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Technology in the News

Technology is constantly changing and providing the casual user with challenges never dreamed of. Technology in the News is provided in an effort to assist you in getting the most out of your computer, while avoiding some of the pitfalls. Your computer really isn't out to get you. Why not learn to be friends?

      
 Title   Date   Author   Host 

labnol.org

January 18, 2014

When Google decided the pull the plug on Google Reader, I quickly made the switch to Feedly since it was (and still is) the best alternative to Google's RSS Reader.

The one important piece that Feedly did not offer was a Chrome extension that would let users subscribe to RSS feeds on any web page with a click. Since the extension was something that I needed for my own workflow, I wrote one (writing a Chrome extension is easy) and also published it to Google Chrome store. The last time I checked my Chrome developer dashboard, the extension had gained 30000+ users on Chrome.

RT

January 17, 2014

Berkeley Lab researchers have found a 3D analogue of the cutting-edge 2D material graphene. It could revolutionize the high tech industry, bringing things like much faster, far more compact hard drives, and paving way for new electronic technologies.

Researchers at the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have announced the discovery of a compound that can exist as a form of quantum matter known as the three-dimensional topological Dirac semi-metal (3DTDS). The research team supported by the DOE Office of Science and the National Science Foundation of China used sodium bismuthate to produce this novel state, the very existence of which had been proposed by theorists fairly recently. The discovery comes less than a decade after graphene, the thinnest and the strongest known stable material with amazing conductivity of electricity and heat was isolated by UK-based, Russian-born scientists, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov.

getavpn.org

January 17, 2014

A VPN is the only practical way to stop the NSA from knowing what sites you visit. VPNs will unblock censored websites and block bittorrent lawsuits (along with those annoying copyright warning letters) all for just 10 cents a day.

This VPN installs in minutes, runs in the background, and even works on smartphones. Since the proceeds fund Fight for the Future's activism campaigns, you won't just be protecting yourself, you'll be fighting for a better Internet: one that's free of censorship and spying. A VPN runs silently in the background, sending your entire Internet connection over a secure, encrypted channel. To the outside world, all your traffic comes from a single IP address (in, say, New Jersey... or Switzerland) that thousands of others share.

schneier.com

January 16, 2014

We're at a crisis point now with regard to the security of embedded systems, where computing is embedded into the hardware itself -- as with the Internet of Things.

These embedded computers are riddled with vulnerabilities, and there's no good way to patch them. It's not unlike what happened in the mid-1990s, when the insecurity of personal computers was reaching crisis levels. Software and operating systems were riddled with security vulnerabilities, and there was no good way to patch them. Companies were trying to keep vulnerabilities secret, and not releasing security updates quickly. And when updates were released, it was hard -- if not impossible -- to get users to install them. This has changed over the past twenty years, due to a combination of full disclosure -- publishing vulnerabilities to force companies to issue patches quicker -- and automatic updates: automating the process of installing updates on users' computers. The results aren't perfect, but they're much better than ever before. But this time the problem is much worse, because the world is different: All of these devices are connected to the Internet. The computers in our routers and modems are much more powerful than the PCs of the mid-1990s, and the Internet of Things will put computers into all sorts of consumer devices. The industries producing these devices are even less capable of fixing the problem than the PC and software industries were.

theblaze.com

January 15, 2014

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) made headlines Wednesday after joining Snapchat, the popular messaging app that allows users to send photos and videos that self-delete within seconds of being viewed.

"When I chat with people, I want it to disappear, and I don't want the NSA looking at my chats," he explained in an interview with TheBlaze TV's Will Cain. "So I thought, what better way to have my chats disappear than to join Snapchat?" When Cain noted that the NSA could access Snapchat's servers, Paul laughed and said: "Yeah, we kinda realize all of that. Some of this is tongue-in-cheek and lighthearted, but some of it has a more serious purpose, and that is to bring up the discussion of privacy."

zerohedge.com

January 12, 2014

With a seemingly endless line of talking-heads willing to ignore essentially every study that has been undertaken with regard the effects of raising the minimum-wage; and propose what is merely populist vote-getting 'benefits' for the ever-increasing not-1% who benefitted from Ben Bernnake's bubbles - we thought the following burger-flipping robot was a perfect example of unintended consequences for the fast food industry's workers. With humans needing to take breaks, have at least 4 weekend days off per month, and demanding ever-increasing minimum-wage for a job that was never meant to provide a 'living-wage', Momentum Machines - a San Francisco-based robotics company has unveiled the 'Smart Restaurants' machine which is capable of making ~360 'customized' gourmet burgers per hour without the aid of a human. First Jamba Juice, then Applebees, next McDonalds...

RT

January 11, 2014

​Schools in the UK used biometric technology to gather the fingerprints of over 800,000 pupils between 2012 and 2013, a watchdog has found. In 31 percent of schools, children were roped into giving their fingerprints without parental consent.

Civil liberties group, Big Brother Watch, filed Freedom of Information Requests to over 3,000 schools across the UK and found that 40 percent of schools are using biometrical technology on pupils. Only 1,255 schools responded. Based on the figures, the rights groups estimated that as many as 866,000 school children were coerced into having their fingerprints recorded in 2012-13. "As we are now one term into the 2013-14 academic year, and expect the number of schools using the technology to have increased over the summer, and the secondary school population now above 3.2 million, if the number of secondary schools using biometric technology increased from 25% to 30%, more than one million children would be fingerprinted," Big Brother Watch report says.

RT

January 11, 2014

Sending an ex-girlfriend an email invitation to join Google+ despite an active restraining order landed a Beverly, Massachusetts man in handcuffs and behind bars.

The problem? Thomas Gagnon, 32, says he never actually sent an email of any sort. Instead, he claims it was Google's fault. According to Gagnon, Google automatically sent the invitation without informing him or asking for his consent. As the Salem News reported, Gagnon was arrested about 90 minutes after his ex-girlfriend notified police. The officers agreed the sent invitation constituted a violation of the restraining order, and while the district court judge acknowledged he wasn't sure precisely how Google+ processes invitations, he set bail at $500.

overpassesforamerica.com

January 11, 2014

Ever heard of a federal law 42 USC § 18115: Freedom Not to Participate in Federal Health Insurance Programs? I haven't either. But thanks to FOTM reader Joseph, now we all do!

This is how Cornell University Law School's website describes 42 USC § 18115: "No individual, company, business, nonprofit entity, or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall be required to participate in any Federal health insurance program created under this Act(or any amendments made by this Act), or in any Federal health insurance program expanded by this Act (or any such amendments), and there shall be no penalty or fine imposed upon any such issuer for choosing not to participate in such programs..."

RT

January 10, 2014

Ford's global vice president in charge of marketing and sales now says the automobile company doesn't keep a close eye on their customers' driving habits after recent remarks at a Las Vegas trade show raised concerns among car owners.

On Thursday, Ford's Jim Farley told Business Insider that he didn't accurately portray the company's operations with regards to recording and logging user data with new smart car technology when he told a crowd at the CES electronics show in Vegas over the weekend, "We know everyone who breaks the law, [and[ we know when you're doing it" "We have GPS in your car, so we know what you're doing," Farley said on Sunday.

      
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