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12 great Father’s Day gifts: Unique, geeky, affordable and sure to...

You say Dad already has a $50 smartphone-controlled drone? No problem: Here are 11 more tech toys you won't find at your local Walmart.

Target inks $18.5m deal with US states to settle 2013 data...

Fines equal around 8 hours of profit, that'll teach them Target, the shopping behemoth for people who are too classy to go to Walmart, has today reached a settlement with 47 states and the District of Columbia over the 2013 hacking incident that saw 70 million customers lose their personal information.…

Apple has a record $250 billion in the bank

Pressure for a huge acquisition—think Netflix or Tesla—may grow.

One-upping the NES Classic Edition with the Raspberry Pi 3 and...

NES Classic is no more, but luckily cheap hobbyist boards are great for little projects.

Theranos investors who pledge not to sue get Elizabeth Holmes’ shares...

After scandals and lawsuits, hobbling company is said to have $150 million left.

IBM announces enterprise-ready blockchain services that go beyond currency

The service is based on the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric.

AMD’s Radeon memory business is slowing down

AMD's Radeon memory business has slowed down, with fewer products available in the U.S. and no new product releases since the introduction of the Polaris GPUs last year.Products are not being sold by key partners like Newegg, Best Buy, or TigerDirec...

What the end of net neutrality means for you

Now that Trump has taken office and is adorning his cabinet with fellow millionaires and billionaires, net neutrality is on the chopping block.

The principle that all internet traffic should be treated equally is all but dead. With net neutrality, Amazon, for example, can’t cut a deal with Time Warner to make its website come up faster than Walmart’s.

For all the talk of being for the common man, this administration won’t stand in the way of big businesses making deals. The internet was built on the very idea of net neutrality.
It has a history going back more than a century in “common carrier” laws, when Standard Oil was fined for creating a deal with a railroad (also a common carrier) in which it got a “rebate” whenever a competitor shipped oil on the line.

These kinds of deals create vertical monopolies to the disadvantage of consumers, escalating prices.

They also stifle innovation as they price access to the market out of the reach of startups and inventors.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Biometrics leads to arrest of accused child molester on the lam...

Enlarge / Nearly two-decade-old photos of a suspected child molester matched a 2007 passport photo via a biometrics analysis by the FBI, leading to Charles Hollin's arrest in Oregon.FBI / Aurich Lawson reader comments 50 Share this story A fugitive suspected of molesting a 10-year-old Indiana girl 17 years ago has been arrested after the Federal Bureau of Investigation employed facial recognition technology, according to court documents.

The bureau said the suspect's US passport photo in December was run though a Facial Analysis, Comparison, and Evaluation (FACE) test, and it matched photos taken before he disappeared nearly two decades ago. Charles Hollin, 61, was arrested in Salem, Oregon last week at a Walmart where he works. He had both Minnesota and Oregon driver's licenses with his picture on them.

The agency said it did not perform a biometrics analysis with those databases because they have not opened up their DMV roles for the bureau to search.

The bureau noted in a court filing that the government maintains "top secret" databases containing biometric profiles. "The Department of Motor Vehicles for Minnesota and Oregon were not searched due to the fact that it was prohibited by law.

Additional searches were conducted in various federal secret and top secret databases.

All of these searches were negative," Todd Prewitt, an FBI agent, wrote in court documents (PDF). Hollin had vanished when Indiana authorities went to arrest him in February, 2000.

The authorities suspect Hollin abducted a 10-year-old girl, put a stocking mask over her head, drove to a secluded area, and then molested her.

They suspect he abandoned the girl naked on an isolated road, where she was found by a passerby. He went by the identity of Andrew David Hall, who was an 8-year-old boy killed in a 1975 Kentucky auto crash, the authorities said. The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) says the bureau has access to roughly 412 million images as part of its face-recognition database.

The bulk of those images are photographs of people who have committed no crime, according to the recent GAO report. The report says the bureau's FACE unit contains 30 million mug shots, has access to driver license photos from 16 states, the State Department's visa and passport database, and the biometric database maintained by the Defense Department.

The report did not mention any top secret database.

But it did fault the FBI for being lax about privacy and the accuracy of the photos in its database. The bureau has used facial recognition to capture other long-vanished suspects.

A US fugitive on the lam for 14 years in connection with child sex abuse and kidnapping charges was apprehended in Nepal in 2014 after authorities scanned his "wanted" poster with facial recognition tech.

Obama in Science: Clean energy will happen whether you like it...

Lawrence Berkeley Labreader comments 20 Share this story In Science’s Policy Forum column, President Barack Obama has penned an article arguing that the world is quickly replacing fossil fuel-based energy with clean energy.

That momentum, he asserts, will not be stopped by “near-term” policy changes from Donald Trump’s incoming administration. The current president writes that, although climate change is undeniable, the incoming administration might do nothing about it.

That would be a political mistake, but it might not effect on the economics of clean energy, Obama argues. “Mounting economic and scientific evidence leave me confident that trends toward a clean-energy economy that have emerged during my presidency will continue,” he wrote, adding that “the trend toward clean energy is irreversible.” The president cites recent studies from national and international agencies showing that energy emissions are decoupling from economic growth, a trend that “should put to rest the argument that combatting climate change requires accepting lower growth or a lower standard of living.” And the potential damage to the economy is vast: a 4°C increase in global temperature could “lead to lost US federal revenue of roughly $340 billion to $690 billion annually.” Despite Trump’s baseless denial of climate science, local governments and businesses will be the ones dealing with climate change in the coming years. Obama predicts that these organizations will continue making the investments necessary to protect people and investments from the effects of climate change. He cites Google, Walmart, and GM as companies that have promised to move large portions, or all, of their energy consumption to renewable power. The president notes that momentum is also found on the labor side of the energy equation.

Approximately “2.2 million Americans are currently employed in the design, installation, and manufacture of energy-efficiency products and services,” he writes, as opposed to “roughly 1.1 million Americans who are employed in the production of fossil fuels and their use for electric power generation.” The president adds that fossil fuel industries receive nearly $5 billion in federal subsidies a year, “a market distortion that should be corrected on its own or in the context of corporate tax reform.” Obama then turns to the Paris Agreement—a global agreement to reduce emissions such that the globe stops short of a 2°C increase in global temperature.

Donald Trump has promised to back out of the Paris Agreement, but Obama argues that such a folly would only harm the US rather than help it: Were the United States to step away from Paris, it would lose its seat at the table to hold other countries to their commitments, demand transparency, and encourage ambition.

This does not mean the next Administration needs to follow identical domestic policies to my Administration’s.

There are multiple paths and mechanisms by which this country can achieve—efficiently and economically—the targets we embraced in the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement itself is based on a nationally determined structure whereby each country sets and updates its own commitments. Regardless of U.S. domestic policies, it would undermine our economic interests to walk away from the opportunity to hold countries representing two-thirds of global emissions—including China, India, Mexico, European Union members, and others—accountable. This should not be a partisan issue.
It is good business and good economics to lead a technological revolution and define market trends.

And it is smart planning to set long-term emission-reduction targets and give American companies, entrepreneurs, and investors certainty so they can invest and manufacture the emission-reducing technologies that we can use domestically and export to the rest of the world. Ultimately the message is: deny climate science if you want, but regions, states, and businesses will still be moving to eliminate greenhouse gases to protect their own futures.

5 enterprise-related things you can do with blockchain technology today

Diamonds. Bitcoin. Pork. If you think you’ve spotted the odd one out, think again: All three are things you can track using blockchain technologies today. Blockchains are distributed, tamper-proof, public ledgers of transactions, brought to public attention by the cryptocurrency bitcoin, which is based on what is still the most widespread blockchain. But blockchains are being used for a whole lot more than making pseudonymous payments outside the traditional banking system. Because blockchains are distributed, an industry or a marketplace can use them without the risk of a single point of failure. And because they can’t be modified, there is no question of whether the record keeper can be trusted. Those factors have prompted a number of enterprises to build blockchains into essential business functions, or at least to test them there. Here are five ways your business could use blockchain technology today. Making payments Bitcoin introduced the first blockchain as a tool for making payments without going through the banks. But what if you work for a bank? Strangely, many of the features that made bitcoin distasteful to the banks are making the underlying blockchain technology attractive as a way to settle transactions among themselves in dollars or sterling. It’s public, so banks can see whether their counterparties can afford to settle their debts, and distributed, so they can settle faster than some central banks will allow. Ripple is one of the first such blockchain-based settlement mechanisms: Its banking partners include UBS, Santander, and Standard Chartered. But UBS and Santander are also working on another blockchain project called Utility Settlement Coin, which will allow them to settle payments in multiple currencies, with Deutsche Bank, BNY Mellon, and others. If these systems catch on, it’s surely only a matter of time before such blockchain payments trickle down to compete with traditional inter-bank transfer mechanisms such as SWIFT. Identity of Things On the internet, famously, no one knows if you’re a dog, and on the internet of things, identity can be similarly difficult to pin down. That’s not great if you’re trying to securely identify the devices that connect to your network, and it’s what prompted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to fund a project by Factom to create a timestamped log of such devices in a blockchain, recording their identification number, manufacturer, available device updates, known security issues, and granted permissions. That could all go in a regular device-management database, but the DHS hopes that the immutability of the blockchain will make it harder for hackers to spoof known devices by preventing them from altering the records. Certifying certificates It’s not just devices that can be spoofed, but also qualifications. If you were looking to hire someone with blockchain expertise, and the applicant told you they had a professional certification, what would you do to check the certificate’s validity? Software developer Learning Machine hopes candidates will present their certificates in its mobile app, and that you will check their validity using Blockcerts. This is a way of storing details of a certificate in the blockchain, so that anyone can verify its content and the identity of the person to whom it was issued without the need to contact a central issuing authority. The certificates can be about educational qualifications, professional training, membership of a group, anything, so if your organization issues certificates, you could issue them on the blockchain, too. Learning Machine and co-developer MIT Media Lab have published details of Blockcerts as an open standard and posted the code to Github. Diamonds are forever Diamonds, they say, are forever, so that means whatever system you use to track them is going to have to stand the test of time too. Everledger is counting on blockchain technology to prove the provenance and ownership of diamonds recorded in its ledger. In fact, it’s using two blockchains: A private one to record information that diamond sellers need to share with buyers, but may not want widely known, and the public bitcoin blockchain to provide an indisputable timestamp for the private records. The company built its first diamond database on the Eris blockchain application platform developed by Monax but recently moved to a system running in IBM’s Bluemix cloud. Diamonds are eminently traceable as the uncut ones have unique physical characteristics and the cut ones are, these days, typically laser-etched with a tiny serial number. Recording each movement of such valuable items allows insurers to identify fraud and international bodies to ensure that trade in diamonds is not funding conflicts. Everledger CEO Leanne Kemp believes the system could transform trade in other valuable commodities, too. The company has identified luxury goods and works of art as possibilities. And finally, the pork But what about the pork? It may not be worth as much by weight as a diamond, but in China at least, it more than makes up for that in volume. And because pork is not forever, being able to demonstrate that a particular piece of it is fresh and fit for consumption can be vital. Pork is one of many products for which fine-grained tracking and tracing of inventory can be helpful, and happens to be the one Walmart is testing blockchain technology with. It’s using IBM’s blockchain to record where each piece of pork it sells in China comes from, where and how it is processed, its storage temperature and expected expiration date. If a product recall becomes necessary, it will be able to narrow down the batches affected and identify exactly where they are or, if they have already been sold, who bought them. The project may extend to other products: The company has just opened the Walmart Food Safety Collaboration Center (WFSCC) in China to work with IBM and industry partners to make food supplies safer and healthier using blockchain technology.

Court: It’s entirely reasonable for police to swipe a suspicious gift...

Enlarge401(K) 2012 reader comments 29 Share this story A federal appeals court has found that law enforcement can, without a warrant, swipe credit cards and gift cards to reveal the information encoded on the magnetic stripe.
It's the third such federal appellate court to reach this conclusion. Last week, the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of the government in United States v.

Turner
, establishing that it was entirely reasonable for Texas police officers to scan approximately 100 gift cards found in a car that was pulled over at a traffic stop. Like the previous similar 8th Circuit case that Ars covered in June 2016, the defendants challenged the search of the gift cards as being unreasonable. (The second case was from the 3rd Circuit in July 2015, in a case known as US v.

Bah
.) In this case, after pulling over the car and running the IDs of both men, police found that there was an outstanding warrant for the passenger, Courtland Turner. When Turner was told to get out of the car and was placed in the patrol car, the officer returned to the stopped car and noticed an “opaque plastic bag partially protruding from the front passenger seat,” as if someone had tried to push it under the seat to keep it hidden. The cop then asked the driver, Broderick Henderson, what was in the bag. Henderson replied that they had bought gift cards. When the officer then asked if he had receipts for them, Henderson replied that they had “bought the gift cards from another individual who sells them to make money.” As the 5th Circuit summarized: After conferring with other officers about past experiences with stolen gift cards, the officer seized the gift cards as evidence of suspected criminal activity. Henderson was ticketed for failing to display a driver’s license and signed an inventory sheet that had an entry for 143 gift cards.

Turner was arrested pursuant to his warrant. The officer, without obtaining a search warrant, swiped the gift cards with his in-car computer. Unable to make use of the information shown, the officer turned the gift cards over to the Secret Service.

A subsequent scan of the gift cards revealed that at least forty-three were altered, meaning the numbers encoded in the card did not match the numbers printed on the card.

The investigating officer also contacted the stores where the gift cards were purchased—a grocery store and a Walmart in Bryan, Texas provided photos of Henderson and Turner purchasing gift cards. Turner's lawyers later challenged the scanning, arguing that this "search" of these gift cards went against their client's "reasonable expectation of privacy," an argument that neither the district court nor the appellate court found convincing. The 5th Circuit also noted that while users have the “ability to re-encode the cards,” citing a device for sale on Amazon, the “time and expense it takes to purchase and use a re-encoding device to change at most a few lines of characters means it will rarely be worth doing for a lawful purpose.”