U.S. intelligence analysts can use a secret National Security Agency program to scour wide-spanning databases tracking online traffic, the Guardian newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
In training materials cited by the Guardian the NSA calls the XKeyscore program its "widest-reaching" system that covers "nearly everything a typical user does on the Internet."
Conducting surveillance through the program, according to the Guardian, requires "filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search" and no review by a court or NSA staff.
A top secret NSA slideshow from 2008, posted by the Guardian on its website, showed that the program allowed analysts to access databases that collect and index online activity around the world, including searching for email addresses, extracted files, phone numbers or chat activity.
The 2008 slides did not address how analysts would get permission to use the tool on American targets. U.S. law requires specific warrants for surveillance of U.S. citizens but no warrant is required for communication involving foreigners.
The slideshow said XKeyscore program spans "approximately 150 sites" and "over 700 servers" around the world and intelligence from it had helped capture "over 300 terrorists."
Snowden's ongoing release of secret surveillance information to U.S. and European media has sparked an uproar in the United States and abroad over revelations that U.S. intelligence agencies collected data on phone calls and other communications of Americans and foreign citizens as a tool to fight terrorism.
"The implication that NSA's collection is arbitrary and unconstrained is false," NSA said in a statement in response to the Guardian's new report, calling XKeyscore part of "NSA's lawful foreign signals intelligence collection system."
NSA said "only those personnel who require access for their assigned tasks" are allowed to use the agency's analytic tools after completing regular training. "There are multiple technical, manual and supervisory checks and balances within the system to prevent deliberate misuse from occurring," it said.
Intelligence officials say NSA's programs help thwart terrorist attacks and that further secret document leaks threaten U.S. national security. But lawmakers have called for greater oversight of the vast surveillance system, which expanded rapidly after the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.
Snowden's passport has been revoked and he has been charged under the U.S. Espionage Act. He is stuck in limbo at a Moscow airport while seeking asylum in Russia, which has refused to extradite him.
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Verizon Tries Pushing into Canada Jul 28th 2013, 14:44
For decades Canada's mobile phone service industry has been divided up by three companies: Bell, Telus and Rogers. However, Verizon, one of the major mobile carriers in the US, is looking to expand its company into Canada. This could mean terrible news for Canadian mobile communication companies. It's so frightening to them that they've banded together to keep Verizon out of the country!
They're not asking the government to ban Verizon; they just want Canada to look less appealing. The three companies have banded together and started a public ad campaign to get Canada's anti-consolidation laws abolished.
As it stands, none of the major Canadian companies can purchase smaller companies to expand their power. However, the same rules don't apply to foreign companies. Since the three major companies in Canada can't buy up all the smaller companies, Verizon can swoop in and buy them all to create a fourth major mobile communication entity. Abolishing the laws would allow the other companies to bid on the smaller companies too, thus raising the price and making the move a lot less affordable.
The three companies also want Canada to allow bids on a broader spectrum range like the one allowed in the US, which would increase service options. Whether or not the government agrees to these changes will be a matter of long debate. If Verizon acts fast, it may be able to take over before any changes are made.
Source – The Verge
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Foc.us to be Gamers' Steroids? Jul 28th 2013, 14:47
Foc.us is the name of a new gaming headset about to hit the market for gamers everywhere that's causing a bit of a commotion. Instead of providing the usual headset services, the device provides shocks to the user's prefrontal cortex in order to stimulate the brain and allow gamers to play better than ever before.
It hasn't been approved by the FDA, but earlier this week the FCC approved it for sale. You can expect to see Foc.us, which is operated via a smartphone app, on sale online later this month along with tons of videos on YouTube showing whether or not the device actually works.
Whether it works or not is the million dollar question, but even more important is whether or not shocking your brain is worth playing a bit better. Regardless of how well it works, nothing will take the place of good ol' fashioned practice. Is learning a little quicker, which, for most, will equate to a few more kills in Call of Duty, really worth screwing with your brain's electrical setup?
I think it's stupid to be honest. But then again, video games have always come naturally to me.
Does this device appeal to you?
Source – Engadget – http://www.engadget.com/2013/07/28/foc-us-headset-fcc/
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Smartphones and Starbucks Jul 28th 2013, 14:49
Our increasing reliance on smartphones isn't a secret. Ask anyone under 50 if they'd rather lose their phone or their wallet and you're likely to have more people answer wallet than phone. The answer makes more sense if you think about it. More personal, sensitive information is contained on someone's phone than in their wallet – including forms of payment.
Starbucks has recently reported that 10% of its customers in the US pay via smartphone. This is largely possible due to the company's payment app that allows users to pay using a virtual copy of their Starbucks card. All a customer has to do is pull up the barcode on their phone and have the cashier scan the screen.
The big news is how effortlessly the transaction works. Companies like Google have been trying to create wallet-free payment methods for years with little to no success, yet Starbucks seems to have found an answer.
However, you have to take into consideration Starbuck's clientele. The company services a more tech-savvy, financially affluent crowd than most. What works for Starbucks isn't likely to work on a grander scale. But still, it's something other companies should find worth looking into.
Do you use your phone to pay at Starbucks?
Source – The Verge
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A Heartwarming Moment in Gaming Jul 28th 2013, 14:55
Sarah Marie Alida Parries was a five-year-old from Vancouver, British Columbia who liked playing a free-to-play mech shooter called "Mechwarrior Online" with her dad. She would pilot her favorite mech, called a Jenner, and school all the older gamers more often than not. Unfortunately, she wasn't a part of the gaming community for long. A few months ago Sarah lost her fight with inoperable brain cancer.
But her story doesn't end there. Infinite Games Publishing and Piranha Games, the maker's behind "Mechwarrior Online" were so touched by this little girl's passion that they created a mech in her honor. Anyone playing the game can purchase "Sarah's Jenner" for $10, and all the proceeds of the purchase will go to the Canadian Cancer Society.
The community of online gamers is a vicious lot. While mature players do exist, they're grossly outnumbers by immature teenagers and 20-40 year-olds who seem to think the internet is a place where they can cuss like sailors and pretend to be as tough as they aren't. These people give gamers a bad rap, but sometimes the positive side of the community surfaces to save face for all of us.
I might just have to update my "Mechwarrior Online" client and jump in for a bit now.
Source – CNN
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Want to BreakUp? There's an App for that. Jul 28th 2013, 14:51
Ever wanted to break-up with someone but didn't have the heart to do so? Maybe you're in a relationship you want out of right now but don't know how to make your move. Well for one dollar you can now have an app, appropriately named BreakUp, break-up for you!
After a few careful selections, the app will create a break-up text for you and send it to the phone of your choosing. No need for you to type it all out yourself. Just choose a few simple selections, like whether or not the relationship with casual or serious and whether the reason for the break up is that you lost interest or were eaten by a bear. The app will do the rest for you.
Here's an example of one of the texts the app will send someone:
Hi PollyPot, I know you expected to make it to our next anniversary. Maybe beyond, who knows? There was that one night we named our maybe-babies. That was cute. You're cute. But it's over between us. We've drifted apart. It's not just your impotency, it really isn't. And no, this isn't about that girl at work. It's us. Ever hear the song Cape Canaveral by Conor Oberst? Of course you haven't, that was one of our issues. Anyways, we're like that. A poltergeist love. And I need an exorcism.
Pretty elegant, eh?
Source – CNET
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Computer Virus Outsmarts Man Jul 28th 2013, 12:28
A 21-year-old man in Virginia turned himself into police after a virus on his computer told him to turn himself in to the FBI and pay a fine or go to jail because child pornography was found on his computer. Not knowing what to do after the "FBI Warning" messages started showing up, the man took his computer to his local police station and asked if there were warrants out for his arrest due to child pornography.
These kinds of viruses are commonly referred to as ransomware – malware that locks up someone's computer and tries to trick them into paying the virus' owner. Ideally, the man would've clicked on one of the messages and "paid the fine", but the malware seemed to work a little too well.
While not many would complain about the pedophile getting what he deserves, this particular type of ransomware has been known to put child pornography on computers to further scare people into paying. The man may not be guilty of anything more than have shitty virus protection software.
That being said, he's still being charged with three counts of possession of child pornography and being held without bail.
Source – The Verge
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When Teeth Start Snitching Jul 28th 2013, 12:31
Humans really have very little self-control. Apparently people can't help but lie through their teeth to health professionals. To combat this, researchers have developed a tooth sensor that not only detects if you're smoking or overeating, but also tells your doctor about it!
Research and development of the tooth sensor is being conducted by The National Taiwan University Team. They tested the device by gluing it into eight dentures and found that the sensor could differentiate between smoking, chewing, speaking and coughing 94% of the time.
Despite the promising results, the device still has a ways to go before it's ready to be put to use.
The biggest problem it has is that it can't distinguish food from gum or other things people may chew on habitually. However, the research team wants to do a lot more to better the device. It wants to make the already tiny sensor even smaller so it can fit inside cavities or crowns, and it wants to create an onboard power source and Bluetooth connectivity device that is mouth-safe.
I don't know if I like the idea of having my teeth tell on me. They'd have way too much to say. What do you think?
Source – Engadget
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Star Wars Composer Returning with the Jedi Jul 28th 2013, 12:34
Which is geekier: Star Trek or Star Wars? Before the J. J. Abrams Star Trek movies I would've said the former hands down, but now it really is a toss-up. Regardless, Star Wars fans have something to rejoice about. John Williams, the world famous and extremely successful composer who worked on the first six Star Wars films, has agreed to work on the seventh installment in the Star Wars franchise.
Williams has worked on a lot of big budget movies that you've probably seen, including Jaws, Indiana Jones, and E.T.! He's won a Grammy and an Oscar, and has been a major Star Wars fan since he worked on the first movie. Abrams has wanted him to come back since the seventh movie was announced, and he's publicly got his wish.
The seventh movie is set to come out in 2015, with the eighth and ninth installments following shortly thereafter. In case you didn't know, J.J. Abrams will be directing the movies and Michael Arndt, the man who brought us Toy Story 3 and Little Miss Sunshine, is writing the script. Mark Hamill (Luke), Cassie Fisher (Leia) and Harrison Ford (Han) will be reprising their roles as older versions of their characters in the new film.
Do you think the new film will be able to live up to the old classics?
Source – The Verge
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Moto X Coming with Magic Glass Jul 28th 2013, 12:39
No, the glass doesn't actually have any magical properties. Taylor Wimberly, a former writer for Android and Me, is reporting that the Moto X will come with a sheet of Gorilla Glass that wraps around the face and over the sides of the device to create an almost seamless gap with the rear shell. Motorola will call it "Magic Glass" and apparently use it as a selling point.
This is all simple speculation though. Wimberly doesn't work for Motorola and the company hasn't released any official details as of the moment this article is being written. Still, it's not a rumor to pass up since it's most likely true.
Wimberly also reports that the frame of the phone consists of laminated aluminum to make it stronger than most other smartphones while allowing it to still be thin and lightweight. Again, these are just rumors at the moment.
Although we won't have to wait long to find out if they're true or not. The Moto X is set to launch on August 1st. At most we'll have to wait three days to see if the rumors are true or false.
Will you be picking up the Moto X?
Source – Engadget
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Light Slowed to a Stop! Jul 28th 2013, 12:36
Moving at about 186,000 miles per second, nothing is faster than light. Scientists use light years to discuss distance in space from planet to planet because light covers more distance in a year than anything else. Mastering the manipulation of light theoretically would provide use with a ton of science fiction abilities, such as invisibility, a legitimate means of long distance space travel, and possibly even time manipulation. Some scientists in Germany are well on their way to helping further those causes.
Using a crystal that was frozen to less than negative 450 degrees Fahrenheit, German researchers slowed light to a stop for a full minute. This shattered the previous record of sixteen seconds and could have a ton of implications within the scientific community.
Don't start planning your trip to Mars though. The research these scientists are working on has to do with quantum computing – trying to find ways gather and receive data faster than ever before. It'll be quite a while before we see the fruit of this research.
Still, it's research like this that's going to further the human race as a whole and allow us to reach new heights – literally and metaphorically. Makes me wonder why certain governments continue to cut scientific funding.
Source – The Verge
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Analyst Predicts Google Will Partner With LG for 2014 Nexus 7 Tablet Jul 28th 2013, 09:01
It has been a few days since Google launched the second generation Nexus 7 tablet, and the rumors about the next Nexus 7 tablet have started circulating on the internet. A new report speculates that the collaboration between Google and Asus will come to an end, and the 2014 Nexus tablet will be manufactured by LG.
According to KGI Securities analyst, Ming Chi Kuo, the search engine giant will partner with LG in 2014. The reason? Well, Mingchi Kuo specified a number of reasons why this partnership will bear fruit. We all know that LG has manufactured Nexus 4 which was very successful; however, the two companies didn't get a chance to work on a tablet. Doing so would bring another manufacturer into the competitive tablet market. If you don't know, MingChi Kuo has a decent track record of making predictions about upcoming devices.
Secondly, the partnership will LG will definitely boost Google's ranking in the touch screen market. With this collaboration, Google can obtain better display technology such as IPS and GF2 displays. LG Display has a decent standing in the touch screen market with Samsung being its number one competitor. On the other hand, LG Display is also the supplier of a few Apple products as well. Kuo mentions that LG Display's access to thinner and lighter IPS panels would narrow the gap between Google and Apple.
Lastly, rumors in the past also suggested that LG is planning to enter the tablet market, and this speculation definitely goes with the situation. LG cannot find a better partner than Google when it comes to tablets. So, there is a very high probability that we will see both companies signing a deal for the next year's Nexus 7 tablet.
I suggest we should all take this as a rumor until and unless we hear an official word about it.
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