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Why Hollywood Should Worry About Samsung’s 110-Inch TV

Why Hollywood Should Worry About Samsung’s 110-Inch TV
DECEMBER 30, 2013 | 01:12 PM PT
Electronics manufacturers are sure to set off a new tech trend of mega-TVs that will encourage more consumers to stay at home
Just days before the Consumer Electronics Show kicks off in Las Vegas next week, Samsung unveiled a massive 110-inch Ultra HD TV that comes with an equally hefty price tag of $150,000 in South Korea.
While the new TV is out of the reach of most consumers, Samsung has created a ripple that will surely turn into a wave of new mega-TVs the electronics industry will soon unleash from a variety of hardware makers looking to lure buyers with the next big thing. Although 3D TVs — also heavily promoted at CES in the past — have turned out to be a fad, 4K doesn’t look to go down that same route.
And that should have Hollywood worried.
If studios and their exhibition partners were concerned about an increasing number of moviegoers staying at home, the newest 4K TV sets hitting the mar…

Inside TAO: Documents Reveal Top NSA Hacking Unit

12/29/2013 09:18 AM
Inside TAO
Documents Reveal Top NSA Hacking Unit By SPIEGEL Staff
The NSA's TAO hacking unit is considered to be the intelligence agency's top secret weapon. It maintains its own covert network, infiltrates computers around the world and even intercepts shipping deliveries to plant back doors in electronics ordered by those it is targeting.
In January 2010, numerous homeowners in San Antonio, Texas, stood baffled in front of their closed garage doors. They wanted to drive to work or head off to do their grocery shopping, but their garage door openers had gone dead, leaving them stranded. No matter how many times they pressed the buttons, the doors didn't budge. The problem primarily affected residents in the western part of the city, around Military Drive and the interstate highway known as Loop 410.
In the United States, a country of cars and commuters, the mysterious garage door problem quickly became an issue for local politicians. Ultimately, the m…

Brainlike Computers, Learning From Experience

Brainlike Computers, Learning From Experience
By JOHN MARKOFF Published: December 28, 2013
PALO ALTO, Calif. — Computers have entered the age when they are able to learn from their own mistakes, a development that is about to turn the digital world on its head.
The first commercial version of the new kind of computer chip is scheduled to be released in 2014. Not only can it automate tasks that now require painstaking programming — for example, moving a robot’s arm smoothly and efficiently — but it can also sidestep and even tolerate errors, potentially making the term “computer crash” obsolete.
The new computing approach, already in use by some large technology companies, is based on the biological nervous system, specifically on how neurons react to stimuli and connect with other neurons to interpret information. It allows computers to absorb new information while carrying out a task, and adjust what they do based on the changing signals.
In coming years, the approach will make pos…
N.Y. judge rules NSA phone surveillance legal
The judge says the government learned from its mistakes on 9/11.
By ASSOCIATED PRESS | 12/27/13 12:01 PM EST Updated: 12/27/13 2:49 PM EST
NEW YORK — Citing the Sept. 11 attacks, a federal judge on Friday found that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of millions of Americans' telephone records is legal, a valuable part of the nation's arsenal to counter the threat of terrorism and "only works because it collects everything."
U.S. District Judge William Pauley said in a written opinion that the program lets the government connect fragmented and fleeting communications and "represents the government's counter-punch" to the al-Qaida's terror network's use of technology to operate decentralized and plot international terrorist attacks remotely.
"This blunt tool only works because it collects everything," Pauley said. "The collection is broad, but the scope of counterterror…

Google Punishes Rap Genius Website Over SEO Practices

Larry Magid: Google Punishes Rap Genius Website Over SEO Practices December 27, 2013 12:18 AM
SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The website RapGenius, which provides annotated lyrics for hip-hop songs, has been punished by Google after the tech giant said they violated rules while trying to improve their search rankings.
The site allows users to listen to songs, read lyrics and then click on lines that might be of interest. When clicking on those lines, a pop-up annotation will appear, explaining what the lyrics are about or what may have inspired them.
Anyone who creates an account can write annotations, and eventually, users could become verified like hip hop stars, who are using the website.
Now, the website has come under fire from Google, after the search engine giant said it is using “unnatural links” when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). The company would essentially provide links to blogs, basically promising to give the blogs publicity in exchange for the blogs linking bac…
A New Twist in International Relations: The Corporate Keep-My-Data-Out-of-the-U.S. Clause
By Jordan Robertson  Dec 24, 2013 3:45 AM PT 
By now, we've heard from tech companies such as Facebook, Google and Cisco Systems that the National Security Agency's spying poses a threat to their international business and, in Cisco's case, is already hurting it. So what does that threat look like, exactly, at ground level?
Some companies are apparently so concerned about the NSA snooping on their data that they're requiring - in writing - that their technology suppliers store their data outside the U.S.
In Canada, a pharmaceutical company and government agency have now both added language to that effect to their contracts with suppliers, as did a grocery chain in the U.K., according to J.J. Thompson, chief executive officer of Rook Consulting, an Indianapolis, Indiana-based security-consulting firm. He declined to name the companies, which are using Rook to manage the segmentat…

Computerizing people may be next step in tech

Computerizing people may be next step in tech
This X-ray depicts the hands of Amal Graafstra, founder of Dangerous Things. He has had two radio frequency identifier inplants in his hands which he uses to unlock his car, computer and door to his Seattle home.
By Steve Johnson, San Jose Mercury News POSTED: 12/23/13, 9:18 AM EST
It’s likely the world in the not-so-distant future will be increasingly populated by computerized people like Amal Graafstra.
The 37-year-old doesn’t need a key or password to get into his car, home or computer. He’s programmed them to unlock at the mere wave of his hands, which are implanted with radio frequency identification tags. The rice-size gadgets work so well, the Seattle resident says, he’s sold similar ones to more than 500 customers through his company Dangerous Things.
The move to outfit people with electronic devices that can be swallowed, implanted in their bodies or attached to their skin via “smart tattoos” could revolutionize health care and …

Rampant Returns Plague E-Retailers

Rampant Returns Plague E-Retailers Sellers Suggest Sizes and Redirect Discounts to Break Bad Habits
By SHELLY BANJO CONNECT Dec. 22, 2013 6:23 p.m. ET
Free shipping and lenient return policies have given online retailing a huge boost. Now, chains are mining their order data to get shoppers to keep more purchases.
Behind the uptick in e-commerce is a little known secret: As much as a third of all Internet sales gets returned, according to retail consultancy Kurt Salmon. And the tide of goods flowing back to retailers is rising. Shipper United Parcel Service Inc. UPS +0.61%  expects returns to jump 15% this season from last year, making them a significant and growing cost for retailers.
The stakes get even higher during the holidays, when return volume peaks. So this year, chains are digging through past transactions to weed out chronic returners, train shoppers to make better decisions or stem buyer's remorse.
Fashion discounter Rue La La, owned by Kynetic LLC, is testing a progra…

Unwanted Memories Erased in Electroconvulsive Therapy Experiment

Unwanted Memories Erased in Electroconvulsive Therapy Experiment
Scientists Search for New Treatments for Mental Trauma
By GAUTAM NAIK CONNECT Updated Dec. 22, 2013 9:14 p.m. ET
Scientists have zapped an electrical current to people's brains to erase distressing memories, part of an ambitious quest to better treat ailments such as mental trauma, psychiatric disorders and drug addiction.
In an experiment, patients were first shown a troubling story, in words and pictures. A week later they were reminded about it and given electroconvulsive therapy, formerly known as electroshock. That completely wiped out their recall of the distressing narrative.
"It's a pretty strong effect. We observed it in every subject," said Marijn Kroes, neuroscientist at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands and lead author of the study, published Sunday in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
The experiment recalls the plot of the movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,"…

NSA Paid Security Company to Adopt Weakened Encryption Standards

NSA Paid Security Company to Adopt Weakened Encryption Standards —By Kevin Drum| Sat Dec. 21, 2013 6:49 PM GMT
A few months ago, we learned via the Snowden leaks that the NSA had been busily at work trying to undermine public cryptography standards. One in particular was a random number generator used for creating encryption keys in RSA's BSafe software. But Reuters reports there's more to the story:
Undisclosed until now was that RSA received $10 million in a deal that set the NSA formula as the preferred, or default, method for number generation in the BSafe software, according to two sources familiar with the contract. Although that sum might seem paltry, it represented more than a third of the revenue that the relevant division at RSA had taken in during the entire previous year, securities filings show.
....Most of the dozen current and former RSA employees interviewed said that the company erred in agreeing to such a contract, and many cited RSA's corporate evolutio…

Google sees jump in government 'takedown' requests

Google sees jump in government 'takedown' requests AFP – December 19, 2013
Washington (AFP) - Google said Thursday it saw a big jump in early 2013 in the number of requests from governments around the world to remove online content, in many cases for political reasons.
In an update to its "transparency report" for the first half of the year, Google said it saw a 68 percent jump in the number of requests from the prior six-month period, led by big increases from Turkey and Russia.
The updated report "is certainly not a comprehensive view of censorship online (but) it does demonstrate a worrying upward trend in the number of government requests, and underscores the importance of transparency around the processes governing such requests," said Google legal director Susan Infantino in a blog post.
"As we continue to add data, we hope it will become increasingly useful and informative in policy debates and decisions around the world."
From January to …

Facebook can see what users type even if status is not posted

Facebook can see what users type even if status is not posted
Facebook said tracking users' activity even if they decide not to post a status or comment falls within the company's terms of service.
By Salvador Rodriguez December 17, 2013, 12:23 p.m.
Facebook has said that it is within its terms of service to see what users are typing even when the status or comment is never posted on the social network.
The Menlo Park, Calif., company confirmed that it can track users' unpublished posts after two Facebook researchers disclosed that they had tracked the activity of about 5 million random Facebook users in the U.S. and England.
The researchers' study looked at how often these users censored themselves while typing posts and comments on Facebook. If users typed more than five characters, the content was tracked. It was considered to be self-censored if it was not published within 10 minutes of being typed.
Facebook said the study did not track the exact words and letter…

Judge: NSA phone program likely unconstitutional

Judge: NSA phone program likely unconstitutional
By JOSH GERSTEIN | 12/16/13 1:36 PM EST Updated: 12/16/13 3:51 PM EST
A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency program which collects information on nearly all telephone calls made to, from or within the United States is likely unconstitutional.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon found that the program appears to violate the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. He also said the Justice Department had failed to demonstrate that collecting the information had helped to head off terrorist attacks.
Acting on a lawsuit brought by conservative legal activist Larry Klayman, Leon issued a preliminary injunction barring the NSA from collecting so-called metadata pertaining to the Verizon accounts of Klayman and one of his clients. However, the judge stayed the order to allow for an appeal.
“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collec…