Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.
Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!
An anonymous reader writes "Looking to a day when modern infrastructure is network addressable, Glen Martin considers that, lacking only requisite content and relatively simple augmentation, most of what we need for smart cities already exists: 'Using smart phones, pedestrians could "wake up" the objects by accessing codes generally used by the city to identify street items that required repair. Each bit of infrastructure would make some kind of declamatory statement — sometimes gracious and welcoming, sometimes didactic, sometimes peevish. The "interlocutor" would then respond, and a brief exchange would ensue. The object would then invite the passerby to return for more conversation.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Lawrence Lessig has announced plans to kickstart a SuperPAC big enough to make it possible to win a Congress committed to fundamental reform by 2016. From the article: 'If you can’t beat them, join them. Then take them down from the inside. That’s the basic idea behind a super PAC launching Thursday that wants to destroy super PACs for good. The Mayday PAC, as it’s called, seeks to raise enough money to sway five House elections in 2014 and elect representatives who have committed to pressing for serious reform of the campaign finance system. If that endeavor—a sort of test case—is successful, the PAC will then try to raise an enormous amount of money for the 2016 cycle—enough, PAC organizers hope, to buy Congress."
AthanasiusKircher (1333179) writes "Deborah Fitzgerald, a historian of science and dean of MIT's School of the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, speaks out in a Boston Globe column about the importance of the humanities, even as STEM fields increasingly dominate public discussion surrounding higher education. '[T]he world's problems are never tidily confined to the laboratory or spreadsheet. From climate change to poverty to disease, the challenges of our age are unwaveringly human in nature and scale, and engineering and science issues are always embedded in broader human realities, from deeply felt cultural traditions to building codes to political tensions. So our students also need an in-depth understanding of human complexities — the political, cultural, and economic realities that shape our existence — as well as fluency in the powerful forms of thinking and creativity cultivated by the humanities, arts, and social sciences.' Fitzgerald goes on to quote a variety of STEM MIT graduates who have described the essential role the humanities played in their education, and she concludes with a striking juxtaposition of important skills perhaps reminscent of Robert Heinlein's famous description of an ideal human being: 'Whatever our calling, whether we are scientists, engineers, poets, public servants, or parents, we all live in a complex, and ever-changing world, and all of us deserve what's in this toolbox: critical thinking skills; knowledge of the past and other cultures; an ability to work with and interpret numbers and statistics; access to the insights of great writers and artists; a willingness to experiment, to open up to change; and the ability to navigate ambiguity.' What other essential knowledge or skills should we add to this imaginary 'toolbox'?"
rjmarvin (3001897) writes "In a since-removed bug report on Launchpad, Ubuntu's issue tracker, Canonical's Matthew Paul Thomas stated that Ubuntu for Android is no longer in active development. In a statement, Canonical stated that while the project is not completely dead, Canonical is currently focusing on pushing Ubuntu for Phones. The company is open to working with partners on Ubuntu for Android, but will not proceed with further U4A development unless they can form a partnership with an OEM partner to launch it. The Ubuntu for Android project was first announced in early 2012."
Bennett Haselton writes: "It's not trivial to explain why cell phone companies find it profitable to sell phones at a deep up-front discount and make it back over a two-year contract. Why don't other companies sell similarly-priced goods the same way? (And why, for that matter, has T-Mobile found it more profitable to do the opposite, selling the phone and the service separately?) I'm trying to come up with an explanation that makes realistic and consistent assumptions about the stupidity of the buying public, and still makes sense." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
ConstantineM (965345) writes "Just as per the schedule, OpenBSD 5.5 was released today, May 1, 2014. The theme of the 5.5 release is Wrap in Time, which represents a significant achievement of changing time_t to int64_t on all platforms, as well as ensuring that all of the 8k+ OpenBSD ports still continue to build and work properly, thus doing all the heavy lifting and paving the way for all other operating systems to make the transition to 64-bit time an easier task down the line. Signed releases and packages and the new signify utility are another big selling point of 5.5, as well as OpenSSH 6.6, which includes lots of DJB crypto like chacha20-poly1305, plus lots of other goodies."
R3d M3rcury (871886) writes "How's this for a good idea? A gun that won't fire unless it's within 10 inches of a watch? That's the iP1 from Armatrix. Of course, don't try to sell it here in the United States." From the NY Times article linked: "[Armatrix employee] Belinda Padilla does not pick up unknown calls anymore, not since someone posted her cellphone number on an online forum for gun enthusiasts. Then someone snapped pictures of the address where she has a P.O. box and put those online, too. In a crude, cartoonish scrawl, this person drew an arrow to the blurred image of a woman passing through the photo frame. 'Belinda?" the person wrote. "Is that you?" ... "I have no qualms with the idea of personally and professionally leveling the life of someone who has attempted to profit from disarming me and my fellow Americans," one commenter wrote." The article paints a fairly rosy picture of the particular technology that Armatrix is pushing, but their ID-checking gun seems to default to an unfireable state, which might not always be an attractive feature. And given that at least one state — New Jersey — has hinged a gun law on the commercial availability of these ID-linked guns, it's not surprising that some gun owners dislike a company that advertises this kind of system as "the future of the firearm."
retroworks (652802) writes "In the latest tornado and storm tragedy to hit the U.S.'s south and midwest, small drone cameras steered by storm-tracker and videographer Brian Emfinger gathered stunning bird's-eye footage of the wreckage. Forbes magazine covers the [paywalled] Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's speculation that Emfinger has violated FAA rules which prohibit commercial use of small drones. The laws, designed years ago to restrict hobbyists use of model airplanes, may conflict with U.S. First Amendment free press use. So far, nothing in the article says that the FAA is enforcing the rule on the media outlets that may pay Emfinger for his video coverage, but interest in the footage will probably create a business economy for future commercial drone use if the FAA does not act."
itwbennett (1594911) writes "Google will no longer scan the email messages of students and other school staff who use its Google Apps for Education suite, exempting about 30 million users from the chronically controversial practice for Gmail advertising. In addition, Google is removing the option for Apps for Education administrators to allow ads to be shown to their users. Until now, ads were turned off by default, but admins could turn on this feature at their discretion. A Google spokesperson called the move part of a 'continued evolution of our efforts to provide the best experience for our users, including students' and not a response to a recent lawsuit alleging that by scanning Gmail messages Google violated wiretapping laws and breached users' privacy."
New submitter rcht148 (2872453) writes with this excerpt from The Verge:"If the idea of Comcast buying out Time Warner Cable to become the largest cable company in America wasn't enough to make you worry about media consolidation, news [Wednesday] from the Wall Street Journal just might. Reportedly, AT&T has approached DirecTV to begin 'possible acquisition' talks, a deal that the WSJ says could be worth over $40 billion. If it were to happen, it would give the combined company something on the order of 26 million TV subscribers, making it second only to the hypothetical Comcast/TWC combination of 30 million."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "The Washington Post reports that Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has lashed out again, this time at newly announced US ban on high-tech exports to Russia suggesting that 'after analyzing the sanctions against our space industry, I propose the US delivers its astronauts to the ISS with a trampoline.' Rogozin does actually have a point, although his threats carry much less weight than he may hope. Russia is due to get a $457.9 million payment for its services soon and few believe that Russia would actually give it up. Plus, as Jeffrey Kluger noted at Time Magazine, Russia may not want to push the United States into the hands of SpaceX and Orbital Sciences, two private American companies that hope to be able to send passengers to the station soon. SpaceX and Orbital Sciences have already made successful unmanned resupply runs to the ISS and both are also working on upgrading their cargo vehicles to carry people. SpaceX is currently in the lead and expects to launch US astronauts, employed by SpaceX itself, into orbit by 2016. NASA is building its own heavy-lift rocket for carrying astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit, but it won't be ready for anything but test flights until after 2020. 'That schedule, of course, could be accelerated considerably if Washington gave NASA the green light and the cash,' says Kluger. 'America's manned space program went from a standing start in 1961 to the surface of the moon in 1969—eight years from Al Shepard to Tranquility Base. The Soviet Union got us moving then. Perhaps Russia will do the same now.'"
Zothecula (1870348) writes "It's easy to get carried away when you start talking about graphene. Its properties hold the promise of outright technological revolution in so many fields that it has been called a wonder material. Two recent studies, however, give us a less than rosy angle. In the first, a team of biologists, engineers and material scientists at Brown University examined graphene's potential toxicity in human cells. Another study by a team from University of California, Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering examined how graphene oxide nanoparticles might interact with the environment if they found their way into surface or ground water sources."
Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes "Britain's electronic surveillance agency, Government Communications Headquarters, has long presented its collaboration with the National Security Agency's massive electronic spying efforts as proportionate, carefully monitored, and well within the bounds of privacy laws. But according to a top-secret document in the archive of material provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, GCHQ secretly coveted the NSA's vast troves of private communications and sought 'unsupervised access' to its data as recently as last year – essentially begging to feast at the NSA's table while insisting that it only nibbles on the occasional crumb."
First time accepted submitter Valejo (689967) writes "According to a study released today by Course Report, programming bootcamps are expected to grow by 2.8x in 2014, meaning that bootcamps will graduate a student for every 8 CS undergraduates. The survey (PDF) also found that 57% of the schools teach in Ruby and that the average tuition is $9,900. The authors collected responses from 95% of US schools, including General Assembly, Dev Bootcamp, and Flatiron School."
An anonymous reader writes "A former MIT instructor and students have come up with software that can write an entire essay in less than one second; just feed it up to three keywords.The essays, though grammatically correct and structurally sound, have no coherent meaning and have proved to be graded highly by automated essay-grading software. From The Chronicle of Higher Education article: 'Critics of automated essay scoring are a small but lively band, and Mr. Perelman is perhaps the most theatrical. He has claimed to be able to guess, from across a room, the scores awarded to SAT essays, judging solely on the basis of length. (It’s a skill he happily demonstrated to a New York Times reporter in 2005.) In presentations, he likes to show how the Gettysburg Address would have scored poorly on the SAT writing test. (That test is graded by human readers, but Mr. Perelman says the rubric is so rigid, and time so short, that they may as well be robots.).'"
Maddog Batty (112434) writes "SpaceX recently made the news by managing to soft land at sea the first stage of rocket used to launch its third supply mission to the International Space Station. Telemetry reported that it was able to hover for eight seconds above the sea before running out of fuel and falling horizontal. Unfortunately, due to stormy weather at the time, their support ship wasn't able to get to the "landing" spot at the time and the first stage wasn't recovered and is likely now on the sea bed. Video of the landing was produced and transmitted to an aeroplane but unfortunately it is rather corrupted. SpaceX have attempted to improve it but it isn't much better. They are now looking for help to improve it further."
samzenpus (5) writes "Ben Starr is a chef, travel writer, reality TV star, wine and beer brewer, cheesemaker, and ultimate food geek. Ben traveled all 7 continents in his early 20s, staying with local families and learning to cook the cuisines of the world in home kitchens and local markets. FRANK, his underground Dallas restaurant, has a waitlist of 3,000 and reservations are selected by random lottery. He is a passionate local and sustainable food advocate. Ben is a flag waver for the new generation of chefs who embrace modern technology, and his Camp Potluck feeds hundreds of hungry Burning Man attendees every year. Ben has agreed to put down his chef's knife and answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post."
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Jeffrey Katzenberg, the head of Dreamworks Animation, speaking at the Milken Global Conference in California, opined that the future pricing model for movie downloads will revolve around screen size. In his view, larger screens will incur larger download prices. As he says, 'It will reinvent the enterprise of movies.' Unclear is how physical dimensions, rather than just resolution matrix, will be determined. Will we soon be saying 'hello' to screen spoofing?" Can you fake the physical dimensions reported in the EDID block when the connection is using HDCP? Aside from the implication that this would mean more DRM (and seems pretty unworkable, but with the rise of locked bootloaders on even x86 hardware...), the prices he predicts seem alright: "A movie screen will be $15. A 75-inch TV will be $4. A smartphone will be $1.99."
jfruh (300774) writes "U.S. retailers must accept chip-and-pin charge cards by the end of 2015 or become liable for fraudulent purchases made with chip cards. Target, still smarting from its recent embarrassing security breach, is moving to get ahead of that trend. The company will be installing chip-and-pin terminals in all its stores, and will also be issuing chip-and-pin versions of its own branded cards, which account for about 20 percent of Target sales. Will this move by a huge retailer push the U.S. into parity with the rest of the world?"
theodp (442580) writes "Simon Allardice takes a stroll down coding memory lane, recalling that when he got started in programming in 1983, hand-writing one's programs with pencil on IBM coding sheets was still considered good enough for British government work (COBOL, Assembler forms). Allardice writes, 'And when you were finished handwriting a section of code — perhaps a full program, perhaps a subroutine — you'd gather these sheets together (carefully numbered in sequence, of course) and send them along to the folks in the data entry department. They'd type it in. And the next day you'd get a report to find out if it compiled or not. Let me say that again: the next day you could find out if your code compiled or not.' So, does anyone have 'fond' memories of computer programming in the punched card era? And for you young'uns, what do you suppose your C++ or Java development times would be like if you got one compile a day?" The other way you could program in 1983.
New submitter Raystonn (1463901) writes "Bloomberg has announced the release of Bitcoin support in their trading terminals, used worldwide by over 320,000 trading professionals. The market makers of the world will now have instant access to immediate Bitcoin prices on an industry-standard trading platform. This places the virtual currency before the eyes of the movers and shakers of most of the world's money supply as they decide where to invest their USD holdings."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Reuters reports that U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White told a U.S. House of Representatives panel that she flatly rejected claims that retail investors are being fleeced by high-frequency traders who can use their speed to jump ahead with buy and sell orders that fetch better prices. 'The markets are not rigged,' says White. 'The U.S. markets are the strongest and most reliable in the world.' White's comments to the House Financial Services Committee mark the first time she has directly responded to allegations in Michael Lewis' new book Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt. The book alleges that high-speed traders are engaged in a form of front-running, in which the firms are able to quickly identify an investor's desire to buy a stock, rush to buy it first and then sell it back at a higher price. The SEC has been reviewing equity market structure issues, particularly following the May 6, 2010 flash crash incident when the Dow Jones Industrial Average sharply plunged before quickly rebounding. Although staff at SEC are considering whether to launch some pilot studies to test different regulatory proposals, there are no immediate plans to issue rules to crack down on high-speed trading or trading in unlit markets. 'I want to be very clear that the market metrics suggest that the retail investor is very well-served by the current market structure.'"
DroidJason1 writes: "Revealed from a 10-Q filed by Microsoft with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Microsoft has been losing $300 million and counting for the Surface in the last nine months. Data from Strategy Analytics has also revealed that Microsoft's Windows-powered tablets now own a 6% global tablet share, in Q1 of 2014. Android, on the other hand, remains at the top with a 66% global share. Apple's iOS fell to 28%."
Lasrick writes: "This article takes a look at cost estimates of nuclear power plant decommissioning from the 1980s, and how widely inaccurate they turned out to be. This is a pretty fascinating look at past articles in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that consistently downplayed the costs of decommissioning, for example: 'The Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Rowe, Massachusetts, took 15 years to decommission—or five times longer than was needed to build it. And decommissioning the plant—constructed early in the 1960s for $39 million—cost $608 million. The plant's spent fuel rods are still stored in a facility on-site, because there is no permanent disposal repository to put them in. To monitor them and make sure the material does not fall into the hands of terrorists or spill into the nearby river costs $8 million per year.'"
An anonymous reader writes "In 2013, a startup called Outbox drew a lot of attention for its ambitious goal: digitizing everybody's snail mail. It was a nice dream; no more walking down your driveway six days a week to clear out the useless junk it contained. But less than a year later, Outbox shut down. This article explains how the United States Postal Service swiftly crushed their plan to make mail better. The founders were summoned to a meeting with the Postmaster General, who told them. 'We have a misunderstanding. You disrupt my service and we will never work with you. You mentioned making the service better for our customers; but the American citizens aren't our customers—about 400 junk mailers are our customers. Your service hurts our ability to serve those customers.' The USPS's Chief of Digital Strategy said Outbox's business model 'will never work anyway. Digital is a fad.' The USPS wouldn't work with Outbox to forward customers' mail, and that eventually destroyed the business."
New submitter freddieb writes: "An individual who had been jamming cellphone traffic on interstate 4 in Florida was located by FCC agents with the assistance of Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputies. The individual had reportedly been jamming cellphone traffic on I-4 for two years. The FCC is now proposing a $48,000 fine for his actions. They say the jamming 'could and may have had disastrous consequences by precluding the use of cell phones to reach life-saving 9-1-1 services provided by police, ambulance, and fire departments.'"
New submitter jostber (304257) writes "It's been a long wait, but now GNU Screen, the most useful CLI windows manager around, is available. Version 4.2.1 was released a couple of days ago and the maintainer's release news is here." There are fewer commits than you might expect for software that's had six years since its last major update, but that could be because the developers have had 23 years to knock out the major bugs.
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla today officially launched Firefox 29 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. This is a massive release: Firefox Sync has been revamped and is now powered by Firefox Accounts, there's a new customization mode, and the company's major user interface overhaul Australis has finally arrived. 'The tabs are sleek and smooth to help you navigate the Web faster. It’s easy to see what tab you’re currently visiting and the other tabs fade into the background to be less of a distraction when you’re not using them. The Firefox menu has moved to the right corner of the toolbar and puts all your browser controls in one place. The menu includes a “Customize” tool that transforms Firefox into a powerful customization mode where you can add or move any feature, service or add-on.' Here are the full release notes and a demo video."
rjmarvin (3001897) writes "Two MIT students have raised $500,000 to turn the campus into a cryptocurrency ecoystem, giving each MIT undergrad $100 in Bitcoin (or about 0.22 Bitcoins) starting next Fall. The MIT Bitcoin Project will make MIT the first physical location worldwide with widespread access to the digital currency. As of yet, there are no regulations governing how the students can use it."
jfruh (300774) writes "As the heydays of Internet portals recede into the mists of history and Yahoo tries to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up, the company has decided to dip its toes into the incredibly expensive and unpredictable world of producing full-length television shows to compete with the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and HBO. One of the two may intrigue Slashdot readers: Paul Feig, co-creator of the cult '90s hit 'Freaks and Geeks' (and more recently the director of 'Bridesmaids') will product "Other Space," a comedy-adventure about a misfit group of space travelers who stumble onto an alternate universe. The second show, about a fictional Las Vegas NBA team, will appeal to Yahoo's sports audience." I wonder how long it will be until Google, Microsoft, and Apple are also all producing TV shows.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Sean Gallagher writes that the government built facilities for the Minuteman missiles in the 1960s and 1970s and although the missiles have been upgraded numerous times to make them safer and more reliable, the bases themselves haven't changed much and there isn't a lot of incentive to upgrade them. ICBM forces commander Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein told Leslie Stahl from "60 Minutes" that the bases have extremely tight IT and cyber security, because they're not Internet-connected and they use such old hardware and software. "A few years ago we did a complete analysis of our entire network," says Weinstein. "Cyber engineers found out that the system is extremely safe and extremely secure in the way it's developed." While on the base, missileers showed Stahl the 8-inch floppy disks, marked "Top Secret," which is used with the computer that handles what was once called the Strategic Air Command Digital Network (SACDIN), a communication system that delivers launch commands to US missile forces. Later, in an interview with Weinstein, Stahl described the disk she was shown as "gigantic," and said she had never seen one that big. Weinstein explained, "Those older systems provide us some, I will say, huge safety, when it comes to some cyber issues that we currently have in the world.""
GNU Mailman, likely the most popular mailing list manager in use today, has finally announced the release of a beta for version 3. GNU Mailman 3.0 is a major rewrite, features include a central server with a REST API replacing the dozen or two programs that manipulated Mailman data directly, a shiny new web fron end (Postorius), and a new archiver (HyperKitty). Fedora is already using the new archiver and interface, which is quite a bit more modern looking than Mailman 2.x's interface (wayback machine link for posterity). Individual message thread views are greatly improved, and you can even reply from the web by logging in with your list credentials. If you'd like to try it out, see the announcement message.
mdsolar (1045926) writes with news that funding for the mPower, a Small Modular [Nuclear] Reactor, has been cut due to the inability to find investors interested in building a prototype. From the article: "The pullback represents a major blow to the development of SMRs, which have been hailed as the next step forward for the nuclear power industry. ... All told, B&W, the DOE, and partners have spent around $400 million on the mPower program. Another $600 million was needed just to get the technology ready for application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for licensing. ... B&W plans to continue low-level R&D on the mPower technology with a view to commercial deployment in the mid-2020s, said CEO James Ferland. But without a major shift in the business environment and in investor perceptions of the risks and rewards associated with nuclear power, that seems fanciful."
New submitter kyrsjo (2420192) writes "The Economist has an article on how information technology — the real stuff, not just button-pushing — is making its way back to schools across the world. As the article argues: 'Digital technology is now so ubiquitous that many think a rounded education requires a grounding in this subject just as much as in biology, chemistry or physics.' In today's society, teaching computer science in schools is absolutely necessary, and that means getting a real understanding of computers and how they work. That requires working with algorithms and programming, not just learning which buttons to push in the program that the school happened to use."
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "If you were anywhere near the internet last week, you would have come across reports of 'DarkMarket', a new system being touted as a Silk Road the FBI could never seize. Although running in a similar fashion on the face of things — some users buy drugs, other sell them — DarkMarket works in a fundamentally different way to Silk Road or any other online marketplace. Instead of being hosted off a server like a normal website, it runs in a decentralized manner: Users download a piece of software onto their device, which allows them to access the DarkMarket site. The really clever part is how the system incorporates data with the blockchain, the part of Bitcoin that everybody can see. Rather than just carrying the currency from buyer to seller, data such as user names are added to the blockchain by including it in very small transactions, meaning that its impossible to impersonate someone else because their pseudonymous identity is preserved in the ledger. Andy Greenberg has a good explanation of how it works over at Wired. The prototype includes nearly everything needed for a working marketplace: private communications between buyers and sellers, Bitcoin transfers to make purchases, and an escrow system that protects the cash until it is confirmed that the buyer has received their product. Theoretically, being a decentralized and thus autonomous network, it would still run without any assistance from site administrators, and would certainly make seizing a central server, as was the case with the original Silk Road, impossible."
martiniturbide (1203660) writes "Reuters is reporting that 'The U.S. and UK governments on Monday advised computer users to consider using alternatives to Microsoft Corp's Internet Explorer browser until the company fixes a security flaw that hackers used to launch attacks.' The article states that 'The Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team said in an advisory released on Monday that the vulnerability in versions 6 to 11 of Internet Explorer could lead to "the complete compromise" of an affected system.'"
benrothke (2577567) writes "Neurologists and brain scientists are in agreement that in truth, we know very little about how the brain works. With that, in the just released second edition of Designing with the Mind in Mind, a Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Guidelines, author Jeff Johnson provides a fascinating introduction on the fundamentals of perceptual and cognitive psychology for effective user interface (UI) design and creation." Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
An anonymous reader writes "In a bid to win regulatory approval for its proposed $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable, Comcast has offered to sell 1.4 million pay TV subscribers to Charter Communications for $7.3 billion. From the article: 'Comcast also said it would divest another 2.5 million subscribers into a new publicly traded company, dubbed SpinCo for now, to be one-third owned by Charter and two-thirds owned by Comcast shareholders. The deal will make Charter — whose own bid for Time Warner Cable was thwarted by Comcast's higher offer — the second-biggest U.S. pay TV company with 5.7 million customers, overtaking Cox Communications Inc.'"
Diggester (2492316) writes "Rodrigo García González has been working on the Ooho water bottle for the past few years. The bottle is made out of edible materials, looks like a jellyfish, and has the potential to put an end to the bottled water industry. Inspired by the juice-filled pearls added to bubble tea and the mad-cuisine creations of chef Ferran Adriá, who uses a technique known as sheperification (encasing liquid into edible membranes), García is on his way to revolutionizing the bottled water industry."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "The NYT writes in an editorial that for the last few months, the Koch brothers and their conservative allies in state government have been spending heavily to fight incentives for renewable energy, by pushing legislatures to impose a surtax on this increasingly popular practice, hoping to make installing solar panels on houses less attractive. 'The coal producers' motivation is clear: They see solar and wind energy as a long-term threat to their businesses. That might seem distant at the moment, when nearly 40 percent of the nation's electricity is still generated by coal, and when less than 1 percent of power customers have solar arrays. But given new regulations on power-plant emissions of mercury and other pollutants, and the urgent need to reduce global warming emissions, the future clearly lies with renewable energy.' For example, the Arizona Public Service Company, the state's largest utility, funneled large sums through a Koch operative to a nonprofit group that ran an ad claiming net metering would hurt older people on fixed incomes (video) by raising electric rates. The ad tried to link the requirement to President Obama. Another Koch ad likens the renewable-energy requirement to health care reform, the ultimate insult in that world. 'Like Obamacare, it's another government mandate we can't afford,' the narrator says. 'That line might appeal to Tea Partiers, but it's deliberately misleading,' concludes the editorial. 'This campaign is really about the profits of Koch Carbon and the utilities, which to its organizers is much more important than clean air and the consequences of climate change.'"
Lasrick (2629253) writes "As part of a roundtable on the risks of developing nuclear power in developing countries, Harvard's Yun Zhou explores the reprocessing of spent fuel. Zhou points out that no country in the world has come up with a permanent solution to nuclear waste in either of its two forms: the spent fuel that emerges directly from reactor cores and the high-level radioactive waste that results when spent fuel is reprocessed. Zhou points out that China and France have just announced a joint effort to establish a reprocessing plant, but that option isn't really practical for the developing world."
First time accepted submitter Parseval (3632761) writes "The NSA and GCHQ need mathematicians in order to function — they are some of the biggest employers of mathematicians in the world. This New Scientist article by a mathematician describes some of the math behind mass surveillance, and calls on other mathematicians to refuse to cooperate with the NSA/GCHQ while they continue to surveil the entire population. From the article: 'Mathematicians seldom face ethical questions. We enjoy the feeling that what we do is separate from the everyday world. As the number theorist G. H. Hardy wrote in 1940: "I have never done anything 'useful'. No discovery of mine has made, or is likely to make, directly or indirectly, for good or ill, the least difference to the amenity of the world." That idea is now untenable. Mathematics clearly has practical applications that are highly relevant to the modern world, not least internet encryption.'"
theodp (442580) writes "Back in 2011, the U.S. Dept. of Education delegated teacher recruitment to Microsoft (RFP, pdf). 'The decision to turn over TEACH to [Microsoft] Partners in Learning serves to expand the already outsized influence Gates and his fortune have on public education,' wrote the Washington Post at the time. So, 'what happens when a public institution in a democracy — the US Department of Education — outsources its goal of recruiting good teachers to a private industry?' Well, in addition to Teach.org and redundant social media efforts on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Linkedin, and YouTube, the U.S. is now relying on 'Innovative Microsoft Advertising to Recruit the next Generation of Teachers'. From the press release, 'The Ad Council and TEACH have formed a unique outreach campaign with Microsoft's Advertising team in an effort to recruit the next generation of teachers who will drive innovation and redefine teaching in K-12 classrooms. Microsoft donated over 125 million impressions across Xbox 360, Windows 8, and MSN in order to encourage consumers to rediscover teaching through interactive ad units. This media effort is an extension of the Ad Council and TEACH's public service advertising (PSA) campaign, Make More...Throughout March, consumers were able to engage with TEACH "NUads on Xbox", via gesture, voice or controller on their Xbox 360 consoles...Most recently, Microsoft leveraged their Windows 8 platform to provide a unique experience to consumers, enabling them to navigate through a series of questions to help "discover their true passion," along with the opportunity to play challenging mind and word games, such as a word scramble and tangrams.' Check out the demo of the Windows 8 platform experience [YouTube], in which a person is advised 'You'd Make a Great Science & Tech Teacher,' on the basis of a 'Personality Quiz' consisting of five dragged-and-dropped photos."
An anonymous reader writes "The US government has entered its reply brief in the US vs. Wurie case and its argument in favor of warrantless searches of arrestees' cell phones contains some truly terrible suppositions. The government argues that impartial technological advancements somehow favor criminals. As it sees it, the path to the recovery of evidence should not be slowed by encryption or wiping or even the minimal effort needed to obtain a warrant. From the article: 'The government agrees that times are changing but counterintuitively argues that only law enforcement is being negatively affected by this. Every argument in favor of warrantless searches contains some sort of lamentation about how tech-savvy criminals will be able to cover up or destroy evidence contained on their phones before the police can crack open these new-fangled address books and copy everything down.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Ars Technica reports, 'Technology giant Google has been delinquent on its tax payments in France for the past few years, to the tune of more than $1 billion in missed payments, and it now may be hit with a sizable tax penalty by the French government.' Google asserts that it has operated within the law in France, but the French government has reason to believe that in order to avoid French taxes, Google has been passing off some of its business contracts as Irish rather than French."
New submitter sim2com writes: "An American judge has just added another reason why foreign (non-American) companies should avoid using American Internet service companies. The judge ruled that search warrants for customer email and other content must be turned over, even when that data is stored on servers in other countries. The ruling came out of a case in which U.S. law enforcement was demanding data from Microsoft's servers in Dublin, Ireland. Microsoft fought back, saying, 'A U.S. prosecutor cannot obtain a U.S. warrant to search someone's home located in another country, just as another country's prosecutor cannot obtain a court order in her home country to conduct a search in the United States. We think the same rules should apply in the online world, but the government disagrees.'
If this ruling stands, foreign governments will not be happy about having their legal jurisdiction trespassed by American courts that force American companies to turn over customers' data stored in their countries. The question is: who does have legal jurisdiction on data stored in a given country? The courts of that country, or the courts of the nationality of the company who manages the data storage? This is a matter that has to be decided by International treaties. While we're at it, let's try to establish an International cyber law enforcement system. In the meantime."
RogueyWon writes: "A recent blog post from Lucasarts had confirmed that the new Star Wars movies planned for release by Disney will formally break continuity with the Expanded Universe novels, comics and video games. They say, 'In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe.' The news is unlikely to be a surprise, given George Lucas's previous pronouncements on the issue."
New submitter martinQblank writes "CNN reports: A Texas family whose home was within a two-mile radius of 22 natural gas wells — one of which was less than 800 feet away — has been awarded $2.9 million by a jury. The family, who suffered from a variety of ailments (including nosebleeds, rashes, migraines and more), was advised by a doctor to leave their ranch immediately and see a physician specializing in environmental health. The defendant in the case, Aruba Petroleum, disagreed with the jury's decision, as did other attorneys who are familiar with the energy sector — calling in a 'knee-jerk' reaction. Additionally the company noted that they had complied with all applicable environmental regulations. The family itself? Still in favor of oil and natural gas extraction: 'We are not anti-fracking or anti-drilling. My goodness, we live in Texas. Keep it in the pipes, and if you have a leak or spill, report it and be respectful to your neighbors. If you are going to put this stuff in close proximity to homes, be respectful and careful.'"
dacarr writes "The five remaining members of Monty Python will be performing in the O2 Arena, and their last show as a comedy troupe will be simulcast across hundreds of theaters in the UK, and roughly 1,500 more across the world, according to the Guardian. Michael Palin says this is really going to be the last time before the Pythons cease to be. Well, at least, before Monty Python, as a comedy troupe, runs down the curtain and joins the bleedin' choir invisible."
sciencehabit writes: "Does reading faster mean reading better? That's what speed-reading apps claim, promising to boost not just the number of words you read per minute, but also how well you understand a text. There's just one problem: The same thing that speeds up reading actually gets in the way of comprehension, according to a new study (abstract). Apps like Spritz or the aptly-named Speed Read are built around the idea that these eye movements, called saccades, are a redundant waste of time. It's more efficient, their designers claim, to present words one at a time in a fixed spot on a screen, discouraging saccades and helping you get through a text more quickly. But that's not what researchers have found."