PolygamousRanchKid writes "Thousands of German users that have used a porn website to stream shows have received threatening letters from a local law firm demanding €250 ($344) per certain watched clips, Chip.de reports. Apparently, a Swiss-based firm that owns the content hosted by porn site Redtube has tasked a law firm with collecting fines for each of its shows that was streamed online in the region. The law firm has apparently received a go ahead from a local court, and as many as ten thousand warnings may have been set to users, for porn shows watched in August."
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jones_supa writes "Details are shaping up of a plan for a new government-backed high capacity data cable between Germany and Finland, routed through the Baltic Sea. The project to significantly upgrade Finland's international data transfer capacity has long been high on the government's list of priorities. It could improve the country's competitiveness in ICT technologies and digital services. Following a meeting of the cabinet's economic policy committee on Wednesday, Pekka Haavisto, the minister responsible for state ownership steering, told the press that the state will take part in the venture as a partial owner. The estimated cost of the undersea data cable project is around 100 million euros. Haavisto said that roughly one third of the costs could be paid by the state, another third by institutional investors and the remainder by private companies. So far, all data transmission to Finland has taken place via the Øresund Bridge, that is through Denmark and Sweden."
sfcrazy writes "Valve Software, creator of Half-Life and Left 4 Dead, has announced that SteamOS will be available for public download on December 13. That's the day when the company will start shipping Steam Machines and Steam Controllers to the 300 selected beta participants. The company said, 'SteamOS will be made available when the prototype hardware ships. It will be downloadable by individual users and commercial OEMs. (But unless you're an intrepid Linux hacker already, we're going to recommend that you wait until later in 2014 to try it out.)"
Lev13than writes "Canada Post is phasing out urban home delivery, raising the price of a letter to $1 and cutting 8,000 jobs to cope with dwindling volume and a projected loss of $1B/year by 2020. About 1/3 of Canadian homes currently get mail delivered to their door. Deliveries will remain weekdays-only and business will be unaffected (at least for now). Much like the USPS, Canada Post is mandated to be self-funded, but 5% annual volume declines and rising costs are taking their toll."
jones_supa writes "This announcement comes from the ubuntu-desktop mailing list. Due to GNOME Control Center already being a heavily patched version in Ubuntu, Canonical is planning to found their own fork called Unity Control Center. This would be a fork with a limited lifespan and later on they would move to something called Ubuntu System Settings, an in-house project. For now, a PPA has been set up to test the new fork."
First time accepted submitter ConstantineM writes "Inspired by a recent Google initiative to adopt ChaCha20 and Poly1305 for TLS, OpenSSH developer Damien Miller has added a similar protocol to ssh, email@example.com, which is based on D. J. Bernstein algorithms that are specifically optimised to provide the highest security at the lowest computational cost, and not require any special hardware at doing so. Some further details are in his blog, and at undeadly. The source code of the protocol is remarkably simple — less than 100 lines of code!"
AcidPenguin9873 writes "Earlier this year, Google announced that it would build its next fiber network in Austin, TX. Construction is slated to start in 2014, but there's a hitch: AT&T owns 20% of the utility poles in Austin. The City of Austin is considering a rules change that would allow Google to pay AT&T to use its utility poles, but AT&T isn't happy about it. The debate appears to hinge on a technicality that specifies what types of companies can attach to the utility poles that AT&T owns. From the news story: 'Google 'would be happy to pay for access (to utility poles) at reasonable rates, just as we did in our initial buildout in Kansas City,' she said, referring to Google Fiber's pilot project in Kansas City...Tracy King, AT&T's vice president for public affairs, said in a written statement that Google "appears to be demanding concessions never provided any other entity before. ... Google has the right to attach to our poles, under federal law, as long as it qualifies as a telecom or cable provider, as they themselves acknowledge. We will work with Google when they become qualified, as we do with all such qualified providers," she said.'"
judgecorp writes "Google has opened data centers in Singapore and Taiwan to serve the boom in Asian Internet users. But it canceled a $300 million data center project in Hong Kong to focus on the Taiwan site and the smaller one in Singapore. Officially the problem was lack of space in Hong Kong, but China's repressive attitude to the Internet (and the history of the Chinese hack on Gmail in 2010) must have contributed to the move."
Taco Cowboy writes "The vehicles we drive are getting smarter and smarter, as more and more gadgets are being crammed into them. But as those devices creep into the driving experience, they offer the driver an increasing number of displays to monitor. Thus, drivers are more distracted than ever. At the recent 'Connected Car Expo,' which was held in Los Angeles, panelists discussed how these smart car features can impair driving ability. For example, researchers led by Bruce Mehler at MIT revealed that drivers using voice command interfaces to control in-car navigation systems or USB-connected music devices can end up spending longer with their eyes off the road than those using conventional systems. You'd think being able to operate it by voice alone would be beneficial compared to older radio systems. (Tuning an older radio was used as a baseline task in these tests.) But according to Mehler, problems arise when the system needs clarification of what the driver wants, which often happens while they're trying to feed an address into a navigation system."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "For years, privacy advocates have raised concerns about the use of commercial tracking tools to identify and target consumers with advertisements. The online ad industry has said its practices are innocuous and benefit consumers by serving them ads that are more likely to be of interest to them. Now the Washington Post reports that the NSA secretly piggybacks on the tools that enable Internet advertisers to track consumers, using 'cookies' and location data to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance. The agency uses a part of a Google-specific tracking mechanism known as the 'PREF' cookie to single out an individual's communications among the sea of Internet data in order to send out software that can hack that person's computer. 'On a macro level, "we need to track everyone everywhere for advertising" translates into "the government being able to track everyone everywhere,"' says Chris Hoofnagle. 'It's hard to avoid.' Documents reviewed by the Post indicate cookie information is among the data NSA can obtain with a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act order. Google declined to comment for the article, but chief executive Larry Page joined the leaders of other technology companies earlier this week in calling for an end to bulk collection of user data and for new limits on court-approved surveillance requests."
MightyMait writes "There's a plan underway to build a space agency run by African nations, and there is a (non-fictional) George Clooney connection. This BBC article details the history of space exploration in Africa as well as current efforts. Quoting: 'To Western eyes, it may seem rather inappropriate to launch space programs in sub-Saharan Africa, where nearly 70% of the population still lives on less $2 a day. Yet Joseph Akinyede, director of the African Regional Center for Space Science and Technology Education in Nigeria, an education center affiliated with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, says that the application of space science technology and research to "basic necessities" of life – health, education, energy, food security, environmental management – is critical for the development of the continent.'"
Linnerd writes "A software company I work for has decided to no longer publish change logs when updated versions of the software are made available. A change log consists of sections pulled directly from the issue management system that is automatically processed into a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet can be sorted/viewed by many criteria, such as date of the fix, component affected, severity and more. There usually are a fair number of entries (sometimes more than 1000), because each update published contains all the accumulated changes made since some base release in the past and the change log has entries for everything from major bugs to minor improvements to documentation changes and spelling errors fixed. The main reasons for pulling the change logs was the fear of putting the software in a bad light and risking ridicule, especially from the competition. Although I can follow these arguments up to a point, I've personally always been more comfortable with software that had explicit and detailed change logs: Errors and bugs happen, whether they are communicated or not, and I'd rather know what was changed than blindly install some patch without knowing if it's relevant for the issues I'm trying to solve. What is your opinion? Should change logs / errors / bugs be communicated openly? How is this handled in the companies you work for? Can you provide publicly available references on the pros and cons of open and honest communication of changes and bug fixes, especially in commercial environments?"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Amazon is apparently not alone in its desire to use miniature drones to deliver packages. On the morning of Monday, Dec. 9, employees at the Bonn, Germany headquarters of package-delivery giant DHL challenged Amazon's plan for dominance of the skies by having medicine delivered from a local pharmacy via a mustard-yellow package-carrying helicopter the Germans dubbed 'Paketkopter.' The quad-rotored mini-drone flew a box of medicines from a launching point near the pharmacy, above traffic and across the Rhine River to DHL's headquarters just over a kilometer away. It made the flight in about two minutes, was unloaded quickly and returned to the launch team near the pharmacy. Amazon has owned total mindshare of the still-imaginary drone-based package delivery market since CEO Jeff Bezos gushed about his plans for Amazon PrimeAir during a TV interview last week. The plan generated immediate controversy due to the negative image of drones following heavy use for surveillance and targeted anti-personnel strikes by the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq. Within the United States, the FAA, FTC and a host of consumer-protection groups objected to the possibility that thousands of autonomous drones would be hovering over U.S. cities, potentially invading the privacy and endangering the lives of those who might run afoul of either cameras or rotors."
coondoggie writes "Private Mars mission planners said today that Lockheed Martin is on board to build the spacecraft that would land a technology demonstration robot on the Red Planet by 2018. The Mars One group ultimately wants to establish a human outpost on Mars. The lander robot would use technology Lockheed previously built for NASA's Phoenix lander, which touched down on Mars in 2008. The Mars One lander will evaluate the use of the Phoenix design for the Mars One mission and identify any modifications that are necessary to meet future requirements. In addition, the mission would go a long way toward determining the cost and schedule of future missions."
An anonymous reader writes "The head of delivery for the UK's Department for Work and Pensions' flagship welfare reform project, Universal Credit, has said that the department didn't adopt open source and web-based technologies at the beginning of the project because 'such things weren't available' two and a half years ago. Howard Shiplee told the Work and Pensions Committee this week that the department is now using open source technologies in its enhanced version of Universal Credit, which was initially developed by the Government Digital Service (GDS) and will be rolled out nationally by 2017 for most claimants. The existing system being used in pathfinder pilots and developed by the likes of IBM, HP and Accenture will be largely be replaced by the digital version."
mask.of.sanity writes "Google has revealed details on its Beyond Corp project to scrap the notion of a corporate network and move to a zero-trust model. The company perhaps unsurprisingly considers the traditional notion of perimeter defense and its respective gadgetry as a dead duck, and has moved to authenticate and authorize its 42,000 staff so they can access Google HQ from anywhere (video). Google also revealed it was perhaps the biggest Apple shop in the world, with 43,000 devices deployed and staff only allowed to use Windows with a supporting business case."
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla today officially launched Firefox 26 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Additions include Click-to-Play turned on by default for all Java plugins, more seamless updates on Windows, and a new Home design for Android. Firefox 26 has been released over on Firefox.com and all existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically. As always, the Android version is trickling out slowly on Google Play. Release notes are here: desktop and mobile."
Bennettt Haselton has a gift idea for this year that needn't necessarily cost you any money (if you have a color printer available), though as he points out there are ways to invest in a higher-quality result. The gift? A unique picture created with a few pieces of free software and a bit of your time. Bennett writes: "You can use these little-known free programs to create a photomosaic of a friend's wedding photo or other favorite photograph, for a uniquely personal gift that doesn't cost much but can still delight. Follow these steps to use the programs most effectively and get the best results." Read on for the rest.
Nerval's Lobster writes "The so-called "Internet of Things" has rapidly become a buzzword du jour, with everyone from tech-giant CEOs to analysts rhapsodizing about the benefits of connecting everyday objects and appliances to the Web. Despite all the hype, some significant obstacles remain to fulfilling that vision of a massively interconnected world. For starters, all the players involved need to agree on shared frameworks for building compatible software—something that seems well on its way with the just-announced AllSeen Alliance, which includes Sharp, Cisco, LG Electronics, Qualcomm, Panasonic, D-Link, and the Linux Foundation (among many others). In theory, the AllSeen Alliance's combined software and engineering resources will result in open-source systems capable of seamless communication with one another. The Alliance will base its initial framework on AllJoyn, an open-source framework first developed by Qualcomm and subsequently elaborated upon by other firms. Applications and services that support AllJoyn can communicate "regardless of manufacturer or operating system and without the need for Internet access," according to the Alliance, whose Website offers the initial codebase. "Open source is the ideal, neutral staging area for collaboration that can provide the interoperability layer needed to make the Internet of Everything a reality," read a Dec. 10 note on the Linux Foundation's official blog. "When everyone jointly develops and uses the same freely available code, companies can develop innovative services on top of it and get them to market faster." However, not all companies interested in exploring the Internet of Things have joined the AllSeen Alliance. For example, Intel isn't a partner, despite having recently created a new division, the Internet of Things Solutions Group, to explore how to best make devices and networks more connected and aware."
judgecorp writes "A branch of the City of London police seems to be censoring suspected pirates worldwide, using threats. The Police Intellectual Proerty Crime Unit (PIPCU), acts on tip-offs from copyright owners to attempt to close down websites accused of piracy. the process involves cease-and-desist letters, followed by pressure on advertisers not to fund the site, and finally PIPCU uses threats to the domain registrar (not the ISP), all without any sort of court order."