Archive for December, 2013

Public Domain Day 2014

December 31st, 2013 12:51 admin View Comments


An anonymous reader writes “What could have been entering the public domain in the US on January 1, 2014? Under the law that existed until 1978…. Works from 1957. The books On The Road, Atlas Shrugged, Empire of the Atom, and The Cat in the Hat, the films The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and 12 Angry Men, the article “Theory of Superconductivity,” the songs “All Shook Up” and “Great Balls of Fire,” and more…. What is entering the public domain this January 1? Not a single published work.”

Source: Public Domain Day 2014

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4 Tips For Your New Laptop

December 31st, 2013 12:05 admin View Comments


Bennett Haselton writes with four big tips for anyone blessed by the holiday buying frenzy with a new laptop; in particular, these are tips to pass on to non-techie relatives and others who are unlikely to put (say) “Install a Free operating system” at the very top of the list: Here’s Bennett’s advice, in short: (1) If you don’t want to pay for an anti-virus program, at least install a free one. (2) Save files to a folder that is automatically mirrored to the cloud, for effortless backups. (3) Create a non-administrator guest account, in case a friend needs to borrow the computer. (4) Be aware of your computer’s System Restore option as a way of fixing mysterious problems that arose recently.” Read on for the expanded version; worth keeping in mind before your next friends-and-family tech support call.

Source: 4 Tips For Your New Laptop

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Linux Distributions Storing Wi-Fi Passwords In Plain Text

December 31st, 2013 12:19 admin View Comments


Bill Dimm writes “An article on Softpedia claims that Linux distributions using NetworkManager are storing Wi-Fi passwords in plain text in /etc by default. The article recommends encrypting the full disk or removing NetworkManager and using a different tool like netctl. Some of the article comments claim the article is FUD. Is this a real problem?”

Source: Linux Distributions Storing Wi-Fi Passwords In Plain Text

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How Machine Learning Can Transform Online Dating

December 31st, 2013 12:37 admin View Comments


First time accepted submitter hrb1979 writes “Thought I’d share an interview with Kang Zhao — the professor behind the machine learning algorithm which could transform online dating. His algorithm takes into account both a user’s tastes (in an approach similar to the Netflix recommendation engine) and their attractiveness (by analyzing how many responses they get) — enabling the machine to ‘learn’ and hence propose higher potential matches. His research was recently covered in both a Forbes’ article and the MIT Technology Review, though this interview provides more depth and color.”

Source: How Machine Learning Can Transform Online Dating

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The Hobbit and Game of Thrones Top Most Pirated Lists of 2013

December 31st, 2013 12:54 admin View Comments


DavidGilbert99 writes “Fantasy fans are clearly among the most prevalent downloaders of pirated material if the 2013 lists of most pirated films and TV shows is anything to go by. The Hobbit beat Django Unchained and Fast and Furious 6 while on TV, Game of Thrones saw off competition from Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead as the most pirated TV show. While this is clearly losing money for both industries, the US box office doesn’t seem to be suffering too much as it is about to record its best year ever.”

Source: The Hobbit and Game of Thrones Top Most Pirated Lists of 2013

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Former Head of NSA Calls For Obama To Reject NSA Commission Recommendations

December 31st, 2013 12:05 admin View Comments

United States

An anonymous reader writes that USA Today reports “Retired general Michael Hayden … called on President Obama Monday to … reject many of the recommendations of the commission he appointed to rein in NSA surveillance … ‘President Obama now has the burden of simply doing the right thing,’ … ‘And I think some of the right things with regard to the commission’s recommendations are not the popular things. They may not poll real well right now. They’ll poll damn well after the next attack …’ … The commission … said the recommendations were designed to increase transparency, accountability and oversight at the NSA. Hayden … oversaw the launch of some of the controversial programs … He defended them as effective and properly overseen by congressional intelligence committees and a special court. ‘Right now, since there have been no abuses and almost all the court decisions on this program have held that it’s constitutional, I really don’t know what problem we’re trying to solve by changing how we do this,’ he said.”

Source: Former Head of NSA Calls For Obama To Reject NSA Commission Recommendations

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If UNIX Were a Religion

December 31st, 2013 12:06 admin View Comments


Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes “Charles Stross has written a very clever article where he describes the religious metaphor he uses with non-technical folks to explain the relationship between Mac OS X and UNIX. There is one true religion in operating systems says Stross and it is UNIX although there’s also an earlier, older, more arcane religion with far fewer followers, MULTICS, from which UNIX sprang as a stripped-down rules-deficient heresy. If MULTICS is Judaism then UNIX is Christianity. By the mid-1970s there were two main sects: AT&T UNIX, which we may liken unto the Roman Catholic Church, and BSD UNIX, which we may approximate to the Orthodox Churches. In an attempt to control the schisms, the faithful defined a common interoperating subset of the one true religion that all could agree on—the Nicene Creed of UNIX which is probably POSIX. Stross says that today the biggest church in the whole of UNIX is Mac OS X, which rests on the bedrock of Orthodox BSD but “has added an incredible, towering superstructure of fiercely guarded APIs and proprietary user interface stuff that renders it all but unrecognizable to followers of the Catholic AT&T path.” But lo, in the late 1980s, UNIX succumbed to the sins of venality, demanding too much money from the faithful and so, in 1991 Linus Torvalds nailed his famous source code release to the cathedral door and kicked off the Reformation. ‘The Linux wars were brutal and unforgiving and Linux itself splintered into a myriad of fractious Protestant churches, from the Red Hat wearing Lutherans to the Ubuntu Baptists.’ More recently, a deviant faith has sprung from Linux. ‘Android is the Church of Latter Day Saints of UNIX: hard-working, sober, evangelizing the public, and growing at a ferocious rate. There are some strange fundamentalist Mormon Android churches living in walled communities under the banners of Samsung and Amazon, but for the most part the prosperous worship at the Church of Google.’ Stross notes that as with all religion, those sects with most in common are the ones who hold the most vicious grudges against one another. ‘Is that clear?’”

Source: If UNIX Were a Religion

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The Biggest Tech Mishap of 2013?

December 31st, 2013 12:09 admin View Comments


Nerval’s Lobster writes Some high-profile tech initiatives really crashed-and-burned this year. Did BlackBerry executives really think that BlackBerry 10 would spark a miraculous turnaround, or were they simply going through the motions of promoting it? That’s the key question as BlackBerry 10 devices fail to sell. Then there’s Facebook’s misbegotten attempt at ‘skinning’ the Android OS with its Home app. Or maybe counts as 2013′s biggest debacle, with its repeated crashes and glitches and inability to carry out core functions. What do you think was the biggest software or hardware (or both) mishap of the past twelve months?”

Source: The Biggest Tech Mishap of 2013?

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UK Introduces Warrantless Detention

December 30th, 2013 12:02 admin View Comments

United Kingdom

An anonymous reader writes with news that the UK is introducing new laws tightening security around military bases, quoting the article “The Ministry of Defense is set to introduce “draconian” new powers to tighten security and limit access to US airbases in Britain implicated in mass surveillance and drone strikes, The Independent can reveal. … Among the 20 activities to be banned within the controlled area are camping ‘in tents, caravans, trees or otherwise,’ digging, engaging in ‘any trade or business’ or grazing any animal. Also among the offenses, which can result in an individual being ‘taken into custody without warrant,’ is a failure to pick up dog waste or causing damage to ‘any crops, turfs, plants, roots or trees’”

Source: UK Introduces Warrantless Detention

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What Would French Fries Taste Like If You Made Them On Jupiter?

December 30th, 2013 12:01 admin View Comments


sciencehabit writes “Hoping that studying deep frying in different gravitational conditions will help them improve space food for future astronauts, scientists with the European Space Agency chopped potatoes into thin sticks and deep fried them in extra-virgin olive oil, one side at a time, in a spinning centrifuge that created conditions of up to nine times Earth’s gravity, akin to that seen on Jupiter. Higher gravity levels significantly increased the heat transfer between the hot oil and the potato, shortening frying time and resulting in thick, crispy crusts, the team reports. In fact, the scientists may have discovered the ideal gravitational condition for creating crunchy fries: The crust reached its maximum thickness when the potato was fried at three times Earth’s gravity; any further increase in gravity levels did not improve the fries’ crispiness.”

Source: What Would French Fries Taste Like If You Made Them On Jupiter?

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