Geek Stuff

Microsoft OneClip: Cloud clipboard shares content between Android, iOS, and Windows (leaks)

Liliputing -

Microsoft is working on a new app which quickly share links, photos, text, or other content between devices. Copy a phone number to your clipboard on your computer and it’s instantly available on your iPhone. Save a photo on your phone and you can view it on your desktop. The app is called OneClip and […]

Microsoft OneClip: Cloud clipboard shares content between Android, iOS, and Windows (leaks) is a post from: Liliputing

California Attorney General Locks Down Wiretap and Other Criminal Justice Data

EFF's Deeplinks -

The California Attorney General's office is required every year to compile details on each state-level wiretap order filed by local prosecutors. 

Mandated by the legislature as a transparency measure in the highly secret process of electronic surveillance, the annual California Electronic Interceptions Report is a wellspring of information for criminal justice research. But this year, the California Department of Justice (CADOJ) says that, from here on out, these reports—and potentially all of its criminal justice data—will only be issued as locked PDFs, significantly limiting the public’s ability to analyze the information in alternative formats.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris' new policy is a slap in the face to transparency and is a step in the opposite direction of the nationwide trend to embrace open data.

The 2014 California Electronic Interceptions Report, released last month, clocks in at 168 pages, with data on electronic surveillance from around the state presented in a series of complex tables, some spanning more than 30 pages. For each wiretap, the document outlines how many people were affected, how many communications were intercepted, the costs of the surveillance, and the number of arrests and the amount of property and drug seized as a result of the investigation. 

Download ZIP file of the California Electronic Interceptions Report PDF files 2009 - 2014. 

Download ZIP file of California Electronic Interceptions Report DOC files 2009 - 2013. 

Among the highlights:

  • California law enforcement agencies filed 971 wiretap applications in 2014, a increase of more than 44 percent compared to 2013. 
  • Wiretap orders led to approximately 480 arrests, the largest portion of which were drug related. Only 41 people were convicted in 2014 as a result of that surveillance.
  • Riverside County remains the leader in wiretaps in the state, with 624 orders filed in 2014. That’s far more than every other reporting county combined. That’s also more than four times the number of wiretaps applied for by Los Angeles County, the state’s most populous county.
  • Wiretaps in California in 2014 cost a total of $31 million, of which $28 million was spent on personnel and $3.1 was spent on equipment, supplies, and installation fees. This represents a 17% increase over 2013.
  • 35 counties, including San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Cruz, reported filing no wiretap applications at all.

This information can be spotted with the naked eye, but much more information would be available if the researchers could analyze the data in a machine-readable format.

CADOJ offers little explanation regarding the massive expansion of wiretaps in the state, providing only a single page of cheerleading for all the drug trafficking seizures and arrests reported by law enforcement. In this introduction to the report, CADOJ staff recommends that the sprawling tables “should be read in conjunction with one another to evaluate the impact intercepts have on public safety.” However, the department's decision to published the document as a locked PDF impedes researchers’ ability to conduct exactly this type of impact analysis.

Last year, when EFF filed a California Public Records Request for the raw electronic interceptions data, CADOJ anticipated it would be extremely time-consuming to export. Instead, EFF and CADOJ agreed on an expedient compromise: it would provide EFF with the Microsoft Word document version of the reports, from which it would be much easier for to extract the data.

This year, we filed a CPRA request with the CADOJ requesting the data on the same terms. No deal, they said:

… our Office has changed its security protocol regarding reports and other documents that are made available electronically to members of the public on our public web site. Now, all such reports and documents appearing on our public website are only made available to members of the public in a locked PDF format. We have made this change in order to better protect the security and integrity of the data in our public records.

This new policy position will have significant ramifications for public access to criminal justice data across the board. The position also sets a precedent for local law enforcement around the state to make it more difficult for the public to access data.

It is also wrong as matter of law. In California, state agencies are required to produce records in “any electronic format in which it holds the information.” But the CADOJ is citing a section of the law that says agencies don’t have to hand over records in electronic format that would “jeopardize or compromise the security or integrity of the original record.”

We formally asked CADOJ to explain how, exactly, providing either a Word document, spreadsheet, or other data file jeopardizes the security or integrity of the data any more than publishing a PDF. After all, a PDF can be as easily doctored as any other file.

A month later, CADOJ has yet to respond.

Right now, it would take significant expertise to scrape all the data from the electronic intercept reports from a PDF while maintaining the accuracy of the information. When we asked Steven Rich, database editor for investigations at the Washington Postfor his evaluation, he wrote back: 

It's possible to get the data out of the PDF but it's an amazing amount of work to get it in a usable form. This is an insanely difficult format, given that the file, based on the metadata, came out of Word. The only format worse than a PDF in this case is a scanned PDF.

If the California Attorney General were to release the data openly, it would provide the public with a variety of ways to view how wiretaps are conducted in California. For example, the public could learn:

  • in aggregate, the number of people whose communications were intercepted across the state;
  • in aggregate, the number of communications that were intercepted across the state;
  • the total percentage of communications that were actually incriminating, versus communications that were irrelevant;
  • the number of wiretaps in which the agency did not provide any information required by law; and
  • trends in how wiretap use compares year over year, county by county.

Open data would also allow for outside researchers and organizers to create interactive systems for searching and analyzing the data, which could uncover many more interesting trends and anomalies and create new opportunities for public oversight of the criminal justice system. 

The California Attorney General’s office ought to rethink its policies immediately. The state legislature is currently considering new data collection powers for CADOJ regarding issues such as racial profiling and police use of force—most of which declare from the get-go that these records should be public.

Rather than worry about the integrity of the data, CADOJ should be worrying about its own integrity when it come to transparency in California’s criminal justice system.

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Asteroid Risk Greatly Overestimated By Almost Everyone

Slashdot -

StartsWithABang writes: When it comes to risk assessment, there's one type that humans are notoriously bad at: the very low-frequency but high-consequence risks and rewards. It's why so many of us are so eager to play the lottery, and simultaneously why we're catastrophically afraid of ebola and plane crashes, when we're far more likely to die from something mundane, like getting hit by a truck. One of the examples where science and this type of fear-based fallacy intersect is the science of asteroid strikes. With all we know about asteroids today, here's the actual risk to humanity, and it's much lower than anyone cares to admit.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Deals of the Day (5-22-2015)

Liliputing -

Want a 1-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365? That’ll be $70. For that price you can run the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and other apps on one PC or Mac, one tablet, and one phone. You also get 1TB of cloud storage at Microsoft OneDrive. It’s not a bad deal, especially if […]

Deals of the Day (5-22-2015) is a post from: Liliputing

New Class of "Non-Joulian" Magnets Change Volume In Magnetic Field

Slashdot -

Zothecula notes an announcement from the University of Maryland saying they have developed a new class of magnets, called "Non-Joulian" magnets, which physically expand in the presence of a magnetic field. "In the 1840s, physicist James Prescott Joule discovered that iron-based magnetic materials changed their shape but not their volume when placed in a magnetic field. This phenomenon is referred to as "Joule Magnetostriction," and since its discovery 175 years ago, all magnets have been characterized on this basis." Another significant property of these new magnets is that they can harvest or convert energy with very little waste heat (abstract). The magnets are created when thermally-treated, iron-based alloys are heated in a furnace, then rapidly cooled. When they reach room temperature, they have an odd, almost cellular shape on the microscopic level. The researchers say the magnets have numerous applications for energy-efficient sensors and actuators.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Adult Dating Site Hack Reveals Users' Sexual Preference, Extramarital Affairs

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader notes this report from Channel 4 News that Adult FriendFinder, one of the largest dating sites in the world, has suffered a database breach that revealed personal information for 3.9 million of its users. The leaked data includes email addresses, IP addresses, birth dates, postal codes, sexual preferences, and information indicating which of them are seeking extramarital affairs. There even seems to be data from accounts that were supposedly deleted. Channel 4 saw evidence that there were plans for a spam campaign against these users, and others are worried that a blackmail campaign will follow. "Where you've got names, dates of birth, ZIP codes, then that provides an opportunity to actually target specific individuals whether they be in government or healthcare for example, so you can profile that person and send more targeted blackmail-type emails," said cybercrime specialist Charlie McMurdy.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Build the tiniest gamepad ever

Liliputing -

TinyCircuits, makers of tiny, open-sourced electronics, recently posted instructions for building the smallest video game console I’ve ever seen. With a few dedicated components available from the TinyCircuits’ online shop, you too can play Space Invaders on a thumbnail sized screen. The build calls for a TinyShield Joystick board, which has two analog joysticks and […]

Build the tiniest gamepad ever is a post from: Liliputing

ESA Satellite Shows Sudden Ice Loss In Southern Antarctic Peninsula

Slashdot -

ddelmonte tips news that the ESA's CryoSat spacecraft has detected a sharp increase in the rate at which ice is being lost in a previously stable section of Antarctica. In 2009, glaciers at the Southern Antarctic Peninsula began rapidly shedding ice into the ocean, at a rate of roughly 60 cubic kilometers per year (abstract). From the ESA's press release: This makes the region one of the largest contributors to sea-level rise in Antarctica, having added about 300 cubic km of water into the ocean in the past six years. Some glaciers along the coastal expanse are currently lowering by as much as four m each year. Prior to 2009, the 750 km-long Southern Antarctic Peninsula showed no signs of change. ... The ice loss in the region is so large that it has even caused small changes in Earth’s gravity field, detected by NASA’s GRACE mission. Climate models show that the sudden change cannot be explained by changes in snowfall or air temperature. Instead, the team attributes the rapid ice loss to warming oceans.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Pebble Time color smartwatch begins shipping May 27th

Liliputing -

Pebble has announced that it will begin shipping its first smartwatch with a color display to backers of its Kickstarter campaign on May 27th. The goal is to ship Pebble Time watches to everyone who backed the campaign by mid-June. The team is also planning to launch updated versions of its Pebble apps for iOS […]

Pebble Time color smartwatch begins shipping May 27th is a post from: Liliputing

Ads Based On Browsing History Are Coming To All Firefox Users

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla has announced plans to launch a feature called "Suggested Tiles," which will provide sponsored recommendations to visit certain websites when other websites show up in the user's new tab page. The tiles will begin to show up for beta channel users next week, and the company is asking for feedback. For testing purposes, users will only see Suggested Tiles "promoting Firefox for Android, Firefox Marketplace, and other Mozilla causes." It's not yet known what websites will show up on the tiles when the feature launches later this summer. The company says, "With Suggested Tiles, we want to show the world that it is possible to do relevant advertising and content recommendations while still respecting users’ privacy and giving them control over their data."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

India Targets July/August To Test Its Space Shuttle

Slashdot -

New submitter gubol123 writes with news that India is close to launching its own space shuttle for the first time. Their space program, ISRO, is planning the shuttle's first test flight for some time in July or August. The unmanned shuttle will fly to a height of approximately 70 kilometers before splashing down in the Bay of Bengal. Oddly, the vehicle itself probably won't be recovered. When it lands in the water, it will sink, and there are no plans to try to bring it back to the surface. The most important obstacles are surviving re-entry and simply staying intact during splashdown. Scientists and ISRO engineers are hoping the shuttle program, when finished, will drop the cost of placing objects in orbit by a factor of 10.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

How Java Changed Programming Forever

Slashdot -

snydeq writes: With Java hitting its 20th anniversary this week, Elliotte Rusty Harold discusses how the language changed the art and business of programming, turning on a generation of coders. Infoworld reports: "Java's core strength was that it was built to be a practical tool for getting work done. It popularized good ideas from earlier languages by repackaging them in a format that was familiar to the average C coder, though (unlike C++ and Objective-C) Java was not a strict superset of C. Indeed it was precisely this willingness to not only add but also remove features that made Java so much simpler and easier to learn than other object-oriented C descendants."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Factory Reset On Millions of Android Devices Doesn't Wipe Storage

Slashdot -

Bismillah writes: Ross Anderson and Laurent Simon of Cambridge University studied a range of Android devices and found that even though a "factory reset" is supposed to fully wipe storage, it often doesn't. Interestingly enough, full-device encryption could be compromised by the incomplete wiping too. ITnews reports: "The researchers estimated that 500 million Android devices may not fully wipe device disk partitions. As many as 630 million phones may not wipe internal SD cards. Five 'critical failures' were outlined in the researchers' Security Analysis of Android Factory Resets paper.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Getting started with the Internet of Things

Raspberry Pi -

By 2020 there will be twelvety gigajillion of Internet Things all shouting at each other and sulking – Alice Bevel

The Internet of Things had been around for a while (since 1982 apparently) but it’s still a bit of a mystery to many. The concept of hooking up physical devices and letting them talk to each other is great, but how do you get started? How do you get useful data from them?

A Thing

I’ve been playing around with IoT this week and came across this great starter IoT project for the Pi, a people counting project by Agustin Pelaez. It’s an oldie but goodie and worth a mention because it’s as simple as it gets in terms of IoT—a sensor sends data to a server, which then presents the data in a nice, human-friendly form.

A £2 PIR connected directly to the Pi with just three wires ( Photo: Agustin Pelaez)

It’s also as cheap as chips—apart from a Pi you only need a passive infra-red sensor (PIR) as used in several of our resources. We love PIRs: they cost a couple of quid, connect directly to the Pi GPIO pins and they can be used for all sorts of useful and/or mad projects. The basic Ubidots account that stores and analyses the data is free. So this is an ideal IoT beginners’ project— cheap, straightforward and can be adapted to other projects. (Note that there is a bug in the code, peopleev = 0 should read peoplecount = 0.)

Node-RED on Thingbox, controlling LEDs on the Pi via the web (Photo:

If you want to dig further without too much pain, the ThingBox has an SD card image for the Pi that allows you to “Install Internet of Things technologies on a Raspberry Pi without any technical knowledge” and has a number of basic projects to get you started. It works with Ubidots out of the box and has a number of tutorials that will help you learn common IoT tools like Node-RED on the Pi (including a PIR counter project which is a nice compare-and-contrast  to the Python based one above.)

I like the ThingBox a lot. It lowers the activation energy needed to get started with IoT on the Pi (actually, it makes it easy) and it allows all Pi owners access to what appears at first glance to be an arcane … Thing. The Internet of Things is fun, useful and empowering, and a natural extension to physical computing using the GPIO pins on the Pi. Hook up some Things today and have play.

Another Thing

The post Getting started with the Internet of Things appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Jide Remix Ultra Tablet hits retail: Now available for $399

Liliputing -

The Jide Remix Ultra Tablet is the first tablet to ship with Remix OS. It’s an operating system designed to make Android feel more like Windows: While it supports the Google Play Store and hundreds of thousands of Android apps, Remix OS also has a Windows-like taskbar and lets you view multiple apps at once […]

Jide Remix Ultra Tablet hits retail: Now available for $399 is a post from: Liliputing

NSA Planned To Hijack Google App Store To Hack Smartphones

Slashdot -

Advocatus Diaboli writes: A newly released top secret document reveals that the NSA planned to hijack Google and Samsung app stores to plant spying software on smartphones. The report on the surveillance project, dubbed "IRRITANT HORN," shows the U.S. and its "Five Eyes" alliance: Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia, were looking at ways to hack smartphones and spy on users. According to The Intercept: "The top-secret document, obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, was published Wednesday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept. The document outlines a series of tactics that the NSA and its counterparts in the Five Eyes were working on during workshops held in Australia and Canada between November 2011 and February 2012."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Musical Organ Created From 49 Floppy Disk Drives

Slashdot -

ErnieKey writes: A youth club in Germany, called Toolbox Bodensee, has created an unusual musical organ. It is constructed of 49 floppy disk drives all of which combine to play quite a unique sound. It has the ability to be played manually or act as a playback device. If you have a bunch of old floppy drives and want to assemble your own organ, the 3D print files are available for free download on Thingiverse.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

DNA On Pizza Crust Leads To Quadruple Murder Suspect

Slashdot - writes: In a case straight out of CSI, CNN reports that police are searching for the man suspected in the gruesome slayings of the Savopoulos family and their housekeeper, after his DNA was purportedly found on a pizza crust at the scene of the quadruple murders. They discovered his DNA on the crust of a Domino's pizza — one of two delivered to the Savopoulos home May 14 as the family was held hostage inside — a source familiar with the investigation said. The pizza apparently was paid for with cash left in an envelope on the porch. The next morning, Savvas Savopoulos's personal assistant dropped off a package containing $40,000 in cash at the home, according to the officials and police documents. The bodies of Savopoulos, along with his wife, Amy, their 10-year-old son Philip and the family's housekeeper, Veralicia Figueroa, were discovered the afternoon of May 14 after firefighters responded to reports of a fire. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier says the killings are likely not a random crime and police have issued an arrest warrant for the 34-year-old Daron Dylon Wint, who is described as 5'7 and 155 lbs and might also go by the name "Steffon." Wint apparently used to work at American Iron Works, where Savvas Savopoulos was CEO and president. The neighborhood is home to numerous embassies and diplomatic mansions as well as the official residence of Vice President Joe Biden and his wife. "Right now you have just about every law enforcement officer across the country aware of his open warrant and are looking for him," says Lanier. "I think even his family has made pleas for him to turn himself in."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

La Regulación de Inteligencia en Colombia Se Raja en los Derechos Humanos

EFF's Deeplinks -

En la actualidad, cada vez los Estados cuentan con más medios tecnológicos para vigilar las comunicaciones de las personas debido a los constantes avances tecnológicos. Ahora más que nunca, los Estados cuentan con una mayor capacidad para realizar vigilancia simultánea, pasiva, invasiva y de larga escala. Esto plantea un riesgo para distintos derechos reconocidos en las constituciones de los Estados y en tratados internacionales de Derechos Humanos ratificados por ellos.

Así inicia el informe “Vigilancia de las comunicaciones por la autoridad y protección de los derechos fundamentales en Colombia” elaborado por Katitza Rodríguez, directora internacional de derechos humanos de la Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) y el abogado colombiano Juan Camilo Rivera, quienes señalan como la regulación de inteligencia en Colombia se está rajando en el tema de Derechos Humanos.

El informe es el resultado de una investigación realizada por la Electronic Frontier Foundation, la Comisión Colombiana de Juristas, y la Fundación Karisma. En el análisis que ofrece el informe, se establece cómo en Colombia no hay suficientes garantías legales ni suficiente transparencia gubernamental que permitan proteger los derechos fundamentales en el ejercicio de actividades de vigilancia estatal.

El documento hace parte de una iniciativa global liderada por 350 organizaciones de la sociedad civil, que fue originalmente materializada en los 13 Principios Internacionales sobre la aplicación de los Derechos Humanos a la vigilancia de las comunicaciones, el cual ha sido citado en el último informe de la Comisionada de Derechos Humanos de Naciones Unidas sobre la privacidad en la era digital y el informe de privacidad de la relatora de libertad de expresión de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos.

Durante la elaboración del informe, Rodríguez de EFF dejó en claro que es el momento de que los Estados cumplan las obligaciones internacionales de Derechos Humanos cuando conducen actividades de vigilancia, así como recomendaciones que para que autoridades las tomen en cuenta a fin de que la vigilancia masiva y descontrolada no tenga cabida. 

Mateo Gómez, de la Comisión Colombiana de Juristas, sobre las recomendaciones del informe:

“Urgen a las instancias de control de las actividades de inteligencia y contrainteligencia del Congreso colombiano, no solo a que verifiquen que labores de vigilancia persigan fines legítimos, sino a que además se corrobore que estas sean necesarias, idóneas y proporcionales.”

El documento hace una descripción de la forma cómo se afectan los derechos fundamentales en Colombia, cuando los operadores de servicios de telecomunicaciones tales como Claro, Telefónica o ETB, son obligados por ley a retener datos de sus usuarios por un período mínimo de 5 años. Un plazo exagerado desde todo punto de vista, si se considera que la Corte Europea de Justicia (CEJ) de la Unión Europea declaró inválida la directiva que establecía la obligación de retener datos por un mínimo de 6 meses y un máximo de 2 años.

El informe hace un llamado para garantías legales frente a la vigilancia masiva, teniendo en cuenta escándalos recientes en Colombia:

“Los cambios que se hicieron después de las chuzadas del DAS no evitaron los cuestionamientos a PUMA, ni nos permitieron saber qué pasó realmente en Andrómeda. Eso sí, demostraron que la seguridad nacional se persigue con una exacerbada vigilancia llena de cámaras de seguridad, información biométrica, monitoreo de comunicaciones y recopilación de datos para saberlo todo de todos, sin contrapesos.”

La socialización de este trabajo se realizará ante las principales instituciones públicas que tienen a su cargo la regulación, ejercicio o control de la vigilancia de las comunicaciones el 22 de mayo.

Files:  Vigilancia de las comunicaciones por la autoridad y protección de los derechos fundamentales en ColombiaRelated Issues: InternationalSurveillance and Human Rights
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