving insider trading would be difficult. A company spokeswoman said the executives did not know about the breach when they sold their shares.

“It certainly would be exactly the type of trading pattern before a high-profile event that the [Securities and Exchange Commission] would investigate,” said Brandon L. Garrett, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law. “Even if they do not bring charges it is the type of conduct that a company should not tolerate in its executives. It sends a terrible message to the public and to customers.”

The SEC declined to comment on whether it was investigating the matter.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday September 11 2017, @05:57PM   Printer-friendly
from the that's-a-silly-name-for-an-AI dept.

Stanford University researchers have used software in an attempt to determine sexual orientation from photos:

"Deep neural networks are more accurate than humans at detecting sexual orientation from facial images" is the title of an article by Stanford University's Michal Kosinski and Yilun Wang, to be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The abstract:

We show that faces contain much more information about sexual orientation than can be perceived and interpreted by the human brain. We used deep neural networks to extract features from 35,326 facial images. These features were entered into a logistic regression aimed at classifying sexual orientation. Given a single facial image, a classifier could correctly distinguish between gay and heterosexual men in 81% of cases, and in 74% of cases for women. Human judges achieved much lower accuracy: 61% for men and 54% for women. The accuracy of the algorithm increased to 91% and 83%, respectively, given five facial images per person. Facial features employed by the classifier included both fixed (e.g., nose shape) and transient facial features (e.g., grooming style).

Consistent with the prenatal hormone theory of sexual orientation, gay men and women tended to have gender-atypical facial morphology, expression, and grooming styles. Prediction models aimed at gender alone allowed for detecting gay males with 57% accuracy and gay females with 58% accuracy. Those findings advance our understanding of the origins of sexual orientation and the limits of human perception. Additionally, given that companies and governments are increasingly using computer vision algorithms to detect people's intimate traits, our findings expose a threat to the privacy and safety of gay men and women.

The images and the sexual orientation information were drawn from an online dating site. Note that the study was limited to white people from the United States, because of the relative lack of images of nonwhite gays and lesbians on the site.

Also at TechCrunch, The Advocate, and The Guardian.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday September 11 2017, @04:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the electric-jaguars,-land-rovers-and-volvos;-Oh-my! dept.

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has pledged to stop building cars powered solely by petrol and diesel. The company hopes that every car built after 2020 will either be fully electric or a hybrid that makes use of both an electric motor and a traditional petrol-powered engine.

"Every new Jaguar Land Rover model line will be electrified from 2020," Jaguar Land Rover boss Ralf Speth said in a statement. "We will introduce a portfolio of electrified products across our model range, embracing fully electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid vehicles."

The move comes just months after rival Volvo Cars confirmed that it would electrify its entire range of vehicles by 2019. Between 2019 and 2021, Volvo plans to launch five new electric vehicles, while every other car in the range will feature some form of hybrid engine. Honda has also promised that all of its new models from 2020 on will have an electrified variant.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday September 11 2017, @02:51PM   Printer-friendly
from the another-day,-another-unsecured-database dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow5389

Records of roughly four million Time Warner Cable customers in the US were exposed to the public internet after a contractor failed to properly secure an Amazon cloud database.

Researchers with security company Kromtech said freelancers who handled web applications for TWC and other companies had left one of its AWS S3 storage bins containing seven years' worth of subscriber data wide open on the 'net. That data included addresses and contact numbers, information about their home gateways, and account settings.

Just before the weekend, Kromtech said the vulnerable AWS instance was operated by BroadSoft, a cloud service provider that had been using the S3 silos to hold the SQL database information that included customer records.

The researchers found that the database included information on four million TWC customers collected between November 26, 2010 and July 7, 2017. The exposed data included customer billing addresses, phone numbers, usernames, MAC addresses, modem hardware serial numbers, account numbers, and details about the service settings and options for the accounts.

A spokesperson for TWC parent company Charter said the telly giant was aware of the cockup, and is notifying the customers who were exposed.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday September 11 2017, @01:18PM   Printer-friendly
from the too-little-too-late? dept.

China, the world's biggest car market, plans to ban the production and sale of diesel and petrol cars and vans.

The country's vice minister of industry said it had started "relevant research" but that it had not yet decided when the ban would come into force. "Those measures will certainly bring profound changes for our car industry's development," Xin Guobin told Xinhua, China's official news agency China made 28 million cars last year, almost a third of the global total.

Both the UK and France have already announced plans to ban new diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040, as part of efforts to reduce pollution and carbon emissions.

Chinese-owned carmaker Volvo said in July that all its new car models would have an electric motor from 2019.

Previously: France to Ban Petrol and Diesel Vehicles by 2040
France Plans to End Oil and Gas Production by 2040

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday September 11 2017, @10:57AM   Printer-friendly
from the things-are-not-always-as-they-appear dept.


In the US, courts assess guilt or innocence before a conviction, then after that the appellate courts focus solely on fairness. The Atlantic has an exposé on some people who are wrongly convicted are pressured to accept Alford Plea Deals in lieu of exonerations — that more or less means to plead guilty for a verbal guarantee from the courts to both speed things up and give a much lighter or minimal sentence. But how many do this is not known: this situation is not tracked there are no formal statistics. However, in Baltimore City and County alone, there were at least 10 cases in the last 19 years in which defendants with viable innocence claims ended up signing Alford pleas. These can translate to the occasional innocent person being stigmatized, unable to sue the state, and that no one re-investigates the crime meaning that the real perpetrator is never brought to justice.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday September 11 2017, @08:36AM   Printer-friendly
from the a-quixotic-endeavor dept.

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

The semi-private BitTorrent tracker Demonoid returned from the ashes earlier this year and is slowly rebuilding its community. The site's founder, who's back in charge once again, is working on a new and improved version of the site and hopes Demonoid will one day return to its former glory.

Demonoid has been around for well over a decade but the site is not really known for having a stable presence.

Quite the opposite, the torrent tracker has a 'habit' of going offline for weeks or even months on end, only to reappear as if nothing ever happened.

Earlier this year the site made another one if its trademark comebacks and it has been sailing relatively smoothly since then. Interestingly, the site is once again under the wings of a familiar face, its original founder Deimos.

Deimos decided to take the lead again after some internal struggles. "I gave control to the wrong guys while the problems started, but it's time to control stuff again," Deimos told us earlier.

Since the return a few months back, the site's main focus has been on rebuilding the community and improving the site. Some may have already noticed the new logo, but more changes are coming, both on the front and backend.

"The backend development is going a bit slow, it's a big change that will allow the server to run off a bunch of small servers all over the world," Deimos informs TorrentFreak.

"For the frontend, we're working on new features including a karma system, integrated forums, buddy list, etc. That part is faster to build once you have everything in the back working," he adds.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday September 11 2017, @06:14AM   Printer-friendly
from the you-can't-make-this-stuff-up dept.

A trade magazine, ran this article by Shaun Kirby, Cisco Consulting CTO, "5 Myths About Connected Cars". Haven't read anything this funny all year, some clips include:

Myth: Securing connected cars requires breakthroughs in security technology.

Fact: Connected cars are extremely complex, with many sensors, computers, and networks, along with an ever-growing list of features. Fortunately, technologies already exist that have proven effective in securing some of the largest enterprise information technology (IT) infrastructures. Existing technologies are well equipped to keep drivers and their data safe now and into the future.

...and this one, the punch line at the end had me rolling in the aisle:

Myth: Automakers are responsibile for securing connected cars.

Fact: The vehicle manufacturer is just one link in the security chain. Multiple tiers of suppliers, dealerships, developers of aftermarket devices and services, regulatory bodies, and other industries creating devices and services that interact with connected cars are all responsible for keeping cars and drivers safe and secure.

It is especially important for third parties who provide connected car applications to have secure infrastructures. For instance, a mall operator installing vehicle-to-infrastructure units to guide heavy traffic to optimal parking spots will need to ensure that all the proper security controls are in place.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday September 11 2017, @03:53AM   Printer-friendly
from the torrents-are-so-2000's dept.

As crackdown on torrent sites continues around the world, people who are pirating TV shows and movies are having to get a little more creative. Cloud storage services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and Kim Dotcom's Mega are some of the popular ones that are being used to distribute copyrighted content, according to DMCA takedown requests reviewed by Gadgets 360.

These Google Drive links, as well as links to those of other cloud storage services, are then shared by people on select subreddits, forums, and Facebook groups. Over the past two weeks, Gadgets 360 located over a dozen Facebook groups where people openly share such files and request more movies and TV shows.

[...] Jon, who didn't share his last name, said people are moving to Google Drive and other services because authorities worldwide continue to crackdown on torrent websites and other file sharing services. In the last two years, KickassTorrents, ExtraTorrent, Shaanig, Yify Torrents and other websites, which together heydays used to garner over 500 million unique visitors (according to web analytics firm SimilarWeb), have all shut down.

Moreover, Internet service providers are increasingly making it difficult to access the few torrent websites that are still in operation, Jon said. "You've got to be part of a private tracker, public torrenting is over," he told Gadgets 360. Private torrent tracking websites usually require users to be invited — which in itself is a difficult process.

There are several publicly accessible torrent websites that continue to exist, but "torrenting" is getting more difficult by day, multiple people told Gadgets 360. Public sites are mired with pop-up windows filled with ads trying to sell them malware, which makes it a poor experience.

Torrents are dying as savvy pirates come to their senses and abandon antiquated torrent tech, uploading their wares to cloud hosting sites like Google Drive instead.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday September 11 2017, @01:32AM   Printer-friendly
from the looks-like-they-blue-it dept.

It was an audacious undertaking, even for one of the most storied American companies: With a single machine, IBM would tackle humanity's most vexing diseases and revolutionize medicine.

Breathlessly promoting its signature brand — Watson — IBM sought to capture the world's imagination, and it quickly zeroed in on a high-profile target: cancer.

But three years after IBM began selling Watson to recommend the best cancer treatments to doctors around the world, a STAT investigation has found that the supercomputer isn't living up to the lofty expectations IBM created for it. It is still struggling with the basic step of learning about different forms of cancer. Only a few dozen hospitals have adopted the system, which is a long way from IBM's goal of establishing dominance in a multibillion-dollar market. And at foreign hospitals, physicians complained its advice is biased toward American patients and methods of care.

[...] Perhaps the most stunning overreach is in the company's claim that Watson for Oncology, through artificial intelligence, can sift through reams of data to generate new insights and identify, as an IBM sales rep put it, "even new approaches" to cancer care. STAT found that the system doesn't create new knowledge and is artificially intelligent only in the most rudimentary sense of the term.

Watson "has failed to end a streak of 21 consecutive quarters of declining revenue at IBM." Ouch.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday September 10 2017, @11:11PM   Printer-friendly
from the lights-out dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1937

Nation-sponsored hackers have penetrated the operational networks multiple US and European energy companies use to control key parts of the power grid that supplies electricity to hundreds of millions of people, researchers warned Wednesday.

The incursions detected by security firm Symantec represent a dramatic escalation by a hacking group dubbed Dragonfly, which has been waging attacks against US and European energy companies since at least 2011. In 2014, Symantec reported that Dragonfly was aggressively establishing beachheads in a limited number of target networks, mainly by stealing the user names and passwords used to restrict access to legitimate personnel. Over the past year, the hacking group has managed to compromise dozens of energy firms and, in a handful of cases, install backdoors in the highly sensitive networks the firms use to supply power to the grid.

[...] After this Ars post went live, several security professionals with expertise in electric grids downplayed the likelihood of the operational network compromises being used to cause blackouts or take down parts of the grid. Robert Lee, the founder and CEO of Dragos Security, said the hackers would need more than the mere ability to control human machine interfaces that flip switches and open and close breakers. While he said an attack that mimicked the techniques that disrupted Ukrainian power in 2015 was possible, he said differences in the US grid would make those tactics much less effective.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday September 10 2017, @08:49PM   Printer-friendly
from the open-source-SoC-FTW dept.

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

SiFive, the first fabless provider of customized, open-source-enabled semiconductors, today announced that UltraSoC will provide debug and trace technology for the SiFive Freedom platform, based on the RISC-V open source processor specification as part of the DesignShare initiative. UltraSoC's embedded analytics IP will be available through the recently announced SiFive DesignShare ecosystem that gives any company, inventor or maker the ability to harness the power of custom silicon. UltraSoC's debug and trace functionality will enable users of the Freedom platform to access a wide variety of tools and interfaces to use in their developments.

The DesignShare concept enables an entirely new range of applications. Companies like SiFive, UltraSoC and other ecosystem partners have developed efficient, pre-integrated solutions to lower the upfront engineering costs required to bring a custom chip design based on the SiFive Freedom platform to realization. The partnership between SiFive, originator of the industry's first open-source chip platform, and UltraSoC, the industry leader in vendor-neutral on-chip debug and analytics tools, significantly strengthens the ecosystem surrounding RISC-V, the open source processor specification which is often dubbed "the Linux of the semiconductor industry."

[...] Rick O'Connor, executive director of the RISC-V Foundation, commented: "The idea behind the open source movement is that one doesn't have to design everything from scratch. The idea behind DesignShare is to help speed the development of new silicon designs by reducing the barriers of cost, process and integration that have traditionally held back innovation in the semiconductor industry. SiFive, UltraSoC and the other companies that are making their IP available through DesignShare are fundamentally enabling this revolution in an otherwise stagnant industry."


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday September 10 2017, @06:28PM   Printer-friendly
from the GNU-ruling dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

A recent federal district court decision denied a motion to dismiss a complaint brought by Artifex Software Inc. ("Artifex") for breach of contract and copyright infringement claims against Defendant Hancom, Inc. based on breach of an open source software license. The software, referred to as Ghostscript, was dual-licensed under the GPL license and a commercial license. According to the Plaintiff, those seeking to commercially distribute Ghostscript could obtain a commercial license to use, modify, copy, and/or distribute Ghostscript for a fee. Otherwise, the software was available without a fee under the GNU GPL, which required users to comply with certain open-source licensing requirements. The requirements included an obligation to "convey the machine-readable Corresponding Source under the terms of this License" of any covered code. In other words, under the open source license option, certain combinations of proprietary software with Ghostscript are governed by the terms of the GNU GPL.

Plaintiff alleged that because Defendant did not have a commercial license for Ghostscript, its use and distribution of Ghostscript constituted consent to the terms of the GNU GPL, Section 9 of which states:

You are not required to accept this License in order to receive or run a copy of the Program...However, nothing other than this License grants you permission to propagate or modify any covered work. These actions infringe copyright if you do not accept this License. Therefore, by modifying or propagating a covered work, you indicate your acceptance of this License to do so.

Plaintiff further alleged that Hancom failed to comply with key provisions of the GNU GPL, including the requirement to distribute the source code for Hancom's software.

Hancom responded to these allegations with three arguments. First, it alleged Plaintiff failed to state a claim for breach of contract and that any such claim is preempted by copyright law. Second, it alleged Plaintiff's copyright claim must be dismissed in part because Plaintiff has failed to allege that Defendant committed a predicate act in the United States. Finally, Defendant moved to strike portions of the relief sought in the complaint.

The Court rejected all three arguments. On the first issue, the court stated: "Defendant contends that Plaintiff's reliance on the unsigned GNU GPL fails to plausibly demonstrate mutual assent, that is, the existence of a contract. Not so. The GNU GPL, which is attached to the complaint, provides that the Ghostscript user agrees to its terms if the user does not obtain a commercial license." The Court added: "Plaintiff's allegations of harm are also adequately pled. Plaintiff plausibly alleges that Defendant's use of Ghostscript without obtaining a commercial license or complying with GNU GPL deprived Plaintiff of the licensing fee, or alternatively, the ability to advance and develop Ghostscript through open-source sharing. Indeed, as the Federal Circuit has recognized, there is harm which flows from a party's failure to comply with open source licensing: "[t]he lack of money changing hands in open source licensing should not be presumed to mean that there is no economic consideration" because "[t]here are substantial benefits, including economic benefits, to the creation and distribution of copyrighted works under public licenses that range far beyond traditional license royalties."

[...] This case highlights the need to understand and comply with the terms of open source licenses. Many companies use open source without having adequate open source usage policies or understanding of the legal risks of using open source. As this case highlights one of the key risks with using open source is that in certain circumstances, a company may be required to release the source code for its proprietary software based on usage of open source code in the software. It also highlights the validity of certain dual-licensing open source models and the need to understand when which of the options apply to your usage. If your company does not have an open source policy or has questions on these issues, it should seek advice.

Original Submission