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Showing posts from April, 2014

U.S. FCC chief details pledge to police Internet 'fast lanes'

U.S. FCC chief details pledge to police Internet 'fast lanes' WASHINGTON Tue Apr 29, 2014 6:14pm EDT
(Reuters) - The top U.S. communications regulator on Tuesday said he would use "every available power" to prevent Internet providers from restricting users' access to any web content as he seeks to calm a consumer storm over his proposed new Internet traffic rules.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has been under fire for proposing new so-called "open Internet" or "net neutrality" rules that would allow content companies to pay broadband providers for faster Internet speeds delivering their traffic as long as deals are deemed "commercially reasonable."
Consumer advocates are worried the rules would ultimately allow Internet companies like Comcast Corp or Verizon Communications Inc to create "fast lanes" on the web for traffic of content companies that pay up, potentially shutting out poorer newcomers.
I…

Microsoft Warns Of Dangerous Zero Day Attack Against Internet Explorer

Microsoft Warns Of Dangerous Attack Against Internet Explorer Users
By Robert Westervelt on April 28, 2014, 10:34 am EDT
An organized cybercriminal group is conducting a new targeted attack campaign against users of Internet Explorer, narrowing in on U.S. organizations with strong ties to the defense and financial industries, according to FireEye security researchers.
The new Internet Explorer zero-day attack, made public Sunday, has prompted Microsoft to issue a security advisory, in which it is warning users that the attacks are targeting every supported version of its browser. The cybercriminals are using a malicious link to get users to visit an attack website with the aim of gaining complete control of the victim's PC, Microsoft said.  The Redmond, Wash., software giant did not rule out an emergency, out-of-cycle security update to address the issue.
"An attacker could host a specially crafted website that is designed to exploit this vulnerability through Internet Explo…

Google: Driverless cars are mastering city streets

Google: Driverless cars are mastering city streets
Apr 28, 8:10 AM (ET)
By JUSTIN PRITCHARD
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Google says it has turned a corner in its pursuit of a car that can drive itself.
The tech giant's self-driving cars already can navigate freeways comfortably, albeit with a driver ready to take control. But city driving - with its obstacle course of jaywalkers, bicyclists and blind corners - has been a far greater challenge for the cars' computers.
In a blog entry posted Monday, the project's leader said test cars now can handle thousands of urban situations that would have stumped them a year or two ago.
"We're growing more optimistic that we're heading toward an achievable goal - a vehicle that operates fully without human intervention," project director Chris Urmson wrote.
Urmson's post was the company's first official update since 2012 on progress toward a driverless car, a project within the company's secretive Google X lab.
Th…

A Phone Company Fought the NSA—And the NSA Won

A Phone Company Fought the NSA—And the NSA Won A surveillance court ordered the company to hand over its customers' data.
April 25, 2014
An unnamed phone company recently resisted a National Security Agency demand for access to its subscribers' data, according to court documents declassified Friday.
But on March 20, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court rejected the company's motion and ordered it to continue turning the records over to the NSA. The government redacted the name of the company and other information from the documents.
It was apparently the first time any phone company tried to fight the NSA's controversial mass-surveillance program. A federal judge wrote last year that no phone company had resisted the program, which the NSA claims is authorized under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
The program collects phone "metadata"—such as phone numbers, call times, and call durations—but not the contents of any communications.
Last December, Judge…

The Growing Perils of the Cashless Future

The Growing Perils of the Cashless Future Michael Kling 9 Hours Ago Fiscal Times for CNBC.com
Going cashless? Credit cards could be the most protected way to pay
Wednesday, 23 Apr 2014 | 1:00 PM ET
CNBC's Kelli Grant talks about the types of protection available to credit and debit card holders in the transition to a cashless society.
We're finally on the brink of the cashless society that futurists and other have been forecasting for years. The average consumer owns at least two credit cards and early adopters have begun ditching plastic for virtual wallets. Even businesses that used to rely heavily on cash — think taxis, food trucks or even craft fairs — can now go cashless, thanks to new technology like Square.
Yet, the more we abandon paper bills for plastic, smartphone payments and even cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, the perils of the new, cashless economy are becoming more apparent. Recent security breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus and other retailers illustrate the vul…

Face-recognition software: Is this the end of anonymity for all of us?

Face-recognition software: Is this the end of anonymity for all of us?
The software is already used for military surveillance, by police to identify suspects - and on Facebook. Now the US government is in the process of building the world's largest cache of face-recognition data, with the goal of identifying every person in the country
By Kyle Chayka  
Wednesday 23 April 2014
From 2008 to 2010, as Edward Snowden has revealed, the National Security Agency (NSA) collaborated with the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to intercept the webcam footage of 1.8 million Yahoo users. The agencies were analysing images that they downloaded from webcams and scanning them for known terrorists who might be using the service to communicate, matching faces from the footage to suspects with the help of a new technology called face recognition.
The outcome was pure Kafka, with innocent people being caught in the surveillance dragnet. In fact, in attempting to find faces, the…

3 great things you never knew you could do with a free Internet phone number

April 16, 2014
3 great things you never knew you could do with a free Internet phone number
If we’re being honest, phone calls haven’t changed much in the last hundred years. Sure the hardware has improved from the old hand crank models – we’ve had rotary, touch tone, cordless, cellular, smartphone. But at its most basic level, someone calls your number and you pick up, or you let a machine answer it and take a message.
That process is simple, but kind of limited. And if you have several phones, such as a home land line, cellphone, and business phone, it gets complicated checking all three and remembering who has which number.
That’s why a while back Google set out to upgrade the entire phone experience with a service called Google Voice. I’m not sure if it’s a marketing problem or what, but it hasn’t really taken off with the general public. In fact, most people don’t even know what it does.
And that’s too bad, because it really is an amazing service, especially since it’s free. Her…

USB Type-C: Simpler, faster and more powerful

USB Type-C: Simpler, faster and more powerful The next generation of USB cables will be easier to use and able to push more data faster.
By Brian Nadel April 15, 2014 06:30 AM ET
Computerworld - USB has become ubiquitous as the way to connect our mobile devices to power sources and to other devices. There are currently seven different types of USB connectors already in use: USB 2.0 A, B, mini B and micro B; and USB 3.0 A, B and micro B. There's about to be one more: the USB Type-C.
In fact, the upcoming Type-C plug just might end up being the one plug to rule them all: A single USB connector that links everything from a PC's keyboard and mouse to external storage devices and displays.
"The Type-C plug is a big step forward," says Jeff Ravencraft, chairman of the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the organization that oversees the USB standard. "It might be confusing at first during the transition, but the Type-C plug could greatly simplify things over time by co…

Plastic computers taking shape, but won't replace silicon

Plastic computers taking shape, but won't replace silicon A researcher says plastic computers are still far away, as challenges need to be resolved on writing data and processing Agam Shah
April 18, 2014 (IDG News Service)
Can plastic materials morph into computers? A research breakthrough published this week brings such a possibility closer to reality.
Researchers are looking at the possibility of making low-power, flexible and inexpensive computers out of plastic materials. Plastic is not normally a good conductive material. However, researchers said this week that they have solved a problem related to reading data.
The research, which involved converting electricity from magnetic film to optics so data could be read through plastic material, was conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa and New York University. A paper on the research was published in this week's Nature Communications journal.
More research is needed before plastic computers become practical, ackn…

Aereo to Supreme Court : Kill Us, and You'll Kill the Cloud

Aereo to Justices: Kill Us, and You'll Kill the Cloud By Joshua Brustein   April 22, 2014 The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday about the legality of Aereo, the Internet-television company that offers access to broadcast television channels via thousands of tiny antennas. While the case has been largely framed as a fight over the future of television, Aereo argues that it is also vital to the world of cloud computing. This seemed to resonate with at least some justices, who expressed concern that they would drag down unrelated services by ruling against Aereo. “Are we somehow catching other things that would really change life and shouldn’t,” said Justice Stephen Breyer, according to the Associated Press. The answer lies in whether you think Aereo is more like a schoolteacher’s Dropbox account or a kind of nefarious Kinko’s (FDX).
Aereo and its backers say that making cloud services responsible for policing copyright violations will imperil the entire idea of allowing…

Friends, and Influence, for Sale Online

Friends, and Influence, for Sale Online By NICK BILTON  APRIL 20, 2014, 11:00 AM
There are several services that allow social media users to buy bots, which can make celebrities appear more popular and even influence political agendas.
Whoever said, “Money can’t buy you friends,” clearly hasn’t been on the Internet recently.
This past week, I bought 4,000 new followers on Twitter for the price of a cup of coffee. I picked up 4,000 friends on Facebook for the same $5 and, for a few dollars more, had half of them like a photo I shared on the site.
If I had been willing to shell out $3,700, I could have made one million — yes, a million — new friends on Instagram. For an extra $40, 10,000 of them would have liked one of my sunset photos.
Retweets. Likes. Favorites. Comments. Upvotes. Page views. You name it; they’re for sale on websites like Swenzy, Fiverr and countless others.
Many of my new friends live outside the United States, mostly in India, Bangladesh, Romania and Russia — and …

Peoria Mayor Sends Police to Track Down Twitter Parodist

Peoria Mayor Sends Police to Track Down Twitter Parodist Scott Shackford|Apr. 18, 2014 10:33 am
Politicians can be a thin-skinned bunch. You'd think they'd let insults roll off their backs given how much power they have over the lives and livelihoods of others. But if you have all that power, why bother letting insults roll of your back when you can use that power to disproportionately punish people?
Jim Ardis, mayor of Peoria, Illinois, ordered police to track down whoever was responsible for a parody Twitter account mocking him.
As a result, police raided a West Bluff home, seized property, and detained three people for questioning. The Twitter account, @PeoriaMayor, has been suspended. According to the Journal Star, the account had all of 50 posts and an equal number of followers. The Twitter profile apparently did not initially indicate that it was a parody account, but added that label in early March.
The label was hardly necessary, though, to prevent reader confusion. …

Facebook to Notify Users When Friends are Nearby

Facebook to Notify Users When Friends are Nearby 12:59 pm ET Apr 17, 2014
Facebook users will soon be able to receive notices on their mobile app when they’re near friends, signaling an effort by the online social network to play a bigger role in real-world interactions.
Users will have to opt in separately to the feature, called “Nearby Friends,” and agree to give Facebook permission to track them at all times, even when not logged into Facebook.
Facebook said it will introduce the service gradually in coming weeks. Users of Facebook’s mobile app will get notifications prompting them to opt in.
Some privacy advocates expressed concerns about the implications for users of opting into the service. Chris Conley, a policy attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, said Facebook should keep users “regularly aware” of everyone with whom they’re sharing location. Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, called on the Federal Tr…

Microsoft beefs up Office Online

Microsoft beefs up Office Online The browser-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote are being updated
By Juan Carlos Perez April 14, 2014 03:52 PM ET
IDG News Service - Microsoft is updating its Web-based Office Online suite, narrowing the features gap with the main Office 365 and Office 2013 suites installed on users' devices.
"We know you want features that allow you to move as seamlessly as possible between Office Online and the desktop," wrote Kaberi Chowdhury, an Office Online technical product manager, in a blog post Monday.
Improvements to Excel Online include the ability to insert new comments, edit and delete existing comments, and properly open and edit spreadsheets that contain Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) code.
Meanwhile, Word Online has a new "pane" where users can see all comments in a document, and reply to them or mark them as completed. It also has a refined lists feature that is better able to recognize whether users are…

Why There Will Be A Robot Uprising

Why There Will Be A Robot Uprising By Patrick Tucker April 17, 2014
In the movie Transcendence, which opens in theaters on Friday, a sentient computer program embarks on a relentless quest for power, nearly destroying humanity in the process.
The film is science fiction but a computer scientist and entrepreneur Steven Omohundro says that “anti-social” artificial intelligence in the future is not only possible, but probable, unless we start designing AI systems very differently today.
Omohundro’s most recent recent paper, published in the Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, lays out the case.
We think of artificial intelligence programs as somewhat humanlike. In fact, computer systems perceive the world through a narrow lens, the job they were designed to perform.
Microsoft Excel understands the world in terms of numbers entered into cells and rows; autonomous drone pilot systems perceive reality as a bunch calculations and actions that must be performe…