Geek Stuff

DMV Photo-Sharing, Facial Recognition Nixed from California Strategic Plan

EFF's Deeplinks -

More than 1,500 Californians over the last two weeks joined EFF in an email campaign to defeat a proposal by an obscure committee within the California Department of Justice that would have compromised the privacy and security of their driver-license photos.  As part of its strategic plan, the committee had approved a goal to share driver and mugshot photos with a national law enforcement network and allow police to leverage facial recognition technology against the image database.

The committee listened to your letters.

At its meeting on Wednesday, the CLETS Advisory Committee (CAC) voted unanimously to delete “Goal 8,” which encompassed both the image sharing and facial recognition, from its strategic plan. (CLETS, by the way, stands for the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, the statewide police information-sharing network.)

In a letter [PDF] to CAC and its Stranding Strategic Planning Subcommittee, EFF pointed out that the committee in previously approving the goal had disregarded warnings from the California Department of Motor Vehicles that photo-sharing and facial recognition were not authorized under state law. Despite those warnings, CLETS staff applied for a grant to build out the system and began arranging lobbying meetings with law enforcement associations as if the legal roadblocks were mere inconveniences to overcome.  

At yesterday’s meeting, we also learned that those meetings had been canceled after legal staff raised concerns that they couldn’t be held without running afoul of California’s open meetings laws.

It’s great news that facial recognition and photo sharing are no longer on the table, but we remained concerned about several other CAC strategic goals, including biometric collection for infractions and GPS tracking of offenders.  As we told the committee at its the meeting: 1,500 emails was only the beginning and we will continue to shine light on their plans.



Related Issues: Privacy
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Microsoft: Universal apps are Windows apps, classic apps are Desktop apps

Liliputing -

Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10 is an operating system designed to run on a range of devices including smartphones, tablets, notebooks, desktops, game consoles, and even the company’s upcoming HoloLens virtual reality system. While Windows will look a little different on phones than notebooks or Xbox consoles (and it’ll include different components), each version will share […]

Microsoft: Universal apps are Windows apps, classic apps are Desktop apps is a post from: Liliputing

NJ School District Hit With Ransomware-For-Bitcoins Scheme

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader sends news that unidentified hackers are demanding 500 bitcoins, currently worth about $128,000, from administrators of a New Jersey school district. Four elementary schools in Swedesboro-Woolwich School District, which enroll more than 1,700 students, are now locked out of certain tasks: "Without working computers, teachers cannot take attendance, access phone numbers or records, and students cannot purchase food in cafeterias. Also, [district superintendent Dr. Terry C. Van Zoeren] explained, parents cannot receive emails with students grades and other information." According to this blog post from security company BatBlue, the district has been forced to postpone the Common Core-mandated PARCC state exams, too. Small comfort: "Fortunately the Superintendent told CBS 3’s Walt Hunter the hackers, using a program called Ransomware, did not access any personal information about students, families or teachers." Perhaps the administrators can take heart: Ransomware makers are, apparently, starting to focus more on product support; payment plans are probably on the way.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Deals of the Day (3-26-2015)

Liliputing -

The Asus Transformer Book T100 offered a great bang for the buck when the 2-in-1 Windows tablet with a detachable keyboard launched in late 2013. It offers long battery life, decent performance, and decent functionality as a laptop or a tablet. When Asus first introduced the Transformer Book T100 it was priced at $350 and […]

Deals of the Day (3-26-2015) is a post from: Liliputing

What Makes the Perfect Gaming Mouse?

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes A new article looks at the advanced technology that goes into many gaming mice favoured by professional gamers, from dedicated processors to custom weights for the sake of ergonomics, discussing the developments with designers at three top peripheral companies: Logitech, Razer and SteelSeries. Surprisingly, some factors that were once thought to have reached the limit of their usefulness, such as DPI sensitivity, are becoming more important again as screens get bigger and we make the move to 4K resolution. ... "With the rise of higher resolution screens, especially looking into 4K multi monitor systems and beyond, DPI might become an important factor in the future again, so we are not ruling out changes in the maximum tracking rate," says Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Many Password Strength Meters Are Downright Weak, Researchers Say

Slashdot -

alphadogg writes "Website password strength meters often tell you only what you want to hear rather than what you need to hear. That's the finding from researchers at Concordia University in Montreal, who examined the usefulness of those ubiquitous red-yellow-green password strength testers on websites run by big names such as Google, Yahoo, Twitter and Microsoft/Skype. The researchers used algorithms to send millions of 'not-so-good' passwords through these meters, as well as through the meters of password management services such as LastPass and 1Password, and were largely underwhelmed by what they termed wildly inconsistent results. Inconsistent can go both directions: I've seen password-strength meters that balked at absolutely everything (accepting weak passwords as good, after calling wildly long and random ones poor).

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Twitter launches Periscope for live video streaming from your iPhone

Liliputing -

Meerkat move over… there’s another app that lets you stream live video from your smartphone and share it through Twitter. It’s called Periscope, and it’s run by Twitter. That helps explain why Twitter cut off rival Meerkat’s access to its social graph recently. So what is Periscope, and does it spell Meerkat’s doom? Taking the second part […]

Twitter launches Periscope for live video streaming from your iPhone is a post from: Liliputing

Facebook Sued For Alleged Theft of Data Center Design

Slashdot -

itwbennett writes British engineering company BladeRoom Group says it contacted Facebook in 2011 about using its technique, which involves constructing data centers in a modular fashion from pre-fabricated parts. What happened next isn't clear, since much of the public version of BRG's lawsuit is redacted. But it claims Facebook ended up stealing its ideas and using them to build part of a data center in Lulea, Sweden, that opened last year. 'Facebook's misdeeds might never have come to light had it decided that simply stealing BRG's intellectual property was enough,' the company said in its lawsuit, filed Monday at the federal district court in San Jose, California. "Instead, Facebook went further when it decided to encourage and induce others to use BRG's intellectual property though an initiative created by Facebook called the 'Open Compute Project.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Samsung Galaxy S6 pre-orders begin March 27

Liliputing -

The HTC One M9 isn’t the only flagship smartphone going up for pre-order at midnight. Samsung has announced that the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge will also be available for pre-order starting March 27th. Like the HTC One M9, Samsung’s new phones will be available in US stores starting April 10th. Samsung isn’t talking pricing […]

Samsung Galaxy S6 pre-orders begin March 27 is a post from: Liliputing

Jeremy Clarkson Dismissed From Top Gear

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes According to BBC News, Jeremy Clarkson, longstanding main host for the automobile television show Top Gear, will not have his contract renewed. This decision came about two weeks after he was suspended due to an altercation with a Top Gear producer involving catering during filming for the show. Admittedly not the nerdiest news of the day, but it can be said that his thirteen-year run on the new format of Top Gear has interested many Slashdot users who love their cars and the entertainment that the show has brought to them.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google Quietly Launches Data Saver Extension For Chrome

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes Google has quietly released a Data Saver extension for Chrome, bringing the company's data compression feature to the desktop for the first time. You can download the extension, currently in beta, from the Chrome Web Store. We say "quietly" because there doesn't seem to be an announcement from Google. The extension was published on March 23 and appears to work exactly as advertised on the tin, based on what we've seen in our early tests.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

NY Times: "All the News That Mark Zuckerberg Sees Fit To Print"?

Slashdot -

theodp writes Two years ago, Politico caught Mark Zuckerberg's soon-to-be launched PAC boasting how its wealthy tech exec backers would use their companies to 'control the avenues of distribution' for a political message in support of their efforts. Now, the NY Times is reporting that Facebook has been quietly holding talks with at least half a dozen media companies about hosting their content inside Facebook, citing a source who said the Times and Facebook are moving closer to a firm deal. Facebook declined to comment on specific discussions with publishers, but noted it had provided features to help publishers get better traction on Facebook, including tools unveiled in December that let them target their articles to specific groups of Facebook users. The new plan, notes the Times, is championed by Chris Cox, the top lieutenant to Facebook CEO Zuckerberg and a "major supporter" of Exploring Facebook's wooing of the media giants, the Christian Science Monitor asks if social media will control the future of news, citing concerns expressed by Fusion's Felix Salmon, who warns that as news sites sacrifice their brands to reach a wider audience, their incentives for accuracy and editorial judgment will disappear.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Amazon Cloud Drive now offers unlimited storage for $60 per year (or just photos for $12)

Liliputing -

Amazon’s Cloud Drive is an online storage locker service that lets anyone upload up to 5GB of files for free. Have an Amazon Prime membership? Last year Amazon launched unlimited photo storage for Prime members. Want cheap storage, but don’t want to pay $99 per year for a Prime subscription? Now there are two more options: […]

Amazon Cloud Drive now offers unlimited storage for $60 per year (or just photos for $12) is a post from: Liliputing

GNOME 3.16 Released

Slashdot -

kthreadd writes Version 3.16 of GNOME, the primary desktop environment for GNU/Linux operating systems has been released. Some major new features in this release include a overhauled notification system, an updated design of the calendar drop down and support for overlay scrollbars. Also, the grid view in Files has been improved with bigger thumbnail icons, making the appearance more attractive and the rows easier to read. A video is available which demonstrates the new version.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Germanwings Plane Crash Was No Accident

Slashdot -

hcs_$reboot writes The Germanwings plane crash takes a scary turn. After a couple of days investigation, it appears that the co-pilot requested control of the aircraft about 20 minutes into the flight. The pilot then left the cockpit, leaving the co-pilot in full control of the plane. Then, the co-pilot manually and "intentionally" set the plane on the descent that drove it into the mountainside in the southern French Alps. Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, a 28-year-old German national, could be heard breathing throughout the plane's descent and was alive at the point of impact, according to the prosecutor.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Russian Official Proposes Road That Could Connect London To NYC

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes There's great news coming out of Russia for epic road trip lovers. Russian Railways president Vladimir Yakunin has proposed building a highway that would reach from London to Alaska via Russia, a 13,000-mile stretch of road. "This is an inter-state, inter-civilization, project," the Siberian Times quoted Yakunin. "The project should be turned into a world 'future zone,' and it must be based on leading, not catching, technologies."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

PiJuice: portable power for your Pi projects

Raspberry Pi -

Helen: some Kickstarter campaigns just jump out at you. When I took a look at PiJuice it was obvious it was the real deal – they’ve only gone and sorted out portable power for the Raspberry Pi, with bells on. Their Kickstarter runs until Tuesday, so you’ve got the weekend to jump on board. Here’s Aaron Shaw to tell you more.

I started playing with the Raspberry Pi since the very beginning and after being involved in The MagPi and various other activities I am now fortunate enough to call Raspberry Pi tinkering my “work”. The thing that got me hooked back in 2012 was the hardware and physical computing capability – writing code to do things in real life (probably because of my background in Automotive Engineering) and I still spend a considerable amount of my time just learning new things and playing around with everything the Raspberry Pi has to offer. It has been a fantastic opportunity and I want to share it with as many people as possible.

Around a year ago I met Harry Gee from PiBot and we started by just throwing around our ideas for how we could help to make the Raspberry Pi even better. One of the things that we had both found difficult was creating portable or remote projects – it was of course possible, but it was just a lot harder than it needed to be. This ultimately led us to the idea of making a neat, safe, portable power solution for the Raspberry Pi to allow people to do even more exciting things with their Pi, whilst saving a lot of time and effort in the process.

We’ve called this the PiJuice and it’s the ultimate product for portable and remote Raspberry Pi projects. The idea with PiJuice was to remove a barrier to entry from portable Pi projects so that beginners and professionals alike could focus on building, making and learning rather than worrying about the complexities of lithium battery charging and other electronics issues, whilst reducing the costs in the process.


Maker Kits – Made for Makers

PiJuice is more than just an add-on board. We are passionate about education and are keen to turn PiJuice into a modular project platform – a way to allow people to build their awesome ideas much more quickly and easily.

To kick things off and provide some inspiration we have developed a number of exciting tutorials and projects including a Raspberry Pi games console, a compact camera, a Pocket Pi and more.

We are calling these Maker Kits and they are already available to purchase in kit form from our Kickstarter page and are being uploaded as free guides on Instructables.

These guides will soon be turned into high quality step-by-step guides that you can either use with our Maker Kits or to build and make your own.

Free Off-Grid Power To the Pi

When creating Raspberry Pi projects outdoors we’ve also been interested in using solar power as it is free and renewable. We’ve worked hard to create an efficient and low cost solution that will open up new off-grid and sustainable applications for the Raspberry Pi.

The PiJuice Solar has additional circuitry which adds functionality to enable truly autonomous, self-monitoring operation of the Raspberry Pi – perfect for weather stations, remote camera systems for nature watching and more.

Additionally, we are actively investigating possibilities for affordable wind and thermoelectric power generation with PiJuice Solar for added flexibility.

What would you do with yours?

We are really interested in what you want to do with your own PiJuice. We want to create the projects that appeal to you the most, so please suggest us your ideas in the comments, or on Twitter (@ThePiJuice) using the hashtag #ProjectPiJuice to get our attention. We will turn the best of these into free projects for everyone to enjoy!

We really hope to help as many people as possible create awesome portable Raspberry Pi projects as well as continuing to create beautiful guides for cool projects! We’re currently coming to the closing stages of our Kickstarter and would appreciate any support to help make PiJuice even better –

– Aaron & The PiJuice Team

Amazon Blasts FAA On Drone Approvals, Regulations

Slashdot -

itwbennett writes Late last week, Amazon was issued permission by the FAA to fly an experimental drone as part of its tests for a planned automatic delivery service but it came too late, Paul Misener, vice president of global public policy at Amazon, told lawmakers on Tuesday. 'The UAS [unmanned aircraft system] approved last week by the FAA has already become obsolete,' he said. As a result, Amazon has filed for permission to fly a more advanced drone—one that is already being flown in several countries including the U.K., said Misener, who was speaking at a hearing of the Senate Committee on commerce, science and transportation.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Japan To Build 250-Mile-Long, Four Storey-High Wall To Stop Tsunamis

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader points out this daunting construction plan in Japan. "Japanese authorities have unveiled plans to build a giant 250-mile long sea barrier to protect its coastline from devastating tsunamis. According to the proposals, the £4.6bn ($6.8bn) barrier would reach 12.5m high in some places – stretching taller than a four storey building. It would be made out of cement – and actually be composed of a chain of smaller sea walls to make construction easier. The plan comes four years after a huge tsunami ravaged Japan's north-eastern coast."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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