The Courts

Indian Woman Sues Uber In the US Over Alleged New Delhi Taxi Rape 56

Posted by timothy
from the who-is-responsible dept.
"Uber has been the subject of controversy all around the globe," notes new submitter yuetteasvy (3999351), who supplies this story from Reuters about one of the reasons for that controversy: An Indian woman who says she was raped by an Uber driver while she was traveling in his cab in December is suing the San Francisco–based online firm in a U.S. federal court in California, claiming it failed to put in place basic safety procedures while running its car service in India. In her lawsuit, filed on Thursday, the New Delhi woman called the app-based service the "modern day equivalent of electronic hitchhiking." The unidentified plaintiff also calls for Uber to overhaul its safety practices, and seeks unspecified damages in the case, according to Reuters. The news agency quoted Uber as saying that it's "deepest sympathies remain with the victim of this horrific crime." Earlier, the woman was reported to have enlisted the services of Douglas Wigdor, a high-profile U.S. lawyer who represented Nafissatou Diallo, the New York City hotel maid who accused the former International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault. Prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney's office went on to drop all charges against Strauss-Kahn, while a civil suit was settled out of court.
Math

There Is No "You" In a Parallel Universe 113

Posted by timothy
from the speak-for-yourself-singleton dept.
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "Ever since quantum mechanics first came along, we've recognized how tenuous our perception of reality is, and how — in many ways — what we perceive is just a very small subset of what's going on at the quantum level in our Universe. Then, along came cosmic inflation, teaching us that our observable Universe is just a tiny, tiny fraction of the matter-and-radiation filled space out there, with possibilities including Universes with different fundamental laws and constants, differing quantum outcomes existing in disconnected regions of space, and even the fantastic one of parallel Universes and alternate versions of you and me. But is that last one really admissible? The best modern evidence teaches us that even with all the Universes that inflation creates, it's still a finite number, and an insufficiently large number to contain all the possibilities that a 13.8 billion year old Universe with 10^90 particles admits."
Books

George R. R. Martin's "The Winds of Winter" Wiill Not Be Published In 2015 106

Posted by timothy
from the generalissimo-fransico-franco-is-still-dead dept.
Dave Knott (2917251) writes George R.R. Martin's "The WInds Of Winter", the fifth book of his bestselling fantasy saga "A Song Of Ice And Fire" (known to television fans as "Game Of Thrones") will not be published in 2015. Jane Johnson at HarperCollins has confirmed that it is not in this year's schedule. "I have no information on likely delivery," she said. "These are increasingly complex books and require immense amounts of concentration to write. Fans really ought to appreciate that the length of these monsters is equivalent to two or three novels by other writers."
Instead, readers will have to comfort themselves with a collection, illustrated by Gary Gianni, of three previously anthologised novellas set in the world of Westeros. "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" takes place nearly a century before the bloody events of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Out in October, it is a compilation of the first three official prequel novellas to the series, The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword and The Mystery Knight, never before collected.
Stats

Cutting Through Data Science Hype 70

Posted by Soulskill
from the this-year's-silver-bullet dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Data science — or "big data" if you prefer — has evolved into a full-fledged buzzword, thanks to marketing departments around the world. John Foreman writes that part of the marketing blitz has been focused on how fast big data analysis can be. Most companies offering some kind of analytic service try to sell you on how it'll make it easy for you to quickly find and fix the problems with your business. But he points out that good, robust models need a stable set of inputs, and businesses often change far too quickly for any kind of stable prediction. He takes IBM's analytic services as an example, quoting Kevin Hillstrom: "If IBM Watson can find hidden correlations that help your business, then why can't IBM Watson stem a 3 year sales drop at IBM?" Foreman offers some simple advice: "Simple analyses don't require huge models that get blown away when the business changes. ... If your business is currently too chaotic to support a complex model, don't build one."
Medicine

Scientists Float Soap Bubbles As a More Effective Drug Delivery Method 13

Posted by Soulskill
from the bad-news-if-you-enjoy-getting-stabbed-by-sharp-objects dept.
Zothecula writes: As if soap bubbles don't spread enough happiness on their own, scientists have discovered a way of coating them in biomolecules with a view to treating viruses, cancer and other diseases. The technology has been developed at the University of Maryland, where researchers devised a method of tricking the body into mistaking the bubbles for harmful cells, triggering an immune response and opening up new possibilities in the delivery of drugs and vaccines.
Earth

Most Americans Support Government Action On Climate Change 279

Posted by Soulskill
from the politics-of-science dept.
mdsolar points out this report in the NY Times: An overwhelming majority of the American public, including nearly half of Republicans, support government action to curb global warming, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and the nonpartisan environmental research group Resources for the Future. In a finding that could have implications for the 2016 presidential campaign, the poll also found that two-thirds of Americans say they are more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fighting climate change. They are less likely to vote for candidates who question or deny the science of human-caused global warming.

Among Republicans, 48 percent said they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports fighting climate change, a result that Jon A. Krosnick, a professor of political science at Stanford University and an author of the survey, called "the most powerful finding" in the poll. Many Republican candidates either question the science of climate change or do not publicly address the issue.
Education

Ask Slashdot: How Do I Engage 5th-8th Graders In Computing? 136

Posted by Soulskill
from the robots-with-lasers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I volunteer at a inner-city community after school program focused K-8th grade. Right now, due to the volunteer demographic, we spend most of our activity time in arts and crafts and homework. The 5th-8th students are getting restless with those activities. I've been asked to spice it up with some electrical wizardry. What I'd like to do is introduce the students to basic jobs skills through computers. My thoughts are that I could conduct some simple hands-on experiments with circuits, and maybe some bread boards. Ultimately, we're going to take apart a computer and put it back together. How successful this project is will dictate whether or not we will go into programming. However, whatever we do, I want the kids to obtain marketable skills. Anyone know of a curriculum I can follow? What experiences have you had with various educational computing projects?
The Military

US Army Releases Code For Internal Forensics Framework 34

Posted by Soulskill
from the see-what-kind-of-code-your-tax-dollars-can-buy dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Maryland has released on GitHub a version of a Python-based internal forensics tool which the army itself has been using for five years. Dshell is a Linux-based framework designed to help investigators identify and examine compromised IT environments. One of the intentions of the open-sourcing of the project is to involve community developers in the creation of new modules for the framework. The official release indicates that the version of Dshell released to Github is not necessarily the same one that the Army uses, or at least that the module package might be pared down from the Army-issued software.
Verizon

Fixing Verizon's Supercookie 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the c-is-for-cookie,-cookie-is-for-whoever-verizon-says dept.
New submitter ferro lad sends a story about Verizon's so-called supercookie, a unique identifier they add to web traffic going across their network to help advertisers target their ads better. A new article at Slate demonstrates how Verizon could fix the identifier so that ad companies would have a harder time misusing it — something they've already been shown to do. "...with just a tiny amount of effort, Verizon could maintain its current business while substantially preventing the misuse of its UID headers." Of course, for privacy-conscious users, the ability to get rid of them altogether would be preferable. Fortunately, Verizon now says users will soon have the ability to opt out of the identifiers. Previously, users could opt out of having their data shared with advertisers, but the unique identifier itself remained with their web traffic. It's not a complete solution — the tracking should be opt-in to begin with — but it's a step in the right direction.
Networking

Wi-Fi Issues Continue For OS X Users Despite Updates 92

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-motivation-to-fix dept.
itwbennett writes: Although Apple has never officially acknowledged issues surrounding Yosemite and Wi-Fi connectivity, the company is clearly aware of the problem: Leading off the improvements offered in the update 10.10.2 update released Tuesday was 'resolves an issue that might cause Wi-Fi to disconnect,' according to the release notes. Despite this, Apple's support forum was filled with tales of frustrated users. And Mac owners aren't the only Apple users experiencing wireless connection failures after updating their OS. Wi-Fi connectivity issues have also dogged iOS 8 since Apple released the mobile OS on Sept. 17.
Math

Mathematicians Uncomfortable With Ties To NSA, But Not Pulling Back 141

Posted by Soulskill
from the goose-that-lays-the-golden-ovoid dept.
An anonymous reader writes: When we talk about how the NSA operates, it's typically about the policymakers and what the agency should or should not do. It's worth remembering that the NSA is built upon the backs of world-class mathematicians, whom they aggressively recruit to make all their underlying surveillance technology work. A new piece in Science discusses how the relationship between mathematicians and the NSA has changed following the Snowden leaks (PDF). But as Peter Woit points out, these ethical conundrums are not actually spurring any change. This is perhaps due to the NSA's generous funding of mathematics-related research.

The article talks about the American Mathematical Society, which until recently was led by David Vogan: "...after all was said and done, no action was taken. Vogan describes a meeting about the matter last year with an AMS governing committee as 'terrible,' revealing little interest among the rest of the society's leadership in making a public statement about NSA's ethics, let alone cutting ties. Ordinary AMS members, by and large, feel the same way, adds Vogan, who this week is handing over the presidency to Robert Bryant, a mathematician at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. For now, U.S. mathematicians aren't willing to disown their shadowy but steadfast benefactor."
Space

How Gaseous, Neptune-Like Planets Can Become Habitable 52

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-to-terraform-your-neighbor-in-six-easy-steps dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Life as we know it requires small, rocky planets. The gas giants of our solar system aren't habitable (to our knowledge), but a research team has discovered that smaller, Neptune-like planets can be transformed into gas-free, potentially habitable worlds with a little help from red dwarf stars. Such planets are usually formed far out in a planetary system, but tidal forces can cause them to migrate inward. When they reach the habitable zone of their host star, they absorb far larger amounts of x-ray and ultraviolet radiation. This can eventually boil off most of the the gas atmosphere, leaving behind the core: a small, rocky world capable of supporting life.
Oracle

VirtualBox Development At a Standstill 240

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-with-a-virtual-bang,-but-a-virtual-whimper dept.
jones_supa writes: Phoronix notes how it has been a long time since last hearing of any major innovations or improvements to VirtualBox, the virtual machine software managed by Oracle. This comes while VMware is improving its products on all platforms, and KVM, Xen, Virt-Manager, and related Linux virtualization technologies continue to advance as well. Is there any hope left for a revitalized VirtualBox? It has been said that there are only four paid developers left on the VirtualBox team at the company, which is not enough manpower to significantly advance such a complex piece of software. The v4.3 series has been receiving some maintenance updates during the last two years, but that's about it.
China

Tech Companies Worried Over China's New Rules For Selling To Banks 120

Posted by Soulskill
from the worried-all-the-way-to-the-bank dept.
An anonymous reader writes: China is putting into place a new set of regulations for how banks interact with technology, and it has many companies worried. While the rules might enhance security for the Chinese government, they devastate it for everyone else. For example, not only will China require that companies turn over source code for any software sold to banks, the companies building the software (and hardware) must also build back doors into their systems. The bad news for us is that most companies can't afford to simply refuse the rules and write China off. Tech industry spending is estimated to reach $465 billion in 2015, and it's projected for a huge amount of growth.
Communications

Reverse Engineering the Nike+ FuelBand's Communications Protocol 69

Posted by Soulskill
from the talking-to-the-wrist dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Security researcher Simone Margaritelli has reverse engineered the Bluetooth low-energy communications protocol for his Nike+ FuelBand SE, a wrist-worn activity tracker. He learned some disturbing facts: "The authentication system is vulnerable, anyone could connect to your device. The protocol supports direct reading and writing of the device memory, up to 65K of contents. The protocol supports commands that are not supposed to be implemented in a production release (bootloader mode, device self test, etc)." His post explains in detail how he managed this, and how Nike put effort into creating an authentication system, but then completely undermined it by using a hard-coded token. Margaritelli even provides a command list for the device, which can do things like grab an event log, upload a bitmap for the screen, and even reset it.