Today eight members of the U.S. Congress have sent a letter to Google's Larry Page, asking him to address a number of privacy concerns about Google Glass. In the letter (PDF), they brought up the company's notorious Street View data collection incident, and asked how the company was planning to avoid a similar privacy breach with Glass. They also ask how Google is going to build Glass to protect the privacy of non-users who may not want their every public move to be recorded. Further, they ask about the security of recordings once they are made: "Will Google Glass have the capacity to store any data on the device itself? If so, will Google Glass implement some sort of user authentication system to safeguard stored data? If not, why not?" Google has until July 14th to respond.
Nerval's Lobster writes "At this week's Google I/O in San Francisco, Google CEO Larry Page stood onstage and took unscripted questions from an auditorium of conference attendees. That's an unusual move for any chief executive, the sort of thing that risks giving their PR people a heart attack. But Page wasn't up there to offer insights into strategy or drop hints about upcoming products: he wanted to talk about how negativity in the tech industry stood in the way of innovation. 'Despite the faster change we have in the industry, we're still moving slow relative to the opportunities that we have,' he said. 'And some of that, I think, has to do with the negativity. Every story I read about Google, it's us versus some other company or some stupid thing.' Being negative, he added, is not how the tech industry makes progress. But minutes later, Page couldn't resist swiping at Oracle and Microsoft. And Google's battles are just one small element in the circular firing squad that comprises most of the tech industry: Apple versus Google versus Samsung versus Microsoft versus Oracle versus Salesforce versus lots of little startups. Those battles won't fade away anytime soon, because corporations have one goal: profit. And so long as other rivals' technological innovations or marketplace maneuvers stand in the way of that profit, the lawsuits and the CEO sniping will continue. The part of Page's talk that centered on peace and love played well to the audience at Google I/O; but it's easier to argue that the true mode of the tech industry, at its core, is Darwinian competition. Do you agree?"
New submitter WillgasM writes "A bit of good news for American travelers, according to the New York Times: 'After years of criticism of the wireless service on its trains, Amtrak announced on Thursday that it had upgraded its cellular-based Wi-Fi using broadband technologies that will improve the speed and reliability of the Internet in its passenger cars.' So far the service has been rolled out on the high-speed Acela lines and a few routes in California, but they hope to have the rest of their trains upgraded by the end of Summer. We're still an order of magnitude away from high-speed rails in other countries, but it's nice to know someone's trying."
garymortimer writes "Geologists have long used seismology on the bottom of the ocean or have been throwing dynamite from snowmobiles when they look for oil. But now researchers at Centre for Integrated Petroleum Research, a joint venture between the University of Bergen and Uni Research, have found a new preferred method – using drones to map new oil reserves from the air. ... The group’s main task is to create digital maps in 3D of potential oil fields. Using laser scanners, infrared sensors and digital cameras, the researchers create realistic, virtual models. ... Pictures shot with the help of a drone complement the images from low-level terrain that the researchers already have in hand. The end result is more precise and complete 3D models."
alancronin sends this excerpt from ZDNet: "... the trend that brutally undercut BlackBerry phones during the past five years — the 'bring your own device' movement — is now driving significant sales of BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES), the company's backend software. 'Our customers have been asking, "Can you just take what you've done on BlackBerry and put it on iOS and Android?"' said Pete Devenyi, BlackBerry's SVP of Enterprise Software. ... Secure Work Space will be an app in the Apple App Store and Google Play, pending approval from Apple and Google, respectively. It will include secure email, calendar, contacts, tasks, and document editing. It won't allow data leakage including copy and paste between Secure Work Space and the rest of the device. IT will be able to remotely wipe everything in the Secure Work Space without affecting any of the other apps or data on the person's device, in a BYOD scenario."
hypnosec writes "Mozilla is not going ahead with its plans to block third-party cookies by default in the Beta version of its upcoming Firefox 22. Mozilla needs more time to analyze the outcome of blocking these cookies. The non-profit organization released Firefox Aurora on April 5 with a patch by Jonathan Mayer built into it which would only allow cookies from those websites which the user has visited. The patch would block the ones from sites which hadn't been visited yet. The reason for Mozilla's change in plans is that they're currently looking into 'false positives.' If a user visits one part of a group of site, cookies from that part will be allowed, but cookies from related sites in the group may be blocked, and they're worried it will create a poor user experience. On the other side of the coin, there are 'false negatives.' Just because a user may have visited a particular site doesn't mean she is comfortable with the idea of being tracked."
An anonymous reader writes "A meta-study published yesterday looked at over 12,000 peer-reviewed papers on climate science that appeared in journals between 1991 and 2011. The papers were evaluated and categorized by how they implicitly or explicitly endorsed humans as a contributing cause of global warming. The meta-study found that an overwhelming 97.1% of the papers that took a stance endorsed human-cause global warming. They also asked the 1,200 of the scientists involved in the research to self-evaluate their own studies, with nearly identical results. In the interest of transparency, the meta-study results were published in an open access journal, and the researchers set up a website so that anybody can check their results. From the article: '... a memo from communications strategist Frank Luntz leaked in 2002 advised Republicans, "Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate." This campaign has been successful. A 2012 poll from U.S. Pew Research Center found less than half of Americans thought scientists agreed humans were causing global warming. The media has assisted in this public misconception, with most climate stories "balanced" with a "skeptic" perspective. However, this results in making the 2–3% seem like 50%. In trying to achieve "balance," the media has actually created a very unbalanced perception of reality. As a result, people believe scientists are still split about what's causing global warming, and therefore there is not nearly enough public support or motivation to solve the problem.'"
dp619 writes "The tactic of patenting open source software to guard against patent trolls and the weaponization of corporate patent portfolios is gaining momentum in the FOSS community. Organizations including the Open Innovation Network, Google and Red Hat have built defensive patent portfolios (the latter two are defending their product lines). This approach has limitations. Penn State law professor Clark Asay writes in an Outercurve Foundation blog examining the trend, 'Patenting FOSS may help in some cases, but the nature of FOSS development itself may mean that patenting some collaboratively developed inventions is inherently more difficult, if not impossible, in many others. Consequently, strategies for mitigating patent risk that rely on FOSS communities patenting their technologies include inherent limitations. It's not entirely clear how best to reform patent law in order to better reconcile it with alternative models of innovation. But in the meantime, FOSS still presents certain advantages that, while dimmed by the prospect of patent suits, remain significant.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Sheriffs in 13 Northeast Florida counties announced an online system Thursday for residents to report suspicious activity they think may be terrorism-related. The site provides examples of red flags to watch for, such as people with an unusual interest in building plans or who are purchasing materials useful in bomb making. Important places to watch include hobby stores and dive shops."
astroengine writes "After nine years of hard Mars roving, Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Opportunity has broken a 40-year-old extraterrestrial distance record. On Thursday, the tenacious six-wheeled robot drove 80 meters (263 feet), nudging the total distance traveled since landing on the red planet in 2004 to 35.760 kilometers (22.220 miles). NASA's previous distance record was held by Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt when, in December 1972, they drove their Lunar Roving Vehicle 35.744 kilometers (22.210 miles) over the lunar surface. Although it's broken the NASA distance record, it hasn't surpassed the international record, yet. The Soviet Lunokhod 2 remote-controlled moon rover roved 37 kilometers (23 miles) across the lunar surface and, so far, remains the undisputed champion of distance driving on an extraterrestrial surface."
sciencehabit writes "If you are one of the 20% of healthy adults who struggle with basic arithmetic, simple tasks like splitting the dinner bill can be excruciating. Now, a new study suggests that a gentle, painless electrical current applied to the brain can boost math performance for up to 6 months. Researchers don't fully understand how it works, however, and there could be side effects." We've covered various other potential benefits to having your brain shocked.
jones_supa writes "Bill Gates is once again the world's richest person. He recaptured the title from Mexican investor Carlos Slim, as Microsoft hit a five-year high. It is the first time Gates has held the mantle since 2007. His fortune is valued at $72.7 billion, up 16 percent year-to-date. At the same time, Mr. Slim's América Móvil, the largest mobile-phone operator in the Americas, has dropped 14 percent this year after Mexico's Congress passed a bill that could quash the billionaire's market dominance. That's helped erase more than $3 billion from the tycoon's net worth. What comes to Bill Gates, most of his fortune is held in Cascade Investment LLC, a holding entity through which he owns stakes in more than a dozen publicly traded companies and several closely held operations. He has donated $28 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation."
alphadogg writes "A data center in Sweden has cut its energy bills by a million dollars a year using seawater to cool its servers, though jellyfish are an occasional hazard. Interxion, a collocation company in the Netherlands that rents data center space in 11 countries, uses water pumped from the Baltic Sea to cool the IT equipment at its facilities in Stockholm. The energy used to cool IT equipment is one of the costliest areas of running a data center. Companies have traditionally used big, mechanical chillers, but some are turning to outside air and evaporative techniques as lower-cost alternatives."
jfruh writes "Larry Page revealed that he'd been suffering from a vocal cord ailment that impaired his ability to speak for more than a year. The positive feedback he got from opening up about it inspired him to tell attendees at Google I/O that we should all be less uptight about keeping our medical records private. As far as Page is concerned, pretty much the only legitimate reason for worry on this score is fear of being denied health insurance. 'Maybe we should change the rules around insurance so that they have to insure people,' he said."
First time accepted submitter Sabine Hauert writes in with news about a robotic bartending system called Makr Shakr. "You're at a busy bar. You order your personalized cocktail through a smart phone app; a drink dispenser measures out the beverage according to your instructions and a Kuka robotic arm give it a shake (or stir), while another garnishes it with a slice of lemon; the made-to-order concoction is delivered to your waiting hand via a slick little ten-lane conveyor belt. The 'mixology system' tracks your order from start to finish: a large display behind the bar shows you the number of drinks ahead of yours in the queue, the current wait time, and lets you know when your drink is ready to be picked up. It also shows you what's popular to drink tonight among both the ladies and the gents in the crowd, and lets you influence drinking trends in real-time by incorporating your suggested tweaks on popular recipes."