Censorship

Julian Assange May Surrender To British Police On Friday (twitter.com) 320

bestweasel writes: As reported by The Guardian and others, Julian Assange has announced via Wikileaks that: "Should the UN announce tomorrow that I have lost my case against the United Kingdom and Sweden, I shall exit the embassy at noon on Friday to accept arrest by British police as there is no meaningful prospect of further appeal. ... However, should I prevail and the state parties be found to have acted unlawfully, I expect the immediate return of my passport and the termination of further attempts to arrest me."
Microsoft

Microsoft To Acquire SwiftKey Predictive Keyboard Technology Company For $250M (hothardware.com) 114

MojoKid writes: SwiftKey has been one of the more popular predictive keyboard offerings in the mobile space since it was first released in beta form on the Android market back in 2010. What made SwiftKey so appealing was its intelligent predictive texting technology. SwiftKey isn't a simple keyboard replacement. Rather, the software uses a combination of artificial intelligence technologies that give it the ability to learn usage patterns and predict the next word the user most likely intends to type. SwiftKey refines its predictions, learning over time by analyzing data from SMS, Facebook, and Twitter messages, then offering predictions based on the text being entered at the time. It is estimated that SwiftKey is installed on upwards of 500 million mobile devices. According to reports, Microsoft is apparently buying the UK-based company for a cool $250 Million. What Microsoft intends to do with SwiftKey is not clear just yet, but the company has been purchasing mobile apps at a good clip as of late.
The Internet

How the Raspberry Pi Can Automatically Tweet Complaints About Your Slow Internet (ibtimes.co.uk) 151

An anonymous reader writes: Contacting your internet provider to complain about slow browsing speeds is a tiresome chore which none of us enjoy, but one man has found a solution. He has configured a Raspberry Pi computer to automatically tweet a complaint to Comcast when his internet falls below 50Mbps, well below the 150Mbps he pays for. Wouldn't it be nice if ISPs wrote a rebate check each month to reflect the percentage of their promised throughput that was actually available?
Security

NSA Hacker Chief Explains How To Keep Him Out of Your System (wired.com) 70

An anonymous reader writes: Rob Joyce, the nation's hacker-in-chief, took up the ironic task of telling a roomful of computer security professionals and academics how to keep people like him and his elite corps out of their systems. Joyce himself did little to shine a light on the TAO's classified operations. His talk was mostly a compendium of best security practices. But he did drop a few of the not-so-secret secrets of the NSA's success, with many people responding to his comments on Twitter.
Social Networks

Why Does Twitter Refuse To Shut Down Donald Trump? (vortex.com) 827

Lauren Weinstein writes: The conclusion appears inescapable. Twitter apparently has voluntarily chosen to 'look the other way' while Donald Trump spews forth a trolling stream of hate and other abuses that would cause any average Twitter user to be terminated in a heartbeat. There's always room to argue the proprietary or desirability of any given social media content terms of service — or the policy precepts through which they are applied. It is also utterly clear that if such rules are not applied to everyone with the same vigor, particularly when there's an appearance of profiting by making exceptions for particular individuals, the moral authority on which those rules are presumably based is decimated, pointless, and becomes a mere fiction. Would you rather Twitter shut down no account ever, apply a sort of white-listing policy, or something in the middle?
Crime

The Dark Arts: Meet the LulzSec Hackers (hackaday.com) 63

szczys writes: Reputations are earned. When a small group of hackers who were part of Anonymous learned they were being targeted for doxing (having their identities exposed) they went after the would-be doxxer's company, hard, taking down two of the company websites, the CEO's Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, and even his World of Warcraft accounts. The process was fast, professional, and like nothing ever seen before. This was the foundation of Lulz Security and the birth of a reputation that makes LulzSec an important part of black hat history. Good companion piece and update to some of our earlier posts about the hack; that would-be doxxer was Aaron Barr.
Twitter

A Customer-Driven Business Model For Twitter (jeffreifman.com) 65

reifman writes: As revolving door of Twitter executives makes headlines and its $100+ million quarterly losses continue, it's not clear the company will survive the year without being acquired for a quarter of its offering price. The solution for Twitter's business challenges could be to adopt an engaging feature rich subscriber model that reaffirms its status as the platform of a global democratic communication hub. Here are fifteen ideas for Twitter to transform into a profitable user-centered business including integration of open source Signal for secure phone calls and direct messaging, Stellar for payments and domain mapping and blog hosting with your feed front and center.
Earth

Flat-Earth Argument Results in Rap Battle (npr.org) 234

New submitter mjjochen writes: A little something to make you smile (or cry). NPR reports on astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson calling out rapper B.o.B. in a Twitter (& rap) argument over the status of the earth (are we round or flat?). Rapper B.o.B. references the usual conspiracy theories to support his case in his throwdown (music). Neil deGrasse Tyson responds (actually, his nephew does), on why B.o.B.'s points are not very well-informed (music). As Tyson puts it, "Duude — to be clear: Being five centuries regressed in your reasoning doesn't mean we all can't still like your music." Shall we start leeching the four humors from the body again to achieve balance? Hrm.
Advertising

German Court: "Sharing" Your Amazon Purchases Is Spamming (reuters.com) 195

An anonymous reader writes: A court in Germany has ruled that the 'Share' links which Amazon provides to customers directly after making a purchase at the site are unlawful. The "Share" functionality provides buttons which allow the consumer to signal a new purchase via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or email. The court, ratifying an earlier decision made at a lower court, declared that emails initiated via the Share function constitute "unsolicited advertising and unreasonable harassment."
Facebook

Nielsen Adds Facebook To Social TV Ratings (hollywoodreporter.com) 28

New submitter AnneMackay451 writes with news that the Nielsen media audience measuring company will now include social media buzz into its ratings. From the article: "Nielsen wants to know what TV shows are getting the biggest buzz on Facebook. The measurement firm is expanding its Twitter TV Ratings to include data from Facebook and, eventually, Instagram. The new reports are being rebranded as Nielsen's Social Content Ratings. The new ratings will measure online buzz about TV programs and streaming originals when they launch later this year. Social conversations will be measured both during a show's airtime and 24-hours-a-day."
Space

Growing Flowers In Space (nasa.gov) 44

An anonymous reader writes: This weekend, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly posted a picture of the first flower to bloom in space. The International Space Station has been home to the Veggie plant growth facility for almost two years, and scientists have been working hard to figure out how to keep crops alive in microgravity. It's a challenge to keep plants properly heated and hydrated, and their current specimens been attacked by mold as well. "More crops for Veggie are heading to the orbiting laboratory aboard SpaceX-8. The Veg-03 run will include two sets of Chinese cabbage, and one set of red romaine lettuce. In 2018, there are plans to launch dwarf tomato seeds to the space station. Smith said the lessons learned from growing zinnia flowers will be critical in the process of growing tomatoes, a fellow flowering plant. Studies are also in progress to see how adjusting the lighting in the Veggie plant growth facility can affect plan mineral composition. There will be preflight testing to determine what 'light recipe' to use aboard the station."
Space

SpaceX Successfully Launches Jason-3 Satellite, Rocket Landing Partial Success (theverge.com) 118

An anonymous reader writes: SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket today carrying the Jason-3 ocean monitoring satellite. "Jason-3 data will be used for monitoring global sea level rise, researching human impacts on oceans, aiding prediction of hurricane intensity, and operational marine navigation," NASA said. Unfortunately Space X reports that the attempt to land the Falcon 9 on a drone platform was only a partial success. According to the company twitter page: "First stage on target at droneship but looks like hard landing; broke landing leg." Update: 01/18 04:16 GMT by S : Here's a brief video of the landing attempt (somewhat loud).
Games

John Romero Creates New Doom Level (gamasutra.com) 104

jones_supa writes: Legendary game developer John Romero took to Twitter to spread the word that he has made a comeback to the world of Doom by designing an all new level. Romero's return to the game that jumpstarted his career in game development is a fun little Friday surprise for developers, especially Doom enthusiasts, some of whom are thanked in the readme file accompanying the level. The new level, E1M8B (ZIP), is described simply as "My Boss level replacement for e1m8...22 years later." E1M8 is, incidentally, the final level of Doom's first episode, Knee-Deep in the Dead.
Twitter

Twitter Sued For Giving Voice To Islamic State (reuters.com) 191

An anonymous reader writes: An American woman named Tamara Fields has sued Twitter in U.S. federal court, saying the social network gave the Islamic State a voice to spread its propaganda. Fields's husband died on November 9, when the terrorist organization attacked a police training center in Amman, Jordan. The complaint alleges, "Without Twitter, the explosive growth of ISIS over the last few years into the most-feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible." At the end of 2015, Twitter stepped up its efforts (or at least its official policies) to block such content from its site. But the company has been under fire for over a year from citizens and law enforcement officials over the activity of various terrorist groups on its platform. Fields's attorneys hope that her husband's death will give her proper standing to challenge Twitter in court.
Google

Google Has Toughest Interview Process For Developers, But Not the Worst (getvoip.com) 227

An anonymous reader writes: A casual survey of candidates' reactions to the interview processes of the biggest tech companies in the world shows Google as having one of the most grueling hiring gauntlets in the sector — but Twitter's is perceived as the worst. The survey measured the amount of time candidature took, as well as the number of stages and the methods involved at each stage, and additionally estimated whether the job-seekers felt positive or negative about the procedure.
Science

Scientists Struggle To Stay Grounded After Possible Gravitational Wave Signal (theguardian.com) 85

schwit1 writes with news that cosmologist Lawrence Krauss has set the scientific community abuzz by confirming a rumor floating around for the past several months that the LIGO experiment may have discovered gravitational waves. The excitement centers on a longstanding experiment known as the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) which uses detectors in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana to look for ripples in the fabric of spacetime. According to the rumors, scientists on the team are in the process of writing up a paper that describes a gravitational wave signal. If such a signal exists and is verified, it would confirm one of the most dramatic predictions of Albert Einstein’s century-old theory of general relativity. Krauss said he was 60% confident that the rumor was true, but said he would have to see the scientists’ data before drawing any conclusions about whether the signal was genuine or not. But many scientists are trying to calm the hype. Krauss admits he hasn't spoken to anyone within the LIGO team. Further, to enhance the integrity of their work, the LIGO team will occasionally "purposefully inject false signals in to their data to test the sensitivity of their analysis techniques and to keep people honest." A LIGO spokesperson said, "We’ll certainly let you know when we have news to share."
Social Networks

Kentucky Bill: Wait an Hour Before Posting Injuries To Social Media (kentucky.com) 257

An anonymous reader writes: A Kentucky state representative is developing an unusual piece of legislation. It would impose a delay on people posting about an event on social media if the event resulted in serious injury. Users caught violating this law would face fines ranging from $20-$100. It wouldn't restrict media, victims, or first responders — just bystanders. Representative John Carney says, "It's purely my intent to get a discussion going out there, asking people to be more respectful about what they put on social media. We've had some incidents, including one in my community, and I'd hate for anyone to learn about the loss of a loved one through social media."

Opponents of the bill point out the difficulty in determining who qualifies as "media" in the age of social networks, not to mention the potential conflict with the First Amendment. Carney recognizes the difficulty, and says he doesn't intend to push the bill immediately, but notes that he's trying to solve a real problem. Tiger Robinson, a local public safety director, said, "There have been times we've been pulling bodies out of cars and these people are standing there, snapping pictures on their phones to post on Facebook. It's just not right."

Businesses

Uber To Integrate With TransLoc Public Transit Planning App (thestack.com) 18

An anonymous reader writes: Transit tech firm TransLoc has agreed to partner with global ride-sharing giant Uber, to help public transport users plan their routes and schedule rides to reach their final destination. The set up will help users plan trips via different modes of transport and offer an end-to-end route planning service, according to the companies. The partnership will see the integration of Uber's ride-sharing API and the TransLoc 'Rider' app, which provides real-time public transit tracking, arrival predictions and proximity alerts. Users will be able to simply input their destination in the Rider app and receive a tailored journey, incorporating the 'optimal combination' of walking, public transit options and Uber.
Space

Space Entrepreneur Opines Donald Trump Could Do an Inspirational Space Program (examiner.com) 154

MarkWhittington writes: Robert Bigelow of Bigelow Aerospace opened his new Twitter account with the suggestion that Donald Trump, the mercurial businessman who is running for president, might just give the United States an inspirational space program. Then, thinking better of the idea, Bigelow deleted the tweet and replaced it with an image of the Olympus inflatable space module, which his company envisions as being the basis of a commercial space station.
United States

Tokyo Rose 2.0: White House Asks Silicon Valley For Terrorism Help 184

theodp writes: While past U.S. Presidents have had to contend with radio propaganda, President Obama also has to worry about online propaganda. On Friday, U.S. national security officials met with leaders in Silicon Valley seeking ideas for ways to curtail terrorists' use of social media and to use technology to "disrupt paths to radicalization to violence." The closed door meetup, which included Apple CEO Tim Cook and top execs from Facebook, Twitter and Google, occurred on the same day the White House also announced the creation of the Countering Violent Extremism Task Force, which will focus on using social media to counter online propaganda by Islamic State and other terrorist groups, and the State Department promised to revamp its online counter-messaging campaign.

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