cylonlover writes "What does it mean when a parking spot is marked with a wheelchair symbol? If you answered, 'It means I can park there as long as I'm going to be quick,' you're wrong — yet you're also far from alone. Every day in parking lots all over the world, non-disabled drivers regularly use spaces clearly reserved for the handicapped. They often get away with it, too, unless an attendant happens to check while their vehicle is parked there. Thanks to technology recently developed by New Zealand's Car Parking Technologies (CPT), however, those attendants could soon be notified the instant that a handicapped spot is improperly occupied."
McGruber writes with some news that slipped by in December: "Floyd Landis won the 2006 Tour de France, but was later stripped of his title after testing 'positive for an unusually high ratio of the hormone testosterone to the hormone epitestosterone (T/E ratio).' In February 2010, Slashdot covered the news that Landis had been accused of hacking into the laboratory that detected the unusually high T/E ratio. Since then, Landis was 'convicted in absentia by a French court for his role in hacking into the computers of a French doping lab,' according to National Public Radio. Landis and his former coach Arnie Baker both received 12-month suspended sentences, according to USA Today."
SharkLaser writes "Fake antivirus scams have plagued Windows and Mac OS X during the last couple of years. Now it seems like such scams have spread to Android. Fake antivirus scams on Android work the same as they do on PC's — a user with an Android phone downloads an application or visits a website that says that the user's device is infected with malware. It will then show a fake scan of the system and return hard-coded 'positives' and gives the option the option to buy antivirus software that will 'remove' the malware on the affected system. Android, which is based on Linux, has been plagued with malware earlier too. According to McAfee, almost all new mobile malware now targets Android. Android app stores, including the official one from Google, has also been hosting hundreds of trojan applications that send premium rate SMSes on behalf of unsuspecting users."
turing0 writes "As a former bioinformatics researcher and CTO I have some sad news to start 2012 with. Though I am sure not a surprise to the Slashdot crowd, it appears we — or our demographic — made up more than 75% of the Google Health userbase. Today marks the end of Google Health. (Also see this post for the official Google announcement and lame excuse for the reasoning behind this myopic decision.) The decision of Google to end this excellent service is a fantastic example of what can represent the downside of cloud services for individuals and enterprises. The cloud is great when and while your desired application is present — assuming it's secure and robust — but you are at the mercy of the provider for longevity." (Read more, below.)
theodp writes "Apple,' writes Dave Winer in The Un-Internet, 'is providing a bad example for younger, smaller companies like Twitter and Tumblr, who apparently want to control the 'user experience' of their platforms in much the same way as Apple does. They feel they have a better sense of quality than the randomness of a free market. So they've installed similar controls.' Still, Winer's seen this movie before and notes, 'Eventually we overcome their barriers, and another layer comes on. And the upstarts become the installed-base, and they make the same mistakes all over again. It's the Internet vs the Un-Internet. And the Internet, it seems, always prevails.' Thinking along the same lines, Cory Doctorow warns the stakes are only going to get higher, and issues a call-to-arms for The Coming War on General Purpose Computation."
An article in The New York Times highlights two growing collections of words online that effectively bypass the traditional dictionary publishing system of slow aggregation and curation. Wordnik is a private venture that has already raised more than $12 million in capital, while the Corpus of Contemporary American English is a project started by Brigham Young professor Mark Davies. These sources differ from both conventional dictionary publishers and crowd-sourced efforts like the excellent Wiktionary for their emphasis on avoiding human intervention rather than fostering it. Says founder Erin McKean in the linked article, 'Language changes every day, and the lexicographer should get out of the way. ... You can type in anything, and we'll show you what data we have.'
Hugh Pickens writes "Amy Chozick reports that cable guys, long depicted as slovenly cranks who dodged growling dogs and tracked mud on the living room carpet, often have backgrounds in engineering and computer science and certifications in network engineering. 'Back in my day, you called the phone company, we hooked it up, gave you a phone book and left,' says Paul Holloway, a 30-year employee of Verizon, which offers phone, Internet, television and home monitoring services through its FiOS fiber optic network. 'These days people are connecting iPhones, Xboxes and 17 other devices in the home.' The surge in high-tech offerings comes at a critical time for cable companies in an increasingly saturated Internet-based market where growth must come from all the extras like high-speed Internet service, home security, digital recording devices and other high-tech upgrades. 'They should really change the name to Time Warner Internet,' says Quirino Madia, a supervisor for Time Warner Cable. 'Nine out of 10 times, that's all people care about.' Despite their enhanced stature and additional responsibilities, technicians haven't benefited much financially. The median hourly income in 2010 for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers was $55,600 annually, up only 0.4 percent from 2008."
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory just announced that they have found a way to create more efficient photovoltaic cells using 50% less energy. The technique hinges upon a new optical furnace that uses intense light instead of a conventional furnace to heat silicon to make solar cells. The new furnace utilizes 'highly reflective and heat-resistant ceramics to ensure that the light is absorbed only by a silicon wafer, not by the walls inside the furnace.'"
SgtChaireBourne writes "Many works published in 1955 would have entered the public domain this year. Duke University's Center for the Study of the Public Domain has an overview of the movies, books, songs and historical works that are kept out of the public domain by changes to copyright law since 1978. Instead of seeing these enter the public domain in 2012, we will have to wait until 2051 before being able to use these works without restriction."
MojoKid writes "When an advance copy of Crysis 2 leaked to the Internet a full month before the game's scheduled release, Crytek and Electronic Arts (EA) were understandably miffed and, as it turns out, justified in their fears of mass piracy. Crysis 2 was illegally download on the PC platform 3,920,000 times, 'beating out' Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 with 3,650,000 illegal downloads. Numbers like these don't bode well for PC gamers and will only serve to encourage even more draconian DRM measures than we've seen in the past."
theshowmecanuck writes "Reuters reports that there is little or no security at one of the main factories in Russia responsible for military and Soyuz rocket manufacture. Blogger Lana Sator was able to walk right into the empty (off hours) facility through huge gaps in the fences that no-one bothered to repair, and there was no security to stop them aside from some dogs that didn't bother them either. In fact Lana even has one picture of herself posing next to an apparently non-functional security camera, another of her sitting on what looks like to be possibly a partially assembled rocket motor (someone who knows better can fill us in), and has about 100 photos of the escapade all told on her blog about this (it's in Russian... which I don't speak... any translators out there?). Russian officials are said to be deeply concerned. I wonder if this has any bearing on why Russian rockets haven't been making it into space successfully, or whether it and the launch failures are all part of some general industrial malaise that is taking place."
An anonymous reader writes to point out this interesting outgrowth of Google's Native Client: a Google engineer has ported MAME 0.143 to the browser-based platform, and written about the process in detail, outlining the overall strategy employed as well as specific problems that MAME presented. An impressive postscript from the conclusion: "The port of MAME was relatively challenging; combined with figuring out how to port SDL-based games and load resources in Native Client, the overall effort took us about 4 days to complete."
Orome1 writes "Many prisons and jails use SCADA systems with PLCs to open and close doors. Using original and publicly available exploits along with evaluating vulnerabilities in electronic and physical security designs, researchers discovered significant vulnerabilities in PLCs used in correctional facilities by being able to remotely flip the switches to 'open' or 'locked closed' on cell doors and gates."
wiredmikey writes "New research from Kaspersky Labs has revealed that the platform dubbed 'tilded' (~d), which was used to develop Stuxnet and Duqu, has been around for years. The researchers say that same platform has been used to create similar Trojans which have yet to be discovered. Alexander Gostev and Igor Sumenkov have put together some interesting research, the key point being that the person(s) behind what the world knows as Stuxnet and Duqu have actually been using the same development platform for several years." An anonymous reader adds a link to this "surprisingly entertaining presentation" (video) by a Microsoft engineer, in which "he tells the story of how he and others analysed the exploits used by Stuxnet. Also surprising are the simplicity of the exploits which were still present in Win7." See also the report at Secureist from which the SecurityWeek story draws.