What the Ashcroft “Hospital Showdown” on NSA spying was all about

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2003.

We’ve known for years that the STELLAR WIND surveillance program—a massive NSA effort authorized by President George W. Bush after 9/11—eventually led to a dramatic showdown at the bedside of then-attorney general John Ashcroft. The situation surrounding STELLAR WIND was on such shaky legal ground that top members of the government threatened to quit in protest, though the exact reasons for their unease have been difficult to pinpoint.

Now, documents leaked by Edward Snowden have finally given us a clearer idea of what that showdown was really about: the wholesale collection of Internet metadata.

Showdown

The infamous showdown took place in March 2004, while Ashcroft was recovering from illness in a hospital bed. Acting attorney general James Comey—now President Obama’s nominee to head the FBI—was refusing to reauthorize one component of the secret surveillance program. Comey concluded that it was illegal. This prompted White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to rush to Ashcroft’s hospital room in hopes of getting the ailing AG to countermand Comey, who was tipped off about Gonzales’ plan and sped there as well.

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Six Unconventional, Scientific Ways to Be Happier

Six Unconventional, Scientific Ways to Be Happier

Happiness. There isn’t a single human being who doesn’t want it, and for many, it is the primary pursuit in life. Conventional wisdom tells us that we need a good job, a great family life, and 11.5 months of vacation time to be happy. But we’re going to focus on some lesser known factors of happiness that anyone can apply immediately.

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Origin PC’s EON 13-S offers another spin on Clevo’s latest gaming laptop, promises Haswell and Kepler for $1,474

Origin PC's EON 13S offers yet another spin on Clevo's latest gaming laptop, promises Haswell and Kepler for $1,474

Like the look of Digital Storm’s VELOCE gaming notebook, but have strong loyalties with another system builder? Don’t worry — Origin PC has just announced another gaming rig with the exact same chassis: the EON13-S. The similarity is no coincidence, both models are based on the 13.3-inch Clevo W230ST, carefully branded and customized by each company.

Origin’s twist on the laptop includes a 4th Generation Intel Core processor, NVIDIA GTX 765M graphics and up to three storage devices. The company didn’t announce specifics, but Clevo’s own product page outs Intel’s 2.8GHz i7-4900MQ, 2.70GHz i7-4800MQ and 2.40GHz i7-4700MQ chips as possible options. The base model also supports up to 16GB of RAM, though its Digital Storm variant tops out at 8GB. Naturally, Origin says that many of these elements will be customizable and upgradable, with the most frugal configuration ringing in at $1,474. Additionally, customers that order before August 5th can score free overclocking and a gratis Corsair M95 mouse. Not bad, if you’re looking for tiny gaming machine. Check out the company’s official press release after the break.

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For $6,000, Check Out This Deutsch Mark

For $6,000, Check Out This Deutsch Mark

Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Lincoln Mark VII is the ultra rare BMW diesel edition. That saps a lot of the sport out of its sport coupe persona, but will paying its price make you look like a sap?

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Scan and Save Images of Your Passport and Prescriptions When Traveling

Scan and Save Images of Your Passport and Prescriptions When Traveling

Before you pack your bags for that late summer vacation, take a moment to scan and archive your important documents, like your primary passport pages and the labels for any of your prescriptions. Making sure they’re available even if your bags are lost or items stolen will make it easier to get help if you need it.

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Insert Coin: TouchKeys overlay brings whole new meaning to ‘tickling the ivories’

In Insert Coin, we look at an exciting new tech project that requires funding before it can hit production. If you’d like to pitch a project, please send us a tip with “Insert Coin” as the subject line.

Insert Coin TouchKeys wants to bring multitouch to musicians with stickon keyboard

Keyboards haven’t changed much in the last, oh, few hundred years or so. You play a note by hitting and releasing it, use a pedal to sustain and change volume through the high-tech means of “bashing harder.” TouchKeys wants to give you much more control with its touch sensitive, DIY stick-on overlays that can even sense multi-touch. While similar to what we’ve seen recently with the Roli Seaboard (which has rubberized keys that let you bend notes), TouchKeys can be added to most keyboards and would let you do even more, in theory. Similar to a smartphone screen, it senses up and down or side-to-side finger movements with up to three touches, all of which can be mapped mapped to different sounds or effects. For instance, you can create a vibrato by shaking your hand side-to-side, move up and down to bend notes, use multi-touch pinch and slide to change midi mappings, or play different sounds by multi-tapping.

Most of the kits sold will be DIY, meaning they’ll come as self-installed peel-and-stick keys and sensors that fit standard-sized keyboards, starting at £330 for 25 keys. You’ll also have to open up the keyboard to tuck in the narrow controller, but the company said it hasn’t seen any models that don’t work yet. If you’re not inclined to futz around, you’ll be able to buy a limited number of pre-installed kits starting at £1,300 with a Novation Impulse 61 keyboard. TouchKeys is looking for a relatively modest £30,000 as its funding goal, so if you’re looking for the latest musical edge, hit the source.

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Via: Gizmag

Source: Kickstarter

Citizen plans crowdfunded takeover of Canadian carrier, raises a couple hundred

Citizen plans crowdfunded takeover of Canadian carrier, raises a couple hundred

You’d think a carrier takeover funded by the proletariat would have to be hostile, right? Heck, no. Canadian Valya Michael loves Mobilicity, all the way from its headquarters down to its little cell towers, and he fears a serious loss of commercial competition if the embattled company should fail. So he’s started a $400,000,000 campaign (in the northern currency, that is) to buy it out, clear its debts and invest in better coverage and customer service. We have no idea what Indiegogo, Mobilicity or the telecoms regulator will do if the funding target is achieved, but they all have plenty of time to draft a response seeing as the current total stands at $213. Meanwhile, the fate of that other big Indiegogo project seems almost as uncertain.

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Via: The Next Web, @WhatTheBit

Source: Indiegogo

Autographer wearable camera launches tomorrow priced at £400, we go hands-off

Wearable camera Autographer launches globally next week, we go handsoff

It’s been a long time coming — close to a year, but OMG Life’s clippable, er, lanyard-able life-logging camera will be available to buy tomorrow. The Autographer launches in the UK (where the company’s based) and most major European countries on July 30th, priced at a rather prohibitive £400 (we’re still confirming a US dollar price, but a later launch has been promised) and pitching itself as “the world’s first intelligent wearable camera.” We’d position it as an addition to your smartphone and/or standalone camera — like Lytro or the incoming Memoto — for those that have the cash.

There’s a curious appeal to it, helped by an attractive design that’s predominantly plastic. We spent over three days wondering around, sometimes with it on a leather lanyard (included) around our neck, sometimes clipped to our belt or shirt pocket. For better or worse, it’s a truly hands-off camera: there’s really no way to frame or even time your captures. The Autographer itself chooses when to take a shot using its five sensors (monitoring changes in color, temperature, magnetometer, motion and acceleration), which means there’s a hefty dose of luck involved in how your photos turn out. See whether Lady Luck was shining down on us (the sun certainly wasn’t) and check out our sample images below and first impressions after the break.

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Source: Autographer

Ingenious Dutch research center boasts one patent created ‘every 20 minutes’

Ingenious Dutch research lab boasts one patent created 'every 20 minutes'

The city responsible for the first solar-powered family car and a building shaped like a UFO is no stranger to creativity. Eindhoven, Netherlands was recently named “most inventive city” by Forbes magazine, probably thanks to the High Tech Campus (HTC) research and development center located there. The HTC is the result of the Dutch government’s initiative to bolster high-tech innovation in the region after rounds of layoffs from companies like Philips. Scads of tech firms are holed up within HTC’s walls including IBM, Intel and Accenture, with a focus on open cooperation and sharing of ideas and resources. Apparently, this has paid off in spades. According to the HTC’s website, the campus is responsible for roughly 50 percent of the Netherlands’ almost 10,000 patents each year. Yowza.

[Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons]

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Via: Phys

Source: Forbes

MediaTek’s MT8135 SoC does dual-core big.LITTLE MP, packs PowerVR Series6 GPU

MediaTek's MT8135 SoC does bigLITTLE with dual CortexA15 and dual CortexA7

It’ll be a while before MediaTek’s true octa-core SoC makes its glorious arrival, but for the time being, the company’s unveiling something just as interesting — and perhaps more practical. The new MT8135 announced today is a “quad-core” SoC aimed at “the middle- to high-end tier of the tablet OEM market.” We quote “quad-core,” because it actually consists of two clusters: dual Cortex-A15 cores and dual Cortex-A7 cores. But the good news is that unlike the original big.LITTLE configuration where only one cluster can operate at any given time (depending on how heavy the workload is), MediaTek’s confirmed that it has implemented big.LITTLE MP (“MP” as in multi-processing) in the MT8135, meaning both the A15 and the A7 clusters can operate simultaneously.

Another highlight of this MT8135 is that it’ll be one of the first SoCs — alongside LG’s H13 (which we’ve seen first-hand), Renesas’ APE6 and Renesas’ R-Car H2 — to come with Imagination Technologies’ almighty PowerVR Series6 GPU. Specifically, this is the PowerVR G6200 which, as part of the MT8135, can apparently deliver “up to four times more ALU (arithmetic logic unit) horsepower” than the Series5XT GPU on the cheaper, quad-A7 MT8125. And unsurprisingly, the MT8135 gets the same Miracast wireless video goodie given to the MT8125; though it’s also worth noting that the latter only supports LPDDR2 RAM instead of the more powerful LPDDR3.

Sadly, there’s no further information regarding availability, but you can kill some time by checking out more technical details in the video (with benchmarks) and press releases after the break.

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Source: Imagination Technologies