An anonymous reader writes "The head of delivery for the UK's Department for Work and Pensions' flagship welfare reform project, Universal Credit, has said that the department didn't adopt open source and web-based technologies at the beginning of the project because 'such things weren't available' two and a half years ago. Howard Shiplee told the Work and Pensions Committee this week that the department is now using open source technologies in its enhanced version of Universal Credit, which was initially developed by the Government Digital Service (GDS) and will be rolled out nationally by 2017 for most claimants. The existing system being used in pathfinder pilots and developed by the likes of IBM, HP and Accenture will be largely be replaced by the digital version."
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An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla today officially launched Firefox 26 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Additions include Click-to-Play turned on by default for all Java plugins, more seamless updates on Windows, and a new Home design for Android. Firefox 26 has been released over on Firefox.com and all existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically. As always, the Android version is trickling out slowly on Google Play. Release notes are here: desktop and mobile."
Nerval's Lobster writes "The so-called "Internet of Things" has rapidly become a buzzword du jour, with everyone from tech-giant CEOs to analysts rhapsodizing about the benefits of connecting everyday objects and appliances to the Web. Despite all the hype, some significant obstacles remain to fulfilling that vision of a massively interconnected world. For starters, all the players involved need to agree on shared frameworks for building compatible software—something that seems well on its way with the just-announced AllSeen Alliance, which includes Sharp, Cisco, LG Electronics, Qualcomm, Panasonic, D-Link, and the Linux Foundation (among many others). In theory, the AllSeen Alliance's combined software and engineering resources will result in open-source systems capable of seamless communication with one another. The Alliance will base its initial framework on AllJoyn, an open-source framework first developed by Qualcomm and subsequently elaborated upon by other firms. Applications and services that support AllJoyn can communicate "regardless of manufacturer or operating system and without the need for Internet access," according to the Alliance, whose Website offers the initial codebase. "Open source is the ideal, neutral staging area for collaboration that can provide the interoperability layer needed to make the Internet of Everything a reality," read a Dec. 10 note on the Linux Foundation's official blog. "When everyone jointly develops and uses the same freely available code, companies can develop innovative services on top of it and get them to market faster." However, not all companies interested in exploring the Internet of Things have joined the AllSeen Alliance. For example, Intel isn't a partner, despite having recently created a new division, the Internet of Things Solutions Group, to explore how to best make devices and networks more connected and aware."
judgecorp writes "A branch of the City of London police seems to be censoring suspected pirates worldwide, using threats. The Police Intellectual Proerty Crime Unit (PIPCU), acts on tip-offs from copyright owners to attempt to close down websites accused of piracy. the process involves cease-and-desist letters, followed by pressure on advertisers not to fund the site, and finally PIPCU uses threats to the domain registrar (not the ISP), all without any sort of court order."
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from The Daily Dot:"On Monday evening, a bill aimed at thwarting the production and distribution of plastic 3-D printed weapons was blocked by Senate Republicans. ... The debate over the new legislation centered around the 1988 Undetectable Firearms Act, which bans the production and distribution of weapons that skirt 'walk through metal detectors.' The act has been renewed on two occasions since its passage. It was due to expire again on the 9th of December. The House voted to renew the bill last week. The rise of 3-D printing has made this year's renewal more complicated in the Senate. Many lawmakers, particularly Democrats, feel the current Undetectable Firearms Act inadequately addresses the rising threat posed by printed plastic weapons."
New submitter KDE Community writes that the KDE project has released KDevelop 4.6.0 as the latest version of the free and open source integrated development environment. "KDevelop 4.6.0 improves debugging support with GDB. The GDB integration improvements include some operations now going into effect immediately rather than needing to re-run the program, improved debugging from external terminals, and a CPU registers toolview. KDevelopers' CPU registers toolview also allows for showing and editing all user-mode registers and general purpose flags for x86/x86_64/ARMv7 platforms. Other KDevelop 4.6.0 changes include greater language support within the PHP plug-in, Python language support improvements, more C++11 language support, improved project management, and a clean-up to the IDE's user-interface."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Jim Puzzanghera writes in the LA Times that the federal government has sold its remaining shares of General Motors stock, ending the controversial $49.5-billion bailout of the automaker begun in late 2008 under former President George W. Bush. Although the GM bailout ended with a $10.5-billion loss for taxpayers, Treasury officials say the goal never was to turn a profit. The rescue prevented further damage to the economy and the potential loss of 1 million jobs says Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew. 'This marks one of the final chapters in the administration's efforts to protect the broader economy by providing support to the automobile industry.' At its height, taxpayers had a 60.8% ownership stake in GM. The auto bailout will rank as 'one of the most important interventions, maybe the most important, in U.S. economic history,' says Sean McAlinden, chief economist for the Center for Automotive Research. Without it, 'the upper Midwest would still be a gaping, double-digit unemployment hole in the economy, 600,000 retirees would've lost their pensions.' ... The Cadillac CTS was picked as Motor Trend's car of the year and the Chevrolet Impala was the first U.S. car chosen as the best sedan on the market by Consumer Reports in 20 years. 'We will always be grateful for the second chance extended to us and we are doing our best to make the most of it,' says GM CEO Dan Akerson. 'Today is not dramatically different from the hundreds of preceding days during which we have worked to make GM a company our country can be proud of again.'"
An anonymous reader writes with news that even Canada is getting its hands dirty in the international dragnet fiasco. From the article: "The leaked NSA document being reported exclusively by CBC News reveals Canada is involved with the huge American intelligence agency in clandestine surveillance activities in 'approximately 20 high-priority countries.' ... Wesley Wark, a Canadian security and intelligence expert at the University of Ottawa, says the document makes it clear Canada can take advantage of its relatively benign image internationally to covertly amass a vast amount of information abroad. 'I think we still trade on a degree of an international brand as an innocent partner in the international sphere,' Wark said. 'There's not that much known about Canadian intelligence.'"
hypnosec writes "Researchers have developed and open-sourced a low-cost 3D metal printer capable of printing metal tools and objects that can be build for under £1,000. A team of researchers led by Associate Professor Joshua Pearce at the Michigan Technological University developed the firmware and the plans for the printer and have made it available freely. The open source 3D printer is definitely a huge leap forward as the starting price of commercial counterparts is around £300,000. Pearce claimed that their technology will not only allow smaller companies and start-ups to build inexpensive prototypes, but it will allow other scientists and researchers to build tools and objects required for their research without having to shell out thousands, and could be used to print parts for machines such as windmills." It's a modified RepRap; looks like we're getting closer to the RepRap being able to print all of its parts.
dmiller1984 writes "The Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest public school system in the United States, announced a five-year plan today that would add at least one computer science course to every CPS high school, and elevate computer science to a core requirement instead of an elective. CPS announced this through a partnership with code.org, stating that the non-profit would provide free curriculum, professional development, and stipends for teachers."
sfcrazy writes "People are now more concerned regarding their privacy after discovering about efforts made by governments to spy on their communications. The most practical solution to keep messages, emails and calls secure is to use a cryptographic encryption mechanism. However, just like the name of the method, the installation process is complex for most users. To solve this, CyanogenMod will come equipped with built in encryption system for text messages." Whisper System has integrated their TextSecure protocol into the SMS/MMS provider, so even third party sms apps benefit. Better yet, it's Free Software, licensed under the GPLv3+. Support will debut in Cyanogenmod 11, but you can grab a 10.2 nightly build to try it out now.
mrspoonsi writes "BBC reports: Leading global technology firms have called for 'wide-scale changes' to US government surveillance. Eight firms, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Yahoo, have formed an alliance called Reform Government Surveillance group. The group has written a letter to the US President and Congress arguing that current surveillance practice 'undermines the freedom' of people. It comes after recent leaks detailed the extent of surveillance programs. 'We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer's revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide,' the group said in an open letter published on its website."
An anonymous reader writes "Scientists have discovered huge freshwater reserves beneath the seabed on continental shelves off the coast of Australia, North America, China and South Africa. 'The volume of this water resource is a hundred times greater than the amount we've extracted from the Earth's sub-surface in the past century since 1900. Fresh water on our planet is increasingly under stress and strain so the discovery of significant new stores off the coast is very exciting. It means that more options can be considered to help reduce the impact of droughts and continental water shortages' says Dr Vincent Post of the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT) and the School of the Environment at Flinders University."
theodp writes "The weeklong Hour of Code kicks off tomorrow, with Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates doing their part to address a declared nationwide CS crisis by ostensibly teaching the nation's schoolchildren how to code. But a recent NY Times Op-Ed by economist Paul Collier criticizing Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC as self-serving advocacy (echoing earlier criticism) serves as a reminder that Zuckerberg and Gates' Code.org and Hour of Code involvement is the Yin to their H-1B visa lobbying Yang. The two efforts have been inextricably linked together for Congress, if not for the public. And while Zuckerberg argues it's 'the right thing to do', Collier argues that there are also downsides to the tech giants' plans to shift more bright, young, enterprising people from the poorest countries to the richest. 'An open door for the talented would help Facebook's bottom line,' Collier concludes, 'but not the bottom billion.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Ellen Nakashima reports at the Washington Post that morale has taken a hit at the National Security Agency in the wake of controversy over the agency's surveillance activities and officials are dismayed that President Obama has not visited the agency to show his support. 'It is not clear whether or when Obama might travel the 23 miles up the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to visit Fort Meade, the NSA's headquarters in Maryland,' writes Nakashima, 'but agency employees are privately voicing frustration at what they perceive as White House ambivalence amid the pounding the agency has taken from critics.' Though Obama has asserted that the NSA's collection of virtually all Americans' phone records is lawful and has saved lives, the administration has not endorsed legislation that would codify it. And his recent statements suggest Obama thinks some of the NSA's activities should be constrained. 'The agency, from top to bottom, leadership to rank and file, feels that it is had no support from the White House even though it's been carrying out publicly approved intelligence missions,' says Joel Brenner, NSA inspector general from 2002 to 2006. 'They feel they've been hung out to dry, and they're right.' Former officials note how President George W. Bush paid a visit to the NSA in January 2006, in the wake of revelations by the New York Times that the agency engaged in a counterterrorism program of warrantless surveillance on U.S. soil beginning after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. 'Bush came out and spoke to the workforce, and the effect on morale was tremendous,' Brenner said. 'There's been nothing like that from this White House.' Morale is 'bad overall' says another former NSA official. 'It's become very public and very personal. Literally, neighbors are asking people, 'Why are you spying on Grandma?'"
First time accepted submitter prajendran writes "James Hansen, the former director of the Goddard Institute of Space Sciences, has been a strong defender of using nuclear energy to replace coal and renewable energy. He and three other researchers had written a letter, arguing just this. In this interview with rediff.com, an Indian news site, he was asked to address some concerns surrounding the issue, especially given the strong feelings generated by it. It may not be Hansen's best interview, but it did bring out his passionate side."
Fnord666 writes in with this link about one the development of a new unmanned toy for the U.S. Air Force. "A large, classified unmanned aircraft developed by Northrop Grumman is now flying—and it demonstrates a major advance in combining stealth and aerodynamic efficiency. Defense and intelligence officials say the secret unmanned aerial system (UAS), designed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, is scheduled to enter production for the U.S. Air Force and could be operational by 2015. Funded through the Air Force's classified budget, the program to build this new UAS, dubbed the RQ-180, was awarded to Northrop Grumman after a competition that included Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The aircraft will conduct the penetrating ISR mission that has been left unaddressed, and under wide debate, since retirement of the Lockheed SR-71 in 1998."
First time accepted submitter biodata writes "The BBC is reporting that hundreds of UK commercial air flights have been delayed for most of Saturday due to an internal telephone systems problem in the National Air Traffic Control Service, and delays are likely to continue into the evening. A spokesperson said that it was a different software bug from the one which grounded flights in the summer."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Lindsay Abrams reports at Salon that the Obama administration is offering wind farms 30 years of leeway to kill and harm bald and golden eagles. The new regulations, which were requested by the wind industry, will provide companies that seek a permit with legal protection, preventing them from having to pay penalties for eagle deaths (PDF). An investigation by the Associated Press earlier this year documented the illegal killing of eagles around wind farms, the Obama administration's reluctance to prosecute such cases and its willingness to help keep the scope of the eagle deaths secret. President Obama has championed the pollution-free energy, nearly doubling America's wind power in his first term as a way to tackle global warming. Scientists say wind farms in 10 states have killed at least 85 eagles since 1997, with most deaths occurring between 2008 and 2012, as the industry was greatly expanding. Most deaths — 79 — were golden eagles that struck wind turbines. However the scientists said their figure is likely to be 'substantially' underestimated, since companies report eagle deaths voluntarily and only a fraction of those included in their total were discovered during searches for dead birds by wind-energy companies. The National Audubon Society said it would challenge the decision."