cold fjord writes "Yet more details about the controversy engulfing the NSA. From CNET: 'Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, explained how the program worked without violating individuals' civil rights. "We take the business records by a court order, and it's just phone numbers — no names, no addresses — put it in a lock box," Rogers told CBS News' "Face The Nation." "And if they get a foreign terrorist overseas that's dialing in to the United Sates, they take that phone number... they plug it into this big pile, if you will, of just phone numbers — it's like a phonebook without any names and any addresses with it — to see if there's a connection, a foreign terrorist connection to the United States." "When a number comes out of that lock box, it's just a phone number — no names, no addresses," he said. "If they think that's relevant to their counterterrorism investigation, they give that to the FBI. Then upon the FBI has to go out and meet all the legal standards to even get whose phone number that is."' From the AP: ' ... programs run by the National Security Agency thwarted potential terrorist plots in the U.S. and more than 20 other countries — and that gathered data is destroyed every five years. Last year, fewer than 300 phone numbers were checked against the database of millions of U.S. phone records ... the intelligence officials said in arguing that the programs are far less sweeping than their detractors allege.... both NSA programs are reviewed every 90 days by the secret court authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under the program, the records, showing things like time and length of call, can only be examined for suspected connections to terrorism, they said. The ... program helped the NSA stop a 2009 al-Qaida plot to blow up New York City subways.'"
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According to a story at VentureBeat, "Google is working on a new database of flagged images of child porn and abuse that can be shared with other search engines and child protection organizations. The database will help create systems that automatically eliminate that sort of content. ... If the database is used effectively, any flagged image in the database would not be searchable through participating search engines or web hosting providers. And maybe best of all, computers will automatically flag and remove these images without any human needing to see them." Here's the announcement.
An anonymous reader writes "Most of us hear the equivalent of 'let me bring up your record' several times a week or month when dealing with businesses and government agencies; sometimes there's a problem, but clerks are accustomed to dealing with changes in street address, phone numbers, company affiliation, and even personal names (after marriage). But what about gender? Transgendered folks are encountering embarrassing moments when they have to explain that their gender has changed from 'M' to 'F' or vice versa. While there are many issues involved in discrimination against transgendered individuals, I have to confess that the first thing that came to my mind was the impact on database design and maintenance."
aarondubrow writes "Researchers recently created OpenfMRI, a web-based, supercomputer-powered tool that makes it easier for researchers to process, share, compare and rapidly analyze fMRI brain scans from many different studies. Applying supercomputing to the fMRI analysis allows researchers to conduct larger studies, test more hypotheses, and accommodate the growing spatial and time resolution of brain scans. The ultimate goal is to collect enough brain data to develop a bottom-up understanding of brain function."
An anonymous reader writes "Red Hat will switch the default database in its enterprise distribution, RHEL, from MySQL to MariaDB, when version 7 is released. MySQL's first employee in Australia, Arjen Lentz, said Fedora and OpenSuSE were community driven, whereas RHEL's switch to MariaDB was a corporate decision with far-reaching implications. 'I presume there is not much love lost between Red Hat and Oracle (particularly since the "Oracle Linux" stuff started) but I'm pretty sure this move won't make Oracle any happier,' said Lentz, who now runs his own consultancy, Open Query, from Queensland. 'Thus it's a serious move in political terms.' He said that in practical terms, MariaDB should now get much more of a public footprint with people (people knowing about MariaDB and it being a/the replacement for MySQL), and direct acceptance both by individual users and corporates."
Today's interviewee, Andrew Dougherty, has a Web page that says he is "...an autodidact mathematician and computer scientist specializing in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Algorithmic Information Theory (AIT). He is the founder of the FRDCSA (Formalized Research Database: Cluster Study & Apply) project, a practical attempt at weak AI aimed primarily at collecting and interrelating existing software with theoretical motivation from AIT. He has made over 90 open source applications, 400 (unofficial) Debian GNU/Linux packages and 800 Perl5 modules (see http://frdcsa.org/frdcsa)." Tim Lord says Andrew's project "brings together a lot of AI algorithms, collects large sets of data for those algorithms to chew on, and writes software to do things like ... guide your whole life." As you might guess, Andrew occupies a pretty far edge of the eccentric programmer world, as you'll see from this video (and transcript). He calls himself "a serious Stallmanite" (his word), and has chosen the GPL for his software in the hopes that it will therefore help the greatest number of people. (Speaking of help, he's looking for interesting data sets and various "life rules" that can be integrated with his planning software, and one of the reasons he presented at the recent YAPC::NA was to solicit help in putting his hundreds of Perl modules onto CPAN.)
New submitter Noel Trout writes "For a long time in the Java world, there has been a free tool called the 'tzupdater' or Time Zone Updater released as a free download first by Sun and then Oracle. This tool can be used to apply a patch to the Java runtime so that time zone information is correct. This is necessary since some time zones in the world are not static and change more frequently than one might think; in general time zone updates can be released maybe 4-6 times a year. The source information backing the Java timezone API comes from the open source Olson timezone database that is also used by many operating systems. For certain types of applications, you can understand that these updates are mission critical. For example, my company operates in the private aviation sector so we need to be able to display the correct local time at airports around the world. So, the interesting part is that Oracle has now decided to only release these updates if you have a Java SE support contract. Being Oracle, such licenses are far from cheap. In my opinion, this is a pretty serious change in stance for Oracle and amounts to killing free Java for certain types of applications, at least if you care about accuracy. We are talking about the core API class java.util.TimeZone. This begs the question, can you call an API free if you have to pay for it to return accurate information? What is the point of such an API? Should the community not expect that core Java classes are fully functional and accurate? I believe it is also a pretty bad move for Java adoption for these types of applications. If my company as a startup 10 years ago would have been presented with such a license fee, we almost certainly could not have chosen Java as our platform as we could not afford it."
First time accepted submitter william.meaney1 writes "I'm the sole network admin at a 25 person company. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity less than a year after getting a technical degree in IT. I've had some huge opportunities here (for a first time network admin). After my schooling, I went ahead and I'm now CompTIA A+, Network+, and CCNA certified. Now, being hired out of school, I was grateful for the job, and the boss hired me for peanuts (Less than $30,000/year) I've been living at home, using that money for loan payments, car payments, and certification expenses. I've started looking for other work, and I feel more than qualified for most of the requirements I'm seeing. The big hurdle I'm coming across that EVERYONE seems to want is experience with SQL databases, and Microsoft Exchange. I was wondering if anyone had any ideas for getting usable experience on a low budget. I have some SQL experience, I deployed a source control program here that uses a SQL express backend, but what else do you need to know for database maintenance?"
schwit1 writes in with news about a ruling on the legality of the police collecting your DNA after an arrest. "A sharply divided Supreme Court on Monday said police can routinely take DNA from people they arrest, equating a DNA cheek swab to other common jailhouse procedures like fingerprinting. 'Taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment,' Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court's five-justice majority. But the four dissenting justices said that the court was allowing a major change in police powers. 'Make no mistake about it: because of today's decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason,' conservative Justice Antonin Scalia said in a sharp dissent which he read aloud in the courtroom. Details of ruling available here.
The Next Web reports that GitHub — home to many open source projects — suffered (and quickly recovered from) a service outage this morning, starting around 14:00 UTC. Other than that the problem "appears to have been caused by its database server," the cause isn't clear.
schwit1 writes "Parents in Polk County, Florida are outraged after learning that students in area schools had their irises scanned as part of a new security program without obtaining proper permission. Two days before their Memorial Day weekend break, kids from at least three different public schools — Bethune Academy (K–5), Davenport School of the Arts (K–5, middle, and high school), and Daniel Jenkins Academy (grades 6–12) — were subjected to iris scans without their parents' knowledge or consent. The scans are essentially optical fingerprints, which the school intended to collect to create a database of biometric information for school-bus security."
alphadogg writes "A freelance Java developer claims it took him only 30 days to build and launch a basic open source office suite that runs on multiple OSes. Called Joeffice, it works on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux as well as in browsers, according to the developer, Anthony Goubard. It includes a very basic word processor, spreadsheet program, presentation program and database software, Goubard said. The office suite was built with NetBeans and uses many popular open source Java libraries. That allowed him to built the program in 30 days, he said, a process that he documented daily on YouTube (video). The suite was released as an alpha version, which means that not everything works yet. Goubard's Amsterdam company, Japplis, launched the suite, which is available under an Apache 2.0 license. This license allows companies to change and redistribute the code internally without having to share the new code publicly, he said."
davecb writes "Paul E. McKenney, one of the Linux RCU implementors, addresses the problem of synchronization using structured deferral on, what else, Mr Schrödinger's famous cat. Courtesy of deferral/procrastination, the cat can be both alive and dead at the same time. 'In this example, Schrödinger would like to construct an in-memory database to keep track of the animals in his zoo. Births would of course result in insertions into this database, while deaths would result in deletions. The database is also queried by those interested in the health and welfare of Schrödinger's animals. Schrödinger has numerous short-lived animals such as mice, resulting in high update rates. In addition, there is a surprising level of interest in the health of Schrödinger's cat, so much so that Schrödinger sometimes wonders whether his mice are responsible for most of these queries. Regardless of their source, the database must handle the large volume of cat-related queries without suffering from excessive levels of contention. Both accesses and updates are typically quite short, involving accessing or mutating an in-memory data structure, and therefore synchronization overhead cannot be ignored.'"
New submitter kwyjibo87 writes "The World Health Organization (WHO) publicly expressed dismay yesterday concerning news that intellectual property claims were hindering research on a deadly new emerging virus. Novel coronavirus (nCoV), a member of the same viral genus as the causative agent of SARS, has claimed the lives of 22 people (out of 44 reported infected) and left both researchers and health officials scrambling to develop effective diagnostic tests in addition to possible medications and vaccines against nCoV. Now, however, claims of intellectual property on the new virus are hindering research on nCoV according to the WHO, delaying advancements on tools to prevent further spread of the infection. Stories of intellectual property rights in science hindering advancements in research, particularly in clinical applications, are nothing new; the U.S. Supreme Court recently heard arguments on the validity of patents on the BRCA1/2 genes and has yet to issue a decision. The issue of sharing scientific information in order to promote faster research on emerging pathogens is not limited to intellectual property — a recent article in the journal Nature highlighted a case where Chinese researchers risked having their research scooped after uploading viral sequences to a public database designed aid global scientific collaboration."
Chewbacon writes "Details about the used-game policy on Microsoft's newly-announced Xbox One console have been leaked. The policy explains how used-game retailers can survive Xbox One destroying the used-game market as we know it: they have to agree to Microsoft's terms and conditions to do so. In summary, the used game retailer can still buy the game from the consumer, but they must report the consumer relinquishing their license to play the game to a Microsoft database. They must also sell it at a market price (35£ in the UK), but the publisher will get a cut of the price. The article goes on to explain how Xbox One will phone home periodically to verify a player hasn't sold the game according to the aforementioned database." A big downside is that we're likely going to see the end of cheap, used games. A potential upside pointed out by Ben Kuchera at the Penny Arcade Report is that this would unquestionably boost revenue for game publishers, giving the smart ones an opportunity to step away from the $60 business model and adopt pricing practices seen on Steam and iTunes (neither of which allow the purchase of "used" games/media). Also, it's worth noting that even if the policy leak is 100% correct, it could change before the console actually launches.
Nerval's Lobster writes "MariaDB is a fork of the MySQL source code, split off in the wake of concerns over what Oracle would do with MySQL licensing. In addition to its role as a 'drop-in replacement' for MySQL, MariaDB also includes some new features that (some claim) make it better than MySQL. Jeff Cogswell compares MySQL and MariaDB and suggests (in his opinion) that there's 'more than enough reason to ditch MySQL and switch over to MariaDB and stay there.' Why? While he breaks down MariaDB's new features and thinks many of them aren't that fantastic, and while MariaDB's performance isn't that much better than that of MySQL ('MariaDB's performance appears a bit better on multi-core machines, but I strongly suspect that one could tweak MySQL to match'), the questions over Oracle and MySQL licensing give him pause. 'MariaDB shows every indication that it will be around for quite awhile, while you can't really say the same of Oracle's MySQL,' he writes. 'Free-and-open MySQL competes with Oracle's proprietary and extremely competitive tools. That alone is grounds for concern — will Oracle do something to impede MySQL's development?'"
An anonymous reader writes "When in early 2010 Google shared with the public that they had been breached in what became known as the Aurora attacks, they said that the attackers got their hands on some source code and were looking to access Gmail accounts of Tibetan activists. What they didn't make public is that the hackers have also accessed a database containing information about court-issued surveillance orders that enabled law enforcement agencies to monitor email accounts belonging to diplomats, suspected spies and terrorists. Whether this was the primary goal of the attacks as well as how much information was exfiltrated is unknown. current and former U.S. government officials interviewed by the Washington Post say that the database in question was possibly accessed in order to discover which Chinese intelligence operatives located in the U.S. were under surveillance."
Nerval's Lobster writes "But at this year's Google I/O conference in San Francisco, Google announced that it has a plan to make Google Plus users more engaged, courtesy of new features backed by a handful of data-analytics tricks. Google Plus postings now feature Google-generated hashtags that, when clicked, direct the user to related content from across their network. From a backend-infrastructure perspective, that sort of thing leans heavily on Google's semantic analysis and the ability to make the right connections between various pieces of data. Google Plus will also automatically highlight certain photos out of dozens or even hundreds of shots. Say you went on vacation to India and took some photos of your significant other in front of the Taj Mahal; Google Plus will leverage its database of information to recognize that as a prominent landmark and pluck those photos out of the pile as 'special.' In the words of that posting on the Google+ Blog: 'Your darkroom is now a Google data center.' Are all these nifty, analytics-intensive features enough to change the larger fortunes of Google Plus? That's the big question. Google has a handsome-looking platform, one that performs certain activities with a high degree of polish and zip—but is that enough to counter Facebook?"
alphadogg writes "Incidents of cellphone theft have been rising for several years and are fast becoming an epidemic. IDG News Service collected data on serious crimes in San Francisco from November to April and recorded 579 thefts of cellphones or tablets, accounting for 41 percent of all serious crime. In just over half the incidents, victims were punched, kicked or otherwise physically intimidated for their phones, and in a quarter of robberies, users were threatened with guns or knives. This isn't just happening in tech-loving San Francisco, either. The picture is similar across the United States. A big reason for such thefts, until recently, is that there had been little to stop someone using a stolen cellphone. Reacting to pressure from law enforcement and regulators, the U.S.'s largest cellphone carriers agreed early last year to establish a database of stolen cellphones."