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Post-scarcity hacker convention: !!Con

Sumana is helping put on a new kind of hacker conference in NYC, !!Con (pronounced "Bang bang con"). Unlike other hacker cons, !!Con has no ranking, no winners, and no dominance displays: "Whenever possible, Hacker School culture assumes abundance rather than scarcity; attempts to rank projects or people would defile our ecology." Cory 9

Bay Area drone-fliers' meetup

Jeffrey writes, "Bay area flyers, come talk and fly drones over pizza and beer in our massive 17 foot tall ceiling warehouse! Amateur and professionals are welcome to come and talk drones and show off their airframes in action. We'll have plenty of charging stations, onsite repair workbench, tasty local beer, and food/snacks for flyers. Compete for fun prizes, fame, and whimsical trophies in our drone flying contests. Starts at noon on April 5, contests start at 2 PM. Plenty of parking and free for all." Cory 3

Pre-order William Gibson's new far-future novel The Peripheral

Pre-orders have opened for The Peripheral, William Gibson's next novel, which comes out in October 2014. I've been reading this one as Bill worked on it, and it's spectacular, a piece of trenchant, far-future speculation that features all the eyeball kicks of Neuromancer and all the maturity and sly wit of Spook Country. It's brilliant, and I'm so happy to hear there's a production date for it! (via Super Punch) Cory 11

Sen Lamar Alexander: if shills have to tell Congress who's paying them, it will "chill speech"

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is one of many Republican legislators who've objected to a new policy at OSHA that requires experts to disclose when they have been funded by parties with an interest in the outcome of regulatory proceedings. According to Alexander, he and his colleagues are "very concerned about OSHA's attempt to have commenters disclose their financial backers," because "the chilling effect the financial disclosure could have seems counter to the idea of robust inclusion of a diverse set of ideas and views to inform the rule-making." The current proceeding is about whether silica in cement poses a health hazard, and OSHA wants to know if the experts it's hearing from have been paid to have an opinion one way or another. Cory 23

Another judge hands Prenda Law its own ass on a plate

Remember the copyright trolls at Prenda Law, the slippery crooks who claimed that no one actually owned their extortionate racket, that no one made any money from it, and that no one was responsible for it? Yet another judge has called bullshit on them, insisting that they produce financial statements prepared by a chartered public accountant, and dismissing their objections as "attorney speak." Cory 3

Anti-video-game California politician indicted for gun-running

California Senator Leland Yee has been indicted, along with 25 others, in an organized crime bust that includes charges of wire fraud and firearms trafficking, as well as accepting bribes for legislative action. Yee is best known for sponsoring legislation to limit the sale of "violent" video-games to minors, which federal courts declared unconstitutional and struck down. (via /.) Cory 22

Free Rudy Rucker books at Scribd tonight

Rudy Rucker writes, "I'll be reading and giving out BIG AHA and some other titles at Scribd in San Francisco on Thursday." Cory 1

Basecamp, Meetup hit by extortionist's 20Gb/s DDoS

If you're a Basecamp user who couldn't get into your account yesterday, here's why: the company refused to pay ransom to a criminal who hit them with a 20Gb/s denial-of-service flood, apparently by the same person who attacked Meetup, who uses gmail addresses in this pattern: "dari***@gmail.com." Cory 7

Disney buys Maker Studios

The Walt Disney Company has acquired Maker Studios -- a successful Youtube channel focused on millennials -- for $500M, with an additional $450M potential performance-related payout in the future. Cory 8

Homeland shortlisted for the Prometheus Award

I'm immensely proud and honored to once again be shortlisted for the Prometheus Award, for my novel Homeland. The Prometheus is given by the Libertarian Futurist Society, and I've won it for my books Little Brother and Pirate Cinema. As always, the Prometheus shortlist is full of great work, including both of Ramez Naam's novels Crux and Nexus, both of which I enjoyed enormously. My thanks to the Libertarian Futurist Society and my congratulations to my fellow nominees! See you at the World Science Fiction convention in London this summer! Cory 10

Official haircuts of North Korea

There are 28 official state-approved haircuts in North Korea, and there is renewed emphasis on the official coiffure parameters under its new leader, Kim Jong Un. Ironically, Kim's own haircut is not on the official list. Cory 14

Big Data Hubris: Google Flu versus reality

In The Parable of Google Flu: Traps in Big Data Analysis [PDF], published in Science, researchers try to understand why Google Flu (which uses search history to predict flu outbreaks) performed so well at first but has not done well since. One culprit: people don't know what the flu is, so their search for "flu" doesn't necessarily mean they have flu. More telling, though, is that Google can't let outsiders see their data or replicate their findings, meaning that they can't get the critical review that might help them spot problems before years of failure. (via Hacker News) Cory 2

Debt collectors illegally hound people who don't owe money

A third of people who complain about debt-collectors who break the law say they don't even owe the money under discussion. Of the victims who complained to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about being hounded for money they don't owe, two thirds say they never owed it, and a third say they had already paid it off. Debt-collectors call wrong numbers or hassle people with names similar to those of debtors. They call them at work and at home, and use threats and obscene language when they're told they've got the wrong person. One offender, CashCall Inc, is being sued over its practices, and was separately ordered to refund $14M in debts it collected through fraudulent robo-signing. Cory 46

Assistant AG admits he doesn't understand what Weev did, but he's sure it's bad

Andrew “weev” Auernheimer is serving a 41-month sentence for visiting a publicly available webpage and revealing that AT&T had not secured its customers' sensitive financial information. Now, weev's lawyers are appealing, and in the opening day's arguments, Assistant US Attorney Glenn Moramarco admitted I don’t even understand what [Auernheimer actually did.]" Then he compared it to blowing up a nuclear power-plant. Cory 33

Your metadata reveals sensitive, private information

In MetaPhone: The Sensitivity of Telephone Metadata a pair of Stanford researchers recruited test-subjects who were willing to install spyware on their phones that logged the same "metadata" that the NSA harvests -- and that the NSA and President Obama claims is not sensitive or privacy-invading. The researchers applied basic analytics to the data and uncovered -- surprise! -- incredibly compromising information about the personal lives, health, and finances of their subjects, just by looking at metadata. What's more, harvesting the subjects' metadata also revealed sensitive information about the subjects' contacts' lives. (via Techdirt) Cory 7