cold fjord writes "The Washington Examiner reports, 'Oregon ... signed up just 44 people for insurance through November, despite spending more than $300 million on its state-based exchange. The state's exchange had the fewest sign-ups in the nation, according to a new report today by the Department of Health and Human Services. The weak number of sign-ups undercuts two major defenses of Obamacare from its supporters. One defense was that state-based exchanges were performing a lot better than the federal healthcare.gov website servicing 36 states. But Oregon's website problems have forced the state to rely on paper applications to sign up participants. Another defense of the Obama administration has attributed the troubled rollout of Obamacare to the obstruction of Republican governors who wanted to see the law fail as well as a lack of funding. But Oregon is a Democratic state that embraced Obamacare early and enthusiastically.'"
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codeusirae writes "A study by Incapsula suggests 61.5% of all website traffic is now generated by bots. The security firm said that was a 21% rise on last year's figure of 51%. From the article: 'Some of these automated software tools are malicious - stealing data or posting ads for scams in comment sections. But the firm said the biggest growth in traffic was for 'good' bots. These are tools used by search engines to crawl websites in order to index their content, by analytics companies to provide feedback about how a site is performing, and by others to carry out other specific tasks - such as helping the Internet Archive preserve content before it is deleted.'"
First time accepted submitter spineas writes "JetBlue is rolling out a new form of inflight Wi-Fi operating from satellites instead of ground-based cell towers. Up to eight times faster than traditional inflight Wi-Fi, it will enable users to stream video whilst in the air, something that is nearly impossible to do with current dial-up speed access in aircraft."
wiredmikey writes "A Ukrainian national, Roman Vega, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to creating a popular online marketplace for selling stolen financial account data has been sentenced to 18 years in prison. Called one of the world's 'most prolific cybercriminals' by the Department of Justice, Vega, 49, will serve significant time in prison for his role in co-founding the notorious website CarderPlanet. In the early 2000s, Vega co-founded and became a high-ranking administrator of the notorious website, which became one of the first and busiest online marketplaces for the sale of stolen financial information, computer hacking services and money laundering. At its height, CarderPlanet had more than 6,000 members and had a hierarchical leadership structure that borrowed its leadership titles from La Cosa Nostra, US authorities said."
Nerval's Lobster writes "From the annals of Really Important Science comes word that a research assistant who picked up his B.S. just seven months ago has invented a coffee mug designed to keep java at just the right piping-hot temperature for hours. Logan Maxwell, who got his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University in May, created the "Temperfect" mug as part of his senior design project for the College of Engineering. Most insulated mugs have two walls separated by a soft vacuum that insulates the temperature of a liquid inside from the temperature of the air outside. Maxwell's design has a third layer of insulation in a third wall wrapped around the inner basin of the mug. Inside is a chemical insulator that is solid at room temperature but melts into a liquid at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The insulator – which Maxwell won't identify but swears is non-toxic – turns to liquid as it absorbs the extra heat of coffee poured into the mug at temperatures higher than 140 F, cooling it to a drinkable temperature quickly. As the heat of the coffee escapes, the insulating material releases heat through the inner wall of the mug to keep it hot as long as possible; a graph mapping the performance of a prototype shows it could keep a cup of coffee at between 128 F and 145 F for as long as 90 minutes. "Phase-change" coffee-mug insulation was patented during the 1960s, but has never been marketed because they are difficult and expensive to manufacture compared to simpler forms of insulation. While working on the Temperfect design, Maxwell met Belgian-born industrial designer Dean Verhoeven, president of consulting form Ancona Research, Inc., who had been working on a similar design and had already worked out how to manufacture a three-walled insulated mug cost effectively. The two co-founded a company called Joevo to manufacture the mugs." According to the Joevo Kickstarter page, you can get one starting at $40. For that much, I'd like a clever lid like this Contigo has.
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes: "Google has fixed a vulnerability, first discovered by researcher Gergely Kalman, which let users search for credit card numbers by using hex number ranges. However, Google should have acknowledged or at least responded to the original bug finder (and possibly even paid him a bounty for it), and should have been more transparent about the process in general." Read on for the rest of the story.
alphadogg writes "The ITU has taken a big step in the standardization of G.fast, a broadband technology capable of achieving download speeds of up to 1Gbps over copper telephone wire. The death of copper and the ascent of fiber has long been discussed. However, the cost of rolling out fiber is still too high for many operators that instead want to upgrade their existing copper networks. So there is still a need for technologies that can complement fiber, including VDSL2 and G.fast. Higher speeds are needed for applications such as 4K streaming, IPTV, cloud-based storage, and communication via HD video, ITU said." Meanwhile, I'm hoping Google Fiber, FIOS, and other fast optical options scare more ISPs into action along both price and speed axes.
First time accepted submitter LibbyMC writes "Google's approach to bringing older C software to the browser is demonstrated in bringing the '80s-era AmigaOS to Chrome. 'The Native Client technology runs software written to run on a particular processor at close to the speeds that native software runs. The approach gives software more direct access to a computer's hardware , but it also adds security restrictions to prevent people from downloading malware from the Web that would take advantage of that power.'" Chrome users can go straight to the demo.
cartechboy writes "How many Nissan Leafs does it take to power an office building? The answer, it turns out, is six. Nissan is the latest Japanese automaker to explore electric "vehicle-to-building" setups, this time with impressive results. The company started testing its latest system at the Nissan Advanced Technology Center in Atsugi City, Japan, during the summer. It found that just six Leafs plugged in to the building's power supply allowed it to cut peak-hour electricity use by 2 percent. Annualized, that's a savings of half a million yen (about $4,800 US) in electricity costs. How it works: The building pulls electricity from the plugged-in vehicles during peak-use hours, when power is most expensive, and then sends the power back to recharge the cars when grid prices fall. Nissan says the system is set up to ensure the cars are fully charged by the end of the workday. (Is this a devious secret way to make sure workers stay until a certain time?) Next up: Why not just do this using batteries--never mind the cars?"
paavo512 writes "For the last decade or so, Estonia has developed a national electronic data exchange layer called X-Road. Is is based on national electronic ID cards and allows creation of common electronic services like founding a company, declaring taxes or e-voting. Every day, over 800,000 enquiries are made via X-Road (the population of Estonia is 1.3M). According to the PM of Estonia, the solution is saving 2% of national GDP annually. The Estonian ID card technology was originally imported from Finland; however, it appears Finns have for 10 years failed to come up with any significant e-services making use of them. So it is now agreed that Estonian X-Road solution will be expanding to Finland as well."
PolygamousRanchKid writes "Thousands of German users that have used a porn website to stream shows have received threatening letters from a local law firm demanding €250 ($344) per certain watched clips, Chip.de reports. Apparently, a Swiss-based firm that owns the content hosted by porn site Redtube has tasked a law firm with collecting fines for each of its shows that was streamed online in the region. The law firm has apparently received a go ahead from a local court, and as many as ten thousand warnings may have been set to users, for porn shows watched in August."
jones_supa writes "Details are shaping up of a plan for a new government-backed high capacity data cable between Germany and Finland, routed through the Baltic Sea. The project to significantly upgrade Finland's international data transfer capacity has long been high on the government's list of priorities. It could improve the country's competitiveness in ICT technologies and digital services. Following a meeting of the cabinet's economic policy committee on Wednesday, Pekka Haavisto, the minister responsible for state ownership steering, told the press that the state will take part in the venture as a partial owner. The estimated cost of the undersea data cable project is around 100 million euros. Haavisto said that roughly one third of the costs could be paid by the state, another third by institutional investors and the remainder by private companies. So far, all data transmission to Finland has taken place via the Øresund Bridge, that is through Denmark and Sweden."
sfcrazy writes "Valve Software, creator of Half-Life and Left 4 Dead, has announced that SteamOS will be available for public download on December 13. That's the day when the company will start shipping Steam Machines and Steam Controllers to the 300 selected beta participants. The company said, 'SteamOS will be made available when the prototype hardware ships. It will be downloadable by individual users and commercial OEMs. (But unless you're an intrepid Linux hacker already, we're going to recommend that you wait until later in 2014 to try it out.)"
Lev13than writes "Canada Post is phasing out urban home delivery, raising the price of a letter to $1 and cutting 8,000 jobs to cope with dwindling volume and a projected loss of $1B/year by 2020. About 1/3 of Canadian homes currently get mail delivered to their door. Deliveries will remain weekdays-only and business will be unaffected (at least for now). Much like the USPS, Canada Post is mandated to be self-funded, but 5% annual volume declines and rising costs are taking their toll."
jones_supa writes "This announcement comes from the ubuntu-desktop mailing list. Due to GNOME Control Center already being a heavily patched version in Ubuntu, Canonical is planning to found their own fork called Unity Control Center. This would be a fork with a limited lifespan and later on they would move to something called Ubuntu System Settings, an in-house project. For now, a PPA has been set up to test the new fork."
First time accepted submitter ConstantineM writes "Inspired by a recent Google initiative to adopt ChaCha20 and Poly1305 for TLS, OpenSSH developer Damien Miller has added a similar protocol to ssh, email@example.com, which is based on D. J. Bernstein algorithms that are specifically optimised to provide the highest security at the lowest computational cost, and not require any special hardware at doing so. Some further details are in his blog, and at undeadly. The source code of the protocol is remarkably simple — less than 100 lines of code!"
AcidPenguin9873 writes "Earlier this year, Google announced that it would build its next fiber network in Austin, TX. Construction is slated to start in 2014, but there's a hitch: AT&T owns 20% of the utility poles in Austin. The City of Austin is considering a rules change that would allow Google to pay AT&T to use its utility poles, but AT&T isn't happy about it. The debate appears to hinge on a technicality that specifies what types of companies can attach to the utility poles that AT&T owns. From the news story: 'Google 'would be happy to pay for access (to utility poles) at reasonable rates, just as we did in our initial buildout in Kansas City,' she said, referring to Google Fiber's pilot project in Kansas City...Tracy King, AT&T's vice president for public affairs, said in a written statement that Google "appears to be demanding concessions never provided any other entity before. ... Google has the right to attach to our poles, under federal law, as long as it qualifies as a telecom or cable provider, as they themselves acknowledge. We will work with Google when they become qualified, as we do with all such qualified providers," she said.'"
judgecorp writes "Google has opened data centers in Singapore and Taiwan to serve the boom in Asian Internet users. But it canceled a $300 million data center project in Hong Kong to focus on the Taiwan site and the smaller one in Singapore. Officially the problem was lack of space in Hong Kong, but China's repressive attitude to the Internet (and the history of the Chinese hack on Gmail in 2010) must have contributed to the move."
Taco Cowboy writes "The vehicles we drive are getting smarter and smarter, as more and more gadgets are being crammed into them. But as those devices creep into the driving experience, they offer the driver an increasing number of displays to monitor. Thus, drivers are more distracted than ever. At the recent 'Connected Car Expo,' which was held in Los Angeles, panelists discussed how these smart car features can impair driving ability. For example, researchers led by Bruce Mehler at MIT revealed that drivers using voice command interfaces to control in-car navigation systems or USB-connected music devices can end up spending longer with their eyes off the road than those using conventional systems. You'd think being able to operate it by voice alone would be beneficial compared to older radio systems. (Tuning an older radio was used as a baseline task in these tests.) But according to Mehler, problems arise when the system needs clarification of what the driver wants, which often happens while they're trying to feed an address into a navigation system."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "For years, privacy advocates have raised concerns about the use of commercial tracking tools to identify and target consumers with advertisements. The online ad industry has said its practices are innocuous and benefit consumers by serving them ads that are more likely to be of interest to them. Now the Washington Post reports that the NSA secretly piggybacks on the tools that enable Internet advertisers to track consumers, using 'cookies' and location data to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance. The agency uses a part of a Google-specific tracking mechanism known as the 'PREF' cookie to single out an individual's communications among the sea of Internet data in order to send out software that can hack that person's computer. 'On a macro level, "we need to track everyone everywhere for advertising" translates into "the government being able to track everyone everywhere,"' says Chris Hoofnagle. 'It's hard to avoid.' Documents reviewed by the Post indicate cookie information is among the data NSA can obtain with a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act order. Google declined to comment for the article, but chief executive Larry Page joined the leaders of other technology companies earlier this week in calling for an end to bulk collection of user data and for new limits on court-approved surveillance requests."