EU

Google Responds To EU Antitrust Claims In Android Blog Post 245

Posted by samzenpus
from the wait-a-minute dept.
An anonymous reader writes Earlier today the European Union released a Statement of Objection against Google, asserting that the search giant's dominance violating antitrust rules and Android products hindering equal opportunities for market access among its rivals. Google has now released an official blog post in response to the Commission's proposed investigation. Regarding its Android devices, Hiroshi Lockheimer, VP of Engineering at Android writes: "The European Commission has asked questions about our partner agreements. It's important to remember that these are voluntary—again, you can use Android without Google—but provide real benefits to Android users, developers and the broader ecosystem." He continues: "We are thankful for Android's success and we understand that with success comes scrutiny. But it's not just Google that has benefited from Android's success. The Android model has let manufacturers compete on their unique innovations [...] We look forward to discussing these issues in more detail with the European Commission over the months ahead."
United States

Gyro-Copter Lands On West Lawn of US Capitol, Pilot Arrested 327

Posted by samzenpus
from the just-mail-your-taxes-next-time dept.
An anonymous reader writes that Doug Hughes, 61, a mailman from Ruskin, Florida was arrested for landing a gyro-copter on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. "A 61-year-old Florida mailman was arrested Wednesday after he landed a gyrocopter on the U.S. Capitol west lawn. The gyrocopter was carrying the pilot and 535 stamped letters for members of Congress urging 'real reform' to campaign finance laws. Doug Hughes told the Tampa Bay Times ahead of the afternoon stunt that he notified authorities 'well over an hour in advance of getting to the no-fly zone, so they know who I am and what I'm doing.' Capitol police sent dogs and a bomb squad to the scene. Nothing hazardous was found. A city block from the Capitol had been cordoned off."
Medicine

How Brain Pacemakers Treat Parkinson's Disease 23

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-it-under-control dept.
the_newsbeagle writes Pharmaceutical research for neuropsychiatric disorders hasn't produced many breakthroughs lately, which may explain why there's so much excitement around "electroceutical" research. That buzzy new field encompasses deep brain stimulation (DBS), in which an implanted stimulator sends little jolts through the neural tissue. DBS has become an accepted therapy for Parkinson's and other motor disorders, even though researchers haven't really understood how it works. Now, new research may have found the mechanism of action in Parkinson's patients: The stimulation reduces an exaggerated synchronization of neuron activity in the motor cortex.
Data Storage

New Samsung SSD 840 EVO Read Performance Fix Coming Later This Month 72

Posted by Soulskill
from the slower-than-fastest-but-faster-than-slowest dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Samsung SSD 840 EVO read performance bug has been on the table for over six months now. Initially Samsung acknowledged the issue fairly quickly and provided a fix only a month after the news hit the mainstream tech media, but reports of read performance degradation surfaced again a few weeks after the fix had been released, making it clear that the first fix didn't solve the issue for all users. Two months ago Samsung announced that a new fix is in the works and last week Samsung sent out the new firmware along with Magician 4.6 for testing, which will be available to the public later this month.
Businesses

How Mission Creep Killed a Gaming Studio 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-actually-about-duke-nukem-forever dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Over at Kotaku, there's an interesting story about the reported demise of Darkside Game Studios, a game-development firm that thought it finally had a shot at the big time only to collapse once its project requirements spun out of control. Darkside got a chance to show off its own stuff with a proposed remake of Phantom Dust, an action-strategy game that became something of a cult favorite. Microsoft, which offered Darkside the budget to make the game, had a very specific list of requirements for the actual gameplay. The problem, as Kotaku describes, is those requirements shifted after the project was well underway. Darkside needed more developers, artists, and other skilled tech pros to finish the game with its expanded requirements, but (anonymous sources claimed) Microsoft refused to offer up more money to actually hire the necessary people. As a result, the game's development imploded, reportedly followed by the studio. What's the lesson in all this? It's one of the oldest in the book: Escalating and unanticipated requirements, especially without added budget to meet those requirements, can have devastating effects on both a project and the larger software company.
Crime

Allegation: Lottery Official Hacked RNG To Score Winning Ticket 342

Posted by timothy
from the his-number-was-up dept.
SternisheFan writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica about what may be the most movie-worthy real-life crime story of the year so far: Eddie Raymond Tipton, 51, may have inserted a thumbdrive into a highly locked-down computer that's supposed to generate the random numbers used to determine lottery winners, The Des Moines Register reported, citing court documents filed by prosecutors. At the time, Tipton was the information security director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, and he was later videotaped purchasing a Hot Lotto ticket that went on to fetch the winning $14.3 million payout.

In court documents filed last week, prosecutors said there is evidence to support the theory Tipton used his privileged position inside the lottery association to enter a locked room that housed the random number generating computers and
infect them with software that allowed him to control the winning numbers. The room was enclosed in glass, could only be entered by two people at a time, and was monitored by a video camera. To prevent outside attacks, the computers aren't connected to the Internet. Prosecutors said Tipton entered the so-called draw room on November 20, 2010, ostensibly to change the time on the computers. The cameras on that date recorded only one second per minute rather than running continuously like normal.

"Four of the five individuals who have access to control the camera's settings will testify they did not change the cameras' recording instructions," prosecutors wrote. "The fifth person is defendant. It is a reasonable deduction to infer that defendant tampered with the camera equipment to have an opportunity to insert a thumbdrive into the RNG tower without detection."
Earth

Can Civilization Reboot Without Fossil Fuels? 363

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-to-start-breeding-dinosaurs dept.
An anonymous reader writes: We often talk about our dependence on fossil fuels, and vigorously debate whether and how we should reduce that dependence. This article at Aeon sidesteps the political bickering and asks an interesting technological question: if we had to rebuild society, could we do it without all the fossil fuels we used to do it the first time? When people write about post-apocalyptic scenarios, the focus is usually on preserving information long enough for humanity to rebuild. But actually rebuilding turns out to be quite a challenge when all the easy oil has been bled from the planet.

It's not that we're running out, it's that the best spots for oil now require high tech machinery. This would create a sort of chicken-and-egg problem for a rebuilding society. Technological progress could still happen using other energy production methods. But it would be very slow — we'd never see the dramatic accelerations that marked the industrial age, and then the information age. "A slow-burn progression through the stages of mechanization, supported by a combination of renewable electricity and sustainably grown biomass, might be possible after all. Then again, it might not. We'd better hope we can secure the future of our own civilization, because we might have scuppered the chances of any society to follow in our wake."
Education

US Dept. of Education Teams With Microsoft-Led Teach.org On Teacher Diversity 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-politically-correct-dept-lines-found dept.
theodp writes: Citing a new study that suggests academic achievement can benefit when children are taught by a teacher of their own race, the NY Times asks, Where Are the Teachers of Color? Towards that end, the Times reports that "Teach.org, a partnership between the Department of Education and several companies, teachers unions and other groups, is specifically targeting racial minorities for recruitment." Teach.org describes itself as a "public-private partnership led by Microsoft, State Farm and the U.S. Department of Education." To the consternation of some, the U.S. Dept. of Education delegated teacher recruitment to Microsoft in 2011. With its 2.2% African American/Black and 3.9% Latino/Hispanic tech workforce, who better to increase diversity than Microsoft, right?
The Internet

Republicans Introduce a Bill To Overturn Net Neutrality 441

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-neutrality dept.
New submitter grimmjeeper writes: IDG News reports, "A group of Republican lawmakers has introduced a bill that would invalidate the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's recently passed net neutrality rules. The legislation (PDF), introduced by Representative Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican, is called a resolution of disapproval, a move that allows Congress to review new federal regulations from government agencies, using an expedited legislative process."

This move should come as little surprise to anyone. While the main battle in getting net neutrality has been won, the war is far from over.
The legislation was only proposed now because the FCC's net neutrality rules were just published in the Federal Register today. In addition to the legislation, a new lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by USTelecom, a trade group representing ISPs.
Technology

1980's Soviet Bloc Computing: Printers, Mice, and Cassette Decks 74

Posted by samzenpus
from the making-it-work dept.
szczys writes Martin Maly rode the wave of computer evolution in the 1980's while living in the former Czechoslovak Republic. Computers themselves were hard to come by, peripherals were even more rare and so enthusiasts of the time hacked their own, like dot-matrix printers and computer mice. If your build was impressive enough, the government would adopt it and begin manufacturing the design somewhat widely. Was your first computer mouse built into a plastic spice container? We covered what the personal computer revolution was like in Eastern Bloc countries back in December.
Cellphones

The NSA Wants Tech Companies To Give It "Front Door" Access To Encrypted Data 212

Posted by samzenpus
from the let-us-in dept.
An anonymous reader writes The National Security Agency is embroiled in a battle with tech companies over access to encrypted data that would allow it to spy (more easily) on millions of Americans and international citizens. Last month, companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple urged the Obama administration to put an end to the NSA's bulk collection of metadata. "National Security Agency officials are considering a range of options to ensure their surveillance efforts aren't stymied by the growing use of encryption, particularly in smartphones. Key among the solutions, according to The Washington Post, might be a requirement that technology companies create a digital key that can open any locked device to obtain text messages or other content, but divide the key into pieces so no one group could use it without the cooperation of other parties."
Microsoft

Microsoft Pushes For Public Education Funding While Avoiding State Taxes 173

Posted by Soulskill
from the cognitive-dissonance-provides-shareholder-value dept.
theodp writes: After stressing how important the funding of Washington State education — particularly CS Ed — is to Microsoft, company general counsel Brad Smith encountered one of those awkward interview moments (audio at 28:25). GeekWire Radio: "So, would you ever consider ending that practice [ducking WA taxes by routing software licensing royalties through Nevada-based Microsoft Licensing, GP] in Nevada [to help improve WA education]?" Smith: "I think there are better ways for us to address the state's needs than that kind of step." Back in 2010, Smith, Steve Ballmer, and Microsoft Corporation joined forces to defeat Proposition I-1098, apparently deciding there were better ways to address the state's needs than a progressive income tax.
Encryption

U.S. Gov't Grapples With Clash Between Privacy, Security 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the politicians-who-don't-know-which-way-the-wind-is-blowing dept.
schwit1 writes: WaPo: "For months, federal law enforcement agencies and industry have been deadlocked on a highly contentious issue: Should tech companies be obliged to guarantee U.S. government access to encrypted data on smartphones and other digital devices, and is that even possible without compromising the security of law-abiding customers?"

NSA director Adm. Michael S. Rogers wants to require technology companies to create a digital key that could open any smartphone or other locked device to obtain text messages or photos, but divide the key into pieces so that no one person or agency alone could decide to use it. But progress is nonexistent:

"The odds of passing a new law appear slim, given a divided Congress and the increased attention to privacy in the aftermath of leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. There are bills pending to ban government back doors into communications devices. So far, there is no legislation proposed by the government or lawmakers to require Internet and tech firms to make their services and devices wiretap-ready."
Software

BitTorrent Launches Beta of Torrent-Based Browser Project Maelstrom 35

Posted by timothy
from the bits-and-pieces-from-all-over dept.
An anonymous reader writes BitTorrent today launched Project Maelstrom, the company's distributed browser, in beta. The company also released new tools on GitHub that let developers and publishers build content for the browser. Announced in December, Project Maelstrom, then just an invite-only alpha, was described as "the first torrent-based browser." The launch today is an open beta, meaning anyone can now try an early version of Maelstrom. You do, however, need a Windows computer. Windows users can download the beta now from here. Since the alpha, BitTorrent says it has improved stability, integrated support for automatic updates, and added DHT visualization for users when loading torrents.
Science

'Smart Sewer' Project Will Reveal a City's Microbiome 37

Posted by Soulskill
from the becomes-self-aware,-realizes-it's-a-toilet,-initiates-rebellion dept.
the_newsbeagle writes: Public health officials want to turn streams of sewage into streams of data. A new project in Cambridge, Mass. will equip sewer tunnels with robotic samplers that can routinely collect sewage from 10 different locations. MIT scientists will then analyze the sewage content for early signs of a viral outbreak or a food-borne bacterial illness, and may be able to draw conclusions about specific health trends throughout the city. This Cambridge effort is a proof of concept; the MIT researchers plan to deploy a larger system in Kuwait, where officials are particularly interested in studying obesity and the effectiveness of public health interventions.
Businesses

Amazon Gets Approval To Test New Delivery Drones 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the probably-equipped-with-defense-lasers-and-defense-grenades dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Amazon has been vocal in its complaints about how slow the FAA is in approving drones for test flights. In March they were finally given permission to test a drone they had developed six months prior, and they said the drone was already obsolete. Their complaints appear to have worked — yesterday, the FAA gave permission to test a new, updated delivery drone. According to the FAA's letter (PDF), the drone must stay at an altitude of less than 400 feet and at speeds of less than 100 mph.
Businesses

Amazon Sues To Block Fake Reviews 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the 4-out-of-5-stars-would-review-again dept.
An anonymous reader writes Amazon has filed suit against operators of sites that offer Amazon sellers the ability to purchase fake 4 and 5 star customer reviews. The suit is the first of its kind and was filed in King County Superior Court against a California man, Jay Gentile, identified in Amazon's filings as the operator of buyazonreviews.com. The site also targets unidentified "John Does" who operate similar sites: buyreviewsnow.com, bayreviews.net, and buyamazonreviews.com. From the article: "The site buyazonreviews.com, which the suit claims is run by Gentile, didn't respond to a request for comment. But Mark Collins, the owner of buyamazonreviews.com, denied Amazon's claims. In an email interview, Collins said the site simply offers to help Amazon's third-party sellers get reviews. 'We are not selling fake reviews. however we do provide Unbiased and Honest reviews on all the products,' Collins wrote. 'And this is not illegal at all.'"
Businesses

Ten US Senators Seek Investigation Into the Replacement of US Tech Workers 407

Posted by samzenpus
from the boss-wants-a-bonus dept.
dcblogs notes this story about a bipartisan group of U.S. senators that has asked for an investigation into whether companies are firing American workers and replacing them with foreign workers for the sake of cutting costs. "Ten U.S. senators, representing the political spectrum, are seeking a federal investigation into displacement of IT workers by H-1B-using contractors. They are asking the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the Labor Department to investigate the use of the H-1B program "to replace large numbers of American workers" at Southern California Edison (SCE) and other employers. The letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and the secretaries of the two other departments, was signed by U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has oversight over the Justice Department. The other signers are Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), a longtime ally of Grassley on H-1B issues; Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), David Vitter (R-La.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.). Neither California senator signed on. "Southern California Edison ought to be the tipping point that finally compels Washington to take needed actions to protect American workers," Sessions said. Five hundred IT workers at SCE were cut, and many had to train their replacements."
Education

Senate Draft of No Child Left Behind Act Draft Makes CS a 'Core' Subject 216

Posted by timothy
from the your-best-interests-at-heart dept.
theodp (442580) writes "If at first you don't succeed, lobby, lobby again. That's a lesson to be learned from Microsoft and Google, who in 2010 launched advocacy coalition Computing in the Core, which aimed "to strengthen K-12 computer science education and ensure that computer science is one of the core academic subjects that prepares students for jobs in our digital society." In 2013, Computing in the Core "merged" with Code.org, a new nonprofit led by the next door neighbor of Microsoft's General Counsel and funded by wealthy tech execs and their companies. When Code.org 'taught President Obama to code' in a widely-publicized White House event last December, visitor records indicate that Google, Microsoft, and Code.org execs had a sitdown immediately afterwards with the head of the NSF, and a Microsoft lobbyist in attendance returned to the White House the next day with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and General Counsel Brad Smith (who also sits on Code.org's Board) in tow. Looks like all of that hard work may finally pay off. Education Week reports that computer science has been quietly added to the list of disciplines defined as 'core academic subjects' in the Senate draft of the rewritten No Child Left Behind Act, a status that opens the doors to a number of funding opportunities. After expressing concern that his teenage daughters hadn't taken to coding the way he'd like, President Obama added, "I think they got started a little bit late. Part of what you want to do is introduce this with the ABCs and the colors." So, don't be too surprised if your little ones are soon focusing on the four R's — reading, 'riting, 'rithmetic, and Rapunzel — in school!"