An anonymous reader writes: In October, we discussed the troubling revelation that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service had its own stingray devices, which are commonly used by law enforcement to intercept phone signals and track criminal suspects. The IRS has now addressed these allegations (PDF), confirming that they do indeed have one of the devices, and are trying to get a second. The agency said it tracked 37 phones across 11 different grand jury investigations, and the devices were also used in four non-IRS investigations. They say, "IRS use of cell-site simulation technology is limited to the federal law enforcement arm of the IRS, our Criminal Investigation division. Only trained law enforcement agents have used cell-site simulation technology, carrying out criminal investigations in accordance with all appropriate federal and state judicial procedures."
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An anonymous reader writes: The Facebook stock currently held by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan is worth roughly $45 billion. Today, the couple posted a letter addressed to their newborn daughter outlining plans to give away 99% of that stock so their daughter can "live in a better world." They say, "Our initial areas of focus will be personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities." The letter also includes a long list of problems that need to be solved and situations that need to be improved: human health, learning, clean energy, equality, unhealthy childhoods, and more. They go out of their way to mention that many of these will not be solved quickly, and will need investments on a 100-year scale to be worthwhile. They're making internet access another major issue: "The internet is so important that for every 10 people who gain internet access, about one person is lifted out of poverty and about one new job is created."
An anonymous reader writes: Hackers have targeted three Greek banks for a third time in five days, demanding a ransom from each lender of 20,000 bitcoin (€7m), according to Greek police and the country's central bank. A group calling itself the Armada Collective demanded the bitcoin ransom after staging its first attacks last Thursday, and then threatened a full collapse of the unnamed banks' websites if they refused to pay up. These initial attacks took the form of a distributed denial of service — flooding the banks' websites with requests so that they crashed under the strain. On Thursday, they succeeded in disrupting electronic transactions at all three banks for a short period, but customer information was protected, a police official said.
hcs_$reboot writes: The investigation took a year, but we finally know why Air Asia Flight QZ8501, en route to Singapore from the Indonesian city of Surabaya on December 28 last year, crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 162 people on board. The crash was caused by a combination of system malfunctions and improper pilot responses to cascading electrical and rudder-system problems. A cracked solder joint on the Airbus A320 resulted in an electrical interruption that caused computer-generated warnings of a rudder malfunction. The problem occurred four times during the flight. The first three times, the flight crew responded according to standard procedure, investigators said. The fourth time, however, the flight-data recorder indicated actions similar to those of circuit breakers being reset. That led the autopilot to disengage. Investigators said the crew was unable to react appropriately to "a prolonged stall condition," ending in the crash. The investigation points to weaknesses in pilot training in dealing with upsets, or when an aircraft is angled greater than 45 degrees.
An anonymous reader writes: A team of researchers at Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, has adapted a gaming system to help radiographers improve the quality of X-rays. The technology, originally developed for Microsoft Kinect, has been amended to provide a useful tool for measuring the thickness of body parts and monitor movement and positioning in the X-ray field of vision before imaging. The goal of the technology is to aid in the production of high-quality X-rays at low radiation, without the need to repeat the image. Although the technology is expected to benefit all patients, the researchers believe it could be particularly practical for use in children – who are much more sensitive to radiation and vary in body size, from premature babies through to teens.
An anonymous reader writes: A company-wide memo distributed throughout the Mozilla Foundation by chairperson Mitchell Baker argues that the organization should disentangle itself from the Thunderbird email client in order to focus on Firefox. She said, "Today Thunderbird developers spend much of their time responding to changes made in core Mozilla systems and technologies. At the same time, build, Firefox, and platform engineers continue to pay a tax to support Thunderbird." Both projects are wasting time helping each other, and those demands are only going to get worse. She says many within Mozilla want to see it support community-managed projects without doing the bulk of the work on it, and perhaps Thunderbird could be one of those projects. Baker stresses that no decisions have been made yet — they're starting the conversation early to keep the community involved in what happens to Thunderbird.
prisoninmate writes: Google announces that its Google Chrome web browser will no longer be available for 32-bit hardware platforms. Additionally, Google Chrome will no longer be supported on the Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) and Debian GNU/Linux 7 (Wheezy) operating systems. Users are urged to update to the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) release and Debian GNU/Linux 8 (Jessie) respectively. Google will continue to support the 32-bit build configurations for those who want to build the open-source Chromium web browser on various Linux kernel-based operating systems. Reader SmartAboutThings writes, on a similar note, that: Microsoft is tolling the death knell for Internet Explorer with an announcement that it will end support for all older versions next year. Microsoft says that all versions older than the latest one will no longer be supported starting Jan. 12, 2016. After this date, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for older Internet Explorer versions. Furthermore, Internet Explorer 11 will be the last version of Internet Explorer as Microsoft shifts its focus on its next web browser, Microsoft Edge.
An anonymous reader writes: Enlightenment DR 0.20 has been released. The most significant change is full Wayland support where E20 can act as its own Wayland compositor and the whole shebang. Enlightenment 0.20 also has better FreeBSD support, introduces Geolocation support, new screen management, and other changes.
An anonymous reader writes: From January 2016, Adobe Flash will be renamed to 'Adobe Animate CC', killing one of the most unfortunate names in web security as the company pushes the product further and further to HTML5 output. Adobe's release about the update, which will form part of the annual Creative Cloud upgrade, states that a third of all material output from the program is now HTML5. The transitional HTML5 Adobe animation program Edge Animate will be replaced by the renamed Flash product.
MarkWhittington writes: Russia has made no secret of its desire to land cosmonauts on the lunar surface sometime in the late 2020s. As the United States, at least for the current administration, has decided to bypass the moon in favor of Mars, Russia could move to wipe out the humiliation it suffered at the hands of NASA when it lost the 1960s race to the moon with the landing of Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969. However, a story in TASS suggests that a Russian moon landing effort would be complex, requiring up to six launches of its Angara rocket.
coondoggie writes: "Cyber Monday is generally thought to be the start of the online holiday shopping season. We would like to encourage shoppers who are already online in search of bargains to consider stopping by our auction website to bid on forfeited assets," said Jason Wojdylo, Chief Inspector of the U.S. Marshals Service Asset Forfeiture Division in a statement. These online auctions are designed to generate proceeds from ill-gotten gains to give back to victims, he stated. One auction includes a wine collection of approximately 2,800 bottles seized from once prominent wine dealer Rudy Kurniawan, who is serving a 10-year federal prison sentence following his conviction of selling millions of dollars of counterfeit wine.
An anonymous reader writes: AT&T customers trying to hold on to their old unlimited-data plans will have to pay a little more starting in February. AT&T's legacy plans for unlimited data will soon be $35 a month, instead of the current $30, on top of normal monthly bill costs. The Verge reports: "This is the first price hike AT&T has levied on grandfathered unlimited customers in seven years; the plan in question was discontinued in 2010 and as such is no longer offered to new customers. The $35 unlimited data feature is in addition to the costs associated with your voice and texting plan(s)."
Zothecula sends word that a French team has developed a battery using sodium ions in the usual "18650" format. Gizmag reports: "A team of researchers in France has taken a major step towards powering our devices with rechargeable batteries based on an element that is far more abundant and cheaper than lithium. For the first time ever, a battery has been developed using sodium ions in the industry standard "18650" format used in laptop batteries, LED flashlights and the Tesla Model S, among other products."
szczys writes: Feynman predicted that we would some day "swallow the doctor" and to some extent that is already happening. There are cameras in pill-form that the patient swallows to monitor the digestive tract, and pacemakers are now inserted via catheter rather than major surgery. The question is: where are we going with robots we can put inside our bodies? Intuitively it seems far away, but there is already an open source platform for capsule robots. Medical devices are where the money's at when it comes to hardware development. We can expect to see a lot of work in the coming years to make the man-machine hybrid something that is much more organic, sprinkled with small tablets of robot.
An anonymous reader writes: A campaign taking shape in Brazil seeks to fight online harassment in an unusual way: by posting the abusive comments on real billboards. "The group collects comments from Facebook or Twitter and uses geolocation tools to find out where the people who have posted them live. They then buy billboard space nearby and post the comments in huge letters, although names and photos are pixelated." Brazil has laws prohibiting racial abuse, but this group doesn't think the government is doing enough to stop it. The campaign's founder said, "Those people [who post abuse online] think they can sit in the comfort of their homes and do whatever they want on the internet. We don't let that happen. They can't hide from us, we will find them."
AmiMoJo writes: Food company Nestle has started a petition to get a KitKat emoji into the Unicode standard. They aren't alone, Taco Bell wants a taco emoji added, and Durex suggested adding a condom. While the latter two are at least generic, KitKat is a trademark of Nestle and the "break" image a key part of their marketing. Next year Unicode will include a faceplam emoji (U+1F926) for occasions such as this.
An anonymous reader writes: An article at The Guardian takes a look at the way in which we hold jobs as technology as changes. Its central thesis is this: "My father had one job in his life, I've had six in mine, my kids will have six at the same time." This may compress the generational changes a bit, but it's an interesting point; the average time people spend at one job has been trending downward for a long time. As technology enables the so-called "gig economy" (or "sharing economy," if you prefer), we're seeing many more people start to hold multiple jobs, working whichever one happens to give them something to do at a given time. Economist Jeremy Rifkin says, "This sharing economy is reestablishing the commons in a hi-tech landscape. Commons came about when people formed communities by taking the meager resources they had and sharing then to create more value. The method of regulation of these systems is also comparable. If people are trusted and vouched for they are accepted as part of the sharing economy group. If they behave badly they are excluded. Your social capital means everything in this new economy."
An anonymous reader writes: BlackBerry has announced that it will pull its operations in Pakistan from today, quoting a recent government notice which read that the company would not be permitted to continue its services in the country after December for 'security reasons.' In a blog post released by BlackBerry today, chief operating officer Marty Beard confirmed the decision: 'The truth is that the Pakistani government wanted the ability to monitor all BlackBerry Enterprise Service traffic in the country, including every BES e-mail and BES BBM message.' He added: 'BlackBerry will not comply with that sort of directive.'
Taco Cowboy writes with news that Penn State researchers have discovered a way to produce ultra-thin diamond nanothreads that could be ideal for a space elevator. According to the report at Space.com, The team, led by chemistry professor John Badding, applied alternating cycles of pressure to isolated, liquid-state benzene molecules and were amazed to find that rings of carbon atoms assembled into neat and orderly chains. While they were expecting the benzene molecules to react in a disorganized way, they instead created a neat thread 20,000 times smaller than a strand of human hair but perhaps the strongest material ever made. ... Just recently, a team from the Queensland University of Technology in Australia modeled the diamond nanothreads using large-scale molecular dynamics simulations and concluded that the material is far more versatile than previously thought and has great promise for aerospace properties.
It's not just CO2 levels that Volkswagen manipulated; according to a wire story, Volkswagen officials knew at least a year ago that some of the company's officially-reported fuel-efficiency claims were overstated. From the linked article: Volkswagen's top executives knew a year ago that some of the company's cars were markedly less fuel efficient than had been officially stated, Sunday paper Bild am Sonntag reported, without specifying its sources. ... Months after becoming aware of excessive fuel consumption, former Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn decided this spring to pull one model off the market where the discrepancy was particularly pronounced, the Polo TDI BlueMotion, the paper cited sources close to Winterkorn as saying.