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Privacy

Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Collecting and Storing User Information? 120

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the design-by-committee dept.
New submitter isaaccs writes "I'm a mobile developer at a startup. My experience is in building user-facing applications, but in this case, a component of an app I'm building involves observing and collecting certain pieces of user information and then storing them in a web service. This is for purposes of analysis and ultimately functionality, not persistence. This would include some obvious items like names and e-mail addresses, and some less obvious items involving user behavior. We aim to be completely transparent and honest about what it is we're collecting by way of our privacy disclosure. I'm an experienced developer, and I'm aware of a handful of considerations (e.g., the need to hash personal identifiers stored remotely), but I've seen quite a few startups caught with their pants down on security/privacy of what they've collected — and I'd like to avoid it to the degree reasonably possible given we can't afford to hire an expert on the topic. I'm seeking input from the community on best-practices for data collection and the remote storage of personal (not social security numbers, but names and birthdays) information. How would you like information collected about you to be stored? If you could write your own privacy policy, what would it contain? To be clear, I'm not requesting stack or infrastructural recommendations."
Science

Researchers Create Short-term Memories In Rat Brains 114

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the I-guess-I-really-am-a-terrorist dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers say they've found a way to store artificial short-term memories in isolated brain tissue. 'This is the first time anyone has found a way to store information over seconds about both temporal sequences and stimulus patterns directly in brain tissue,' says the study's lead. 'This paves the way for future research to identify the specific brain circuits that allow us to form short-term memories.' The peer-reviewed study can be found here (paywalled)."
DRM

Amazon Blocks Arch Linux Handbook Author From Releasing Kindle Version 242

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the sharing-isn't-an-amazon-value dept.
An anonymous reader writes "We've all heard the horror stories of Amazon swindling the user out of their content on the Kindle, but this time they've managed to do it preemptively: by blocking the GFDL licensed Arch Linux Handbook from the Kindle Store." Reasons include: "We’ve reviewed the information you provided and have decided to block these books from being sold in the Kindle Store. The books closely match content that is freely available on the web and we are not confident that you hold exclusive publishing rights. This type of content can create a poor customer experience, and is not accepted. As a result, we have blocked the books listed below from being sold in the Kindle Store." The workaround: he uploaded a mobi copy to the Arch website.
Stats

Complex Systems Theorists Predict We're About One Year From Global Food Riots 926

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the wait-for-the-sisko-riots-of-2024 dept.
pigrabbitbear writes with conjecture on what triggers global unrest. Quoting the article: "In a 2011 paper, researchers at the Complex Systems Institute unveiled a model that accurately explained why the waves of unrest that swept the world in 2008 and 2011 crashed when they did. The number one determinant was soaring food prices. Their model identified a precise threshold for global food prices that, if breached, would lead to worldwide unrest."
Databases

PostgreSQL 9.2 Out with Greatly Improved Scalability 146

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the rev-your-engines dept.
The PostgreSQL project announced the release of PostgreSQL 9.2 today. The headliner: "With the addition of linear scalability to 64 cores, index-only scans and reductions in CPU power consumption, PostgreSQL 9.2 has significantly improved scalability and developer flexibility for the most demanding workloads. ... Up to 350,000 read queries per second (more than 4X faster) ... Index-only scans for data warehousing queries (2–20X faster) ... Up to 14,000 data writes per second (5X faster)" Additionally, there's now a JSON type (including the ability to retrieve row results in JSON directly from the database) ala the XML type (although lacking a broad set of utility functions). Minor, but probably a welcome relief to those who need them, 9.2 adds range restricted types. For the gory details, see the what's new page, or the full release notes.
Math

Possible Proof of ABC Conjecture 102

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the lord-of-the-proof dept.
submeta writes "Shinichi Mochizuki of Kyoto University has released a paper which claims to prove the decades-old ABC conjecture, which involves the relationship between prime numbers, addition, and multiplication. His solution involves thinking of numbers not as members of sets (the standard interpretation), but instead as objects which exist in 'new, conceptual universes.' As one would expect, the proof is extremely dense and difficult to understand, even for experts in the field, so it may take a while to verify. However, Mochizuki has a strong reputation, so this is likely to get attention. Proof of the conjecture could potentially lead to a revolution in number theory, including a greatly simplified proof of Fermat's Last Theorem."
Crime

The Fight To Reform Forensic Science 93

Posted by samzenpus
from the these-are-not-the-swabs-you-are-looking-for dept.
carmendrahl writes "Despite a 2009 report from the National Academy of Sciences that found the science in crime labs wanting, very little reform of forensic science has taken place. At a session about the Innocence Project, a group that exonerates prisoners with DNA evidence, speakers called on chemists to join the fight for reform. But forensic chemists don't all agree on what needs reforming."
AI

Creating a Better Chatbot Through Crowdsourcing 49

Posted by samzenpus
from the people's-bot dept.
An anonymous reader writes "MIT Technology Review reports on a chatbot built at the University of Rochester that is capable of high quality, human-level conversation — thanks to software called Chorus that turns to Amazon's crowdsourcing service Mechanical Turk to generate and evaluate replies to a human's statements and questions. No one person is ever acting as the bot, instead multiple workers suggest responses that are then voted on to select the best. The crowd workers contributing change frequently, but Chorus also has them keep a running list of important contextual information to give the bot a kind of memory of a conversation's history. The researchers say Chorus-style chat bots could out-perform fully automated assistants such as Siri, while being considerably cheaper than a true concierge service."
Math

Fujitsu Building Robot To Pass Math Exams 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the head-of-the-robot-class dept.
itwbennett writes "Pity those poor Japanese students who attend cram schools, either full time or in addition to their regular schooling, to have a shot at passing the grueling math entrance exams for Tokyo University. If Fujitsu has its way, those students will be upstaged by a robot. The company has set a goal for the year 2021 of building an artificial intelligence robot that can pass the exams."
Security

Aramco Says Networks Back Online, No Results From Investigation Yet 21

Posted by samzenpus
from the we're-back dept.
Trailrunner7 writes "Saudi Aramco says that the virus attack that compromised tens of thousands of the company's workstations last month never endangered the company's oil production capabilities and that all of the affected systems have been brought back online and restored. The attack on Aramco has been linked by researchers to the Shamoon malware, but company officials did not comment on the nature or provenance of the malware. The attack hit Aramco, one of the larger oil producers in the world, on August 15 and the company soon took its main Web sites offline as it investigated the extent and nature of the compromise. A group of attackers calling itself the Cutting Sword of Justice took credit for the attack through a post on Pastebin, saying that the operation had destroyed data on 30,000 machines, including both workstations and servers. The company originally did not comment on the extent of the damage to its network, simply saying that it had suffered an attack and was in the process of cleaning it up. On Monday, company officials said that security staffers had restored all of the infected machines and that its operations were back to normal."
Republicans

Look-Alike Web Sites Hoodwink Republican Donors 294

Posted by samzenpus
from the more-than-meets-the-eye dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Shane Goldmacher writes that a network of look-alike campaign websites have netted hundreds of thousands of dollars this year in what some are calling a sophisticated political phishing scheme. The doppelgänger websites have the trappings of official campaign pages: smiling candidate photos and videos, issue pages, and a large red "donate" button at the top and exist for nearly three-dozen prominent GOP figures, including presidential nominee Mitt Romney, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and donation magnets such as Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Allen West of Florida. The only difference is that proceeds from the shadow sites go not to the candidates pictured, but to an obscure conservative group called CAPE PAC run by activist Jeff Loyd, a former chairman of the Gila County GOP in Arizona. 'The only thing they are doing is lining their pockets and funding their own operation,' says Republican political strategist Chris LaCivita. CAPE PAC has a strong Web presence, with over 100,000 followers on Twitter and 50,000 on Facebook and its business model is to buy Google ads — about $290,000 worth, as of the end of June — to promote its network of candidate sites whenever people search for prominent GOP officials. A search for 'Mitt Romney,' for instance, often leads to two sponsored results: Romney's official site and CAPE PAC's mittromneyin2012.com. Once on a CAPE PAC site, users would have to notice fine print at either the top or bottom of the page revealing that they were not on the official page of their favored politician. A dozen donors, including some experienced Washington hands such as Neusner, had no idea they had contributed to the group before National Journal Daily contacted them. 'It confused me, and I do this for a living,' says Washington lobbyist Patrick Raffaniello. 'That's pretty sophisticated phishing.'"
Security

GoDaddy Goes Down, Anonymous Claims Responsibility 483

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A member of the Anonymous hacktivist group appears to have taken down GoDaddy with a massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS). The widespread issue seems to be affecting countless websites and services around the world, although not for everyone. Godaddy.com is down, but so are some of the site's DNS servers, which means GoDaddy hosted e-mail accounts are down as well, and lots more. It's currently unclear if the servers are being unresponsive or if they are completely offline. Either way, the result is that if your DNS is hosted on GoDaddy, your site may also look as if it is down, because it cannot resolve."
Businesses

Recurly's Backup Mess Takes Days to Clean Up 21

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-practices dept.
A cascading hardware outage struck subscription payment provider Recurly last week, and that started a long example in how not to manage critical infrastructure. From the article: "Last Monday, the payment provider suffered an intermittent hardware failure, which prevented the company from processing either payments or refunds. The company says it serves over 1,000 customers, including Adobe, BrightCove, and Fox News Radio, processing recurring payments for subscriptions. By Friday, the company still hadn’t completely straightened out the mess, providing updates to customers using payment gateways such as Authorize.net and LinkPoint/First Data."
Android

Toys R Us Unveils Android Tablet For Kids 163

Posted by samzenpus
from the think-of-the-children dept.
puddingebola writes "Can Toys R Us provide the iPad killer? The 'Tabeo' s a 7 inch Android tablet running ICS with a micro-SD card slot. From the article, 'Powered by a 1GHz processor, the multitouch device comes with 4GB of built-in storage but can handle up to 32GB with a micro SDHC card. The device comes with 50 preloaded games, books, and educational apps and offers access to 6,000 more apps through the Tabeo Store.'"
Apple

App Developer Says Stolen UDIDs Came From Them, Not FBI 180

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-to-blame dept.
pdabbadabba writes "A Florida iPhone and iPad app developer, Blue Toad, has come forward claiming that it is the source of the Apple UDIDs previously released by Anonymous. Their dataset, they say, is a 98% match for the one Anonymous hackers claim to have stolen from an FBI laptop. If so, this development would cast serious doubt on Anonymous' claims and, possibly, calm fears that this data is evidence of an ongoing FBI surveillance operation (a claim the FBI has also denied)."

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken

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