Friday, June 27, 2014

Can a State Withhold Water From the NSA? California Is About to Find Out

Source: VICE Motherboard

... it's appearing increasingly likely that we'll see what happens when a state votes to withhold resources directly from the federal government. The measure flew through California's senate and appears to have a lot of support in its assembly. It still seems like a stunt, but it might be one that the two sides will have to litigate in court.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Yosemite Looks To Ban Drones By Relying On An Absurd Legal Argument

Source: Forbes

... the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Drones) are prohibited within park boundaries due to regulations outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Specifically, the use of drones within the park boundaries is illegal under all circumstances. Thirty Six CFR 2.17(a)(3) states, “delivering or retrieving a person or object by parachute, helicopter, or other airborne means, except in emergencies involving public safety or serious property loss, or pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit” is illegal. This applies to drones of all shapes and sizes.

That is an expansive interpretation of the regulation, especially when 36 CFR 2.17(a)(3) is read in context.
...
... National Park Service itself has provided a definition of aircraft in 36 CFR 1.4, it states:

 "Aircraft means a device that is used or intended to be used for human flight in the air, including powerless flight."

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Longer flights 'could curb impact of vapour trails'

Source: BBC

Scientists have been arguing about the climate impact of contrails for many years, as the clouds that they form impact both cooling and warming.

Contrails reflect sunlight back into space and cool the Earth but they also trap infrared energy in the atmosphere, adding to warming. Researchers believe that the warming effect is more significant than the cooling.

Now scientists at the University of Reading have tried to work out how this impact could be reduced by altering the flight paths of long and short haul aircraft.
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"You think that you have to do some really huge distance to avoid these contrails," lead author Dr Emma Irvine told BBC News.

"But because of the way the Earth curves you can actually have quite small extra distances added onto the flight to avoid some really large contrails."

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bitcoin Could Change Voting the Way It's Changed Money

Source: VICE Motherboard
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Political groups and tech startups are beginning to experiment with digital voting systems based on the bitcoin and blockchain protocol. 
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"Just replace a coin in your head with a vote, and run it the exact same dynamic," said Maximiliaan van Kuyk, cofounder of the V initiative, based in New York. The V initiative and V mobile voting app is one of the leading bitcoin-based e-voting efforts here in the US
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Each registered voter gets a Votecoin through the election organizer—say, the US government. The government also sets up what's effectively "yes" and "no,” or maybe it’s "candidate A" and "candidate B” wallets. When it comes time to vote, you send your Votecoin to the wallet of your choice, just like a bitcoin transaction.
... instead of placing your trust in a central authority like, say, the ballot counters tallying up hanging chads in Florida, the network is anonymous but transparent, and audited by the crowd.
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Crypto voting is has been used in elections in Norway, Denmark, Europe’s Pirate Party, and the Spanish Congress.
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On the privacy point, the V platform would need to be 100 percent anonymous, notably unlike bitcoin. As a last line of defense, the protocol would run on an IP-masking software like Tor to protect users against mass data scraping that can reveal identities by putting together enough clues, as we learned from the NSA leaks.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A tiny technical change in iOS 8 could stop marketers spying on you

The original source of this report appears to be WWDC session 715, "User Privacy on iOS and OS X," presented by Apple Product Security and Privacy representatives David Stites and Katie Skinner.

Source: Quartz

Whenever you walk around a major Western city with your phone’s Wi-Fi turned on, you are broadcasting your location to government agencies, marketing companies and location analytics firms. At the core of such tracking is the MAC address, a unique identification number tied to each device. Devices looking for a Wi-Fi network send out their MAC address to identify themselves. Apple’s solution, as discovered by a programmer, is for iOS 8, the new operating system for iPhones which will be out later this year, to generate a random MAC addresses while scanning for networks. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

All Our Patent Are Belong To You

Source: Tesla Motors

By Elon Musk, CEO

Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.

Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.

When I started out with my first company, Zip2, I thought patents were a good thing and worked hard to obtain them. And maybe they were good long ago, but too often these days they serve merely to stifle progress, entrench the positions of giant corporations and enrich those in the legal profession, rather than the actual inventors. After Zip2, when I realized that receiving a patent really just meant that you bought a lottery ticket to a lawsuit, I avoided them whenever possible.

At Tesla, however, we felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The unfortunate reality is the opposite: electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.

At best, the large automakers are producing electric cars with limited range in limited volume. Some produce no zero emission cars at all.

Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.

We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.

Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.

Facebook to Let Users Alter Their Ad Profiles

Facebook notified customers in the U.S. about how they target ads to users.

Source: New York Times
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Detailed tracking of people’s digital activities has become commonplace.
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Consumers are largely unaware of the monitoring and often don’t know how to limit it.
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... “The thing that we have heard from people is that they want more targeted advertising,” said Brian Boland, Facebook’s vice president in charge of ads product marketing. “The goal is to make it clear to people why they saw the ad.”
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You will also be able to click through to your full marketing dossier, or what Facebook calls your ad preferences, and see all of the attributes that Facebook believes describe you. Users can change, delete or add to the information in their files.
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Facebook executives hope that people will choose to improve the accuracy of the information, although people concerned about their privacy could just as easily fill their profiles with fake information.
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Joseph Turow, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, said that Facebook’s users would be tempted to share even more about themselves with the company. “Who in his right mind wouldn’t want relevant ads over irrelevant ads?” he said.

And that will make Facebook, already one of the fastest-growing advertising companies on the Internet, more powerful than ever. “It’s more likely to help Facebook than you,” Mr. Turow said.

About Facebook Ads

U.S. Customers got a notification from Facebook today.

Source: Facebook

About Facebook Ads

How Ads Work on Facebook

A business creates an ad. They choose the type of audience they’d like to reach. If you’re in that audience, Facebook shows you the ad.

Your ad preferences are based on information you've shared with Facebook, Pages you like or engage with, ads you click on, apps and websites you use, and information from our data providers and advertisers.

See more interesting and useful ads on Facebook by updating your ad preferences to reflect the things you care about. Managing your ad preferences is only possible in some areas right now.

How can I use the DAA opt out to adjust how ads are targeted to me based on my activity off of Facebook?

When we ask people about our ads, one of the top things they tell us is that they want to see ads that are more relevant to their interests. Today, we learn about your interests primarily from the things you do on Facebook, such as Pages you like. Starting soon in the US, we will also include information from some of the websites and apps you use. This is a type of interest-based advertising, and many companies already do this.

How does this work?

Let’s say that you’re thinking about buying a new TV, and you start researching TVs on the web and in mobile apps. We may show you ads for deals on a TV to help you get the best price or other brands to consider. And because we think you’re interested in electronics, we may show you ads for other electronics in the future, like speakers or a game console to go with your new TV.

If you don’t want us to use the websites and apps you use to show you more relevant ads, we won’t. You can opt out of this type of ad targeting in your web browser using the industry-standard Digital Advertising Alliance opt out, and on your mobile devices using the controls that iOS and Android provide.

How do I manage the ads I see?

People also tell us they want more control over the ads they see. That’s why we’re introducing ad preferences, a new tool accessible from every ad on Facebook that explains why you’re seeing a specific ad and lets you add and remove interests that we use to show you ads. So if you’re not interested in electronics, you can remove electronics from your ad interests.

If you live in the US, you’ll be able to use ad preferences in the next few weeks, and we are working hard to expand globally in the coming months.

To learn more, visit About Facebook Ads or read ourCookies policy.

How does Facebook decide which ads to show me and how can I control the ads I see?

We want the ads you see on Facebook to be as interesting and useful to you as possible. To decide which ads to show you, we use:

Information you share on Facebook (ex: Pages you like).Other information about you from your Facebook account (ex: your age, gender, your location, the devices you use to access Facebook).Information advertisers and our marketing partners share with us that they already have, like your email address.Your activity on websites and apps off of Facebook, if you live in the US.

For more information on the information Facebook receives and how we use it, visit our Data Use Policyand Cookies Policy.

You have several ways to control which ads we show you:

Visit the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA). Facebook partners with the DAA to help you understand which companies are customizing ads for your browser, and opt out with participating companies. To opt out of seeing Facebook ads based on the sites you visit on this browser, visit the DAA.Adjust your ad preferences. Click  or  near the top-right corner of any ad on Facebook, and select Why am I seeing this? You’ll see an explanation of why you’re seeing it, and you can add or remove yourself from audiences who are shown that ad. Select View and manage your ad preferences to see more audiences you’re a part of that influence which ads you see on Facebook, and adjust which audiences you're a part of. Ad preferences is only available in some areas right now.Use mobile device opt outs. For ads based on the apps you use on your mobile device, go to your device settings to opt out. On Android the setting is called Opt out of interest-based adsand on iOS it’s Limit Ad Tracking

What are my ad preferences?

Your ad preferences are a way to learn why you’re seeing a particular ad, and control how we use information about you on and off Facebook to decide which ads to show you.

Learn more about how to view and adjust your ad preferences and how Facebook decides which ads to show you. You can also give feedback on the ads you see.

Ad preferences are only available in some areas right now.

Does Facebook use my name or photo in ads?

Posts or activity that include your profile photo or name – like a story about you liking Starbucks – may be paired with an ad. Your name and photo will only appear to the people who have permission to view your Page likes.

Learn more about ads and privacy as well as howadvertising works on Facebook.

How does Facebook work with data providers?

Facebook’s data providers specialize in helping advertisers find the right people to share their ads with. For example, data providers create groups of people on Facebook who they think advertisers will want to reach, based on things those people might be interested in. Our data providers include Acxiom, Datalogix and Epsilon.

Learn more about how we use information about you in our Data Use Policy.

How can I give feedback about the ads I see?

There are a few ways to give us feedback about the ads you see on Facebook. Giving us feedback will impact which ads we show you in the future. To give us feedback:

Tell us more about what you like. Liking Pages and adding interests to your Timeline (ex: movies, bands, sports teams) will help us show you more relevant ads.Tell us when you see an ad you like. Click theor  near the top-right corner of any ad on Facebook, and then select This ad is useful. We’ll do our best to show you more ads like that one in the future.Hide ads you don’t like. Click the or  in the top right corner of any ad, and then select I don’t want to see this. We’ll do our best not to show you more ads like that one in the future.Adjust your ad preferences. To learn about the information Facebook is using to show you ads and choose which interests influence the ads you see, visit the ad preferences tool and adjust your ad preferences. Ad preferences are only available in some areas right now.Visit the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA). Ads that show the DAA AdChoices icon  indicate that the ad is being tailored to your interests based on your activity on websites and apps off of Facebook. Click  to opt out of having ads tailored to your interests based on your activity on websites and apps off of Facebook. Learn more about using the DAA opt outAdjust your device settings. You also may be able to limit ad targeting using the controls on your specific mobile device. For example, if you are using an Apple iPhone, you can select theLimit Ad Tracking setting to limit the ways that Facebook and other companies use information about how you use your iPhone to show you ads.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

FAA approves first commercial drone over land

Source: USA Today

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Tuesday that permission for the first commercial drone to fly over U.S. land has gone to oil company BP and drone manufacturer AeroVironment to fly aerial surveys over Alaska's North Slope.
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Until now, the FAA has approved drones for public safety, such as police or firefighters, or for academic research, on a case-by-case basis.
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"The FAA is essentially using the military's prior experience with this specific drone platform in place of the agency's airworthiness certification requirements, so it is not an option for people hoping to use the newer drones being designed by high-tech startups that are not involved in military applications," ...
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The FAA issued restricted permission last summer over Arctic waters for the Puma and Insitu's Scan Eagle, another small drone. Insitu, working with oil company ConocoPhillips, got FAA permission to fly over Arctic waters from Aug. 7 to Oct. 31, and has requested to extend that certificate.
...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

NASA strategy can’t get humans to Mars, says National Research Council spaceflight report

Source: Washington Post

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The 286-page National Research Council report, the culmination of an 18-month, $3.2 million investigation mandated by Congress, says that to continue on the present course under budgets that don’t keep pace with inflation “is to invite failure, disillusionment, and the loss of the longstanding international perception that human spaceflight is something the United States does best.”
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“Absent a very fundamental change in the nation’s way of doing business, it is not realistic to believe that we can achieve the consensus goal of reaching Mars,” Mitch Daniels, the former Indiana governor and co-chair of the committee, said Wednesday morning in an interview.
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The committee did not delve deeply into what the private sector, operating commercially, might accomplish independently of the government. There are many space buffs, including SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who have said they want to land on Mars. But committee member John Sommerer said Wednesday that it is unrealistic to expect a commercial company to spend the money and take on the risk necessary to achieve human exploration on the Martian surface.
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Monday, June 2, 2014

Proved the US Government Is Making Up Drone Rules On the Fly

Source: VICE Motherboard

The video the church put together for the canonization of former Pope John Paul II is slick and features some nice footage of the National Shrine in Washington, DC. 
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That last bit should give you pause though: You’re not allowed to fly anything, not even toy airplanes, in Washington DC.
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the FAA told the Washington Post that the drone flight sounded like “an unusual situation.
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They’re not really a commercial entity per se, but neither are they a private entity.” the FAA appears not to care that this happened. And that’s the problem, kind of.
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It is picking and choosing cases, seemingly at random, to make a big fuss about. It is completely ignoring others.
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Until you make actual rules about what people can and cannot do, they can do anything.
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Drone Pilots Ignore Its Own Cease-And-Desist Orders

Source: VICE Motherboard

The agency refused a request from Texas EquuSearch, a nonprofit search-and-rescue group, to stay an order demanding that the group not use drones, based entirely on the idea that its first cease-and-desist order was not an "order."

But, as appears to increasingly be the case, the agency's latest actions have far-reaching ramifications. With the move, the agency just suggested that most, if not all, of the cease-and-desist notices it has sent to commercial drone operators are not actually orders.