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Innocent Adults Are Easy To Convince They Commited a Serious Crime

slashdot - Sun, 01/18/2015 - 00:04
binarstu (720435) writes "Research recently published [link is to abstract only; full text requires subscription] in Psychological Science quantifies how easy it is to convince innocent, "normal" adults that they commited a crime. The Association for Psychological Science (APS) has posted a nice summary of the research. From the APS summary: "Evidence from some wrongful-conviction cases suggests that suspects can be questioned in ways that lead them to falsely believe in and confess to committing crimes they didn't actually commit. New research provides lab-based evidence for this phenomenon, showing that innocent adult participants can be convinced, over the course of a few hours, that they had perpetrated crimes as serious as assault with a weapon in their teenage years."

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Lies, Damn Lies, and Tech Diversity Statistics

slashdot - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 23:03
theodp writes Some of the world's leading Data Scientists are on the payrolls of Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Apple. So, it'd be interesting to get their take on the infographics the tech giants have passed off as diversity data disclosures. Microsoft, for example, reported its workforce is 29% female, which isn't great, but if one takes the trouble to run the numbers on a linked EEO-1 filing snippet (PDF), some things look even worse. For example, only 23.35% of its reported white U.S. employee workforce is female (Microsoft, like Google, footnotes that "Gender data are global, ethnicity data are US only"). And while Google and Facebook blame their companies' lack of diversity on the demographics of U.S. computer science grads, CS grad and nationality breakouts were not provided as part of their diversity disclosures. Also, the EEOC notes that EEO-1 numbers reflect "any individual on the payroll of an employer who is an employee for purposes of the employers withholding of Social Security taxes," further muddying the disclosures of companies relying on imported talent, like H-1B visa dependent Facebook. So, were the diversity disclosure mea culpas less about providing meaningful data for analysis, and more about deflecting criticism and convincing lawmakers there's a need for education and immigration legislation (aka Microsoft's National Talent Strategy) that's in tech's interest?

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Obama: Gov't Shouldn't Be Hampered By Encrypted Communications

slashdot - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 21:58
According to an article at The Wall Street Journal, President Obama has sided with British Prime Minister David Cameron in saying that police and government agencies should not be blocked by encryption from viewing the content of cellphone or online communications, making the pro-spying arguments everyone has come to expect: “If we find evidence of a terrorist plot and despite having a phone number, despite having a social media address or email address, we can’t penetrate that, that’s a problem,” Obama said. He said he believes Silicon Valley companies also want to solve the problem. “They’re patriots.” ... The president on Friday argued there must be a technical way to keep information private, but ensure that police and spies can listen in when a court approves. The Clinton administration fought and lost a similar battle during the 1990s when it pushed for a “clipper chip” that would allow only the government to decrypt scrambled messages.

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Ridley Scott Adapts Philip K. Dick's 'Man in the High Castle' For Amazon

slashdot - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 20:57
An anonymous reader writes with word of an adaption of Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle. Ridley Scott is the executive producer for the adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel that's one of 13 new TV shows from Amazon Studios. There's also a video adaptation of The New Yorker magazine, and all 13 pilots are available free online. Votes of viewers will help decide which ones get picked up for a full season, and Amazon is promising customers that they've assembled "some of the greatest storytellers in the businesswith works of novelty and passion."

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What Africa Really Needs To Fight Ebola

slashdot - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 20:00
Lasrick writes Laura Kahn, a physician on the research staff of Princeton University's Program on Science and Global Security, writes that the high tech solutions being promoted to help fight Ebola in Africa will make no difference. What Africa really needs is anti-corruption efforts, now. "A case in point is Liberia, which has received billions of dollars in international aid for over a decade, with little to show for it. The country ranks near the bottom of the United Nation's Human Development Index and near the bottom of Transparency International's Global Corruption Barometer. And while international aid groups and non-governmental organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and the International Medical Corps provide important humanitarian assistance and medical care, they also inadvertently absolve African political leaders from developing medical and public health infrastructures."

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Analysis Suggests Solar System Contains Massive Trans-Neptunian Objects

slashdot - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 18:58
BarbaraHudson writes NBC News reports that at least two planets larger than Earth likely lurk far beyond Pluto, just waiting to be discovered, a new analysis of the orbits of "extreme trans-Neptunian objects" (ETNOs) suggests. The potential undiscovered worlds would be more massive than Earth and would lie about 200 AU or more from the sun — so far away that they'd be very difficult, if not impossible, to spot with current instruments. "The exact number is uncertain, given that the data that we have is limited, but our calculations suggest that there are at least two planets, and probably more, within the confines of our solar system," lead author Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, of the Complutense University of Madrid, said. (Here's the longer version at Space.com.)

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Silicon Valley Security Experts Give 'Blackhat' a Thumbs-Up; Do You?

slashdot - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 18:00
HughPickens.com writes Cade Metz writes that last week Parisa Tabriz, head of Google's Chrome security team, helped arrange an early screening of Michael Mann's Blackhat in San Francisco for 200-odd security specialists from Google, Facebook, Apple, Tesla, Twitter, Square, Cisco, and other parts of Silicon Valley's close-knit security community, and their response to the film was shockingly positive. "Judging from the screening Q&A—and the pointed ways this audience reacted during the screening—you could certainly argue Blackhat is the best hacking movie ever made," writes Metz. "Many info-sec specialists will tell you how much they like Sneakers—the 1992 film with Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Ackroyd, Ben Kingsley, and River Phoenix—but few films have so closely hewed to info-sec reality as Mann's new movie, fashioned in his characteristic pseudo-documentary style." "Unlike others, this is a film about a real person, not a stereotype—a real guy with real problems thrust into a real situation," says Mark Abene. "The technology—and the disasters—in the film were real, or at least plausible. Director Michael Mann worked closely with Kevin Poulsen in researching, writing, and shooting the film. Like Hemsworth's character, Poulsen spent time in prison for his hacking exploits, and Mann says his input was invaluable. "It's the first crime-thriller to hinge so heavily on hacking without becoming silly." says Poulson. "We put a lot of work into finding plausible ways that malware and hosting arrangements and all these other things could be used to advance the plot and all of that I think turned out pretty nice." I'm a fan of Michael Mann, and the previews I've seen of Blackhat make it look at least like a passable thriller. For anyone who's seen the film already, what did you think?

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FCC May Permit Robocalls To Cell Phones -- If They Are Calling a Wrong Number

slashdot - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 17:07
An anonymous reader writes There have been plenty of false rumors about cell phones being opened up to telemarketers, but now the FCC is actually considering it. From the article: "Consumers have long had the support of government to try to control these calls, chiefly through the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which actually allows consumers to file lawsuits and collect penalties from companies that pepper them with robocalls or text messages they didn't agree to receive. But now the Federal Communications Commission is considering relaxing a key rule and allowing businesses to call or text your cellphones without authorization if they say they called a wrong number. The banking industry and collections industry are pushing for the change." In one case recently, AT&T called one person 53 times after he told them they had a wrong number...and ended up paying $45 million to settle the case. Around 40 million phone numbers are "recycled" each year in the U.S. Twice, I've had to dump a number and get a new one because I was getting so many debt collection calls looking for someone else. Apparently the FCC commissioners may not be aware of the magnitude of the "wrong number" debt collection calls and aren't aware that lots of people still have per-minute phone plans. Anyone can file comments on this proposal with the FCC.

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FCC May Permit Robocalls To Cell Phones -- If They a Calling a Wrong Number

slashdot - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 17:07
An anonymous reader writes There have been plenty of false rumors about cell phones being opened up to telemarketers, but now the FCC is actually considering it. From the article: "Consumers have long had the support of government to try to control these calls, chiefly through the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which actually allows consumers to file lawsuits and collect penalties from companies that pepper them with robocalls or text messages they didn't agree to receive. But now the Federal Communications Commission is considering relaxing a key rule and allowing businesses to call or text your cellphones without authorization if they say they called a wrong number. The banking industry and collections industry are pushing for the change." In one case recently, AT&T called one person 53 times after he told them they had a wrong number...and ended up paying $45 million to settle the case. Around 40 million phone numbers are "recycled" each year in the U.S. Twice, I've had to dump a number and get a new one because I was getting so many debt collection calls looking for someone else. Apparently the FCC commissioners may not be aware of the magnitude of the "wrong number" debt collection calls and aren't aware that lots of people still have per-minute phone plans. Anyone can file comments on this proposal with the FCC.

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Linus On Diversity and Niceness In Open Source

slashdot - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 16:07
An anonymous reader writes "Linus Torvalds has sent a lengthy statement to Ars Technica responding to statements he made in a conference in New Zealand. One of his classic comments in NZ was: "I'm not a nice person, and I don't care about you. I care about the technology and the kernel — that's what's important to me." On diversity, he said that "the most important part of open source is that people are allowed to do what they are good at" and "all that stuff is just details and not really important." Now he writes: "What I wanted to say — and clearly must have done very badly — is that one of the great things about open source is exactly the fact that different people are so different", and that "I don't know where you happen to be based, but this 'you have to be nice' seems to be very popular in the US," calling the concept of being nice an "ideology"."

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European Countries Seek Sweeping New Powers To Curb Terrorism

slashdot - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 15:09
New submitter cooler-than-ice (3981829) writes with this story from the Washington Post: Belgian leaders on Friday sought sweeping new powers to monitor and punish their citizens for involvement with terrorism, joining France in an effort to rewrite laws just hours after dozens of arrests across Europe offered dramatic evidence of the threats security officials say are facing the continent. From the article: Apart from expanding powers to strip citizenship for dual nationals, Belgian leaders on Friday proposed devoting an additional $348 million to counterterrorism efforts. They also said they wanted the ability to take away identity documents to make it more difficult for people to travel to Syria and elsewhere. ... “As a result of the events in Paris, combined with what happened yesterday in Belgium, the political unanimity is quite great,” said Rik Coolsaet, a terrorism expert at Ghent University. “It is a bit of 9/11 syndrome.” France is also charging forward with attempts to expand government powers to monitor threats — and to punish those who praise or do not readily condemn terrorism. Leaders this week called for new legislation to significantly bolster domestic intelligence agencies.

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Micromax Remotely Installing Unwanted Apps and Showing Ads

slashdot - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 14:20
jones_supa (887896) writes "Reports are coming in that users of certain devices by Indian phone manufacturer Micromax noticed apps being silently installed without their consent or permission. Uninstalling these apps won't help, as they will be automatically reinstalled. Alternatively, instead of downloading apps, the phone might litter the UI with stack of notifications which are advertisements for online stores and other apps. It turns out that the "System Update" application is responsible for all of this. When starting to tear down the application (which is actually called FWUpgrade.apk on the filesystem), the first thing you notice is that it's a third-party application. A Chinese company named Adups developed it as a replacement for the stock Google OTA service. The article shows the potential abilities of this app and how Micromax customers can work around the disruptive behavior."

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Google Search Will Be Your Next Brain

slashdot - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 13:23
New submitter Steven Levy writes with "a deep dive into Google's AI effort," part of a multi-part series at Medium. In 2006, Geoffrey Hinton made a breakthrough in neural nets that launched Deep Learning. Google is all-in, hiring Hinton, having its ace scientist Jeff Dean build the Google Brain, and buying the neuroscience-based general AI company DeepMind for $400 million. Here's how the push for scary-smart search worked, from mouths of the key subjects. The other parts of the series are worth reading, too.

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Spanish Judge Cites Use of Secure Email As a Potential Terrorist Indicator

slashdot - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 10:26
An anonymous reader writes Is it possible that using secure email services can be construed as an indicator of being a terrorist? Although it's a ridiculous notion that using secure email implies criminal activities, a judge cited that reason to partially justify arrests in Spain. In December, as part of "an anti-terrorist initiative" Operation Pandora, over 400 cops raided 14 houses and social centers in Spain. They seized computers, books, and leaflets and arrested 11 people. Four were released under surveillance, but seven were "accused of undefined terrorism" and held in a Madrid prison. This led to "tens of thousands" participating in protests. As terrorism is alleged "without specifying concrete criminal acts," the attorney for those seven "anarchists" denounced the lack of transparency.

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Spanish Judge Cites Use of Secure Email As a Potential Terrorist Indicator

slashdot - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 10:26
An anonymous reader writes Is it possible that using secure email services can be construed as an indicator of being a terrorist? Although it's a ridiculous notion that using secure email implies criminal activities, a judge cited that reason to partially justify arrests in Spain. In December, as part of "an anti-terrorist initiative" Operation Pandora, over 400 cops raided 14 houses and social centers in Spain. They seized computers, books, and leaflets and arrested 11 people. Four were released under surveillance, but seven were "accused of undefined terrorism" and held in a Madrid prison. This led to "tens of thousands" participating in protests. As terrorism is alleged "without specifying concrete criminal acts," the attorney for those seven "anarchists" denounced the lack of transparency.

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Engineer Combines Xbox One, PS4 Into Epic 'PlayBox' Laptop

slashdot - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 07:29
MojoKid writes We can finally stop arguing over which is the superior game console, the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Quite frankly, it's a pointless debate, and it took a self-taught engineer to put the argument to rest, which he did by combining both game systems into a 22-inch laptop. Meet the "PlayBox," a gaming laptop that's equal parts Xbox One and PS4 rolled into one. The PlayBox wins the argument because it allows you to play games on either system, and when it comes down to it, the ability to play games is all that matters. Built for a "specific customer," the owner of this prototype system needn't worry about exclusives since he now has a system that can play them all, and do it while taking up no more space than a single console.

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Andy Wolber Explores Online Word Processors' ODF Support

slashdot - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 04:32
TechCurmudgeon writes with a look at how well Google Docs and Microsoft Word Online are at dealing with documents that start (or are exported) in Open Document Format. Does using proprietary document formats make any more sense than buying a coffee maker that uses only one type of coffee, or an ebook you can only read on one device, or a nail that you can only hit with one type of hammer? Why do we use document formats that lock us into only one specific piece of software? Why are we limiting ourselves to only one type of tool? "Control of a format or distribution channel can make it harder to use a competitive solution. That's one problem of proprietary formats: a switch costs you time and/or money. You don't want to buy a new coffee maker to try different coffee, a new e-reader to read a different book, or new software to edit a new document. Open formats or distribution channels make it easier for people to choose a different solution. ... Fortunately, Google re-enabled support for ODF in December 2014. That means you can leverage the collaborative capabilities of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, then export your completed work to a file in an open, non-proprietary format." Spoiler alert: On balance, both Google Docs and Word Online handle ODT files reasonably well.

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19,000 French Websites Hit By DDoS, Defaced In Wake of Terror Attacks

slashdot - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 01:34
An anonymous reader writes Since the three day terror attack that started in France on January 7 with the attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, 19,000 websites of French-based companies have been targeted by cyber attackers. This unprecedented avalanche of cyber attacks targeted both government sites and that of big and small businesses. Most were low-level DDoS attacks, and some were web defacements. Several websites in a number of towns in the outskirts of Paris have been hacked and covered with an image of an ISIS flag. The front pages of the official municipality websites have been covered with the Jihadist militant group's black flag. In a report, Radware researchers noted that Islamic hacker group AnonGhost has also launched a "digital jihad" against France.

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19,000 French Websites Hit By DDoS, Defaced In Wake of Terror Attacks

slashdot - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 01:34
An anonymous reader writes Since the three day terror attack that started in France on January 7 with the attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, 19,000 websites of French-based companies have been targeted by cyber attackers. This unprecedented avalanche of cyber attacks targeted both government sites and that of big and small businesses. Most were low-level DDoS attacks, and some were web defacements. Several websites in a number of towns in the outskirts of Paris have been hacked and covered with an image of an ISIS flag. The front pages of the official municipality websites have been covered with the Jihadist militant group's black flag. In a report, Radware researchers noted that Islamic hacker group AnonGhost has also launched a "digital jihad" against France.

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Ask Slashdot: What Tablet and Software For a Partially Sighted Person?

slashdot - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 00:52
RobHart (70431) writes My friend has had both retinas detach, twice. He is legally blind but partially sighted. He has a number of devices that help him read (either by magnifying the text or as text to speech) — but none are really portable. What do Slashdotters recommend (if anything) in terms of a tablet and software that will make it possible for him to do email and read at least some web sites?

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