.net programming, computers and assorted technology rants


We’re Moving


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Just a note to let all my followers know that we are moving to www.devnutsonline.com .

Don’t worry though, your subscriptions will be moving too. You don’t need to do anything. We are making this move so our site can offer you more and grow our community. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.


Pic of the Day: This will Make You Feel Old

Courtesy Mike Bal, http://www.business2community.com

this-will-make-you-feel-old-infographic1 (1)

Like Us on Facebook and Revoke Your Ability to Sue

Cpurtesy Michelle Coffey, blog.marketwtch.com


If you like Cheerios, you may want to keep it to yourself.

General Mills  /quotes/zigman/227548/delayed /quotes/nls/gis GIS , maker of Lucky Charms and the Betty Crocker and Pillsbury brands, has installed a new privacy policy in which consumers who engage with its brands online, including liking them on Facebook or downloading coupons, withdraw their legal right to sue the company.

The Fortune 500 powerhouse notes a change in legal terms, warning on its website:

“We’ve updated our Privacy Policy. Please note we also have new Legal Terms which require all disputes related to the purchase or use of any General Mills product or service to be resolved through binding arbitration.”

So consumers who follow General Mills brands on social networks, subscribe to newsletters, enter sweepstakes, print coupons or benefit in any way using the site also enter a contract with the company, waiving all rights to future lawsuits.

General Mills even hinted that consumers who buy the products could be bound by those terms, according to the New York Times, who reached out to the company about its changes.

Food companies are increasingly facing more class-action lawsuits over labeling and ingredients. Last year, General Mills shelled out $8.5 million to settle a suit over how it labeled its Yoplait Yo-Plus yogurt. In 2012, two women sued the company over claims its Nature Valley products were 100% natural, alleging highly processed ingredients were used. That same year, it settled another suit over Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups, agreeing to remove the word “strawberry” from its packaging.

Credit-card and mobile-phone companies are known for placing airtight restrictions in contracts, but this may be the first instance of a major food manufacturer attempting to block lawsuits.

Lawyers told the New York Times that General Mills’s new language will raise legal questions. And the next time it faces legal action, General Mills will likely need to prove the consumer had prior knowledge of the policy before a court can weigh in about whether the company can be sued, arbitration experts told the Times.

Happy Easter: The 100 Best Easter Eggs of All-Time

Courtesy Ryan Taljonick, Henry Gilbert, GamesRadar.com


Happy hunting

The tradition of hiding little secrets for gamers to find is as old as the medium itself. Sometimes, an Easter Egg is just a funny character moment or a memorable bit of absurdity; other times, you’ll get a few mind-bending plot secrets for your troubles. But all these Easter Eggs have something in common: they’re really hard to find. Unless, of course, you have the Internet pointing them out for you. *ahem*

We collected 100 of the greatest Easter Eggs that were ever secreted away in gaming history, and compiled them here for your easy browsing. Some are timeless classics; others were just discovered in the most recent games. We dug deep to unearth these gems, so we bet at least a few will be new to you. Such as…

Read More…http://www.gamesradar.com/100-best-easter-eggs-all-time/

HMRC to Sell UK Taxpayers’ Data to Private Firms

Courtesy Jerin Mathew, InternationalBusinessTimes.com


HM Revenue & Customs is preparing to sell UK taxpayers’ personal data to private firms.

HMRC officials are examining "charging options" to release anonymised tax data to third parties including companies, researchers and public bodies, the Guardian reported.

The plans are likely to raise serious concerns among privacy campaigners and MPs in the wake of the Care.data scheme, which shares "anonymised" medical records with third parties, the newspaper said.

The Care.data initiative was previously suspended for six months due to concerns that people could be identified easily from the given information, such as postcodes, dates of birth, NHS numbers, ethnicity and gender.

Likewise, the sharing of taxpayer information despite the government’s assurance of suitable safeguards would be risky and could break trust between HMRC and taxpayers, according to experts.

Under the data sharing scheme, details about income, tax arrangements and payment history are expected to be traded. Such information would be useful to credit rating agencies, advertisers and retailers who want to practise price discrimination, Ross Anderson, a professor of security engineering at Cambridge University, told the Guardian.

"If they were to make HMRC information more available, there’s an awful lot of people who would like to get their hands on it. Anonymisation is something about which they lied to us over medical data … If the same thing is about to be done by HMRC, there should be a much greater public debate about this," he said.

Former Conservative minister David Davis told the newspaper that the proposal is "borderline insane".

"The Treasury lists no credible benefits and offers a justification based on an international agreement that does not lead other governments to open up their tax database," he said.

"It defies logic that we would remove those restraints at a time when data can be collected by the gigabyte, processed in milliseconds and transported around the world almost instantaneously."

"The ongoing claims about anonymous data overlook the serious risks to privacy of individual level data being vulnerable to re-identification," said Emma Carr, deputy director of campaign group Big Brother Watch.

Tails: the operating system that blew open the NSA

Courtesy Klint Finley, Wired.co.uk


When NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden first emailed Glenn Greenwald, he insisted on using email encryption software called PGP for all communications. But this month, we learned that Snowden used another technology to keep his communications out of the NSA’s prying eyes. It’s called Tails. And naturally, nobody knows exactly who created it.

Tails is a kind of computer-in-a-box. You install it on a DVD or USB drive, boot up the computer from the drive and, voila, you’re pretty close to anonymous on the internet. At its heart, Tails is a version of the Linux operating system optimized for anonymity. It comes with several privacy and encryption tools, most notably Tor, an application that anonymizes a user’s internet traffic by routing it through a network of computers run by volunteers around the world.

Snowden, Greenwald and their collaborator, documentary film maker Laura Poitras, used it because, by design, Tails doesn’t store any data locally. This makes it virtually immune to malicious software, and prevents someone from performing effective forensics on the computer after the fact. That protects both the journalists, and often more importantly, their sources.

"The installation and verification has a learning curve to make sure it is installed correctly," Poitras told Wired by e-mail. "But once the set up is done, I think it is very easy to use."

An operating system for anonymity
Originally developed as a research project by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Tor has been used by a wide range of people who care about online anonymity: everyone from Silk Road drug dealers, to activists, whistleblowers, stalking victims and people who simply like their online privacy.

Tails makes it much easier to use Tor and other privacy tools. Once you boot into Tails — which requires no special setup — Tor runs automatically. When you’re done using it, you can boot back into your PC’s normal operating system, and no history from your Tails session will remain.

The developers of Tails are, appropriately, anonymous. All of Wired’s questions were collectively –and anonymously — answered by the group’s members via email.

They’re protecting their identities, in part, to help protect the code from government interference. "The NSA has been pressuring free software projects and developers in various ways," the group says, referring to a conference last year at which Linux creator Linus Torvalds implied that the NSA had asked him place a backdoor in the operating system.

But the Tails team is also trying to strike a blow against the widespread erosion of online privacy. "The masters of today’s Internet, namely the marketing giants like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo, and the spying agencies, really want our lives to be more and more transparent online, and this is only for their own benefit," the group says. "So trying to counterbalance this tendency seems like a logical position for people developing an operating system that defends privacy and anonymity online."

But since we don’t know who wrote Tails, how do we now it isn’t some government plot designed to snare activists or criminals? A couple of ways, actually. One of the Snowden leaks show the NSA complaining about Tails in a Power Point Slide; if it’s bad for the NSA, it’s safe to say it’s good for privacy.  And all of the Tails code is open source, so it can be inspected by anyone worried about foul play. "Some of us simply believe that our work, what we do, and how we do it, should be enough to trust Tails, without the need of us using our legal names," the group says.

According to the group, Tails began five years ago. "At that time some of us were already Tor enthusiasts and had been involved in free software communities for years," they says. "But we felt that something was missing to the panorama: a toolbox that would bring all the essential privacy enhancing technologies together and made them ready to use and accessible to a larger public."

The developers initially called their project Amnesia and based it on an existing operating system called Incognito. Soon the Amnesia and Incognito projects merged into Tails, which stands for The Amnesic Incognito Live System.

And while the core Tails group focuses on developing the operating system for laptops and desktop computers, a separate group is making a mobile version that can run on Android and Ubuntu tablets, provided the user has root access to the device.

Know your limitations
In addition to Tor, Tails includes privacy tools like PGP, the password management system KeePassX, and the chat encryption plugin Off-the-Record. But Tails doesn’t just bundle a bunch of off the shelf tools into a single package. Many of the applications have been modified to improve the privacy of its users.

But no operating system or privacy tool can guarantee complete protection in all situations.

Although Tails includes productivity applications like OpenOffice, GIMP and Audacity, it doesn’t make a great everyday operating system. That’s because over the course of day-to-day use, you’re likely to use one service or another that could be linked with your identity, blowing your cover entirely. Instead, Tails should only be used for the specific activities that need to be kept anonymous, and nothing else.

The developers list several other security warnings in the site documentation.

Of course the group is constantly working to fix security issues, and they’re always looking for volunteers to help with the project. They’ve also applied for a grant from the Knight Foundation, and are collecting donations via the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the group that first disclosed Tails’ role in the Snowden story.

That money could go a long way toward helping journalists — and others — stay away from the snoops. Reporters, after all, aren’t always the most tech-savvy people. As Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman told the Freedom of the Press Foundation, "Tails puts the essential tools in one place, with a design that makes it hard to screw them up. I could not have talked to Edward Snowden without this kind of protection. I wish I’d had it years ago."

James Bonds Got Nothing On Google

Courtesy Olivia Solon, wired.co.uk


Earlier this year, Wired.co.uk wrote about Google’s invention of a smart contact lens that could monitor blood glucose levels through tear fluid. Now, the tech giant has invented another pair of lenses with an in-built camera.

The lenses were developed in the Google X laband were featured in a patent filing dating from 2012, which was recently published by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The patent filing features a contact lens that includes an embedded circuit, camera and sensor. The control circuit could be linked wirelessly or via a wire to the camera and sensor. The sensor could be a light sensor, pressure sensor, temperature sensor or electrical field sensor, which may allow for people to gain a "sixth sense" of sorts.

While the project might seem a bit "out there", the technology isn’t all that far off — smart contact lenses with displays have already been tested in labs, although they’ve been a little clunky up until now. One of the key benefits of having a camera embedded in a contact lens rather than attached to the side of the head like Google Glass is that the camera frame would follow a person’s precise gaze without obstructing their view (by being placed along the edge of the lens, away from the pupil).

In the patent filing — as described in great detail over at Patent Bolt — Google points out that the lens could take raw image from a contact lens, process it and relay what it sees to a blind wearer via a different sense — perhaps an audio warning that there is a car approaching a junction, for example. There may also be the option of go-go-gadget eyes that have a zoom capability.

If these contact lenses ever do come to market, it means you can leapfrog the Glasshole stage and go straight to Lenshole. Or whatever the neologism for that will be. In the meantime you can, for one day only, join the Glass Explorer programme today (15 April).