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Showing posts from May, 2013
Judge orders Google to comply with FBI's secret NSL demands
A federal judge tells the company to comply with the FBI's warrantless National Security Letter requests for user details, despite ongoing concerns about their constitutionality.
by Declan McCullagh  May 31, 2013 6:00 AM PDT
A federal judge has ruled that Google must comply with the FBI's warrantless requests for confidential user data, despite the search company's arguments that the secret demands are illegal.
CNET has learned that U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco rejected Google's request to modify or throw out 19 so-called National Security Letters, a warrantless electronic data-gathering technique used by the FBI that does not need a judge's approval. Her ruling came after a pair of top FBI officials, including an assistant director, submitted classified affidavits.
The litigation taking place behind closed doors in Illston's courtroom -- a closed-to-the-public hearing was h…
Texas Could End Up Leading the Country on Electronic Privacy
A bill waiting for Gov. Rick Perry's signature would set up even stricter protections for user data than current federal law.
By Brian Fung Updated: May 29, 2013 | 4:42 p.m. May 29, 2013 | 3:18 p.m.
Despite having lost his bid for the presidency, Texas Governor Rick Perry now finds himself again in a position of (potential) national leadership. On the way to his desk is a bill that would put Texas far ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to protecting consumers' electronic privacy.
Unless Perry takes action to veto it, the legislation would fix a legal loophole that currently lets law enforcement seize opened emails (or unopened emails older than 180 days) with little more than an administrative subpoena. Under the new law, which passed the state House on Monday and the state Senate on Tuesday, investigators would need to get a search warrant before asking businesses to hand over consumer records.
The bil…
Windows 8.1 paints over the problems with Windows 8
Mark Hachman @markhachman May 30, 2013 9:32 AM
Phew. Maybe Windows Blue (or Windows 8.1, as Microsoft is now officially calling it) won't be so blah after all. But Microsoft is betting big that a fresh coat of paint will be enough to bring users back into the fold.
On paper, at least, Microsoft's disclosure of some of the new key features within Windows Blue take some definite strides forward, with entirely new components, such as Internet Explorer 11, anchoring the new release. Microsoft hasn't abandoned its original vision. Rather, it’s just compromised it a bit by delivering features that users have been clamoring for.
Look, Microsoft is saying. Windows 8 is friendly. What Microsoft still isn't overtly acknowledging, however, is that there are two groups of users: those who have seen Windows 8, have been baffled, and have walked away; and a second group, who understand how Windows 8 works and what Microsoft is tr…
Ads on Facebook dropped after appearing next to offensive posts
May 28, 2013 7:56 pm
By Robert Budden, Chief Media Correspondent
Major advertisers including Nissan and Nationwide have suspended Facebook marketing campaigns after their ads appeared alongside offensive posts, highlighting the risks of a new form of “targeted” advertising.
The cancellations follow complaints on Twitter and from women’s rights organisations over the publication of misogynistic content, including images of abused women, on the social networking site.
Targeted advertising identifies that a person is likely to buy a particular product, and then automatically places ads for that product on whatever page he or she visits.
Adverts for Japanese carmaker Nissan, Nationwide, the UK’s largest building society, Unilever’s Dove skincare brand, were automatically placed next to the offensive images that Facebook users either sought out or stumbled upon accidentally. To the companies’ embarrassment, screenshots juxtap…
Google Rolling Out Tabbed Inbox for Gmail
By Chloe Albanesius May 29, 2013 01:13pm EST
Google on Wednesday unveiled a revamped Gmail that features a tabbed inbox to help you prioritize your messages.
On the desktop, the tabs will appear atop your Gmail inbox. You can select the categories; in Google's example, the search giant picked Social, Promotions, and Updates alongside Primary, which is reserved for your most important messages.
Notifications about tagged photos on Facebook, mentions on Google+, or requests from LinkedIn, for example, would appear in the Social tab. Groupon or LivingSocial deals would show up in the Promotions tab, and that email from Mom would be displayed under Primary.
"Your inbox is organized in a way that lets you see what's new at a glance and decide which emails you want to read when," Google said in a blog post.
Tabs will extend to mobile, too. On Android and iOS, users will see Primary mail when they sign in, but can swipe left for a…
Google Translate says 'Hola!' to Chrome
The latest Chrome beta for Android integrates Google Translate support directly into the browser, just like it does with its desktop counterpart.
by Seth Rosenblatt  May 24, 2013 12:55 PM PDT
Not only is Google Translate not dead, its powers of mildly accurate, often-amusing, and on-the-fly translations are in the process of being gifted to Chrome 28 Beta for Android.
If you load a foreign language Web site in the beta, which landed in the Google Play Store on Thursday, a bar will appear at the bottom of the screen with a button to translate the site. Tap the button, and voila! It will appear in a different language.
The accuracy of the translation is another issue. However, Google spokeswoman Roya Soleimani said, "Google Translate works through statistical machine translation. We have 71 languages now, and while there will always be varying levels of accuracy, if you have a good translation, it's better than no translation.&q…
Is This Google X's Plan to Wire the World? By Brad Stone
May 23, 2013
Google (GOOG) Chairman Eric Schmidt’s April 13 tweet was bold, ambitious, and a bit inexplicable. “For every person online, there are two that are not,” wrote the co-author of the book The New Digital Age. “By the end of the decade, everyone on Earth will be connected.”
Commenters were flummoxed by Schmidt’s prediction. There are many parts of the world without reliable telecommunications infrastructure. How do you wire parts of Africa—or the Indonesian archipelago?
In my conversations with Astro Teller, Google X’s excellently named director of moonshots, for this week’s cover story on Google X, I asked whether extending broadband Internet access throughout the world would be a problem deserving of attention from the top-secret lab. Teller gave nothing away, but it was clear from his answer that there’s plenty of passion for that particular goal inside his organization. “Having everyone connected is literally i…
Senate investigators: Apple avoided $44 billion in US taxes
By: Tony Romm May 20, 2013 05:39 PM EDT
Senate investigators accuse Apple of wiring together a complicated system to shield billions of dollars in international profits from both U.S. and foreign tax collectors.
A report released ahead of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s inaugural Capitol Hill appearance Tuesday alleges the iPhone-maker took advantage of numerous U.S. tax loopholes and avoided U.S. taxes on $44 billion in offshore, taxable income between 2009 and 2012 — a characterization Apple flatly rejects.
The bipartisan Senate probe also charges for the first time that Apple’s long established foreign entities, based in Ireland, don’t actually have tax-resident status there or anywhere else. The company conducts most of its international business in the European country to take advantage of lower tax rates, according to the congressional report.
The lawmakers behind the inquiry did not describe Apple’s tax conduct as illegal, but t…
5 Big Changes Coming for Android Developers By Jill Duffy May 17, 2013 03:23pm EST
SAN FRANCISCO–Android app developers this week saw a lot of new features and got advice directly from Google about how to run their businesses better. Services added to the Google developer console and Google Analytics range from connecting them to translation companies for help localizing their apps for different markets to being able to manage staged rollouts for beta releases of their apps.
Here are the top five changes that Android developers will welcome with open arms.
1. Staged Rollouts
One of the hottest new features for Android developers is staged rollouts, or the ability to push unreleased apps to alpha and beta testers. Android developers will also be able to give members of the press early access to their apps through the Google Play store.
All early testers will opt in to the early releases and can delete the test apps at any time. Developers will be getting new controls that let them m…
Facial Recognition: "Big Brother" is big business?
May 16, 2013 3:34 PM
The odds are you are not just a face in the crowd any longer. Even if your picture isn't plastered all over social networking and photo-sharing sites, facial recognition technology in public places is making it harder if not impossible to remain anonymous. Lesley Stahl reports on the new ways this technology is being used that even has one of its inventors calling it too intrusive. Her 60 Minutes report will be broadcast Sunday, May 19 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Professor Alessandro Acquisti of Carnegie Mellon, who researches how technology impacts privacy, stunned Stahl with an experiment. He photographed random students on the campus and in short order, not only identified several of them, but in a number of cases found their personal information, including social security numbers, just using a facial recognition program he downloaded for free. Acquisti says smart-phones will make "facial searches"…
New gadgets not required at Google jamboree By Chris Nuttall
While Google I/O, the technology group’s annual developer conference, last year celebrated gadgets – with skydivers jumping into the proceedings wearing Google Glasses – this year was all about the software and services. A new music offering made its debut on Wednesday and improvements to Google Maps, Google Plus and Search were unveiled.
Google Play Music All Access (rating: 4/5) The biggest display of hardware at Google I/O in San Francisco came from an army of robots and steampunk-inspired vehicles that invaded the opening night party. After wowing us last year with weird and wonderful devices such as glasses with built-in video screens and a glowing audio orb called Nexus Q, Google stuck to its software and search strengths this time.
Improvements in the Google Plus social network and Search will be rolled out over the next few days but I was able to convert my Google Play Music account to the new All Access service ins…
Aereo, live TV over the Internet will start in Atlanta June 17


May 14, 1:40 PM EDT
TV-OVER-INTERNET SERVICE HITS ATLANTA NEXT MONTH BY ANICK JESDANUN AP TECHNOLOGY WRITER
NEW YORK (AP) -- Aereo, the startup that offers live television broadcasts over the Internet starting at $8 a month, said it will start service in the Atlanta market on June 17, following an expansion to Boston on Wednesday.
Until this week, the service had been available only in the New York City area.
Aereo said Tuesday that it will offer 27 Atlanta-area broadcast channels, plus the Bloomberg TV cable channel. Service will be limited to residents of 55 counties in Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina. Those who had pre-registered will be able to start using Aereo on June 17. Others will be eligible a week later.
Aereo converts television signals into computer data and sends them over the Internet to subscribers' computers and mobile devices. Subscribers can watch channels live or record them with an Internet-bas…
Disney's ABC to start first streaming of live broadcast shows
By Ronald Grover LOS ANGELES | Sun May 12, 2013 8:24pm EDT
(Reuters) - Disney's ABC network will become the first broadcast network to stream its shows live online through an ongoing service, starting with viewers of its TV stations in New York and Philadelphia on May 14 and expanding to its other stations by the end of the summer.
To promote its WATCH ABC service, through the end of June Disney is allowing all viewers of its WABC station in New York and WPVI station in Philadelphia to watch live ABC programs online or on mobile devices by downloading the WATCH ABC app, Disney said in a statement.
The app will initially allow users to be able to watch the service on Apple's iPad and iPhone and on the Kindle Fire device, and later this summer on Samsung Galaxy devices.
Other networks are expected to follow Disney, as traditional broadcasters scramble to keep viewers watching its programs instead of drifting off …
Google’s antitrust settlement under attack by rivals
May 13, 2013 8:59 pm
By Richard Waters in San Francisco and Alex Barker in Brussels
Google’s rivals have called its proposed antitrust settlement with Brussels too weak to redress the imbalance in the internet search market – and warned it is likely to have the opposite effect, discouraging users from visiting rival sites.
The deal, intended to make Google list more competitors’ services, contains loopholes that will undermine its impact, some opponents of the US search company say.
Their critiques are the first in-depth responses to the provisional deal the US company struck with Joaquín Almunia, EU competition commissioner, this year.
Mr Almunia will have to decide next month whether to try to force Google to make more concessions to head off a possible formal complaint, following the end of a “market testing” period for the draft remedies agreed so far.
Attention has focused in particular on provisions designed to reduce the ris…
DOJ: We don't need warrants for e-mail, Facebook chats
An FBI investigation manual updated last year, obtained by the ACLU, says it's possible to warrantlessly obtain Americans' e-mail "without running afoul" of the Fourth Amendment.
by Declan McCullagh  May 8, 2013 7:00 AM PDT
The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI believe they don't need a search warrant to review Americans' e-mails, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and other private files, internal documents reveal.
Government documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and provided to CNET show a split over electronic privacy rights within the Obama administration, with Justice Department prosecutors and investigators privately insisting they're not legally required to obtain search warrants for e-mail. The IRS, on the other hand, publicly said last month that it would abandon a controversial policy that claimed it could get warrantless access to e-mail correspondence.
T…
Million-Neuron Artificial Brain Works In Real Time - Just as fast as a Human Brain
08.05.2013
This new computer model of a brain has one million neurons and works just as fast as a live brain does.
There are other brain models, run on supercomputers, that are much bigger. IBM's SyNAPSE, for example, modeled 530 billion neurons last November. (That's more than the total number of neurons in humans' brains, which clock in at 86 billion neurons on average.) Such models are very slow, however. Some take a couple hours to simulate a second of brain activity. SyNAPSE works 1,500 times slower than real time.
The new artificial brain, called Neurogrid, is a lighter, cheaper version of supercomputer models. It's also much more energy efficient, using just 5 watts of electricity, compared to the 8 megawatts that Blue Gene/Q Sequoia, SyNAPSE's supercomputer, uses. Neurogrid's creators hope that others may use it to learn more about healthy brains and brains affected by d…
Study shows that adventure shapes the individual in Identical Twins
09 MAY 2013
AFP - The act of exploring helps shape the brain and adventuring is what makes each individual different, according to a study out Thursday by researchers in Germany.
The findings published in the US journal Science may offer new paths to treating psychiatric diseases, scientists said.
Researchers sought to pin down why identical twins are not perfect replicas of each other, even when they have been raised in the same environment, and studied the matter using 40 genetically identical mice.
The mice were kept in an elaborate, five-level cage connected by glass chutes and filled with toys, scaffolds, wooden flower pots, nesting places and more. The space available to explore spanned about five square meters (yards).
"This environment was so rich that each mouse gathered its own individual experiences in it," said principal investigator Gerd Kempermann of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Di…
EMOTIONSENSE APP MEASURES SMARTPHONE USERS' HAPPINESS BY: ADDY DUGDALE
Scientists researching the effect of mobile devices on a person's well-being have created an app that uses a smartphone's sensors to gauge a user's happiness. EmotionSense is the creation of a group of researchers from Cambridge University, and it combines data collected automatically by the phone as well as mood reports from the phone's user to pinpoint what triggers certain moods.
The app, described as a "journey of discovery," as the whole process takes about two months, can measure an environment's noise level, a user's movement, and who they are communicating with. It can be used either by individuals as a way of finding out what exactly makes them happy, or it can be used by therapists, who can configure the data they'd like to collect.
Information from the phone, such as what time it is unlocked each morning, how many texts and calls are made and received, movements…
Bill Gates predicts iPad and Android users will switch to PC tablets
Users 'frustrated' by limitations of devices, says Microsoft co-founder, implying many will look to move to Surface products
Charles Arthur guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 7 May 2013 03.19 EDT
Users of iPad and Android tablets might not have noticed, but a lot of them are "frustrated" because they "can't type, they can't create documents, they don't have [Microsoft] Office there". At least according to Bill Gates, who three years ago said of the iPad: "there's nothing on the iPad I look at and say 'Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it.'"
But with total iPad sales since April 2010 already past 141m, and total tablet sales according to IDC at 253m – of which fewer than 2m are the Surface RT or Surface Pro – one might wonder whether he's right.
Gates also says that a key problem for Microsoft in trying to grow its business in China is levels of piracy within governm…