Friday, October 19, 2012

Tech Links: October 19, 2012

China “Apple Store” is Being Real Honest


Hunting season is now open on software patents, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Stack Exchange and Google are teaming up to make it easy for geeks to shoot down overbroad and ridiculous patents. Thanks to a change in patent law that went into effect this month, third parties who think a patent application is flimsy or invalid due to previous art or obviousness can now file evidence and comments to the USPTO, starting Thursday morning. Previously, it was illegal for the USPTO to take outside parties comments into account when evaluating a patent application.

Verizon draws fire for monitoring app usage, browsing habits: Verizon Wireless has begun selling information about its customers' geographical locations, app usage, and Web browsing activities. The company this month began offering reports to marketers showing what Verizon subscribers are doing on their phones and other mobile devices, including what iOS and Android apps are in use in which locations.


Apple patents fingerprint sensor

Kindle In The Classroom: Amazon Makes Big Push In U.S. Schools


Clay Shirky: How the Internet will (one day) transform government [1,2,3]

The Pirate Bay Migrates Into The Cloud In Bid To Become 'Raid-Proof'

Reddit CEO Yishan Wong Defends Site's 'Free Speech' After Notorious 'Creep' Outed

Study: Music Pirates Are Also Big Spenders Within The Record Industry

Tweets Will Be Downloadable By the End of The Year

YouTube mulling over a new revenue option for partners

Reading & Discussion

Facebook's Generation Y nightmare: Today's young people could pay a high price pay at work or in health insurance for giving up their privacy online

I Want To Talk About Politics On Facebook vs. Get Out Of My Facebook, Politics: two arguments for and against using social media to share political opinions

Resources & Utilities

Lifehacker's guide to getting medical advice online.


A planet with about the same mass as Earth has been discovered in orbit around Alpha Centauri B, a star in the Alpha Centauri triple star system - the solar system's closest neighbor, a mere 4.3 light years away. Alpha Centauri B is very similar to the Sun, and this marks the first planet with a mass similar to Earth ever found around a Sun-like star. However, the planet is orbiting at a distance of about six million kilometers, much closer than Mercury is to the Sun in the Solar System, so temperatures above 400 degrees Celsius may make vacationing there unpalatable even for the most dedicated beach-goer. However, lead paper author Xavier Dumusque called it "a major step towards the detection of a twin Earth in the immediate vicinity of the Sun."

Sitting is hazardous to your health. "The research, published in separate medical journals this month, adds to a growing scientific consensus that the more time someone spends sitting, especially in front of the television, the shorter and less robust his or her life may be."


TypeScript is Microsoft's new open source programming language.  Designed by Anders Hejlsberg (of Turbo Pascal, Delphi, and C# fame), it is a strict superset of (and compiles to) javascript. TypeScript adds optional static types and a module system, using ECMAScript 6 "Harmony" syntax for new features whenever possible. Reactions have been mixed. But don't take their word for it- try it out for yourself.


Computer scientist and past president of the ACM Barbara Simons recently spent 15 minutes chatting with Charlie Rose [no transcript available yet] about the insecurity of electronic voting machines, ranging from Direct-recording Electronic systems (such as the Diebold systems which were shown to be insecure in the excellent Hacking Democracy [1h21m, also on Google Video and Hulu]) to optical scanning machines. Add into her expressed uncertainty and frustrations Virginia's wireless vote-tally reporting, Florida's problems with demonstrated voting machine hacking (and again) (not to mention a case in FL with outright wrong machine-tallied results), questions being raised in Chicago about the accuracy of electronic voting, a Utah election recount being halted after being found to be incorrect, possible appearance of impropriety about e-voting machines in Ohio, and a picture starts to be painted wherein the veracity of election outcomes is cast into doubt. Verified Voting gives information about which state uses what kind of voting, and provides a lot of numbers.

HoneyMap is an interesting data visualization project depicting cyberattacks. Details.

Schools in Missouri, Maryland, and other states are using fingerprint scans and RFID chips to track students as a means to speed up service in the cafeteria and to track student whereabouts in and around school. A school participating in this program has prevented a student who refused to wear the RFIDs from participating in homecoming. Schools claim that these chips help drive up daily attendance numbers, which affect school funding.


10 Tips For Taking Better Photos With Your Smartphone

How to reveal your password if it's autofilling as ***** on your screen and you can't remember what it was.

You Can Look Snazzy on a Webcam

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