In Paul Theroux's dystopian novel O-Zone, wearing masks in public is simply a fact of life, because of the network of cameras that covers the inhabited parts of earth. Earthquake Retrofit writes with a story at the New York Times describing a life-imitating-art reaction to the perception (and reality) that cameras are watching more of your life than you might prefer: clothing that obscures your electronic presence. "[Adam Harvey] exhibited a number of his stealth-wear designs and prototypes in an art show this year in London. His work includes a series of hoodies and cloaks that use reflective, metallic fabric — like the kind used in protective gear for firefighters — that he has repurposed to reduce a person’s thermal footprint. In theory, this limits one’s visibility to aerial surveillance vehicles employing heat-imaging cameras to track people on the ground. He also developed a purse with extra-bright LEDs that can be activated when someone is taking unwanted pictures; the effect is to reduce an intrusive photograph to a washed-out blur. In addition, he created a guide for hairstyling and makeup application that might keep a camera from recognizing the person beneath the elaborate get-up. The technique is called CV Dazzle — a riff on 'computer vision' and 'dazzle,' a type of camouflage used during World War II to make it hard to detect the size and shape of warships."
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lpress writes "The Los Angeles Unified School District will spend $30 million over the next two years on iPads for 30,000 students. Coverage of the announcement has focused on Apple winning over other tablets, but that is not the key point. The top three proposals each included an app to deliver Pearson's K-12 Common Core System of Courses along with other third-party educational apps. The Common Core curriculum is not yet established, but many states are committed to it, starting next year. The new tablets and the new commitment to the Common Core curriculum will arrive around the same time, and busy faculty (and those hired to train them) will adopt the Pearson material. The tablets will be obsolete in a few years and the hardware platform may change, but lock-in to Pearson's default curriculum may last for generations."
tripleevenfall sends in a story at Yahoo Finance forecasting the end of Barnes & Noble. Quoting: "The last nationwide book retailer may be writing its final chapter. Barnes & Noble's latest quarterly results show a 7.4% drop in revenues and a $122 million loss for the fourth-quarter of its fiscal year. B&N's disastrous focus on making Nook e-Readers is weighing heavily on the chain's operations. A 17% drop in Nook revenues and stunning $475 million loss for the device division in 2013 are hobbling the company's ability to keep its stores afloat. B&N appears to be cannibalizing itself with branded tablets and cross-platform e-reader applications, which render the stores increasingly irrelevant."
New submitter no bloody nickname writes "The BBC reports that well-known U.S. author Richard Matheson has passed away. He was 87 years old. Mathesons prolific career lasted for more than 60 years and his works include the novels Hell House, The Shrinking Man, A Stir of Echoes, and I am legend. Matheson also wrote for television and cinema. Among the screenplays he wrote were the Spielberg movie Duel as well as multiple episodes of The Twilight Zone. Several of his novels have also been adapted into movies. In the case of I Am Legend this was done not just once but three times. Matheson continued to write books until recently and his most recently published book Generations was released in 2012." Adds reader Dave Knott: "Richard Matheson was a recipient of lifetime achievement recognition in both fantasy (World Fantasy Awards, 1984) and horror (Bram Stoker Awards, 1991), and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2010. Matheson passed away on Sunday at his home in Los Angeles."
sagecreek writes "If you are in charge of a small network with just a few servers, you may still be doing configuration management primarily by hand. And you may take particular pride in maintaining that 'artisan' role. After all, it's mostly up to you to set up new users and their machines, fix current problems, manage the servers and their software, create databases and their user accounts, and try to keep the network and user configurations as uniform as possible despite running several different brands--and vintages--of hardware and software. However, warns infrastructure consultant John Arundel, '[b]eyond ten or so servers, there simply isn't a choice. You can't manage an infrastructure like this by hand. If you're using a cloud computing architecture, where servers are created and destroyed minute-by-minute in response to changing demand, the artisan approach to server crafting just won't work.' In his new book, Puppet 3 Beginner's Guide, Arundel emphasizes: 'Manual configuration management is tedious and repetitive, it's error-prone, and it doesn't scale well. Puppet is a tool for automating this process.'" Read below for the rest of sagecreek's review.
cold fjord writes "Despite the US cancelling his passport, Edward Snowden continues his travels aided by Wikileaks, and is leaving a trail of strained diplomatic relations in his wake. It appears China gifted the issue to Russia. From Yahoo: 'Lawyer Albert Ho, ... a Hong Kong legislator ... told reporters he was approached by Snowden several days ago, and that the American had sought assurances ... whether he could leave the city freely if he chose to do so... Snowden later told Ho an individual claiming to represent the Hong Kong government had contacted him and indicated he should leave the city, and wouldn't be stopped ... Ho said he believed the middleman was acting on Beijing's orders.' From the NYT: Julian Assange, ...said in an interview ... 'that he had raised Mr. Snowden's case with Ecuador's government and that his group had helped arrange the travel documents.' From WSJ: 'Edward Snowden has generated more than a million posts on one of China's biggest social media platforms... Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging service, exploded with activity on Sunday as Mr. Snowden left ... Mr. Snowden was hailed as a hero ... last week, but posts on Sunday and Monday were divided... "All crows are black," said a number of users, citing an Chinese old saying, to describe both American and Chinese government's surveillance programs. ... "Snowden has helped China so much. Why did we let him go?" said one ... Some suggested that China should keep Mr. Snowden as a weapon against repeated accusations of China hacking U.S. companies. More extreme users complained that China is "too soft on the U.S." "Russia is a real strong country to accept him," ... Another popular term: "hot potato," reflecting relief that Hong Kong wouldn't have to stand against U.S. efforts to take him into custody. Some users criticized Mr. Snowden for fleeing.' From the Guardian: 'Snowden's escape from Hong Kong infuriated US politicians, while China focused on condemning Washington over his latest disclosures, which suggested the NSA had hacked into Chinese mobile phone companies ... Moscow was also drawn into the controversy after it emerged that Snowden's passport had been revoked before he left Hong Kong and he did not have a visa for Russia. But Russia appeared indifferent to the uproar, with one official saying Snowden was safe from the authorities as long as he remained in the transit lounge at the city's Sheremetyevo airport. Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said: "I know nothing."' From ABC: Snowden registered for the flight to Havana that leaves Moscow on Monday..."
gregrolan writes "Evans's Trousers Of Reality series attempts to understand the interplay between neurology, psychology, and sociology in the context of finding a better path through working life. I previously reviewed the first book in the series, Working Life a few years ago, and the second volume The Ingenious Engine Of Reality has now been published. While the first volume outlined the themes for the series and focused on work-life balance, this second volume digs deeper into the science behind knowledge, learning, and mental models.It then uses this background to explore the relationship between knowledge, behavior, and process in a software project setting." Keep reading for the rest of Greg's review.
wwphx writes "According to Wired, 'German researchers have created a new DRM feature that changes the text and punctuation of an e-book ever so slightly. Called SiDiM, which Google translates to 'secure documents by individual marking,' the changes are unique to each e-book sold. These alterations serve as a digital watermark that can be used to track books that have had any other DRM layers stripped out of them before being shared online. The researchers are hoping the new DRM feature will curb digital piracy by simply making consumers paranoid that they'll be caught if they share an e-book illicitly.' I seem to recall reading about this in Tom Clancy's Patriot Games, when Jack Ryan used this technique to identify someone who was leaking secret documents. It would be so very difficult for someone to write a little program that, when stripping the DRM, randomized a couple of pieces of punctuation to break the hash that the vendor is storing along with the sales record of the individual book."
benrothke writes "It's said that truth is stranger than fiction, as fiction has to make sense. Had The Chinese Information War: Espionage, Cyberwar, Communications Control and Related Threats to United States Interests been written as a spy thriller, it would have been a fascinating novel of international intrigue. But the book is far from a novel. It's a dense, well-researched overview of China's cold-war like cyberwar tactics against the US to regain its past historical glory and world dominance." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
An anonymous reader writes "BBC News is reporting that Iain Banks, best known for his Culture series novels and The Wasp Factory, has died of cancer aged 59. It had been announced several months ago that he was suffering from bladder cancer, and he had stated his intentions to spend his remaining time visiting places which meant a lot to him after marrying his partner."
theodp writes "It was the best of movies; it was the worst of movies. GeekWire reports that The Internship — the new comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as two 40-something guys who get internships at Google — is getting high praise from Googlers but low marks from movie critics. Google CEO Larry Page called the movie 'a lot of fun' in his Google+ post, while fellow Google exec Vic Gundotra gushed, 'I laughed a lot while watching this movie!' After screening a sneak preview with Google companions, Wired's Steven Levy wrote, 'From Google's point of view, the movie could not possibly be better.' USA Today's take, on the other hand, is that 'Google has never looked lamer thanks to The Internship.' And the NY Daily News calls the movie 'an unfunny valentine to Google.' But perhaps the unkindest cut of all comes from the NY Post, who suggests that 'maybe The Internship was secretly funded by Bing.' Ouch." Update: 06/07 20:02 GMT by T : Peter Wayner saw the movie (a "harmless bit of summer fluff"), and his full-length take below takes on some of the tech-company misconceptions that the film-makers gleefully adopted as script material.
benrothke writes "Phil Lapsley calls his book 'the untold story of the teenagers and outlaws who hacked Ma Bell.' The story is an old one, going back to the early 1960's. Lapsley was able to track down many of the original phone phreaks and get their story. Many of them, even though the years have passed, asked Lapsley not to use their real names." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
Bennett Haselton writes with his take on a case going back and forth in U.S. courts right now about whether a defendant can be ordered to decrypt his own hard drives when they may incriminate him. "A Wisconsin defendant in a criminal child-pornography case recently invoked his Fifth Amendment right to avoid giving the FBI the password to decrypt his hard drive. At the risk of alienating fellow civil-libertarians, I admit I've never seen the particular value of the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. So I pose this logical puzzle: come up with a specific, precisely defined scenario, where the Fifth Amendment makes a positive difference." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Strengthened by an agreement with Apple that set the prices for their respective e-books higher, publishers strong-armed Amazon into giving them similar terms, an executive for the online retailer has testified in Manhattan federal court. The U.S. Department of Justice has taken Apple to court over the alleged price-fixing, after reaching out-of-court settlements with five publishers (HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group, and MacMillian). Apple, which competes with Amazon in the e-book space, refused a similar settlement. "Certainly if someone offered reseller, we would have taken them up on that offer," Russell Grandinetti, Amazon's vice president for Kindle content, testified before the court, according to Reuters. "Reseller" means a company sells goods to a retailer for a particular price (usually wholesale), allowing the retailer to set the actual sales price. Under the terms of that model, Amazon could sell e-books for super-cheap, even if it meant going beneath the publisher's wholesale price. Macmillan and Amazon ended up in conflict over the issue, with Amazon temporarily yanking the publisher's e-books from its digital shelves. "We will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan's terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books," Amazon wrote in a statement at the time. "Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it's reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book." But Amazon eventually relented to Macmillan's demands, along with those of other publishers, and submitted to the agency model, in which publishers have a heavier hand in setting retail pricing."
Peter Wayner is no stranger to Slashdot. Not only that, he's written a bunch of books, plus articles for InfoWorld, PC World, the New York Times, and many other publications. Now he's working on a book about Autonomous Cars. Last year Peter wrote an article for Car & Driver about the privacy implications of vehicle recorders. Driverless cars will bring us a whole new set of problems, questions, and -- no doubt -- legislation. We're hoping to have more conversations on this topic (and others) with Peter in the future, so with any luck this video will be the first of a long series. With all that said, take it away, interviewer Timothy Lord... Update: 06/05 21:56 GMT by T : Peter's book is still in progress, but it's got a website, if you'd like an early glance.
An anonymous reader writes "The Times publishes Assange's takedown of Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen. From the article: 'New Digital Age is a startlingly clear and provocative blueprint for technocratic imperialism, from two of its leading witch doctors, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, who construct a new idiom for United States global power in the 21st century. This idiom reflects the ever closer union between the State Department and Silicon Valley, as personified by Mr. Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, and Mr. Cohen, a former adviser to Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton who is now director of Google Ideas.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Technology giant Apple is to begin its defence against charges by the US government that it tried to fix the prices of e-books. The iPad-maker is accused of working with publishers in 2009 to set prices in an effort to compete in the e-book market dominated by Amazon. Quotes from Steve Jobs' official biography have been cited as evidence in the case."
New submitter BryanLunduke writes "One week ago I Open Sourced my — previously commercial — software (GPL) and comic books (creative commons). I am now documenting my journey to fully fund their continued development with the first week's results of funding via donations. I am publishing this information here to give others the facts they need to help decide if they can afford to do something similar."