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Updated: 6 days 4 hours ago

Book Review: How I Discovered World War IIs Greatest Spy

Wed, 02/04/2014 - 19:39
benrothke (2577567) writes "When it comes to documenting the history of cryptography, David Kahn is singularly one of the finest, if not the finest writers in that domain. For anyone with an interest in the topic, Kahn's works are read in detail and anticipated. His first book was written almost 50 years ago: The Codebreakers – The Story of Secret Writing; which was a comprehensive overview on the history of cryptography. Other titles of his include Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-Boats Codes, 1939-1943. The Codebreakers was so good and so groundbreaking, that some in the US intelligence community wanted the book banned. They did not bear a grudge, as Kahn became an NSA scholar-in-residence in the mid 1990's. With such a pedigree, many were looking forward, including myself, to his latest book How I Discovered World War IIs Greatest Spy and Other Stories of Intelligence and Code. While the entire book is fascinating, it is somewhat disingenuous, in that there is no new material in it. Many of the articles are decades old, and some go back to the late 1970's. From the book description and cover, one would get the impression that this is an all new work. But it is not until ones reads the preface, that it is detailed that the book is simple an assemblage of collected articles." Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.

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FWD.us Wants More H-1B Visas, But 50% Go To Offshore Firms

Wed, 02/04/2014 - 10:10
theodp writes: "On the day the U.S. began accepting H-1B visa applications for FY2015, Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC stepped up its lobbying efforts for more tech visas even as ComputerWorld reported that the major share of H-1B visas go to offshore outsourcing firms that use visa holders to displace U.S. workers. 'The two largest H-1B users,' notes ComputerWorld, 'are Indian-based, Infosys, with 6,298 visas, and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), with 6,258.' ComputerWorld adds that food and agricultural company Cargill is outsourcing IT jobs to TCS, including 300 in Minnesota, the home of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, sponsor of the I-Squared Act of 2013, which would allow H-1B visa caps to rise to 300,000 annually."

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Social Media Becomes the New Front In Mexico's Drug War

Wed, 02/04/2014 - 07:09
An anonymous reader writes "The drug cartels operating in Mexico have often been compared to large corporations, with their own codified leadership hierarchy, recruitment methods, and accounting practices. But part of any big corporation's playbook is a marketing/PR plan. The cartels have long operated a version of those, too, by threatening journalists and killing civilians who speak up. Like any corporation these days, the drug cartels have recognized the power of social media, and they're using it more and more to propagate their messages of intimidation and violence. Quoting: 'Six days after Beltran Leyva's death, gunmen murdered family members of the only Mexican marine killed in the apartment complex siege — including the marine's mother. That same day, a fire was set at a nearby school where a banner was flown, warning that more killings would follow if the federal government made any further attempts to interfere in cartel actions. Photos of the school were then tweeted and shared in status updates — a reply to images of Beltran Leyva's corpse being shared on social media.'"

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Should Patients Have the Option To Not Know Their DNA?

Wed, 02/04/2014 - 05:04
An anonymous reader writes "Genome sequencing is getting faster and cheaper every year. This article points out that in the not-too-distant future, a DNA test will be a common diagnostic tool for doctors. It's a good thing for figuring out what's wrong with you — but there will unintended consequences. The test will also return information about conditions and diseases you're likely to get, which will spur more frequent testing — which can be extremely uncomfortable and/or expensive — as well as more frequent worrying. Should people be able to opt-out of this knowledge? Even if they do, should the information go into the patient's medical record? It likely will, and then the next doctor may be in the difficult position of not knowing what she can discuss with the patient. A new decision from the American College of Medical Genetics has recommended giving patients the option of not having the information gathered at all. It can get more complicated, too: '[G]eneticists and bioethicists are already discussing scenarios where patients may approach such decisions more like a menu, saying they want to know about increased risk of heart disease but not cancer, for example.'"

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8.2 Earthquake Off the Coast of Chile, Tsunami Triggered

Wed, 02/04/2014 - 02:37
An 8.2-magnitude earthquake has struck roughly 60km off the cost of Chile. Its depth was approximately 20.1km. A tsunami has been generated, and evacuations have been ordered along the coast near the strike. Tsunami warnings were also issued for Peru and Ecuador. According to the Associated Press, "Coastal residents of northern Chile evacuated calmly as waves measuring almost 2 meters (6 1/2 feet) struck ahead of a tsunami that was expected to come ashore later. ... Chile's emergency service reported some roads blocked by landslides caused by the quake, but said no injuries had been reported so far."

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How a 'Seismic Cloak' Could Slow Down an Earthquake

Tue, 01/04/2014 - 20:31
Daniel_Stuckey writes "The United States is currently gripped in a bout of earthquake mania, following a series of significant tremors in the West. And any time Yellowstone, LA, or San Francisco shakes, people start to wonder if it's a sign of The Big One to come. Yet even after decades of research, earthquake prediction remains notoriously hard, and not every building in quake-prone areas has an earthquake-resistant design. What if, instead of quaking in our boots, we could stop quakes in their tracks? Theoretically, it's not a crazy idea. Earthquakes propagate in waves, and if noise-canceling headphones have taught us anything, it's that waves can be absorbed, reflected, or canceled out. Today, a paper published in Physical Review Letters suggests how that might be done. It's the result of French research into the use of metamaterials—broadly, materials with properties not found in nature—to modify seismic waves, like a seismic cloaking device."

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OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

Tue, 01/04/2014 - 19:37
PortWineBoy writes: "The Beeb is reporting that OkCupid is prompting Mozilla Firefox users to switch browsers over Brendan Eich's support of Prop 8 in California in 2008. Users are met with a message stating that OKCupid would prefer no one access their site with Mozilla software. Eich is the new CEO of Mozilla."

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Creating "Homo Minutus" — a Benchtop Human To Test Drugs

Tue, 01/04/2014 - 10:07
Science_afficionado (932920) writes "Vanderbilt University scientists reported significant progress toward creating 'homo minutus' — a benchtop human — at the Society of Toxicology meeting on Mar. 26 in Phoenix. The advance is the successful development and analysis of a human liver construct//organ-on-a-chip that responds to exposure to a toxic chemical much like a real liver. The achievement is the first result from a five-year, $19 million multi-institutional effort led by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), to develop four interconnected human organ constructs — liver, heart, lung and kidney — that are based on a highly miniaturized platform nicknamed ATHENA (Advanced Tissue-engineered Human Ectypal Network Analyzer). The project is supported by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Similar programs to create smaller-scale organs-on-chips are underway at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Institutes of Health."

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Judge Overrules Samsung Objection To Jury Instructional Video

Tue, 01/04/2014 - 01:19
itwbennett (1594911) writes "U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh on Sunday overruled Samsung Electronics' objections to showing jurors a recent instructional video on how patents work, ahead of a trial in a patent dispute between Apple and Samsung. The new video, called 'The Patent Process: An Overview for Jurors,' was developed by the Federal Judicial Center to provide jurors with an introduction to the patent system. Samsung's objection is to several scenes in which Apple products are depicted and used (and, by extension, seen as patentable and innovative)."

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New York Public Library Releases Over 20,000 Hi-Res Maps

Tue, 01/04/2014 - 00:40
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "Finally, you don't have to raise your voice over a group of whisperers in the New York Public Library to get a better view of its map collection. Actually, you don't even need to visit the place at all. Over 20,000 maps and cartographic works from the NYPL's Lionel Pincus & Princess Firyal Map Division have been uploaded and made downloadable for the public. 'We believe these maps have no known U.S. copyright restrictions,' explains a blog post announcing the wholesale release of the library's map collection. 'It means you can have the maps, all of them if you want, for free, in high resolution. We've scanned them to enable their use in the broadest possible ways by the largest number of people.' The NYPL is distributing the maps under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication, which means you can do whatever you want with the maps."

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Square Market Now Accepts Bitcoin

Tue, 01/04/2014 - 00:00
An anonymous reader writes "Square today announced it has added support for paying with Bitcoin. As a result, buyers can now use the digital currency to purchase goods and services on Square Market, which allows sellers to create an online storefront with online payment processing. The mobile payment company promises the experience won't feel any different for sellers and they 'don't have to change a thing, except potentially expecting new trailblazing customers and more sales.' In other words, Square wants them to be able to offer Bitcoin as a payment option without any headaches." Stripe is also adding beta support for Bitcoin as a funding source. No word from Paypal yet.

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FCC Boosts Spectrum Available To Wi-Fi

Mon, 31/03/2014 - 23:14
bbsguru (586178) writes "Wi-Fi networks will soon be improving thanks to a vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today. The FCC voted unanimously to open 100 MHz of wireless spectrum in an unlicensed 5GHz block . The move will increase the number of frequencies available to unlicensed wireless networks (such as those set up through Wi-Fi routers) by nearly 15 percent, and in turn, allow them to handle a greater level of traffic at higher speeds. 'Today's action represents the largest amount of spectrum suitable for mobile broadband that the Commission has made available for auction since the 700MHz band was auctioned in 2008,' the FCC wrote in a statement. 'Access to these bands will help wireless companies meet growing consumer demand for mobile data by enabling faster wireless speeds and more capacity.' The increased spectrum should mean that Wi-Fi networks will be less congested, and next-gen routers will be able to take better advantage of gigabit broadband speeds that are cropping up all over the country."

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Supreme Court Skeptical of Computer-Based Patents

Mon, 31/03/2014 - 21:07
walterbyrd (182728) writes "The case, Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, poses huge risks for both sides. If the court upholds the patent or rules only narrowly against it without affecting most others, the problem of too many patents — and patent lawsuits — will continue. In that case, Justice Stephen Breyer said, future competition could move from price and quality to 'who has the best patent lawyer.'"

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UN Report: Climate Changes Overwhelming

Mon, 31/03/2014 - 20:23
iONiUM (530420) writes "'The impacts of global warming are likely to be "severe, pervasive and irreversible", a major report by the UN has warned.' A document was released by the IPCC outlining the current affects on climate change, and they are not good. For specific effects on humans: 'Food security is highlighted as an area of significant concern. Crop yields for maize, rice and wheat are all hit in the period up to 2050, with around a tenth of projections showing losses over 25%.'"

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Book Review: Money: The Unauthorized Biography

Mon, 31/03/2014 - 19:39
jsuda (822856) writes "Most of us know that making money is difficult and saving it is even harder, but understanding money is easy–it's just coins and folding certificates, a mere medium of exchange. That's wrong! according to Felix Martin, author of Money: The Unauthorized Biography. Not only is that understanding wrong but it's responsible (in large part) for the 2007 Great Recession and the pitiful 'recovery' from it as well as a number of previous financial and credit disasters." Keep reading for the rest of Jsuda's review.

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Darth Vader Runs For President of Ukraine

Mon, 31/03/2014 - 18:38
First time accepted submitter neuroscroll (579178) writes "An unorthodox candidate presented himself for the future early presidential elections in Ukraine: the Darth Vader himself is promising to make an empire out of a republic. He is the official candidate of the Ukrainian Internet party. From the article: 'The Sith lord, or at least an unnamed costumed protester often seen on Kiev's Independence Square flanked by his loyal stormtroopers during the winter protests, has been chosen as the official candidate of the Ukrainian Internet party (UIP) which has become known for its theatrical public stunts. "After winning intra-party primaries by a landslide, comrade Vader will be our party's candidate," said the UIP leader, Dmitry Golubov, who spent time in prison after being convicted of using the internet to run a credit card fraud scheme.'"

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NSA Infiltrated RSA Deeper Than Imagined

Mon, 31/03/2014 - 17:26
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Reuters is reporting that the U.S. National Security Agency managed to have security firm RSA adopt not just one, but two security tools, further facilitating NSA eavesdropping on Internet communications. The newly discovered software is dubbed 'Extended Random', and is intended to facilitate the use of the already known 'Dual Elliptic Curve' encryption software's back door. Researchers from several U.S. universities discovered Extended Random and assert it could help crack Dual Elliptic Curve encrypted communications 'tens of thousands of times faster'."

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If Ridesharing Is Banned, What About Ride-Trading?

Mon, 31/03/2014 - 16:42
Bennett Haselton writes "The city of Seattle just imposed new limits on commercial app-based ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft, effectively protecting taxi companies from low-cost competition in the form of smartphone apps. If other cities follow suit, could a company help ridesharers circumvent the restrictions by creating a ride-trading app, allowing drivers to earn 'miles' by driving passengers, and redeem those miles later to get rides for themselves?" Continue reading below to see what Bennett has to say.

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MariaDB 10 Released, Now With NoSQL Support

Mon, 31/03/2014 - 16:18
noahfecks (2379422) writes "Version 10 of the most famous fork of MySQL MariaDB has been released. Its developers said that is many times faster than MySQL, also claiming that its replications slaves are crash free. More details of this release can be found on the blog."

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Smartphone Kill-Switch Could Save Consumers $2.6 Billion

Mon, 31/03/2014 - 15:57
itwbennett (1594911) writes "Creighton University professor William Duckworth has released a report finding that kill-switch technology that remotely makes a stolen smartphone useless could save American consumers up to $2.6 billion per year — mostly from reduced insurance premiums. Duckworth estimated that Americans currently spend around $580 million replacing stolen phones each year and $4.8 billion paying for handset insurance. If a kill-switch led to a sharp reduction in theft of phones, most of the $580 million spent on replacing stolen phones would be saved. And a further $2 billion in savings could be realized by switching to cheaper insurance plans that don't cover theft."

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